Carbon Market Watch

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CAN-I ECO3 Article: Will Doha Burst the Hot Air bubble?

28 Nov 2012

This article was written in part by Carbon Market Watch and originally published for the Climate Negotiations 2012 NGO Newsletter: ECO – Issue 3.

A staggering 13 billion emissions permits are left over from the first Kyoto commitment period. Hot air is looming large – and threatens the viability of CP2 and any future climate deal.

ECO would like to remind delegates that the problem is the result of extremely weak CP1 targets well above what countries were projected to emit. Poland, for example committed to a 6% reduction from their 1988 emission levels, despite the fact that in 1997, when the Kyoto targets were set, Poland’s emissions were already about 20% below 1988 levels. ECO warns the distinguished delegates not to fall for the bogus claim that the existence of hot air is the result of dedicated action. It’s not — and the economic downfall of the nineties cannot lead to inherit rights in the climate change process.

But memories are short. ECO can’t help but notice that Parties are about to make the same mistake again: Low pledges for CP2 mean that another surplus of 3 to 10 billion tonnes will accumulate by 2020. Add to that the 13 Gt surplus from the first phase and you have rendered any Kyoto targets quite meaningless. Yet Russia, Ukraine and Poland, the largest surplus holders, insist on keeping the right to sell their hot air. ECO has looked into it and found this is a vain hope. Pledges for CP2 are so weak that no one will buy their surplus! Prices for AAUs have dropped from 13 EUR in 2008 to less than 0.5 EUR in 2012.

The problem is so large that even if developed countries were to increase their CP2 pledges, they could meet their more stringent targets by simply buying more surplus and without actually cutting their emissions.

For those delegates that are interested in returning a little bit of environmental integrity to the system, ECO would like to emphasise that they’ll need to burst the hot air bubble. Raising ambition and closing loopholes go hand in hand. ECO therefore suggests to start looking seriously at the proposal by the G77 and China. It effectively minimises the use of CP1 hot air in CP2, does not allow for trading, and most importantly cancels the surplus permanently by the end of the second commitment period.

Is it worth it? Look, we are now on an emissions path that could lead to warming of 4oC or more. In addition, impacts associated with even 2oC of warming have been revised upwards and are now considered “dangerous” and “extremely dangerous”. A world beyond 2oC will threaten the very existence of civilization as we know it. Heard of it? Worried? Then go and burst the hot air bubble.

ECO has been published by Non-Governmental Environmental Groups at major international conferences since the Stockholm Environment Conference in 1972. 

ECO is produced cooperatively by the Climate Action Network at the UNFCCC meetings in Doha, between November and December 2012.