Blog Posts

Ethiopia: Taking climate change issues seriously

Mahlet Eyassu
Climate Change Program Manager
Forum for Environment

Ethiopia is one of the least developed countries with most of its economic bases dependent on traditional and backward modes of production. The main stay of the livelihood of more than 85% of the population is rain-fed agriculture and more than 12 million people are engaged in pastoralism. Looking only at the agricultural sector, we see that it has been subjected to variable and unpredictable weather conditions, such as erratic and intense rain with distorted seasonality, increased temperature resulting in longer drought seasons, recurrent drought, failing harvest seasons, new crop pests, livestock diseases, etc.

Being one of the highly vulnerable states, both the national and international level of responsiveness of Ethiopia to climate change has only been proactive during the last two years. Ethiopia has been engaged in the international negotiations for a long time, but only recently became more active and started being a leader at the regional level, by leading the African group in the negotiations before Copenhagen (COP 15). The year 2009 was a critical year for Ethiopia with lots of developments in different forums. The Ethiopian government has submitted its National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) in 2007 and had submitted its Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) in January 2010 and has one Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project registered. Additionally, Ethiopia has included the climate change component to a certain extent in the recently developed five-year Growth and Transformation Plan for the years 2011-2015. On top of this, Ethiopia, a least developed country, plans to go carbon neutral by the year 2025 and is in the process of developing a Carbon Neutral Green Economy (CGRE). Moreover an Ethiopian Program of Adaptation on Climate Change (EPACC) is being prepared by engaging different sector ministries. Civil Societies in Ethiopia have also been proactively engaged in different campaigns and activities in the run up to Copenhagen and we have also continued our work on climate change both at the national and International level. The Ethiopian Civil Society Network on Climate Change is active in awareness-raising, capacity building and experience sharing and has been established with more than 60 members and 10 working groups. We are collaborating with the government around adaptation.

For vulnerable countries like Ethiopia, in which climate change adaptation is a major concern, a fair, ambitious and binding deal is very essential. Developed countries need to take into account the urgency of the matter and start making decisions and taking actions. By being a Southern Capacity Building Programme Fellow of CAN-International, I am able to push the agenda of the vulnerable in the climate negotiations. I can have my voice directly heard in the negotiations. I am also helping share information to the civil society back home.


Four C

Lina Li
Shanshui Conservation Center

Chinese people like simplifying things. So I'd like to use four key words (all of which initial with initial C) to take you through a brief update at what we (the Chinese NGOs) are doing in China to combat climate change.

1. China
It might be too early to say it is another climate year in China since Copenhagen. But for sure there are a lot going on within China now regarding climate policy-the air is heating up (or let's say cooling down, since we are reducing more GHG emissions?:)

      1) 12th FYP
Five year plan (FYP) is the macro economic and social development plan that the central government issues every five years which sets the direction for the country with specific targets. This March, Beijing launched the 12th FYP (2011-2015). Building on the energy intensity target of 11th FYP (as 20% reduction of 2010 compared to 2005), it includes three key quantitative targets related to climate: energy intensity (reduction rate of 16%), carbon intensity (of 17%) -- both with 2010 as baseline, and increase the renewables in the overall primary energy consumption to 11.4% from the current, little more than 8%.

It also marks the first time that in our FYP, there is a dedicated chapter on climate change, with three sub-sector: adaptation, mitigation and international cooperation. It's not called 'energy security', nor 'low carbon development' , it is called the 'climate change' sector. This shows that climate change is at the center point of China's domestic policy.

      2) Programs and projects
The targets look motivating, but can be also pointless without solid implementation plans. There have been quite concrete projects and programs to meet the above targets. The 'five Provinces and eight cities program' selected 13 cities and provinces all over China to develop low carbon plans and its supporting policy framework, including climate change work on local strategy, educating the public on green lifestyles and setting-up measurement system of GHG emissions. 100 cities have been piloted as renewable showcase cities. Grid companies are asked to take measures to reduce electricity usage by customers by 0.3% compared to last year (Demand Side Management). And Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Hunan have been selected to test emissions trading scheme with the expectation to launch by 2013 and roll out by 2015. The '10 cities and 1000 vehicles' program is set to support electric vehicle promotions.

      3) Climate Change Law
The NDRC is also drafting the first climate change legislation in China, aiming to finish the first draft by early 2012 to the being latest 2013 (overall timeline is 2011-2015). Many crosscutting issues are planned to include in this so-called 'practice-oriented' law such as institutional structure, emission trading, CCS, low carbon development. Public consultation is also on-going.

2. Climate
     1) Working together – CCAN
Chinese NGOs do have difficulties regarding vague legal status, lack of resources, and sometimes capacity. But many NGOs (typically environmental ones) have been working on various issues related to climate in through approaches. Realizing 'together we are stronger', we have been working together centered around CCAN for several years. Building on the collaborations over Tianjin and Cancun last year, this spring the NGOs sat together to reflect what we have done and discussed how we could work together better. Two working groups were formed since then - one on policy and one on action. And the policy working group came up with a concrete yearlong plan with scoping of NGO competence, study group (capacity building scheme), working on COP and climate law, etc. We have held regular meetings and online discussions to progress our planned work.

      2) Interaction with the government
In the past, Chinese NGOs, especially grassroots, focused our work primarily on campaigning (influencing the public and communities to act on climate change) and policy was an area we did not cover much due to political sensitivity and our own capacity gap. Hence the interaction with government was also somehow hidden in our work (not in a regular, coordinated and effective manner). The climate topic gives us a golden opportunity (since the government is more and more open to the NGOs regarding this topic). We've (by we I mean not only Chinese NGOs but also international NGOs working in China like Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, etc) been holding regular meetings collectively with NDRC to exchange our views and seek ways to enhance our policy work. The last one was held last week on the topic of climate change law. For us this journey has just started, but is definitely challenging and interesting.

3. COP
     1) COP working plan
We are planning to continue the regular policy working group meeting monthly as well as interacting with the government regularly. A 'China day' event has been planned before Durban to showcase the NGO work. A filming campaign is also set to record stories from all over China from bottom-up work on climate issues. Exchanges with international NGOs (e.g the Europeans) are also planned.  

     2) RIO+20 working plan
Rio+20, to be held next year, will focus on the green economy under the background of poverty eradication and sustainable development. This is highly linked with our climate work. Three working streams have been identified: following negotiations and policy advocacy, collaborating with international NGOs, and review and assessment of China's 21st century agenda implementation from the NGO perspective.

4. C+
A bigger plan is under way, which could set our work within a bigger framework to increase our impact, streamline our direction, and support a stronger voice. We call it C+ in light of 'beyond COP, beyond Climate and beyond China', aiming at mobilizing all citizens, the business sector, schools, communities, etc. to do more than what the governments have plagued.

The South Capacity Building program of CAN offers me a great chance, at this crucial moment, for international negotiation and also for China's domestic green pathway building up, to learn, to network, to connect Chinese NGOs (especially our policy work) with CAN, and to expand the cooperation.

For sure, there is a long way to go, both for myself and Chinese NGOs, but I am confident Bonn would be a nice step forward.

1000 emails

Mamady Kobele Keita
Climate change team leader
Guinee Ecologie

As a CAN International Southern Capacity Building Fellow, I am attending the UNFCCC June session in Bonn. Interestingly, if you want to be efficient during the climate change sessions, your best means is the email. I couldn’t imagine how useful can this tool be in negotiations. Let’s be clear.

In CAN-International, communication plays a crucial role during sessions. For this one week period, the number of emails I have received is increasingly high; more than 1000 climate change related emails if I include the emails from all the listserves I am on… For sessions, side events, workshops and informal meetings, Internet has been my best friend. It has really been useful for me for learning on issues, contacting NGOs and parties representatives, reading further development and updates on issues, following last minute changes to meetings, lobbying and campaigning, and most importantly, for building shared strategies with other CAN members.

As my first expectations, this first week really improved my understanding of the climate change negotiation atmosphere and politics, developed my contacts and network of very dedicated and passionate people. And again Communication, which 90% seems to be on email, plays a crucial role in this process.

My second goal is to take the necessary contacts and other technical resources for Guinean and other West African NGOs in order to improve their participation in the UNFCCC process, including the coming Durban COP 17 meeting where CAN has many expectations.

With regards to CAN, I think it’s for me, one of most structured and dedicated organizations I’ve never met in the climate negotiations; I personally have seen the hard work its working groups and bodies are doing behind the process. More importantly, I really appreciate the different positions taken by CAN to screen negotiations and help developing countries understanding their rights. This should be rewarded and supported.

Coming to the SCB program, I think it is a wonderful opportunity for developing countries NGOs to bring their brick to the climate building. I only hope CAN will have sufficient resources to involve more people.

Back home, my first activity will be to transfer this experience to local NGOs and maybe to think about setting up a national CAN network. I will also try to improve my participation in CAN activities by influencing decision makers at local and national levels.

Little or Small is Beautiful!!!

Pelenise Alofa
Kiribati Climate Action Network

A world without Pacific Islands?  Could we imagine or dream that we could live without the Pacific?  Could we afford such injustice?  The Pacific CAN and its national nodes, such as Kiribati, were borne out of this conscience to protect the rights of people of the Pacific and the whole world.  Kiribati has a right to develop.
Kiribati Climate Action Network has more than 50 NGOs and CBOs working together to save Kiribati.  Our dynamic team has been active in the following activities: international & domestic advocacy, capacity building workshops, and awareness-raising programs in Tarawa and all the way to the outer islands.  The challenge we face is the lack of funding to reach all islands. Kiribati has 33 islands all scattered within more than 2000 square miles of water!   

Our people are resilient but they need capacity to help them to adapt to the ongoing challenges they face every day.  They have a right to own their lands and to their culture.  This is our biggest threat and fear – resettlement! Our dignity comes from owning our own land, which our ancestors and forefathers have kept and passed on to us.  We are nothing without our lands….we would become second class citizens!  Even though our lands are small, they have given us everything in the past and present, and we are satisfied.  We have witnessed families moving away from their homes because of water salination and coastal erosion.   We have witnessed a whole village drinking brakish or contaminated water.  We have sent out an SOS messages to provide water tanks to these people immediately but what’s the use of the water tank when there is NO rain?  People will die of thirst before the rain comes!

Without the extended family culture that we embrace today, many people will be homeless. The impacts of climate change have put strain on families who are caring for their extended families.  In the past, caring for one and another does not put strain as people can return to their own homes or land but today, our extended families have no where to go; they are with us permanently!

Today, KiriCAN is working on water and sanitation projects in communities. We assist the Kiribati Adaptation Project office to reach communities and our funding comes from NZAid.  We provide awareness on the best way to conduct water harvesting and waste management.  Our people have a right to clean water and to a clean environment.

I thank CAN-I for helping to build capacity for our leaders to improve the quality of their work in supporting the Pacific Islands.  NOW let us join hands to raise the voice of the global conscience from Bonn! Let us give precedence to the shared values of humanity over our POLITICAL and ECONOMIC goals!!!

The Jigger in the Flesh

Isaac Kabongo
Executive Director
Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO)


Negotiations are not all about competition, but the survival of humanity.

As a CAN Southern Capacity Building Program (SCBP) Fellow, I have been following the climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany learning some amazing lessons and discovering frustrations in the process.

It all started with a clear message that the fastest-ever rise in greenhouse gas emissions is an "inconvenient truth” that the world must face, the UN's climate change chief Christiana Figueres, said. But she added that the data should not lead to fatalism that the problem is impossible to tackle.  She acknowledged that Countries have run out of time to launch a new binding deal by 2013, implying a messy, legal gap. But she also issued a strong call to governments; "I won't hear that this is impossible; governments must make it possible for society, business and science to get this job done."

Ministers agreed last year in Cancun, Mexico to limit a rise in average global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times, seen as the threshold for “dangerous” change such as heat waves, droughts, floods and rising seas.  However, the debate over the meeting agenda in Bonn made some countries doubt the value of extra meetings before Durban. “Without progress in these two weeks there’s no point in having another session in the fall,” the Colombian delegation said during the launch of the Bonn session.

Developed countries have yet to decide whether to fund additional sessions before an annual ministerial conference in Durban, South Africa in November.  “This will depend among other things on the extent of progress made here in Bonn, and whether the political will among parties exists for a further session,” said the head of the EU delegation, Artur Runge-Metzger. “We are well aware of the fact that deliberations in Durban will be difficult,” South African delegate, Nozipho Diseko, told the Bonn conference participants.

Talks can only proceed by consensus, not confrontation and suspicion as expressed by some delegates. “I’m a little sad participating in these negotiations because the atmosphere is so confrontational,” said Akira Yamada, head of the Japanese delegation. “We’re not prepared to move if the obligations just point only to those in the developed world,” said Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. head of delegation in Bonn.

As Ambassador Jorge Arguello of Argentina said, "we must stop making excuses and sit down at the negotiation table to decide strong terms for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Some countries are hiding behind fragmented information and cherry-picking numbers to claim that a second commitment period is not possible and blame developing countries. That simply is not true."

I smell a rat that could poison our hope and expectation for a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate change agreement this year in Durban, South Africa. Parties need to focus on substance as opposed to raising just issues, on transparency and accountability for their actions, on embracing open discussions, and on the participation of civil society. It is also vital that the voices of the vulnerable, marginalized and powerless are heard, respected and considered during the whole negotiation process.   It is also my belief that every aspect of the negotiation should be handled in the spirit of partnership, cooperation and development, and not malice, jealousy and sabotage. Failure to walk the talk, to appreciate our last chance, to sacrifice our privileges and defend human civilization, the results are catastrophic in nature and thus – “the jigger in the flesh”. Let us act now on climate change!!

A Jigger is a parasitic flea found in tropical climates that can cause an inflammatory skin disease.


Negotiating on Character: paving way to D

Manjeet Dhakal
Clean Energy Nepal
Policy and Advocacy Officer/ Act. Program Director


Brazil's second largest city, Rio de Janeiro, witnessed the first ever gathering of environmental campaigners/caretakers and produced an international environmental treaty (UNFCCC) with an objective to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in 1992. After one and half decades, the discourse took new dimensions in Bali, developing a new road map as a two-year process of finalizing a binding agreement in 2009 in Copenhagen. But brushing aside this huge expectation, Copenhagen only produced a weak political statement titled the 'Copenhagen accord.’ The summit could not pave a way forward for this global issue.

The road from Copenhagen to Cancun, in 2010, was also not that easy.  Cancun set an excellent example how the outstanding leadership of a host country could effectively shape the discourse. It was a well known fact that many issues were still on the table that are still unresolved, need further discussion and more political willingness.

To my surprise, these climate discourses always opt for places/countries that start with an interesting first letter. Copenhagen was followed by three meetings in Bonn and semi-final at China's beautiful city Tianjin. Cancun was another important milestone that was also able to keep up trust on UN process. It was then followed by Bangkok and now at Bonn, both the climate capitals of Asia and Europe, respectively. One of the issues that needs resolution here is where will the next intersessional will be held. My opinion is to follow the ritual so go for places that start with initials B, C or D! But of course not Copenhagen!

Now on the way to the match in Durban, termed the "African COP," many issues need to be resolved to keep the trophy in Africa. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, issues on MRV, numbers in mitigation, institutional settings on adaptation and technology, and the Green Climate Fund are some of them that need some serious consideration to drive this [endless] negotiation to another chapter.

Expectations at Cancun were very low, however Cancun brought us some hope, but now we are in the quarter-final and semi-final before Durban, and it has to build on the issues that were left-over so we can have the base for legally binding deal at Durban, South Africa. Oh Durban! One step ahead fourth character!

This new journey began at B (Bali) on the way was C (Copenhagen-fail and Cancun-pass) will hopefully end at D (Durban).
So that we could hopefully say Durban Did!!!  


We can do it and we must do it!

Sandra Guzman
Program Director Air and Energy
Mexican Center of Environmental Law (CEMDA)

I am attending the UNFCCC June Bonn session in Germany. I am one of the Southern Capacity Building Fellows of CAN-International. Last week we lost a lot of time discussing the agenda for this meeting, but we can´t continue with this attitude. It is not fair for the world that is watching us. At least 3000 people who are here need to do something to attain the climate change goal and present fair results to of rest of the 6 billion people in the world.

We can´t wait, this is a demand from us from the people who lives in Africa, in Asia and in Latin-American, and for all civil society that want changes to shape the future.

We are losing our forests in Mexico, and that is not different in Ethiopia, in Uganda, nor Brazil. We are living with real problems already.  This is not fair and the negotiators have the responsibility to decide what is good for all the people, not just for the self-interest of a guided bunch.

We have one week to decide what we are going to do to work to arrive to Durban with a good package. We don´t have time to lose; this meeting is costing energy, money and we can´t waste more time.

Please get to the point, what are the sources of the funds? How is the adaptation board going to function? What is going to happen with the Kyoto Protocol? Where are the real compromises for the parties? We have no more time to waste.



Changing how the system works

Wanun Permpibul
Head, Energy and Climate Change Programme
Renewable Energy Institute of Thailand Foundation


I have been doing research with the Sustainability Watch Thailand, a local think tank focusing on the promotion of alternative and renewable sources of energy, and enhancement of action research on community based vulnerability assessment and adaptation aiming at influencing climate policy in Thailand.  

Power and transport are the two largest sectors contributing to increasing GHGs in Thailand.  High potential sources of alternative and renewable energy are available but they need clear policy framework and supports to utilise these resources effectively.  In these areas we have been working through the Power Development Plan, which is the plan directing power generation for Thailand.  Together with other civil society organisations, we have prepared the alternative plan where renewable sources of energy as well as energy efficiency and savings are the focus, which also reflect the potentials for Thailand’s mitigation measure on this sector.  Additionally, the role and performance in ensuring good governance and promoting renewable sources of energy in the power sector is also investigated and recommendations will be proposed to the government.

With regards to climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, we have attempted to combine scientific modeling and forecasts with local observations in order to engage people’s participation in addressing impacts, assessing vulnerability and sectors of vulnerability, and identifying areas where adaptive capacity needs to be strengthened or provided that could lead to long term adaptation.  We have applied the livelihood vulnerability index and participatory techniques with communities.  Through this, we hope to integrate climate change and adaptation into the local plan and subsequently national policy.  

Participating in the climate negotiations would enable and broaden my understanding on the link of climate, both mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable development issues.  I do appreciate the South Capacity Building programme of CAN International, enabling me to understand better on the negotiation process, overall picture of climate politics and deepened my knowledge on the adaptation.  This would strengthen my capacity to better communicate with the Thai government to get a clear national position towards climate negotiations.  Furthermore, the SCB programme has enabled me to better understand how NGOs as a network work effectively and in a powerful manner to influence climate politics, which I could apply to the network in the country.

Basic countries NGOs are bringing a new perspective to cooperation on Climate Change

With the progress made in last two meetings in Bonn and Tianjin, NGOs in BASIC countries move forward beyond experience sharing and begin to discuss how do we see each other and how to build collaboration in coming future.

The first step is to identify what are the common challenges and differences we are facing now. And we do find many things in common. All these countries are emerging economies with remarkable divisions between the rich and the poor and rapid urban expansion, which has a huge and growing need for energy, often fossil-fuel based. Climate change is a common environment issue in these countries, while pollution, deforestation as well as other local environment challenges should also be deal with. Economic growth looks more important to governments than climate protection, none of these countries have a strong climate movement to face this problems and everyday more communication is needed on Climate Change with public. Beside these commonalities, these countries still have lots of differences, especially in politic system, economic structure as well as the relationship between government and civil society.

We believe that both commonalities and differences can be beneficial for future cooperation. About the future, we all agree that information sharing for good practices such as local actions addressing mitigation and adaptation actions is very important.

We really hope that with a regular communication mechanism, the cooperation among basic countries could bring a very different perspective from former international NGO cooperation and will enhance the global civil movement in addressing climate change


[VOICE] Climate Change and Poverty Eradication

Climate change presents a profound threat to Indonesia’s vision of a a self-sustaining, self-governing society that secures the health and sustainability of the natural resources and the environment while pursuing socio-economic well-being that is equitable and democratic.

The world’s poorest people are the most vulnerable to climate change though they contribute least to its causes. Without a well-functioning international adaptation regime, they are the ones that will pay the price, and a very high one.  

These poor and developing countries face a quandary on which to prioritize: the development of their economy in an attempt to eradicate poverty, or address the impact of climate change? Poverty is a pressing issue that needs to be tackled immediately. On the other hand, the impacts of climate change should also be addressed promptly because it can increase the severity of the current state of poverty. Indeed, poor people do not have a choice.

Fossil fuel is widely used by developing countries to support their economic growth. In addition to its availability, fossil fuel is also relatively cheap. However, the burning of fossil fuel and its constant use have lead to excessive release of green house gases, resulting in the increase of the global warming hazards.

Based on Indonesia Climate Change Sectoral Road Mapd (ICSSR - 2010) data, Indonesia's total annual GHG emissions of the three major gases, CO2, CH4 and N2O was equivalent in 2005 to about 670 million ton of CO2 (MtCO2e) without LULUCF, or about 1120 MtCO2e if one includes peat fires but not Land Use Change and Forestry (LUCF). Meanwhile, in 2005, Indonesia’s energy sector emitted at a level of 396 MtCO2e, which is about 35.4% of the national total (Second National Communication (SNC) - 2009).

Meanwhile, the Millennium Development Goals aim to halve global poverty by 2015. On the other hand, science tells us that it is necessary for developing countries to join in mitigation efforts.

Thus, how can poor and developing countries continue their economic growth and eradicate poverty, tackling the global impact of climate change at the same time? And the following question then must be: How can the major developing countries like Indonesia can contribute to mitigate when their need to adapt is more important?

This is a challange for developing countries like Indonesia, while mitigation efforts are necessary, this will not be sufficient for it to avoid climate change - given existing emission levels, we will also need to adapt to the consequences of climate change.

Based on the occurrence of disasters recorded  in The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)/Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters(CRED) International Disaster Database (2007), the ten biggest disaster events  in Indonesia over the period 1907 to 2007 occurred after 1990 and most of these disasters were weather-related, particularly flooding, followed by drought, forest fire and the increase of endemic diseases.  This shows that weather-related disasters have been  increasing  in terms of their frequency and  intensity.  Economic losses from the ten biggest disasters were almost 26 billion USD, around 70% of which can be attributed to the climate.

Climate change is not another sector, it should be mainstreamed in the development planning. Addressing climate change in the context of development requires effective mitigation efforts, and also a development system that is resilient to long-term climate change  impacts. This effort requires a cross-sectoral approach at regional, national, sub national and local level.

Adaptation efforts must be combined with mitigation, because adaptation will not be effective if the rate of climate change exceeds adaptation capability, and even enhaced action in adaptation will only able to reduce loss and damage fom climate change impact, but not totally eliminate it, thus mechanism to address this residual loss and damage is also important to take place.

This initiative shall be supported by enabling international climate change regime. For a start, two conditions must be met. First, the post-2012 regime must enable greater climate resilience, and adaptation on the necessary scale. Second, it must be designed so that, at the very least, it does nothing to push the critical goals of human development and poverty alleviation further from realization.

So here we are now, in Cancun, while the negotiation process just started in the High Level Segment.  As all the Ministers and Heads of State work in the negotiations, they must keep in their minds the grave consequences of a failure. A successful outcome of ongoing climate change negotiations matters for human rights. A new climate change agreement must be fair, sufficiently ambitious and balance to be effective.

If the recognition of the human suffering to climate change is unable to ultimately mobilize us all to action, what else can do it?

Dear distinguished ministers, ambassadors, and delegates,in this remaining time in Cancun please deliver, we need you here to action, not to hide!

Denia Aulia Syam