Thursday, December 9

COP26: Article Six Talks Could Finally Get Over The Line

Negotiators are frantically working at the COP26 climate summit to strike a deal on international carbon markets that has failed time and time again.

The pipeline of a coal power plant with white smoke as a concept of global warming.

Photo: 123RF

The Glasgow reports say the “Article Six” talks could finally break the line.

The talks are vitally important but devilishly complicated, and seek to finally define the rules for how international carbon markets will work.

Countries that have done better than expected in reducing emissions will be able to sell reduction credits to others struggling to meet their commitments.

Since Paris in 2015, the negotiations have never reached a resolution.

The biggest obstacles? How to prove that the reductions are real.

Another issue New Zealand is pushing against is double counting: if a country sells an emissions reduction, it cannot count it in its own pledges as well.

The former director of the Climate Change Unit of the International Energy Agency, Dr. Christina Hood, is an expert on Article Six and an expert on the COP.

He said counting twice was cheating.

“The idea that you can count on an emission reduction more than once is just not negotiable, it all falls apart if you let that happen.”

New Zealand needs to purchase two-thirds of its offshore reductions to meet our recently strengthened commitment to halve net emissions by 2030.

The government intends to develop relationships with Asia Pacific countries, for example by paying them to plant trees or by providing money for renewable energy projects.

The argument is that the atmosphere doesn’t care where the CO2 comes from, and you get more bang for your buck in developing countries.

Dr Hood said that a functioning international carbon market was essential for New Zealand to be able to keep its reduction promises.

“Negotiating things from scratch, including all the details, requires a great deal of time and resources and we will be in a much, much better position if this set of rules is implemented.”

Some countries and many environmentalists totally reject carbon trading, saying there is no evidence that it will reduce emissions.

Samoan New Zealander Marco De Jong, who is at COP26, studies the history of Pacific climate change diplomacy at Oxford.

The survival of the Pacific nations depended on keeping warming below catastrophic levels, he said.

“The Pacific has a lot to lose if Article Six goes wrong.

“This was really an opportunity [for New Zealand] to meet the kind of Pacific reboot or step-up that has been touted, but I’m not sure that’s the case at this point. “

New Zealand has said that one of its top three priorities at COP26 is to help make sure the world listens to the Pacific perspective.

But De Jong said Pacific civil society groups have had trouble meeting with New Zealand negotiators or learning their results.

“They don’t communicate at all about their position, so we’re left in the dark and you certainly can’t tell the chef what to cook at the children’s table.”

Other hooks in the Article Six talks are that developing countries want a portion of the money from international market transactions to go toward financing their climate adaptation efforts.

They argue that rich countries caused the warming, so they should pay for the damages.

And New Zealand will also push hard to avoid allowing the use of four billion gigatons of carbon credits left over from Kyoto, as that will keep the world from meeting reduction targets.

Dr. Natalie Jones is a climate researcher and writes about the COP26 negotiations for the UN news service, Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

He said that in the trading rooms New Zealand has been trying to stop efforts to set a cap on how much a country can offset its emissions by buying abroad.

Any deal will go to the end, he said.

“There are still important divisions and I would say that an agreement will be reached in the last hours of this week, so it is a matter of waiting at this point and seeing what happens.”

If the negotiations fail, they will resume in Egypt next year.

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