Monday, August 31, 2015

ECO - 31 August - UNFCCC ADP 2.10

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Sharing below the ECO update from Day One of the UNFCCC ADP 2.10 negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

This has been shared with us by Linh over email.

Hope you find it useful.

Thanks and best regards,

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India

Mob: +91-9437050103


Hi all,

Please find ECO below, for day one of the UNFCCC ADP 2.10 negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

For those who don’t know, ECO has been produced since 1972 as commentary to the environmental negotiations process. 

Welcome back to Bonn!

We're moving into the final lap in the drive towards a global agreement in Paris. With just 10 days of negotiations left before we arrive in Paris, governments have their work cut out for them if they are to reach key political decisions as well as ensure the necessary level of precision within the text. The ADP co-chairs' tool segregates the various issues and elements within the Geneva Negotiating Text (GNT) into three sections: Section I contains text pertaining to the core agreement; Section II has elements to be addressed via COP decisions; and Section III contains text where there is disagreement as to whether it belongs in the legal agreement, or an accompanying COP decision.

ECO believes that Section III contains numerous key elements that are necessary for an ambitious Paris agreement, and need to be moved to either Section I or II. Some elements in Section II need to be carefully considered for placement in the core legal agreement, as they will play a key role in the ambition and fairness of the Paris agreement. 

Negotiators must build on progress achieved in the previous Bonn session, working to overcome differences on key issues and move towards convergence, rather than continuing to negotiate a text where every country continues to insist on preservation of its own proposals. Bridging differences within the text means not just tweaking existing language, but also requires introducing new language which is developed in a collaborative way within the various contact groups, with co-facilitators playing a key role in identifying emerging convergences. 

This session must build on the consensus already achieved on several key issues in the informal ministerial discussions hosted by the Peruvian and incoming French presidencies, such as the need for a 5-year review cycle, a common post-2020 transparency regime, and the durability of the agreement. Delegates need to use the time in Bonn to help refine and elaborate on the consensus achieved on these issues, while identifying points of contention on other issues that can be taken up in the upcoming ministerial discussions. The next such discussion, on September 6 and 7, is slotted to focus on several critical issues, including means of implementation, adaptation, and loss and damage.

Ministers and in some cases, heads of state, must ultimately address the crunch political issues in the Paris agreement. But negotiators must do their part, by refining and reducing the number of options that these political leaders grapple with. As a Brazilian delegate correctly noted at the June session, if negotiators send 10 or 11 options on key issues to ministers, they won't have done their jobs.

While the text is narrowed down and options further clarified, ECO urges governments not to trade off ambition, fairness, and effectiveness for consensus. The world can't afford to leave Paris with a lowest common denominator agreement that fails to meaningfully tackle the problem of climate change. 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently said "I hope negotiators and ministers (will) look beyond their national interests" and accelerate progress towards an effective agreement in Paris. ECO couldn't agree more.

Location, location, location!

ECO has noticed lots of talk about “houses” as nations work to construct a new climate agreement. Just as location is important in selecting a house, Parties will be carefully considering the location of key text to be agreed in Paris: what goes in the core agreement, decision text, and supplementary instruments or lists. ECO has some advice to ensure that the right house is built.

ECO believes that a package deal with careful placement of issues is critical to a Paris outcome that safeguards ambition, accountability, and equity, while taking into account national circumstances. Amongst other things, the core legal agreement should: 

Establish key principles to guide implementation, including human rights for all.
Introduce strong, durable commitments for the post-2020 climate regime, including a commitment to phase out fossil fuel emissions and phase in 100% renewables for all by 2050; and global adaptation and technology goals. 
 Provide a means for Parties’ to anchor Nationally Determined Contributions as legal commitments, with an introduction of 5-year commitment and review cycles for both action and support. 

And as for the COP decisions? They are necessary to create the operational foundations to ensure ratification and implementation of the core agreement. And they are particularly appropriate for elements that may need to be revised over time, for operationalising high-level principles from the core agreement, and for pre-2020 work programmes, including those needed to raise pre-2020 ambition and climate finance.

Annexes and/or supplementary instruments can play a critical role in enhancing transparency and accountability.  The core agreement should establish a legal connection to one or more annexes, schedules, or lists detailing differentiated national mitigation targets and actions. Mitigation commitments should be additionally recorded in a document and database managed by the Secretariat, in a way that ensures transparency and enables unilateral ambition enhancement without requiring ratification. 

And after you sign on the dotted line in Paris for your new home, you can make one or more political declarations to complement the agreement. But ECO reminds countries that political declarations are no substitute for legally binding instruments or COP decisions.  ECO certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable moving into a new home on a handshake deal, and you wouldn’t either, would you, Parties? 

[Never mind the gap]

ECO understands the need for brevity but the 15 paragraphs on elements for the Workstream 2 decision seems to have missed the point. Surely the brief didn’t read “never mind the ambition gap” or “maintain status quo”.
 The COP decision must reiterate, in the strongest possible language, that developed countries have a responsibility to raise their 2020 targets to at least 40% compared to 1990 levels, in order to meet their fair share of the collective effort to stay below 2°/1.5°C.
 It must also move the Technical Examination Process (TEP) from being an exercise to facilitating action. Opportunities have been identified, and now the TEP needs to facilitate urgent implementation of climate action alongside the creation of a system that can continue to unlock additional emission reductions over time. 

Let’s use this week to draft text which actually does this, including:

​• ​Explicit language on closing the pre-2020 emissions gap and avoiding insufficient INDCs that would leave us with yet another gap post-2020. Closing the gap is why WS2 was established in the first place.
​•​ A technical process enabling the matching of mitigation opportunities with technology, finance, implementation expertise and decision-making power, particularly with respect to renewable energy and energy efficiency.
​• ​Direction and encouragement to the financial and technical bodies to prioritise action with high mitigation potential, especially renewables and energy efficiency.

WS2 has the potential to unleash climate action globally on the scale we need to meet our climate goals. Many Parties share this vision, and ECO has been encouraged by the hard work that has been put into enhancing the TEMs and by the creative ideas put forward. WS2 has been a real breath of fresh air in this stale process, and it has great ongoing potential. Let's maintain that and take full advantage of that. 

Loss and damage provisions: Don’t leave Paris without them

Dear Developed Countries: Newsflash — Loss and damage must be in the Paris Agreement. We keep hearing some really lame arguments as to why you’re keeping it out. 

Lame argument 1: We don’t need L&D in the Paris Agreement as we have the Warsaw International Mechanism for L&D and its review in 2016.
ECO responds: Despite being agreed nearly 2 years ago, the WIM has yet to make progress. Its mandate is heavily contested and some developed countries have sought to undermine the only clear mandate in the agreement, the one that deals with finance. Some vulnerable countries are concerned that the 2016 review is a thinly disguised attempt to review the WIM out of existence.  By embedding the important functions of the WIM into the Paris agreement, we can alleviate these concerns. There should be no argument against this by those who genuinely want to see the WIM succeed.

Lame argument 2: L&D is just adaptation, and that’s already in there.
ECO responds:  Adaptation to having your home, community, places of worship and livelihood destroyed in super storm Cyclone Pam or Typhoon Haiyan is not possible. These are not impacts that can be adapted to — and given inadequate mitigation, they will likely increase further in the coming years. The IPCC acknowledges the limits to adaptation and makes it clear that even with high levels of adaptation there will be residual L&D.

Lame argument 3: L&D will cost too much.
ECO responds: The worst impacts of climate change on the poorest countries will have substantial costs. Compensation is one element of L&D, but there is a spectrum of needs for addressing L&D, some of which are outlined in Part III of the Co-Chairs tool. Clearly, rich countries that developed using fossil fuels and polluted the atmosphere have a major responsibility. So does the fossil fuel industry, which is responsible for two-thirds of climate pollution. Moreover, there are alternative sources of finance that can be drawn upon – including a fossil fuel extraction levy which could easily raise $50 billion a year initially, increasing with time, until fossil fuels are phased out. This could pay for a significant portion of the L&D needs, alleviating the objections of rich countries to paying for loss and damage.

Delegates — we’re clearly on a pathway to temperature increases well exceeding 1.5°C, any agreement that doesn’t include provisions to address the worst impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable will not be judged acceptable by your constituents at home.

The Islamic call for bold climate action 

ECO welcomes the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change that was launched in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this month. The declaration, signed by a broad spectrum of prominent scholars in the Islamic world, will form the basis of climate action from Muslims around the globe.

Coming on the heels of the Pope’s encyclical, ECO is pleased to see people of faith united in the call for the transition to a low-carbon world. The declaration urges governments to deliver a strong new international climate agreement in Paris that signals the end of the road for polluting fossil fuels. It also urges the creation of an architecture that will give us a chance of limiting global warming to no more than 2°/1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Islam has been an important motive force through much of history. The Declaration helps channel the spiritual and moral force of Islam towards building a clean energy, climate resilient future, and at the same time, calls for specific actions based on the moral imperatives laid down in Islamic teachings. It calls on oil producing nations to phase out emissions, it calls on all leaders to support the just transition to 100% renewable energy and it calls on major businesses and corporations to divest from fossil fuels.

Islam counts amongst its faithful 1.6 billion people. Many of them, perhaps the majority, are in countries which are most vulnerable to climate change. The Declaration is not only a clarion call for them, but for the entire world.

Let’s leave no one behind

ECO congratulates governments on the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This not only provides positive momentum towards Paris but, also sends a strong message about the necessity of adopting an integrated approach to sustainable development.

The Paris outcomes should build on this momentum and promote the effective integration of human rights and gender equality into climate action. Such integration would provide three crucial benefits.

Firstly, it would ensure that climate policies contribute to the protection of the rights of local communities. Particularly those most vulnerable and do not exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities.

Secondly, it would strengthen the effectiveness of climate action, by ensuring that policies and projects benefit from local and traditional knowledge, by providing broader public support for such action, and by removing legal uncertainties. Empirical evidence demonstrates that rights-based climate policies are more effective, resilient and have a lasting impact.

Thirdly, it would contribute to the implementation of the Post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Today’s negotiations on Section C offers Parties the opportunity to ensure that the core Paris legal agreement explicitly emphasises the necessity for climate policies to integrate human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples, and to ensure food security, gender equality and a just transition. This would send a very strong signal that governments remain committed to a transition towards low-carbon and resilient communities that leaves no one behind.

Dams, Embankments and Over Fishing dwindle the Hilsa population. Or is it climate change?

We have been getting ground reports from Kendrapada that fishermen are struggling to catch Hilsa fish. There has been a sharp decline in Hilsa catch over the decades. Lack of travelling upstream in rivers make Hilsa breed less. Fishermen in Kendrapada. What more, there has also been a decline in the size of the fish.
Fishermen say the catch has decline by 70 per cent in 20 years and the size of current catches has declined by 75 per cent over the years. Dams, embankments, silted river beds, and change in ocean temperatures may be some of the reasons.
Hilsa is said to have lot of benefits for human health as it has very high level of high density lipoprotein and low level of low density lipoprotein in PUFA that reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc.
Can we afford to lose it? No.

For further information, please contact:

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance)

Mob: +91-9437050103

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Of Rivers and River Front Development: My article published on the Sabarmati River Front Development Project!

What if Sabarmati comes to Mahanadi?

Ranjan Panda

Amid the election heat, where personal abuses have virtually taken over real issues, some debate is still going on among a very few people about development.  And when it comes to development, there is an aggressive marketing of the Gujarat Development Model.  The BJP party is busy selling this model of development as a panacea to all woes of the country.  This party’s PM candidate, who is busy selling hundreds of new dreams in each of his hundreds of rallies across the country, has just tried to sell another dream: to make a Sabarmati out of Ganga, if he comes to power.  Experience says that common Indian people are habituated to ignore election promises, dismissing them as gimmicks.  However, the seriousness in which this PM candidate is being projected by BJP – almost by sacrificing the party’s identity to his image – I thought of peeping a bit into what exactly would a Sabarmati Ganga look like.  And mostly importantly, what such a model would mean for our Mahanadi. 

Sabarmati is the third polluted river of the nation.  If population dependent on it was as big as that were dependent on the Ganges, it would have easily taken the first position in pollution.  Studies by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as well as that by independent environmental organisations, and even known academicians confirm Sabarmati’s plight.  The CPCB, which studied pollution levels in multiple stations along ‘polluted river stretches’ found out that at various stations the pollution was so high that at most of the places in Sabarmati as well as other rivers of Gujarat such as the Amlakhadi, Mahi and Tapi, the water was not even fit for bathing. 

This was confirmed by a very recent study by a group of academicians who found out, from analysing multiple samples, that in the 163 km stretch of the river from upstream of Gandhinagar city to Vataman near Sabarmati estuary, the river stretch from Ahmedabad-Vasana barriage to Vataman was highly polluted due to perennial waste discharges mainly from municipal drainage and industries.

In fact the CAG has slammed the Govt. of Gujarat and the state pollution control board, in very strong words, for failing to control pollution of water bodies and rivers.  Most of the rivers in the state are polluted by untreated discharge of both chemical and municipal wastes.  What is it then the Gujarat government projecting as a model for Ganga?

It is the much touted Sabarmati Riverfront Development Model that was started way back in 1997.  This model with lot of constructions – mostly on beautification of river side - using funds from the environment ministry, housing and urban development ministry and other such sources is actually a western style ‘development project’ in a very small stretch, that is just 10.5 km of the total 370 km long river.  Urban people of Ahmedabad see this as a great achievement because of the looks.  In reality, has the Sabarmati River benefitted, or in any sense ‘restored’?

A dam about 165 kilometers upstream has already killed the river’s natural flow.  This 10.5 of beautification has been done out of water diverted from Narmada River canal as because this western style restoration – that requires heavy funding and construction – required bringing back the natural flow into the river.  Such restoration works have their inherent dangers. They encroach upon flood plains and treat rivers like canals.  Rivers are ecological entities and not ‘economic commodities’ and the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Model does not respect this, nor is the solution for our ailing rivers.

Mahanadi is in a dying state and there have been many river side constructions here.  Hirakud has already intercepted its natural flow to a large extent and pollution from both industries and municipalities has made the river virtually a dead river. 

What we need is to tackle pollution at the source, free the flood plains and water bodies of the basin from encroachment and work towards low cost, people owned ecological restoration of the rivers.  We certainly don’t need Mahanadi to turn India’s third polluted river. 


This article of mine was published in May 2014 at the following link.  However, just realized the article is no more online.  So, sharing this on blog today. 

Have roads brought distributive justice and decentralized development?

I have always been arguing how expansion of road network has actually not benefitted the interiors of our country. Yesterday in a live TV debate on the Cuttack child death issue, a doctor argued how it was not possible for doctors to stay in village areas and serve poor people. To justify his stance he said thousands of crores have been spent in KBK but roads have not improved to the level which can make doctors stay in that poor region. He also mentioned about other infrastructures but road was what he emphasised upon so forcefully. In reality however roads have improved a lot in KBK region and many places in Odisha. Haven't they?

Quick was a senior social activist in giving the doc a reality check. Participating in that show, she pointed out, "in fact doctors stayed in rural areas more when there was no infrastructure, we have seen in our childhood days." How true.

Truth is no amount of infrastructure can take good doctors to rural areas any more. Lucrative private practices are all there in cities. Cities are where money is. All roads are built to bring resources, both ecological and human, from rural areas to enrich cities. The Smart Cities will accelerate this trend of exploitation further if our planners keep discriminating against rural areas.

We will always see infants in critical conditions being brought from rural areas to cities but will hardly see facilities getting decentralised.

Time to reflect, have roads really brought prosperity?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mahanadi losing Rohu?

Telpia (the big one), Mirkali (the next in size), Gajri (small) and Kalachi (not in pic) are today's major catch in Mahanadi at Sambalpur. Rohu not in sight. Is Mahanadi losing the most popular fish?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 26th August 2015!

|| बेहता रहा हूँ, बेहता ही रहा हूँ ||

बेहता रहा हूँ, बेहता ही रहा हूँ
कभी खामोश रह कर , कभी गुनगुनाते हुए
कभी अकेले तो कभी तेरे साथ ये हमसफ़र...

बेहता रहा हूँ, बेहता ही रहा हूँ
कभी पथरीले राहों पे , कभी रेत की गर्मियों पर
कभी फिर उन हरी जंगलों के रस्ते...

बेहता रहा हूँ, बेहता ही रहा हूँ
इन वादियों से लिपटे हुए उन बर्फीले पहाड़ियों के आँचल से 
उन पहाड़ियों के किनारे बहती हुई नदियों के धारो पर...

बेहता रहा हूँ, बेहता ही रहा हूँ
उन झरनो से सटी पेड़ों की तरुओं से
उन झाड़ियों के पत्तो से...

बेहता रहा हूँ, बेहता ही रहा हूँ
इन बागों के बहारों से 
इन खेत खलियानों से...

बेहता रहा हूँ, बेहता ही रहा हूँ!

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance)
Mob: +91-9437050103

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Greetings on World Photography Day 2015!

A photograph can be read much better than words, you can have many interpretations of one photograph...

Greetings on World Photography Day 2015!