Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is working with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework. Read more
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A central issue in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is how best to provide for the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of parties’ mitigation actions and support. This brief describes and evaluates existing requirements under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, and outlines recommendations for building on these mechanisms to establish a more robust MRV system. This enhanced system should include: significantly strengthening the existing system of reporting and expert review, and establishing a new mechanism for peer review of mitigation actions. Peer review and expert review would together constitute the international “consultations” and “analysis” envisioned in the Copenhagen Accord.
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The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún is an opportunity for concrete progress in the international climate change effort. Key elements of success in Cancún include: 1) operational decisions improving the transparency of countries’ actions, and strengthening support for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries; and 2) a clear declaration by parties that their longer-term aim is a legally binding outcome. A Cancún agreement also should reflect individual country pledges and incorporate the temperature and finance goals of the Copenhagen Accord.
One year after the Copenhagen climate summit, parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) face immediate decisions on strengthening key aspects of the multilateral climate system, and issues concerning the future direction of the international effort.
Copenhagen did not produce a legally binding outcome, as many had hoped. The Copenhagen Accord is a political agreement, which most countries have since joined, but which has no formal standing under the UNFCCC. In Cancún, the aim is not a legally binding outcome, but a “balanced package of decisions.” A well-crafted package can deliver tangible progress in the near term despite stalemate over longer-term legal issues. It can effectively open a new phase in the evolution of the climate regime: taking steps to incrementally strengthen key elements of the international architecture, while working toward the goal of a new legally binding outcome.
Key Operational Decisions
Strengthening UNFCCC mechanisms would promote stronger action in the near term, build parties’ confidence, and create a stronger foundation for a future legally binding outcome. Parties can build on both the Bali Action Plan and the Copenhagen Accord with decisions settling fundamental issues in key areas and launching work programs to elaborate the details. Priorities are:
Improving Transparency. Greater transparency around countries’ mitigation actions—and support for developing countries—will strengthen confidence among parties and in the climate regime. An enhanced measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) system should include:
- Annual greenhouse gas inventories (phased in for developing countries); national communications every four years with improved reporting of policy actions and outcomes and of support provided or received; and biennial reports on implementation and support (with support for capacity building in all three cases, and longer reporting cycles for least developed countries).
- Expert review of all reporting inputs for accuracy, completeness and consistency with UNFCCC guidelines.
- A new system for peer review of mitigation actions: an in-session interactive dialogue, based on expert and party inputs, with public release of inputs and proceedings, and facilitative consequences.
Supporting Mitigation and Adaptation in Developing Countries. A stronger support system should include:
- Finance—A new multilateral climate fund with an independent board under the guidance of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP); a new finance body to advise the COP and promote coordination among funding institutions; and a registry to link finance to mitigation actions.
- Adaptation—A new adaptation framework to support adaptation planning and implementation in developing countries.
- Forestry—A new REDD+ mechanism to build capacity within developing countries to reduce deforestation and emissions from other land use activities.
- Technology—A new technology body to advise the COP on technology-related issues; and a climate technology center and network.
Aiming for a Legally Binding Outcome
Most parties voice support for the goal of new legally binding commitments, but they remain far apart on the specific form and timing of such an outcome. While some want it to bind all major economies, many among that group disagree; while some favor new targets under the Kyoto Protocol with a parallel agreement under the UNFCCC, others prefer a single comprehensive agreement. These differences cannot be bridged in Cancún. Parties should affirmatively declare their intent to work toward a binding outcome, while leaving open all options on specific legal form, including new commitments under Kyoto.
Additional Goals and Pledges
Decisions in Cancun also should:
- Adopt the long-term goal of holding the increase in average global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, with periodic reviews of that goal beginning in 2015;
- Incorporate the Copenhagen Accord goals of $30 billion in fast-start finance for developing countries in 2010-2012, and $100 billion a year in public and private finance by 2020; and
- Anchor individual country pledges (emission targets for developed countries, and mitigation actions for developing countries) like those in the Copenhagen Accord.
Other Center resources:
- The Evolution of Multilateral Regimes: Implications for Climate Change, December 2010
- Strengthening International Climate Finance, December 2010.
- MRV: A Survey of Reporting and Review in Multilateral Regimes, December 2010.
- Strengthening Measurement, Reporting and Verification, December 2010.
- Cancun - COP 16 page
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With climate finance needs in developing countries projected to grow significantly in coming decades, governments are considering steps under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to strengthen international climate finance. Key steps include: establishing a new multilateral climate fund with an independent board under the guidance of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP); a new UNFCCC finance body to advise the COP and promote coordination among funding institutions; a registry mechanism to link finance to mitigation actions; and stronger procedures for reporting and verifying flows.
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One of the central issues in the international climate change negations is the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of countries’ actions. This brief examines reporting and review practices in other major multilateral regimes and, drawing on these examples, outlines the essential elements of an enhanced system of MRV under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). To move the climate MRV system closer to the norms set by other multilateral regimes, the next stage in its evolution should entail significantly strengthening the existing system of reporting and expert review, and establishing an additional layer of peer review.
Back to Cancun - COP 16 page
Click here to download the article (PDF).
By Eileen Claussen
This article originally appeared in Environmental Finance.
The US failure to pass comprehensive climate legislation obscures real efforts towards reducing emissions – and should not be an obstacle to meaningful progress in Cancún, says Eileen Claussen.
The shift in expectations between the Copenhagen and Cancun negotiations is stark. Unlike the unrealistic hope of striking a new climate treaty held by many last year, no major deal is expected at this year’s global climate change conference in Mexico. But calmer conditions heading into Cancun this December offer a greater chance of meaningful progress on the long voyage to a new international agreement.
Last year’s summit produced the Copenhagen Accord, a political agreement including (for the first time ever) explicit emissions reduction pledges from all major economies. While most agree that a legally binding agreement is still the ultimate goal of these ongoing negotiations, the best plausible outcome in Cancun would be a set of concrete decisions that strengthen the international climate framework.
Core among these decisions: steps to scale up finance to developing countries; and steps to promote transparency so that all nations can be confident that others are fulfilling their pledges. These agreements would open the door to decisions on support for adaptation, climate-friendly technology diffusion, and forest protection. A balanced package like this would mark real progress in Cancun. None of this will be easy. When we consider the domestic challenges many countries face in advancing climate action, especially during difficult economic times, an already complex picture gets extraordinarily muddled.
The United States and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, stand out as chief obstacles. There cannot be a binding international treaty without them, and right now, neither is able or willing to negotiate one. As China solidifies itself as a global clean energy leader, outspending the United States nearly two-to-one in clean energy investments last year, its emissions continue to soar. And when it comes to addressing climate change globally, China is not distinguishing itself as a leader. China seems reluctant to be transparent about its actions, is unwilling to accept any kind of binding commitment, and opposes a global emissions goal since that would have implications for Chinese emissions.
Meanwhile, the United States has attracted a great deal of attention for its failure to enact national climate legislation, but it is not alone among developed countries. Australia, Canada, and Japan also lack comprehensive national greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction laws. Still, the world looks to America to act.
The United States’ inability to move decisively makes it a big target for those looking to blame someone for the slow pace of the international climate talks. The Obama administration has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the United States’ Copenhagen pledge – reducing emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. But it must show the international community that it has a genuine strategy for achieving that goal.
Such a roadmap should lay out step by step the various regulatory actions that will start to deliver real reductions in U.S. emissions, while establishing a timetable for enacting domestic climate legislation. Without that, America runs the risk of looking like it is backing away from its pledge, thereby opening the door for other countries to follow suit. U.S. leadership in the form of an emissions reduction strategy would go a long way toward keeping other countries honest and engaged.
Indeed, even in the absence of comprehensive U.S. legislation, federal regulations and the marketplace can combine to deliver positive results for the climate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already is taking reasonable steps under the Clean Air Act that will reduce emissions from transportation and utilities sectors, which account for about two-thirds of U.S. GHG output. Tougher auto efficiency standards requiring 35.5 miles per gallon on average by 2016, with a proposed increase to 62 MPH by 2025, offer clear climate benefits. New standards for hazardous air pollutants will force the retirement of as many as one-third of existing U.S. coal-fired power plants over the next decade. Their likely replacements: natural gas-fired plants that produce fewer GHGs.
Meantime, new shale gas discoveries are driving down market prices, making natural gas an attractive alternative that will reduce emissions in the near term. And although still a small portion of total U.S. electricity generation, wind power has increased by 40 percent annually in recent years. This all suggests that U.S. emissions will hold steady or even decline over the next decade.
Despite key obstacles to a binding deal – including the lack of U.S. legislation and China’s hard-line positions – I believe that the Cancun meeting in December can deliver on many of the nuts-and-bolts decisions critical to advancing the international framework. Whether or not we can forge comprehensive solutions at the international or domestic levels is not the test of progress at this juncture. Rather, in Washington, Beijing, and Cancun, it is time to put one foot in front of the other and take the steps that will keep us on track to our ultimate destination: real reductions in emissions at all levels and an effective, ratifiable global climate agreement.
Eileen Claussen is President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Beijing Workshop on Reporting Practices Related to Climate Change and Other International Challenges
One of the central issues in the international climate change negotiations is the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of countries’ mitigation actions and of support for developing country efforts.
In order to contribute to broader understanding of these issues, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Tsinghua University co-hosted an informal workshop on reporting practices related to climate change and other international challenges on October 11 in Beijing.
The workshop focused on four topics: domestic MRV of mitigation efforts in China and the United States; MRV of support; reporting and review processes in other multilateral regimes such as the WTO, the IMF, and the Montreal Protocol; and lessons for international MRV of climate action. Participants included experts and representatives of multilateral institutions, NGOs and government ministries. The agenda and presentations are provided below.
BEIJING WORKSHOP ON REPORTING PRACTICES RELATED TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGES
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
and Tsinghua University
October 11, 2010
- Elliot Diringer, Vice President for International Strategies, Pew Center
- He Jiankun, Director of Low Carbon Energy Lab, Tsinghua University; Vice President for Expert Panel on Climate Change
Domestic MRV Practices and Challenges
- China: Teng Fei, Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy, Tsinghua University
- U.S.: Clare Breidenich, Independent Consultant
MRV of Climate Support
- Jane Ellis, Principal Analyst – Climate Change, OECD
Multilateral Reporting and Review
- IMF: Il Houng Lee, Senior Resident Representative – Beijing Office, IMF
- WTO: Lu Xiaojie, Law School of Tsinghua University
- Montreal Protocol: Sheng Shuo Lang, former Deputy Chief Officer of the Multilateral Fund
Lessons for International MRV
- Elliot Diringer, Vice President for International Strategies, Pew Center
- Teng Fei, Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy, Tsinghua University
Featuring Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, Special Representative for Climate Change, Mexico
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the Mexican Embassy to the United States will hold a public briefing in Washington, DC, on the global climate change negotiations featuring Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, Special Representative for Climate Change, Mexico.
When: Thursday, September 16, 2010 from 12:00-1:00PM
Where: Cannon House Office Building, Room 210
One year after the Copenhagen climate summit, governments will gather November 29 to December 10 in Cancún for the sixteenth Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The United States and other countries hope to build on the political consensus among leaders in Copenhagen with formal decisions in Cancún on issues including mitigation, adaptation, finance, forestry, and transparency. As host of the conference, the Mexican government plays a critical role in facilitating the negotiations, working with the parties to steer the process to a successful outcome. Ambassador de Alba will provide an overview of the negotiations and expectations for Cancún.
The following table compares the international provisions detailed in the American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey), the International Climate Change Investment Act (Kerry), and the American Power Act (Kerry-Lieberman).
American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454, as passed by the House)
International Climate Change Investment Act of 2009 (S.2835, as introduced)
American Power Act (discussion draft, 5/12/2010)
Findings and Purposes
Relation to Domestic Emissions Reduction
Linking of emission trading systems
Relation to Domestic Emission Reduction
Competitiveness and emissions leakage
Direct International Support
Federal Oversight Board
Direct International Support
Direct International Support
Direct International Support
Direct International Support
Direct International Support
Assistance for Clean Technology Activities
Congressional Testimony of Elliot Diringer: Climate Change Finance and Providing Assistance for Vulnerable Countries
Testimony of Elliot Diringer
Vice President, International Strategies
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Submitted to the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment
Committee on Foreign Affairs
U. S. House of Representatives
July 27, 2010
Climate Change Finance: Providing Assistance for Vulnerable Countries
Click here to download a PDF of the testimony.
Chairman Faleomavaega, Ranking Member Manzullo, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the critical challenge of ensuring U.S. financial support for climate change efforts in developing countries. My name is Elliot Diringer, and I am the Vice President for International Strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing practical and effective policies to address global climate change. Our work is informed by our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), a group of 46 major companies, most in the Fortune 500, that work with the Center to educate opinion leaders on climate change risks, challenges, and solutions. The Pew Center is also a founding member of the U. S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) , a coalition of 23 leading businesses and five environmental organizations that have come together to call on the federal government to enact strong national legislation to significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Mr. Chairman, the Pew Center believes that providing sustained financial support to developing countries is in the U.S. national interest and an essential ingredient for a meaningful global response to the urgent challenge of climate change. While some developing countries have adequate resources to finance their own climate efforts, most do not. They need our help both in mitigation (deploying policies and technologies to reduce their rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions) and in adaptation (coping with the unavoidable impacts of a warming climate). Delivering adequate support will require decisions here in Washington to mobilize the United States’ fair share of the necessary resources. And it will require effective multilateral agreements ensuring that in return, all major economies – both developed and developing – contribute equitably to the global climate effort.
In my testimony, I would like to outline some of the reasons we believe it is in our strong national interest to provide sustained climate support to developing countries; suggest principles to guide a U.S. climate finance strategy at home and abroad; and recommend domestic and international policy frameworks to generate and effectively deploy climate finance.
My principal points are as follows:
- There are strong environmental, security, economic, humanitarian and diplomatic rationales for supporting developing countries’ climate efforts. Developing countries are unlikely to commit to strong climate action without assurances of sustained finance, severely weakening prospects for an effective global response to climate change. Providing this support will reduce the United States’ exposure to climate impacts and related security risks, and will help ensure strong markets for U.S. clean energy technologies.
- In both domestic policy and multilateral negotiations, U.S. strategy on international climate finance should promote reliability, accountability, coherence, efficiency and the preservation of national sovereignty.
- Key international objectives should be the establishment of a new multilateral climate fund, as agreed in the Copenhagen Accord; creation of a finance body to promote coherence and coordination among multilateral and bilateral finance efforts; and adoption of clear guidelines for the verification of financial flows and supported actions.
- These steps should be agreed only in the context of a balanced package that includes effective international procedures to verify the mitigation actions of all major-emitting countries.
- Domestically, Congress should approve the Administration’s request for increased international climate appropriations in FY 2011; establish a dedicated funding source, such as a set-aside of emission allowances, to sustain higher levels of finance in the future; and establish an interagency trust fund board to allocate these funds, subject to Congressional oversight.
Why the U.S. Should Provide Sustained Climate Assistance to Developing Countries
Climate change is a global predicament in which causes and effects are distributed unequally. All countries face the consequences of a warming climate. However, some countries, including the United States, have far greater capacity to cope with them. These same countries, by and large, also bear far greater responsibility for the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions that have begun to alter our climate.
For these reasons, the world’s developed countries, including the United States, have committed to lead the global climate effort and to support the mitigation and adaptation efforts of developing countries. These general commitments are contained in the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC), signed by President George H. W. Bush and unanimously ratified by the Senate.
Responsibility, however, is only one rationale for fulfilling these commitments. Sustained U.S. support for developing countries is in our national interest from multiple perspectives:
- Environmental – Dangerous climate change can be averted only with the concerted efforts of all major emitting countries. While some have begun to take action, and such unilateral efforts are likely to grow, achieving a critical mass of effort on a global scale will require durable multilateral agreements through which countries can be confident that all are undertaking their fair share. For developing countries to sign on to such agreements, they will need reasonable assurance that developed countries will significantly scale up their financial support. Sustained U.S. support is therefore essential for the global deal we need to reduce our exposure to potentially catastrophic climate risks.
- National security – The U.S. military now recognizes that unabated climate change poses rising risks to our national security and new demands on our military resources. In its latest Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon says climate change may act as “an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.” In strained regions, chronic drought, rising seas, extreme weather and other climate impacts could undermine weak governments, induce mass migrations, and trigger or heighten resource competition, contributing to social instability and, potentially, armed conflict. U.S. support would mitigate these risks, first, by helping to reduce global GHG emissions, thereby limiting impacts, and second, by helping poor, highly vulnerable countries anticipate and manage the stresses of climate change.
- Economic – China, Germany and other countries are taking a lead in a global clean energy market projected to attract more than $1.5 trillion in investment over the coming decade. As the United States positions itself to compete, it has a vested interest in ensuring that developing countries have the technical, institutional and financial capacity to adopt clean energy technologies. U.S. finance can help establish, and ease the entry of U.S. firms into, these new markets.
- Humanitarian – An important dimension of U.S. leadership is our readiness to assist those in need, whether the victims of Haiti’s tragic earthquake or the millions in Africa suffering HIV/AIDS. Within 10 years, global warming may reduce crop yields in parts of Africa by as much as half; by 2050, rising seas could displace as many as 30 million people in Bangladesh, and receding glaciers could leave a billion others across Asia facing chronic water shortages. Increasingly, the United States’ humanitarian record will be seen against a backdrop of worsening climate impacts.
- Diplomatic – A willingness to assist vulnerable countries is among the strongest levers available to the United States to secure meaningful climate commitments from China and other major developing countries. In Copenhagen, China showed flexibility on U.S. demands for transparency only after Secretary of State Clinton proposed a long-term finance goal, which fractured the developing country bloc by drawing support from many least developed and small island countries. With further progress on finance, this dynamic can be expected to continue as negotiations go forward.
Policy Context and Challenges
The Copenhagen Accord represents an important step toward an effective international climate framework. Although nonbinding, the Accord reflects a political consensus among world leaders on key elements, including: a goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius; a balanced but differentiated approach to mitigation, with economy-wide emission targets for developed countries and nationally appropriate actions for developing countries; and agreement in principle on how these efforts are to be verified. To date, 109 countries have associated with the Accord. Fifty-six countries accounting for more than 80 percent of global emissions – including China and the other major emerging economies – have pledged specific targets or actions.
In the area of finance, the Accord calls for a new Copenhagen Green Climate Fund; sets a goal of $30 billion in mitigation and adaptation assistance from developed countries in 2010-2012; and sets a goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in public and private finance for developing countries by 2020, in the “context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency in implementation.”
Fulfilling the Copenhagen Accord requires action at home by the United States and other countries and further agreement among parties on operating rules and mechanisms. With respect to finance, the immediate priority is delivering on the goal of $30 billion in “fast-track” support. At President Obama’s request, Congress increased international climate appropriations more than three-fold in FY 2010, to $1.3 billion. The President has proposed a further increase, to $1.9 billion, in FY 2011. These funds would help address urgent needs and, as an important signal of Congress’ intent, would help advance U.S. negotiating objectives. The Pew Center strongly urges Congress to fully fund this request.
The broader challenge on climate finance is two-fold. First, the United States must establish a domestic strategy to generate and effectively manage its share of the long-term finance envisioned under the Accord. Second, the United States must work with other countries to establish multilateral financial arrangements compatible with this domestic funding strategy. I will offer recommendations in both of these areas later in my testimony.
The upcoming U.N. Climate Conference in Cancún presents a major opportunity to begin elaborating the international financial architecture. Any further agreement on finance, however, should come in the context of a balanced package also advancing other key issues. Chief among these is the issue of transparency. Having agreed in Copenhagen that all parties’ actions are to be verifiable – and that developing country actions are to undergo “international consultation and analysis” – parties must now begin to establish this system of accountability.
We believe that in the long run the goal must be a comprehensive treaty with binding commitments for all major economies. We will likely get there, however, only in stages. For now, the objective should be to build on the Copenhagen consensus with nuts-and-bolts decisions on finance, transparency, and other key operational areas. As the architecture takes shape, and countries move forward with domestic implementation, they will hopefully gain the confidence needed to convert their current political pledges into more ambitious binding commitments.
Objectives of a U.S. Climate Support Strategy
The Copenhagen Accord, as noted, envisions a mix of public and private finance for developing countries. While there is no consensus on the appropriate mix, there is broad acceptance that the carbon market and other private finance will comprise a substantial portion. Indeed, with a strong carbon market, private finance could generate a substantial majority of needed flows. There is also broad recognition, however, that a significant increase in public finance is needed to build mitigation capacity, so that countries can establish the policies and practices necessary to attract private investment, and to support adaptation. Our recommendations focus primarily on the public finance portion.
We believe that U.S. strategy on international climate finance, both in domestic policy and in multilateral negotiations, should reflect the following objectives:
- Reliability – To be politically credible and effective, new support must be steady and predictable. Strong, stable climate agreements will not be feasible without reliable financial flows. Nor will developing countries be able to build the capacities needed to become more self-reliant in meeting the climate challenge.
- Accountability – Clear, workable guidelines are needed to verify the delivery of support and the performance of supported actions.
- Coherence – Support will flow through multiple channels – public and private, bilateral and multilateral – to address a wide range of needs. Mechanisms are needed to set priorities and to promote coordination and consistency.
- Efficiency – Rapidly scaling up support calls for fully leveraging, and not replicating, the capacities of existing institutions and for deploying public finance in ways that maximally leverage private flows.
- Sovereignty – National prerogatives must be respected and preserved. Donor countries should retain discretion on the means of generating, and avenues for delivering, increased finance. Recipient countries should be able to access finance directly (through national, rather than multilateral, implementing entities).
An International Climate Finance Architecture
Climate support is presently provided through an array of bilateral and multilateral channels, including a number of funds established under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. In this largely ad hoc structure, funding levels are erratic and well below assessed needs, there is little coordination among the various funding entities, and developing countries frequently complain of difficulty in accessing those funds that are available.
A major aim of the ongoing UNFCCC negotiations is the establishment of new financial arrangements to ensure stronger, predictable flows and improved access to funding. Many developing countries have advocated a comprehensive new apparatus under the UNFCCC to centrally gather and disburse funding for the full range of mitigation and adaptation needs. We believe a more practical and politically viable approach is a finance framework that promotes adequate, reliable flows by encouraging a variety of funding mechanisms and channels, while ensuring greater consistency, coordination and accountability. The major elements of this enhanced architecture should include: a new multilateral climate fund, as agreed in the Copenhagen Accord; a new finance body to advise the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP); and clear guidelines for the verification of financial flows and supported actions.
A New Climate Fund – Principal issues in the design of a new climate fund include its intended uses, its governance structure, and how it will be funded.
We believe a new multilateral climate fund should serve as a principal, but not exclusive, mechanism for delivering public finance to developing countries. It could support any or all of the following activities: capacity building (to help countries analyze mitigation potentials, develop national policies, and institute measurement and verification systems); adaptation planning and implementation; technology deployment; forestry-related measures; and other types of mitigation programs. In determining the fund’s scope, countries must assess and modify existing UNFCCC funds accordingly to avoid funding gaps and redundancies.
The new fund should be governed by an independent board operating under the guidance of, and accountable to, the COP, but not under its direct authority. This would allow the COP to set broad policy directions and maintain oversight, while reducing the risk of procedural delays and political interference. For this arrangement to be acceptable to developing countries, many of which prefer that the fund be under the direct authority of the COP, it is essential that the board’s composition and decision-making provide for balanced representation. These could be modeled on the provisional Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) formed in 2008 by the United States and other major economies. The CIFs’ Trust Fund Committees include equal representation from contributor and recipient countries and operate by consensus.
Another concern is the new funds’ relationship to existing multilateral financial institutions, in particular the World Bank. Many developing countries object to the Bank’s donor-weighted governance structure and feel it has been unresponsive to their concerns; stakeholder groups are critical of its historic support for carbon-intensive energy development. While both sets of concerns warrant continued reforms at the Bank, they should not preclude it from an appropriate role in a new climate fund. Given the urgency and scale of the climate finance challenge, countries must take full advantage of available capacities and expertise. The Bank should be a candidate to serve as the new fund’s trustee, a strictly fiduciary role. And parties should explore seconding staff from the Bank and from other multilateral development banks and agencies to form an independent secretariat supporting the new climate fund.
A wide range of proposed funding sources are being examined by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, but near-term agreement on any particular revenue mechanism, particularly one at the international level, appears unlikely. In the absence of such a mechanism, countries should agree on an indicative scale of assessment establishing their relative contributions to the new climate fund and set funding targets through periodic pledging (every three to five years); each should decide for itself how to generate its respective contribution. This scale of assessment could take into account factors such as a country’s total and per capita emissions and GDP, and should be evolving, so that emerging economies also contribute as they achieve higher levels of development.
A UNFCCC Finance Body – As noted, a new climate fund would be one among many means of delivering climate support. This disaggregated architecture has the advantage of encouraging multiple bilateral and multilateral channels, thereby achieving the highest feasible overall flow. A mechanism is needed, however, to promote some degree of coordination and coherence among these efforts.
We believe this role is best served by a new UNFCCC body appointed by the COP to advise it on finance-related issues. Specifically, this finance body, comprised of parties and independent experts, could:
- Recommend broad funding priorities to guide the allocation decisions of multilateral funds and bilateral donors;
- Continually assess finance needs and progress toward meeting finance objectives;
- Review the performance of, and recommend further guidance to, UNFCCC funds;
- Provide a forum where multilateral and bilateral donors could seek to coordinate their efforts;
- Promote harmonization of application procedures; and
- Recommend guidelines for the measurement and verification of finance.
Verification – Parties have agreed in principle that their mitigation actions – and that support for developing country actions – are to be measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV). A goal for Cancún should be agreement on the basic parameters of an MRV system so that detailed guidelines can then be developed.
Verification of finance will require stronger tracking and reporting of financial flows and some form of UNFCCC review. For the system to be credible, there must be some further delineation of what flows, both public and private, qualify as “climate finance.”
Developing countries agreed in Copenhagen that “supported” mitigation actions would be subject to “international verification.” In the case of bilateral finance, the United States and other donors can be expected to apply their own verification standards. But COP guidance is needed to ensure some consistency among them and to define how MRV applies to multilateral support.
A balanced agreement must also address MRV of the mitigation actions taken by developing countries without international assistance, which under the Copenhagen Accord are subject to “international consultations and analysis.” This includes a substantial majority of the actions pledged by China and other major emerging economies. We believe that effective MRV of these unilateral efforts will require: biennial GHG inventories and implementation reports from developing countries; a technical review and report by experts; an open peer review based on the expert report and parties’ inputs; and publication of all reports and the peer review conclusions. Similar MRV procedures should apply to the mitigation actions of developed countries as well.
Domestic Policy Issues
In the domestic policy context, there are two principal needs: a stable funding base enabling the United States to provide sustained support for developing country efforts; and a mechanism to allocate and coordinate those resources and ensure strong Congressional oversight.
A Stable Funding Base – Unless it is prepared to support some form of international revenue-generating mechanism, the United States must rely on domestically generated resources for its share of future international climate finance. Past U.S. climate support has come through appropriations by Congress to multiple agencies, including the Departments of State, Treasury, Energy, Commerce and Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The core climate assistance budget averaged $237 million a year from 2001 to 2009, before rising to $1.3 billion in FY 2010.
We urge Congress to approve the President’s request for increased appropriations in FY 2011, and to consider a further increase in FY 2012, enabling the United States to provide a reasonable share of the $30 billion in “fast-start” resources pledged collectively by developed countries in Copenhagen. However, looking toward 2020, with competing demands on the federal budget and the growing imperative of deficit reduction, there is no certainty that appropriations alone can provide the level of sustained support that is needed. We believe that the United States will prove a more reliable partner in the global climate effort, and that the prospects for effective climate agreements will be greatly enhanced, if Congress establishes a dedicated source of funding.
Ideally, this source should derive from GHG-generating economic activities, and thereby help to correct the market failures that contribute to climate change. Our first choice would be a set-aside of emission allowances in an economy-wide cap-and-trade system regulating U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. While there now appears little prospect of cap-and-trade legislation in this Congress, we continue to believe strongly in the value of a market-based approach to reducing U.S. emissions. Properly designed, a cap-and-trade system can minimize the costs of meeting our environmental goals, create an ongoing incentive for technological innovation, and generate resources for critical climate investments, including international finance.
We commend the House for its approval of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, and the inclusion of specific set-asides to support adaptation, reduced deforestation and technology deployment in developing countries. At projected allowance prices, these set-asides would generate about $8.5 billion in public finance for developing countries in 2020. According to EPA’s analysis, the purchase of international emission offsets authorized under H.R. 2454 could also generate on the order of $20 billion of private investment in developing countries in 2020. Combined, these set-asides and offset purchases would meet or exceed the presumed U.S. share of the $100 billion goal set under the Copenhagen Accord.
Other potential sources of public finance that we believe may be worth exploring include:
- International shipping and aviation – Two sectors drawing particular attention from the international community because of their trans-boundary nature and rising emissions are international shipping and aviation. A number of the proposals by countries to limit or reduce their emissions could serve simultaneously to generate finance for developing countries. Some parties have proposed international levies on bunker fuels or other forms of emission charges. Alternatively, countries could agree to apply such charges nationally and to dedicate a portion of the proceeds to international climate finance. In such an approach, the United States would directly administer any charges at domestic ports and decide how to apportion the resulting revenues.
- Fossil fuel subsidies/royalties – Another option is to redirect some of the federal tax subsidies provided for fossil fuel production, or of the federal royalties it generates. The United States and other G20 countries agreed last year in Pittsburgh to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” The President’s proposed FY 2012 budget calls for ending a number of oil and gas subsidies, generating an estimated $39 billion in revenue through 2020.
- Levy on international offsets – Another potential source, assuming the establishment of a federal cap-and-trade system, would be a levy on international emission offsets entering the domestic market. A similar levy on the international Clean Development Mechanism presently supports the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol.
Coordinating U.S. Support – Regardless of the source of finance, a coherent strategy for sustained U.S. support requires a mechanism to coordinate across federal entities. Ideally, Congress should establish a trust fund to receive appropriated or dedicated funds and a board to oversee it. The board would develop a long-term climate support strategy and, on that basis, make annual allocations to bilateral and multilateral programs.
To best align the funding strategy with broader U.S. diplomatic objectives, the board should be chaired by the Secretary of State. Other members should include the Secretaries of Treasury, Energy, Agriculture and Commerce, and the Administrators of USAID and EPA. The board should report regularly to Congress, its executive director should be Senate-confirmed, and Congress should use other means at its disposal to ensure strong oversight
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, we believe sustained U.S. support for climate efforts in developing countries is a sound and prudent investment in the environmental, economic and national security of the United States. We strongly urge Congress to increase appropriations for “fast-track” finance, and to establish the means for providing long-term support in the context of agreements ensuring that all major economies contribute equitably to the global climate effort. I would be pleased to answer your questions.
 Department of Defense, 2010. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, Page 85. Available at http://www.defense.gov/qdr/images/QDR_as_of_12Feb10_1000.pdf
 Fingar, T., 2008. Testimony Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, 25 June 2008 and; Center for Naval Analyses, 2007. National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, Military Advisory Board, Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), April 2007. Available at http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/National%20Security%20and%20the%20Threat%20of%20Climate%20Change.pdf.
 Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 2010. Clean Energy Markets: Jobs and Opportunities, April 2010 Update. Available at http://www.c2es.org/publications/brief/clean-energy-markets-jobs-and-opportunities.
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007. Summary for Policy Makers. Available at http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf.
 Copenhagen Accord. Available at http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/cop15/eng/11a01.pdf#page=.4.
 The 27 Member States of the European Union are counted here as a single entity. Emission reduction targets pledged by developed countries are available at http://unfccc.int/home/items/5264.php. Mitigation actions pledged by developing countries are available at http://unfccc.int/home/items/5265.php.
 Office of Management and Budget, Federal Climate Change Expenditures, Report to Congress for Fiscal Years 2003-2008 and 2011.
 Purvis, N. and Stevenson A., 2010. International Provisions in U.S. Climate Legislation. Available at http://www.climateadvisers.com/pdf/International%20Provisions%20in%20U.S.%20Climate%20Legislation.pdf.
 Environmental Protection Agency, 2009. EPA Analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009—H.R. 2454 in the 111th Congress, 23 June 2009. Available at http://epa.gov/climatechange/economics/pdfs/HR2454_Analysis.pdf.
 G20 Leaders’ Statement, The Pittsburgh Summit, 24-25 September 2009. Available at http://www.g20.org/Documents/pittsburgh_summit_leaders_statement_250909.pdf.
 Office of Management and Budget, 2010. Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2011. Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2011/assets/budget.pdf.
These papers are part of ongoing work by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions to help clarify issues and options in the international climate change negotiations.
Click to download the following papers.
- MRV: Design Issues and Options
This paper aims to provide a high-level overview of issues and corresponding options related to measurement, reporting and verification in three areas: 1) developed country mitigation, 2) developing country mitigation, and 3) the provision of finance and implementation of supported NAMAs.
- Key Features of Selected Multilateral Review Processes
This matrix compares the key features of multilateral review processes of the OECD, WTO, UN Human Rights Council and the IMF.
- MRV in a Post-2012 Climate Agreement
- Side Event on MRV at UNFCCC Talks - April 2009
- Post-2012 Climate Policy Brief: Verifying Mitigation Efforts in a New Climate Agreement