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ADP Revisions: Trouble for Transport

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Opening Perspectives

Following the relative calm of a Monday holiday, rush hour traffic on Lima’s city streets has returned to crush levels, and inside the COP 20 site, negotiating traffic is facing similar bottlenecks.  Though we see hopeful signs in linkages between the UNFCCC Technology and Finance Mechanisms, we are troubled by the revisions to the draft ADP text, which would substantially weaken the role of non-state actors, and thereby the ability of the sustainable transport community to engage directly with the UNFCCC process. 

Technology and Finance Join Forces on Climate

This morning, the co-chairs of TEC-CTCN and SCF released a draft report on linkages between the Convention’s Technology Mechanism (TM) and the Financial Mechanism (FM).  The draft decision recognizes that linking these mechanisms can help to scale up adequate and predictable financial support for clean technology actions in developing countries.  Further, the draft encourages CTCN to consider funding criteria established by the GEF and the GCF to increase potential synergies between these mechanisms.  Finally, the draft requests TEC-CTCN and SCF to further elaborate the linkages in time for COP 21.

As international negotiations stretch out, it is useful to note current progress at national levels.  TEC and CTCN have prioritized energy efficiency and renewable energy as its current areas of focus, and have named sustainable transport a potential target for 2016.  However, when CTCN issued a call for requests from developing countries, Bhutan stepped up to blaze a trail for transport by proposing a project that aims to reduce GHG emissions by improving public transport through advanced technology applications. 

Bhutan’s transport sector is dominated by road transport, with its private vehicle fleet is growing at 9-10% per annum and its petroleum consumption for surface transport expected to triple by 2020.  In response, Bhutan’s CTCN request aims to increase the use of advanced technology for public bus transport and general traffic management, to resolve service disruptions in rural areas, and to increase capacity in public transport management, with the added co-benefit of improved road safety.

Though Bhutan’s proposal is an encouraging start, transformational progress under CTCN will require many more sustainable transport projects in many more countries and regions.  As technology and finance linkages are solidified, our challenge as transport advocates is two-fold.  First, we must ensure that transport receives its fair share of the TM-FM pie so that potential resources are not lost to other sectors.  Second, we must ensure that more Parties take advantage of current tools to ensure that transport can apply available technologies to quickly scale up avoid, shift and improve strategies to make transport solutions more sustainable.  Finally, limited climate finance must be applied to low-hanging fruit, and in this we can’t wait until 2016, let alone 2020.

Local Government Actions at Lima City Hall

Much positive action is also occurring outside the confines and rarefied atmosphere of the COP 20 site.  One example is a high-level event at the beautiful and historic Lima City Hall, which brought together a variety of stakeholders to highlight the visibility of local governments’ contribution to climate change.  Cities are key centers of emissions – for instance, the Lima metro area is responsible for over 70% of the country’s GHG emissions – and thus national agreements can only be meaningful through local actions.

One of the sessions saw the formal launch of the new Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories, which builds upon the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol developed by WRI and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and which has been trialed by ICLEI and C40.  The protocol will complement ICLEI’s carbonn Cities Climate Registry, by helping cities more consistently measure their contribution to national climate change targets, significantly from the transport sector, with the goal of increasing climate finance flows to cities.  The World Bank also presented its accreditation and training program to build capacity in cities.

This event serves as a useful illustration of yesterday’s ADP draft decision, which invites greater involvement by sub-national entities in the UNFCCC process. This involvement will be increasingly important in the pre- and post-2020 framework, as cities are crucial to solving the climate puzzle, and sustainable transport is essential to creating more livable, low carbon cities.

NAMAs Look Back to Look Ahead

In a side event, ECN and Ecofys launched the 2014 Annual NAMA Status Report, which in fact functions less as a retrospective than a look-ahead.  2015 is a crucial year for NAMAs as they provide a strong basis for INDCs, which are to be submitted early next year by Parties with sufficient capacity.  While the INDC process is top-down and NAMAs are bottom-up, it was determined that the two mechanisms can be neatly linked.

The event produced a number of key conclusions.  First, leverage and transformation must be key elements of NAMAs, and they must be combined to avoid reducing NAMAs to one-off projects.  Second, governments must take NAMAs seriously and treat them as true sectoral development plans to achieve transformational change.  Third, sustainable development must be more central to the NAMA discussion and co-benefits must be elaborated.  Finally, MRV is fundamental for NAMAs, and governments must clearly understand the need to include GHG mitigation potential into national carbon accounts.

The development of NAMAs is not without difficulties, as leveraging financing for NAMAs remains a key challenge, and politicization of NAMAs is a continuing obstacle.  In the discussion, participants also determined that NAMAs should be more clearly defined, and that banks and the private sector should be firmly engaged in the discussions.

Though the rise of INDCs calls into question the use of the NAMA Registry, event participants concluded that NAMAs should be institutionalized, as they offer a more accessible entry point to mitigation strategies, and thus are seen as a place of optimism.  With this optimism comes expectation, and participants agreed that while it is important to maintain momentum for NAMAs, it is more important to get the NAMA process right.

Adding to the UNFCCC’s post-2020 marathon analogy, participants asserted, “it takes two to tango;” that is, while NAMAs require additional resources, they must also be built on sound proposals.  These parallel metaphors are useful in moving the NAMA discussion toward the COP 20 finish line, while keeping the process light on its toes.

Closing Thoughts

Though blissfully removed from Lima traffic, proceedings at the COP 20 site are not flowing freely.  We are troubled by proposed revisions to the ADP draft regarding the role of non-state actors within the UNFCCC framework. The revised draft of yesterday 8 December follows specific comments from Parties who have proposed deleting most references to non-state actors; if advanced, the new draft ADP outcome could significantly reduce the clout of the sustainable transport community, as the mandate for the large majority of SLoCaT members to engage in the UNFCCC process is largely determined by this text. 

As Lima’s evening rush subsides, we are looking to further progress on the ADP front, which appears our best hope to keep sustainable transport moving full speed ahead.

Upcoming Transport Events at COP 20

Please visit the Transport Day website for a full listing of COP 20 transport events.

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