Blog Posts

Diversity is the word

Photo: IISD

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis
Fundación Biosfera, CANLA

Following the Latin America and the Caribbean regions in the UNFCCC negotiations is sometimes difficult. The region has numerous and diverse countries; Brazil and Mexico are large countries that have larger economies and then countries like Haiti and Nicaragua are on the other end of the spectrum, with a big range of middle income countries in between. While Spanish is the main language, Portuguese, English, Dutch, and French are spoken in some countries as well.

Nevertheless, Latin America has always dreamed about Latin American Unity, a very ambitious desire to become one united continent with one voice and one common objective: a better life, but in our own way. And here is where the problem creates division. Being such a diverse continent can not only be interesting, fruitful and rich, but can lead to differentiation and difficulties to find middle grounds and common priorities.

It is not difficult to understand. In the end, it is what happens in any international arena, when different countries want to reach agreement on different issues. But Latin America is different, there is this sort of desire to get unity, because of the history our countries share, the same independence and sovereignty feelings, and this is probably what produces frustration when an agreement is not reached.

But not all is frustration, nor impotence facing a Latin American Unity. In this intersessional, GRULAC agreed easily to endorse Peru's nomination as COP 20 Host and Venezuela's nomination for Pre-COP 20 Ministerial meeting. This issue brought a new air of collaboration for the region, as all parties agreed to truly support each other and give a Latin American flavour to the year 2014. For Latin American countries It is very important to work together, support each other and contribute together to the global work that is being undertaken. What can be more encouraging than promoting climate action in a region that is young, positive and resilient. Hopefully the Latin rhythms, the sun, and the landscapes can inspire everyone to work together for what the world needs to achieve in 2014 on climate action.




CAN’s Leadership Development Programme and Its relevance to the South


Sixbert Simon Mwanga
Climate Action Network-Tanzania

Yes, it is true that CAN is the largest and most vibrant network in the world working on climate change. Members of the Network work closely to address the causes and harmful impacts of climate change. About 850 NGOs invigolate CAN’s coordination in more than 90 countries of the earth with varying levels of development and diffuse geographical locations.

CAN uses multi-dimensional approaches to address the catastrophe of climate change in different parts of the world. No doubt, different regions of the world are affected  differently and the level of impacts differ much from one region to another. Hence, “no one size fits all.” To respond to and fill the knowledge gap in the South, CAN has been undertaking both short and long term training to its members especially from the global south.

In 2012, CAN initiated the Leadership Development Programme. 8 Fellows were selected from 8 countries of the world. From Tanzania I was selected to join other fellows.

The usefulness of the programme to the South
The main challenge of the south is the knowledge  gap on what is going on at the global level in terms of science, UNFCCC discussions, decisions and their implications to the south. This programme comes with unique opportunity to bridge that gap as it involves training of the Fellows on the UNFCCC processes, its decissions and their implications to a given region or country. This also gives Fellows confidence to communicate relevant decisions made to the local media and community of the participant’s region or country.

The programme has helped to create a sense of awareness as to what the science says and its meaning at local levels. LDP Fellows are given unique opportunity to interact with recent scientific reports and scientists who are normally available at UNFCCC workshops to dissermination their findings. These kinds of information  and interactions are important to the south as they give confidence to the Fellows and the Fellows can then inform the public and recommend appropriate action.

The project also builds capacity to engage delegates and undertake meetings with country delegations during the UNFCCC discussions and decisions. This provides good opportunities for representing public concerns. It might be hard to believe but it is true that most of the UNFCCC delegates from the south have limited understanding of what is happening at the ground. The reason is that some of the delegates are living in towns and are fully engaged in other activities at their offices.

It is undoubtedly true that the programme is costlly. However, the harmful impacts of climate change are already beyond the means for mitigation and adapatation in the south. Furthermore, when aid is given through one window, it seems as if half of it is always taken back via another.  So thanks to CAN for investing in bridging the knowledge gap between leadership capacity, UNFCCC discussions, decisisions, climate science and the best ways to communicate them at local levels for informed actions.

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Obviously the world is changing…


Lama Ghaddar

Changes are happening on different levels: political, economic and demographic.

Arabs’ policies are changing too… the Arab region is already being impacted by climate change. They will have to survive through important economic challenges and environmental threats in the near future.

Arabs countries were drilling the earth for black gold and ignoring the climate change deterioration. What changed after hosting the 2012 December UN Climate negotiations (COP18) in an Arab Country? Apparently, Arabs are now more headed for green-growth policies that seek to make the processes of economic growth more environmentally friendly, more resource efficient and more resilient without slowing down their growth pace. Arabian governments are remedying the situation and they are looking and planning for strong strategies that enable them to implement and build their strength, resilience, and democratic institutions.

“Qatar and PIK announce creation of climate change research institute” a title that drew my attention. I thought that it is worthwhile to share it with the rest of the world.

A new Climate Change Research Institute and a Global Climate Change Forum are being set-up and it will be based in Qatar. It will seek to fill critical gaps in research on mitigation, adaptation and climate resiliency for key regions such as tropics, sub-tropics and dry lands. The aforementioned institutes are the first of their kind in the region. A country whose wealth is founded on fossil fuels, Qatar, will have much attention is directed toward itself. We are all waiting for the results of this amazing initiative, hoping that Qatar will inspire the rest of the Arab world to start developing longterm strategies that address the economic, social and environmental challenges facing this region. Governments should integrate into their policies and plans climate change mitigation and adaption to its effects.

Today Arab countries are undergoing seminal transitions politically and demographically. So together, Arabs countries and communities can make a progress towards an Arab green economy and a stable region. It is time to join developed countries and unite our efforts.

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SBI 38: Shouldn’t Give Up Even Though the Negotiations Get Rough!

Henriette Imelda
Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR)

Attending SBI 38 session in Bonn Germany for about 2 weeks is not something that can be enjoyable when you have to sacrifice so many things back home. Travel one-way take around 18 hours consisting of flights, trains and ‘enjoying’ the traffic towards the airport back home. It would be nice to have something in return, a good and worthwhile return, such as progress in the climate change negotiations.

After the closing of Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Actions (AWG-LCA) and Ad-hoc Working Group on Kyoto Protocol in Doha at the end of 2012, now SBI (Subsidiary Body for Implementation) and SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice) do play the important roles to enhance all actions within the climate change negotiations. All things now should be followed up by the two sessions. SBI, for instance, should take forward the issues of the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), Loss and Damage, as well as National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and other important agenda items. The above issues are crucially important for developing countries to move forward. We need the assurance that we can move forward to implement the above agendas at the national level. Having SBI stuck with the procedurals agenda, due to Russia leading the blocking of adopting the meeting’s agenda, leaves us to wonder, what will take place in Warsaw?

I guess the experience of having heat waves in 2010, in Russia, doesn’t really bother them. Even the flood in Magdeburg, last Saturday, a city in eastern part of Germany that has relocated over 3000 people, didn’t really touch their hearts. But does it? Or maybe the desire to have more power back home exceeds the suffering of the innocent people who do not understand what these “politics” really mean.

I don’t really know what will happen in Warsaw, but I still believe that we can move forward. Like a song that says about keeping a relationship alive, I hope that we could all  sing the same tune and keep that in our minds what needs to happen each day for a 2015 global climate deal. We shouldn’t give up on the negotiations, even the negotiations get rough because God knows that it’s worth it, so we shouldn’t be the people who walk away so easily. 

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Aviation Sector Emissions and Impacts on South Asia

Vositha Wijenayake
Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator
CAN South Asia

The emissions from aviation have become a key concern for most states currently, including those of South Asia as they contribute to around 2.0-2.5% of the current total annual global CO2 emissions.

Emissions from aviation in developed countries (domestic and international) account for approximately 3.5% of their total emissions. A rough estimate indicates that 62% of the total emissions from the aviation sector are generated from international flights. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reported that international aviation emissions from developed countries rose by 65.8% between 1990 and 2005 (based on inventory data reported by countries). Although the growth in the aviation sector in developing countries will continue to increase, the demand for aviation will be especially strong in China, India and the Middle East.

Given the above data, it is obvious that we cannot remain ignorant of that is happening in the aviation sector. As India plays a key role in the regional emission reduction, as well as the regional politics in terms of climate change action, it is important to reach agreement on how to move forward in promoting aviation emission caps that would not be adverse to developing states, as well as beneficial in solving the issue of harmful emissions.

Furthermore it is known that to limit the increase in temperature to 2 ˚C would require reductions in all sectors, including aviation. While capping pollution from the aviation sector is important and urgent, reductions in other sectors too need to be scaled up significantly.

The two key principles that could be considered to be at the heart of discussion on finding a way forward to address GHG emissions from international aviation are:

(i) UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capability (CBDR & RC); and,

(ii) The laws and regulations for the operation of aircrafts as well as airports and other charges should be applied without distinction amongst national and foreign aircrafts. This is commonly referred as the non-discriminatory principle.

Furthermore, “rather than focusing on the importance of finding the appropriate forum to address emissions from international aviation, it is important to address the key concern of developing countries on the following aspects, to find a solution irrespective of the forum.*”

To facilitate outcome under the ICAO, the UNFCCC should adopt a decision requesting ICAO to develop measures to address GHG emissions from the aviation sector and reiterate that any approach used under ICAO will not prejudice outcomes under the Ad hoc Durban Platform on a new agreement for the post-2020 regime. It should also be reassuring that countries will not resort to unilateral trade measures.      

*Reference to speech made by Mr. Sudhir Sharma at the side event on Aviation Emissions organized by Bread for the World during the UNFCCC session in Bonn, June 2013.

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How Long is the Journey for EST to LDCs

Sixbert Simon Mwanga
Climate Action Network-Tanzania

Climate technologies and technology transfer are very cruacial in the whole process of addressing climate change in developing countries and Africa in particular. It was recognized at the IPCC  Supplementary report to Assessment Report 1 (AR1) in 1992 that there is a need to develop the most potent climate technologies and create enabling environments for these technologies get diffused, optimally, to both developed and developing countries to achieve a sustainable development corridor.  In the Convention as well, it has been identified that developed countries have the obligation to provide technology support to developing countries. Climate technology is considered to be a redemption for developing countries which are  already suffering from climate change impacts with little hope for their futures.

It has taken more than a decade for parties to consider assuring appropriate institutions for technology assistance to adress the needs of already distressed countries. It is worth knowing that while parties, and especially Annex 1 parties, continue to delay the process through procedural actions, the actual lack of commitment to financial flow, and failure to address Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), capacity building as well as institutional arrangements, the climate has never stopped its track toward a worse conclusion.

The need for transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology (EST) and financial resources to developing and poor countries in support of susatainable developments has been considered to be important since Rio,  but they are yet to be attained. For more than 20 years, since Rio, little if  nothing has been done to facilitate the transfer of EST to the global south. The people of the global south have suffered a lot, their survival is at risk, and they are unhappy with the failure to properly address the development, transfer and diffusion of EST.

This happened despite creating instituions and mechanisms for the global technology cooperation after years of time-consuming negotiations in the various exotic venues of the cities of the world. In the meantime, the rise of incidence of extreme events and losses of both human and physical assets went on increasing, thereby leaving the most vulnerbale people of the world at the mercy of the nature. This cannot be the addressal mechanism, we need quick, effective and smooth cooperation of technoligies to address the urgency of climate actions.

Please facilitate quick action by shortening your procedural businesses!

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Arabs are more than just oil

Lama Ghaddar

The global campaign against climate change needs all the resources it can obtain, and the Arab world should not be an exception. The Arab world will not be safe from the impacts of climate change; in fact it will be one of the most affected regions. Arabs have to wake up and contribute to developing and implementing climate change solutions.

Always weak positions” this is what I can say when I read the history of the Arab region and its role in the climate change negotiations. This region should raise its voice louder and should be more effective in its positions and in the implementation of solutions. This region urgently needs leaders in climate change. And when I say leaders, I mean politicians, NGOs, Arab governments and opinion leaders… Politicians and Arab people are either not aware of the impacts of climate change or they are being delusional that combating climate change will affect their economic situations and will cause major damage to their countries.

This region needs progressive and strong political leadership that can activate public support, decision makers and financial resources for climate change solutions. Due to the lack of forward-thinking political leadership, the social challenges coupled with the absence of information and financial greed this region’s work on climate change has been crippled.

Arabs should seek to change the belief of the rest of the world that our nations are just oil countries and must convince them that “Arabs are more than just oil.” We can also contribute to enhancing sustainable development in a highly active region while rising economic and social capital.

Arab governments, NGOs, the private sector and academia need to take action soon before it is too late.

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COP 18: a transition

Andrey Zhelieznyi, Ukraine
The National Ecological Centre of Ukraine (NECU)

COP18 in Doha was literally a transition event – defining the track of further climate change fight and if the world is ready to act toward a common goal. Actions on commitments accepted here will determine if we will stay below the 2C warming range in the next five to eight years.

Hospitable Qatar accepted nearly 17 000 people, inspired to see big accomplishments from all over the world. In fact, politicians, governors and civil society were all full of hope, wanting to abolish 'old' legal agreements for emission reduction and agree to a new plan of reaching a fair and legal global deal.

Action on the prevention of anthropogenic emissions in the atmosphere has become vital for the survival of humanity in the way that we know today. But what we saw during two weeks of international negotiations was that both north and south clashed on non-negotiable survival. Basically, environmental topics became big political aspects and were not even economical. Every party in the negotiations resisted taking the lead, despite their available capability in many cases.

Consensus on global agreement is required. I'm asking myself if we really need formal agreements on paper with weak targets or how to urge the world to take on domestic mitigation activities beyond international agreements. I’m still not sure what the right answer is. To mobilize political will and follow the only ambitious plan is the only way.

Large number of civil society representatives joined together to make their voices heard, to voice concerns to decision makers about the world they expect to live in. We bring a lot of environmental and social issues to the climate agreement agenda but this is not enough. We have to continue our work further to ensure that voices are heard.

This year’s UNFCCC negotiations have come to an end with the world at a crossroads. There is only one right way, but the question remains: how much we will need to adapt if we don’t choose the right path now? 

Doha: Week 2


Baimey Ange David Emmanuel
ONG JVE Cote d'Ivoire

For me, the second week at Doha was filled with side events and policy meetings.

To begin, Monday, December 3, the Climate & Development Network (RC & D) coordinates and I had a meeting with the French delegation and the French ambassador for climate change, Serge Lepeltier in the hall of the Delegation European French Pavilion. Present were 12 members of the RC & D from Côte d'Ivoire, DRC, France, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad and Togo. On the French side, we noted the presence of seven French delegation representatives.

The discussions focused on key issues in negotiations, including financing issues, the Kyoto Protocol, the NAMAs and development.Exchanges revolved around NAMAs were threefold: ambition is not enough to stay below 2 °C, the funding concerning the Fast start is currently expired and the importance remains of hot air Poland.

The Climate and Development Network then held side events to reflect on who will replace ODD MDGs. Four panelists includingbfrom Togo, Mali and France presented their work on agriculture, energy and the mobilization of civil society. The goal of this side event was for many French to express their views and ideas on the evolution of the UNFCCC process.

I had several working sessions with members of civil society to discuss the French disaster risk management, REDD and the issue of innovative financing.We continue to work on the involvement of NGOs and taking into account aspects of development in the resolution of climate change.

Globally, I think that it is important to keep with multilateralism processes concerning climate change (even if it is dangerous for those most vulnerable because the developing countries will impose their point of views.)

As I said in the JVE International press release, "While Doha was able to streamline the process and policies for international negotiations on climate change, through the adoption of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, ending the various discussion groups set up in Bali in 2007 and paving the way for discussions on the work plan for the post-2020 could lead to an international climate agreement involving all countries history. But the reality is that the UN still cannot intend to include toxic countries. Doha is a victory for Canada, Russia, Japan, Poland and the USA.



Developed Countries: Show Your Capability to Lead!


Henriette Imelda, Indonesia
Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR)

Attending COP in Doha probably one of the greatest things I have dreamed of. It’s 2012’s COP 18, where all eyes look to Doha as the negotiations roll on, and I’m there, waiting for the miracles could happen for the world as we combat climate change. The second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol would continue with more Annex 1 Parties on board. The Bali Action Plan will actually live up to its real means of implementation. The world will cheer, people would stand clapping their hands and poking each other’s shoulders. Some would hug colleagues from different countries. We’d share the same vision; to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention that all Parties agreed upon in 1992. Pledges would flow in, both in emission reduction and climate finance- even more than what we, the CSOs, have been demanding. I was imagining that I’d able to speak before other CSOs and people in Indonesia, upon my return home, to tell them how miracles do happen in the international negotiation on climate change. I would describe a phenomenal negotiation process, despite the many people would had already lost their confidence in its effectiveness and its contributions to the world.

Yet, as I sat in the plenary 1 QNCC in Doha early Saturday morning, only a couple of hours before my departure back home, I was staring at the draft text of LCA, KP, and COP. All of those images I described of a balanced package had suddenly evaporated.

The number that has been agreed upon in Copenhagen for USD 100 billion per year up to 2020 is alright, but there isn’t any clarity from where that chunk of money will come from. We can’t predict whether it would be there annually, and we just don’t know how to track the money. Even for a mid-term period, from 2013 to 2015, we have no clue. Isn’t the Fast Start Finance period enough for us to learn? Developed countries should claim the climate financing from developing countries, yet we received nothing. It came in a development package that already exists. Nothing new, nothing additional, it’s just the same. Climate finance should be new and additional.

To me, the idea of developed countries having to ask developing countries for their NAMAs or Low Carbon Development Strategies is a betrayal. Some developing countries have already put their NAMAs on board; some have even done so voluntarily. Now, instead of providing the finance that supposed to go along with it in accordance to the Bali Action Plan, developing countries were demanded to do more, to be MRVed. Not only that, but we have to do a biannual update report. Can you imagine how much money we’ll need to come up with a two year report to state not only our emissions, but also the support we’ve got?
We need more for capacity building, as well as technology, to fulfill such kind of obligations. According to the Convention, developed countries should show us this leadership by pledging domestic emission reduction without offsetting, as well as financing. All of these should be done transparently through an MRV mechanism.

We’re not little kids that need to be told over and over again. We are grownups who should understand that every action has a consequence. It’s not fair to run away from your responsibilities while developing countries have to deal with all the damage.

What I saw from the Doha package that was offered was an imbalance. Not for me, not my country, not for my community. With 27% of populations not having seen a light in the evening and around 40 million households without proper access to modern energy for cooking, my country still put forth pledges to reduce emissions. We still need to develop, yet we have committed to develop in a lower carbon manner. We need to see something from the developed countries. Our population of more than 240 million people deserve more than what we have on the table now. Funding for adaptation for a country with more than 13, 000 islands, with the possibility for 115 islands to disappear by 2100, is highly needed as a grant, not a loan.

Dear developed countries, we’ve done our part, far beyond our limitations. Yours are truly hanging fruits. Why don’t you show us that you’re still capable to lead? At least, show that responsibilities in the coming legally binding agreements that should be applied from 2020 onwards.