Katowice brief: What does Japan’s money buy?

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Japan is lobbying for one of its senior diplomats to be the next head of the Green Climate Fund.

Megan Darby spoke to a foreign ministry official who said that, as the biggest donor, they had the biggest “responsibility” for the fund.

The position isn’t for sale, responded one developing country board member: this candidate will be judged against the same criteria as the others.

If you think you can handle the politics, the pressure and moving to Songdo (sweetened with a 6-figure salary), you’ve still got a week to apply.

CopCast Episode 4: One Pacific, one chance

Megan Darby and Karl Mathiesen talk money. How is the issue of climate finance faring at Cop24? From the negotiating rooms, to the big funds, to the island of Niue. Subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud, share and tune in tomorrow!

Canada steps up

According to a report in the National Observer, Canadian environment minister Catherine McKenna has flagged the country will increase its contribution to the Paris Agreement.

“In 2020 everyone has to come back and be more ambitious,” McKenna told the website, confirming this meant Canada would set a tougher goal. Green groups were buoyed by the comments.

EU sees ‘goodwill’ on finance

Negotiators are edging closer to compromise on how to report financial aid, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Elina Bardram, told reporters on Wednesday.

Developing countries want firm reassurances about how much money the richer side will provide. But developed countries don’t want to go so far as to lock their budgets into international law.

“There are certain constitutional constraints for developed countries to report on the forward spending, which are difficult to overcome,” Bardram said. The potential solution: “a combination of qualitative and quantitative projections that could then be reported back to the parties.”

The stakes of the issue were raised by Mohamed Nasr, chair of the African group of negotiators, who told Business Standard: “We cannot have a deal at Katowice without a climate finance package.”

…And urges others to follow its lead

Pointing to the European Commission’s recent call on EU countries to aim for net-zero emissions by 2050, Bardram said the bloc will now use its climate and energy diplomacy and external financing to urge others to take on similar goals.

“We’ve been working with our partners … to work towards more future-proof development models, and we do that by deploying several different instruments of the EU,” she said. “We are absolutely clear that the EU alone will not be able to change the future.”

What is the Paris rulebook? It’s the major bunfight at these talks, but how many outside the negotiating rooms actually know what the so-called ‘rulebook’ actually is? Natalie Sauer explains.

Also a reminder to suggest terms and definitions for our climate diplomacy glossary, which climate sceptic website cfact has helpfully exposed as a guide for global marxists. Sometimes you need a friend to help you truly see yourself.

Need a reboot? Grab a free coffee at the German and Polish stalls on Pavillon E until 11am, or book yourself in for a kip at the fancily-named Vinci power nap centre.

Annual emissions up in the US, (slightly) down in the EU

US emissions rose by 2.5% in 2018, breaking a trend of decline of 1.2% per year since 2007, according to the global carbon budget report released on Wednesday.

After a steady slide following the 2008 crash, EU emissions only declined slightly in 2018 due to economic recovery. Overall, global CO2 emissions are on course to rise more than 2% in 2018 owing to growth and coal use.

The travails of supposedly progressive Europe should be something that helps break down silos at these talks, said Harjeet Singh, of Action Aid. “They should think ‘my god, all of us are struggling,’” he said. “Everyone has difficulties. Where is the spirit of global solidarity?”

Shipping news

In a potentially sector-changing announcement Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipper, has said it is aiming for its fleet to be carbon neutral by 2050. Reuters reports the Danish giant will have commercially viable vessels on the water by 2030.

Diet time

Global food demand is on course to rise by more than 50% by 2050, and demand for animal-based foods by nearly 70%, according to a new report by the World Resources Institute.

That does not sit well with the Paris Agreement’s goals. Agriculture and land-use change are set to emit 15 gigatons of greenhouse gases a year by 2050 – far higher than the 4Gt needed to help keep global warming below 2C.

What to do? Cut back on resource-intensive food including meat, WRI said. Don’t worry – we don’t all need to become vegetarian. But the two billion people who eat high-beef diets should cut their consumption by about 40% by 2050. Other answers include boosting food output on the same amount of agricultural land and increasing fish supplies.   

No such thing as cheap fuel

“At the moment we pretend that polluting fuels are cheap, only because we don’t include our costs health and the economy,” Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, the author of a WHO report on health and climate change released on Wednesday, told journalists. As warming increases between now and 2040, there will be higher health risks. In the meantime, the drivers of climate change – mainly fossil fuel combustion – are contributing to the death of 7 million people every year.  

More research is needed, say the scientists, urging national governments to invest in studies into the protection of public health as the climate changes.

The Taiwanese government, perennially miffed at being blocked out of the UN climate process by China, has plastered the local trams in Katowice with a message: “Combating climate change. Taiwan can help”.

Trump paves way for dirtier coal plants: The US government plans to ditch Obama-era legislation that forces new and modified coal plants to use carbon capture and storage technology on Thursday, sources told Bloomberg. Put in place in 2015, the Obama regulation imposed a cap on carbon dioxide emissions that could not be met without equipping plants with some kind of carbon-capture technology.

Read more on: Climate Politics | COP24