Over this special series on COP24, EURACTIV gives you a glimpse into the goings on of the UN climate conference in Katowice and what is driving the conversation there. In this edition: coal bonanza at the EIB, roaming COP24, German ‘nein’, Fijian drum beat, and more.
Coal bonanza at the EIB. Is Europe serious about phasing out fossil fuels? While confirming its plans to align with the Paris Agreement, the European Investment Bank (EIB) continues to fund climate-damaging fossil fuel projects, having disbursed more than €11.8 billion in fossil fuel projects since 2013, Friends of the Earth Europe, Counter Balance and CEE Bankwatch Network said in a briefing released on Tuesday (11 December).
Multilateral Development Banks including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the EIB, announced a “six block approach” to align their operations with the Paris objectives. But the NGOs say this contains no concrete commitment about the complete phase-out of their fossil fuel investments.
“I cannot promise you that at a special day in the future we will have stopped financing fossil fuels. It would not be honest. The member states that own us will say they do not follow that way,” the NGOs quoted EIB’s President Werner Hoyer as saying in front of the European Parliament’s plenary when asked early 2018 when the EIB would stop supporting fossil fuels.
“Heavily lagging behind, the EIB – bank of the European Union and the world’s biggest multilateral lender – is expected to raise the bar to translate the EU’s climate commitments into action as it updates its energy policy next year. The EIB’s next energy strategy, defining the type of energy projects to be supported by the bank, will be decisive for EU citizens, European public finance and the climate worldwide,” the NGOs said in a statement.
Green finance. The WWF on Tuesday (11 December) published a report assessing how Europe’s largest asset owners are aligning – or not – their public equity and corporate bond portfolios with the Paris climate goal of keeping global warming well below 2°C.
In its report, European Asset Owners: Climate Alignment of Public Equity and Corporate Bond Portfolios, the NGO identified the largest asset owners in 11 European countries and approached 88 of them to undertake a forward-looking climate scenario assessment. 33 agreed to disclose their climate alignment results for a set of key climate-relevant technologies: coal power, renewable power, coal mining, oil production and gas production. It came up with three findings:
- Much greater efforts are needed to ensure that public equity and corporate bond investments align with the well-below 2°C transition;
- There are clear differences between countries in terms of willingness of asset owners to participate and disclose climate alignment findings;
- There are encouraging indications of a growing recognition among asset owners of the importance of climate-related financial risks and opportunities.
Roaming at COP24. With negotiations well underway and an over-crowded media center, journalists covering the UN climate conference not only have their fair share of adrenalin but also their share of physical exercise. In planning the infrastructure that would welcome more than 30,000 participants, 1,525 media representatives included, the Polish COP presidency planned an area divided into different halls, ranging from A to G.
While the main entrance is quite logically situated in hall A, the media center is in hall F. That means journalists are working at the very end of the building, as if to set them aside from negotiators. They do need 10 minutes to walk to get to their working place, having to go through the much crowded pavilion part as shown with this small video.
COP24‘s carbon footprint. According to the Polish presidency’s numbers, COP24 will generate a carbon footprint of 55,000 tonnes of CO2. To balance this emission, the State Forests will additionally plant more than 6 million trees, that is, twice as many as in Central Park in New York City, it says. All registered participants are allowed to use public transportation in Katowice and the Silesian District free of charge.
Hosting COP25. On the tenth day of negotiation, it is still not clear where the next UN climate conference will take place. Initially scheduled in Brazil, the question arose when the country decided to retract from its initial plan. Since then, several states in South-America and the Caribbean have expressed their interest in hosting COP25, with the ever irrupting question of financing being the unspoken issue. All eyes are currently on Germany who accepted to host COP23 in Bonn, the country’s former capital, in a move to financially and technically support the Fiji Islands who were presiding the 2017 climate conference.
At a press briefing 11 December, German environment state secretary Jochen Flasbarth gave a very clear answer: nein. “We have told the UNFCCC that Germany will not be available to host an event the size of last year’s COP23 in Bonn,” he said, adding that it was costly and not very gratifying to get an event like this off the ground on such short notice.
Adaptation fund. What Germany was willing to do though, is to add some cash to the ever under-financed adaptation fund, a UN structure staunchly defended by developing countries.
On 11 December, environment minister Svenja Schulze announced that Germany will pay an additional €70 million into the fund. With €240 million so far, Germany is already the fund’s biggest donor, the ministry said in a statement.
“Our support for the Adaptation Fund is a sign of solidarity,” Schulze said. The people who suffer most from climate change are those who have contributed the least [to global warming], she reminded. “The Fund enjoys a high reputation in the climate negotiations because it is tailored to the needs of the particularly affected developing countries.”
So far, the Fund has approved over 80 projects and programmes with a total funding volume of $532 million. Applications have been submitted for a further 45 projects with a funding volume of approximately $335 million.
The projects financed by the Adaptation Fund are approved by an international supervisory board in which the German government is also represented. The Fund is managed jointly and at eye level by developing countries and industrialised countries.
Musical performance. The Talanoa Dialogue officially opened on Tuesday (11 December) and is to last until tomorrow. It is perhaps the most sensitive and emotional part of these two weeks of on-going climate negotiations: set as the political phase of COP24, the feature is running parallel to formal negotiations and is designed to boost countries’ climate action in their national determined contributions, also known as NDCs. This is because the current NDCs are not enough to keep global temperature below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C.
Stakes are high and spirits heated, especially after four major oil and gas producing countries – namely Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – refused over the weekend to “welcome” the IPCC’s 1.5°C report, which forms the backbone of the negotiations.
In a move to calm down the negotiating atmosphere, the Polish presidency brought some Fijian drumming beat on stage, where delegates could relax among ‘hoooo’ and ‘heeee’.