Blog Posts

Tackling Climate Crisis in Uganda through Tree Planting

VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINES: Tackling Climate Crisis in Uganda through Tree Planting

31 July 2020

By: John Mary Odoy, CAN-Uganda Board Chair

Uganda’s NDCs National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) emphasizes the need to plant trees  as one way of increasing forest coverage which was 21% of total land coverage in Uganda in 1960s, but came down to 14% by 2016. Unabated, the percentage continues to go down.

Ugandan’s Green Growth strategy which is an inclusive low emissions economic growth process that emphasizes effective and efficient use of natural resources, it focuses on green tourism, water resources management and sustainable use of forests and wetlands, as its key strategic interventions to address Climate Change.

In light of the above, several climate actors have embarked on undertaking actions in this regard. One of the activities of tree planting took place on 19th July, 2020, where  Climate Action Network-Uganda joined the  Kingdom of Buganda through  Busiro County, Undugu Youth Empowerment Group and the Franciscan Missionaries  in Uganda, Save the Planet and Nurturing Uganda,  launched the planting of 5,000 tree seedlings. The launch took place at St.Padre Pio Prayer Centre  - Akright in Wakiso District, about 22 km Kampala – Entebbe Highway with 6 symbolic trees planted.  The planting of the rest of the 5000 tree seedlings, which are of assorted tree species including fruit and indigenous  trees will be done in Busunju in Ssingo County in Central Uganda on a part of the 20 acre piece of land owned by the Franciscan Missionaries, which they have dedicated for tree planting.

In his remarks, John Mary Odoy, the Climate Ambition Ambassador thanked the Undugu Youth Empowerment Group for  donating the seedlings worth five million Uganda shillings, the Buganda Kingdom for the support and promotion of tree planting and re afforestation in Buganda Kingdom and beyond, Save the Planet team and  Nurturing Uganda for the continuous growing and supply of tree seedlings and the  Franciscan Missionaries for committing land to tree planting. John Mary said that the exercise done was in line with global efforts to address the climate crisis and it also corresponds with Uganda’s National framework of getting a greater part of Uganda’s land under tree cover again.  He also said that this is a great contribution to driving Uganda into achieving the 22% emission reduction and control the global temperatures to below 2% degrees delicious by 2030.

Sebwana, Eng.  Charles Kiberu Kisirinza, the Busiro County Chief,  who represented the Kingdom of Buganda reiterated the message by the Kabaka of Buganda that everyone should endeavour to protect and conserve the environment”  He also officially handed over the 5,000 seedlings   to the Franciscan Missionaries in his capacity as the Busiri County Chief (Sebwwana)

Ms Proscovier Vikman, the Chairperson Buganda Environment Board in the Buganda Kingdom and head of Lay Christians at the St Anthony Prayer Group said that the Church is willing to collaborate with any one, organization  or youth group that is addressing challenges of climate change and working towards environment protection and conservation, the church has land and is committed to mobilize members to commit part of their land for indigenous tree planting to restore natural forest cover. The trees planted will bear names as follows; Sebwana (planted by Eng. Charles Kiberu Kisirinza), CAN-Uganda  (planted by John Mary), Pope Francis (planted by Rev. Fr. Godwin Ogam), St. Anthony (planted by Ms Proscovier Vikman), TYE (planted by the Youth) and  St. Padre Pio (Denis Mpanga)

 

John Mary Odoy is the NDC/Ambition Champion-Uganda for the Climate Action Network-Uganda

Email: johnmary.ceon@gmail.com

Mobile phone: +256783457990

All Coalition members must support a “Better Recovery, Better World” and subscribe to it: A report that must translate words into action

Reaction to the Coalition of Finance Ministers Climate Action Report “Better Recovery, Better World” by CAN International.

Last week, the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, issued a report,  “Better Recovery, Better World”. This report, drafted by the LSE Grantham Institute and the Brookings Institution, with contributions by Coalition members and international organizations spells out how and why finance ministers must align COVID-19 recovery packages with the Paris Agreement and make investments that align with updated climate targets.

While CAN welcomes this report and its recommendations, a disclaimer that “the views expressed, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Coalition or its members” renders it - if not backed by meaningful measures - as yet another example of empty words. CAN calls on Coalition members to subscribe to the principles and actions proposed by the Report by taking concrete actions to address the multiple crises the world is facing. Finance Ministers need to take full ownership of it and investigate how to implement the recommendations in their national context, honoring their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy future for their societies.

CAN stands with the proposal of making the NDCs a guiding script for injecting financial resources and, at the same time, stepping up ambition in the NDCs in line with the additional financial resources that are to be made available through the global fiscal effort for the recovery.

In the current economic emergency, when lives and jobs are being lost at speed, bailouts of fossil fuel-related industries and high carbon emitters will occur. However, in all cases, these bailouts should come with strings attached to ensure environmental and social benefits are realized. As mentioned in the Report: “Bailout conditions are also timely and helpful in times of crisis when significant numbers of jobs are at stake. They can save jobs and accelerate low-carbon restructuring in ‘brown’ firms/industries'' (p. 32). They should become just transition tools. Preparing the smooth transition that Mark Carney mentions1 to lower the financial stability risk from stranded assets.

The Report makes a clear case for designing a wise investment strategy with a long-term perspective that CAN welcomes:

  • Prioritize COVID-19 heavily hit communities.
  • Following the NDCs and addressing neglected historical needs on social & human capital, ecosystem conservation among other issues.
  • It makes a key point on the need to enhance investment management and governance.
  • Focus on green and decent job creation, and small scale and local economy solutions.
  • Align budgets – and public policies – with agreed long term SDGs and Paris Agreement goals.

Nobody challenges the report statement: “Action on private finance mobilization, alignment and shifting the financial system will also be key; it will be particularly important to prepare now for ways to unlock private finance” (p.12). Transparency and accountability of financial flows coming to the economic system are of the utmost importance. The undue transfer of public money to the private domain makes up a considerable share of the income inequality issues that prevent societies from developing in an environmentally sustainable, just, fair, and equitable direction.

Global solidarity needs to be at the core of the recovery. COVID-19 has impacted harder on those already the most vulnerable. As the Report mentions “the amount of support that will be needed is potentially huge, with big implications for debt and fiscal positions” (p. 11).

Within societies, the poorest are the most exposed. Most earn their income on a daily basis and need to go to work daily for a living. The majority of developing country governments already face sovereign debt issues and they don’t have the fiscal space to face the looming financial needs the recovery will require.

The Coalition should lead on showing solidarity among its members. A way forward is to work together for debt relief schemes in line with the Paris Agreement prioritizing support for workers and the most vulnerable segments of society. Another aspect of global solidarity is to definitively align MDBs operations with the Paris Agreement in the framework of the SDG, particularly with the original MDB mandate to fight poverty. In this regard, the Report acknowledges the key role that Ministers of Finance play “…as shareholders of the MDBs and the international DFIs, the Coalition can help give impetus to the changes needed to make the overall system more effective” (p.44), a demand the Big Shift2 has been making for some years, as many MDBs still undermine3 the Paris Agreement objectives’ achievement.

A critical topic that is in the Report, but with not the detailed approach it deserves, is to properly assess who will pay the recovery bill. The whole fiscal effort to inject large amounts of financial resources into the economic system will need to be paid at some moment. Financial stability resilience needs to have a clear set of measures on extracting the resources from where they are. In the Report, there are several references to the need for the recovery to address the rising inequality. The link between the source for financing the recovery and fighting inequality makes the case for taxing the richest of the utmost importance. There are many voices4 asking for it and there is an economic case for it. The current income accumulation in a few hands is unsustainable for the economic system's resilience and for the wellbeing of our societies.

Building resilient societies is not only about health – most certainly in the current times, it is also about many other threats that most people are already facing. We need to make a just reboot. The economic system must work for all and for the planet.

CAN couldn’t agree more with the Report statement on page 27: “A key imperative is therefore to strengthen societal resilience in a way that integrates people’s well-being and climate goals”, as we – as a climate CSO movement - have been increasingly sharing objectives with many other social movements. The ultimate objective of climate action is human wellbeing – for all – with full respect to nature, our home.

We note with disappointment, that many Coalition members were part of the G20 Ministers of Finance and Central Banks’ Governors during their Summit, last July 18 & 19 and didn’t raise the need for a green and just recovery, neither made any statement on the imperative for decisive climate action.

Therefore, CAN International, the largest climate NGO network, advocating for climate action, representing more than 1300 members in more than 120 countries calls on the Coalition to:

  1. Start a collective process for its membership to subscribe to the findings and proposals presented by the Report.
  2. Engage national stakeholders in national policy processes on enhancing climate ambition in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and using NDCs as guidelines for fiscal investments.
  3. To be transparent and accountable in how public money (taxpayer money) is being used in the economic recovery.
  4. Take into account gender, indigenous communities, racism, and other critical social issues in building a better world.
  5. Ministers need to work to ensure that the recovery is beneficial across all dimensions of sustainability and realizes co-benefits where possible. This will use up-front resources most efficiently and may reduce debt burdens going forward.
  6. Push for a multilateral concerted and applied action for putting the burden of the recovery cost in the wealthier percentile of society, including closing tax havens.
  7. Make a soundly progressive fiscal reform at the national level. Individual members of the Coalition can benefit from mutual support and sharing of peer experiences.

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmtreasy/correspondence/Mark-Carney-BoE-to-Chair-270220.pdf

https://bigshiftglobal.org/

https://bigshiftglobal.org/small-steps-are-not-enough

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/jul/13/super-rich-call-for-higher-taxes-on-wealthy-to-pay-for-covid-19-recovery

 

Background on the Minister of Climate Finance Coalition Report

  • The Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (“the Coalition”) is a group of fifty-two finance ministers, engaged in efforts to address climate change through economic and financial policies according to the six Helsinki Principles. Peer learning and knowledge exchange plays a fundamental part in the Coalition’s success.
  • The Coalition published a report with the title: Better Recovery, Better World: Resetting climate action in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 14th of July 2020.
  • The report examines the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis on climate policies from the angle of economic policies and offers a set of policy options for Finance Ministers.
  • The paper was prepared at the request of the co-chairs of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (‘the Coalition’). The co-chairs “invited Nicholas Stern and Amar Bhattacharya, advisors of the co-chairs, with input from the IMF, the OECD, the WB and WRI, to prepare a paper on the implications of the Coronavirus on recovery and long-term growth strategies from the finance ministers angle.” The paper has benefitted from feedback from Coalition members and other institutional partners. The views expressed, however, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Coalition or its members.

 

Lakes and Rivers in Uganda have gone crazy; Reclaim what belongs to them

VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINES: Lakes and Rivers in Uganda have gone crazy; Reclaim what belongs to them

24 June, 2020

By: John Mary Odoy, Climate Ambition Ambassador, CAN-Uganda

It is believed that nature only claims what belongs to it and that it severely reacts to an attack and it is also believed that water has a given path on the ground and whenever it rains, it will always take that path to its destination. This is what we are currently observing with the water bodies in Uganda.

Lake Victoria is refilling its parts where it had retreated from and it is regaining its territory. While many may feel and condemn the water, it should not be regarded as an attack. The water is merely going back home, it is reclaiming its space from the man-made shores. Property worth lots of money has been destroyed. Beaches, hotels, residences, landing sites, business houses, gardens/crops, etc have been submerged. Lives have been threatened with the possible outbreak of diseases. People have died.

Ugandas President (Left) and John Mary Odoy (Right) Climate Ambition Ambassador CAN-Uganda at Kitubulu where lake victoria crossed the highway to Entebbe International airport Uganda

Lake Kyoga in the Eastern part of Uganda which is fed partly by the Nile River is also overflowing. Shores on lake Kyoga are now flooding and persons who were living on the landing sites and other areas have been forced to vacate. In several districts along Lake Kyoga like Nakasongola, Kaeramaido, Serere floods have displaced thousands of people. Lake Albert, in Mid northwest of Uganda, has also had its water levels rise due to increased rainfall. The shores have flooded and the majority of the settlements along the lake shores have been closed with over hundreds of households displaced in Ntoroko District.

The rivers on the other hand have also “gone crazy”. The Nile is overflowing and affecting the economic and social setup of the persons living close to it along its route from Jinja city the source of the Nile to its boarders with South Sudan and beyond.

Homestead submerged along the Nile river in Pakwach  North west Uganda

River Nyamwamba in Kasese District southwest of Uganda and other rivers in the area have ravaged the area with fast running water from the mountains and hills. The water came down with much force in large volumes and heavily loaded with rocks, gravel, and all sorts of stuff. It destroyed and virtually erased Kilembe Hospital the largest hospital in the area. Several buildings are on the ground and others badly damaged. Roads have been destroyed and blocked with heavy stones and are impassable.  Over 100,000 people are now homeless.

 

Buildings of Kilembe Hospital erased by river Nyamwamba floods in Kasese South west Uganda in May 2020

Behind all this is the human factor. Water levels in the lakes have risen fast because of the human activities in and around the lakes and rivers especially environmental degradation including indiscriminate cutting down of forests, encroaching on wetlands/swamps, lakeshores and river banks.  Poor land-use practices have resulted in uncontrollable soil erosion leading to the siltation of the lakes and rivers. The water storage capacities of the lakes and rivers have been badly abused through sand mining and inappropriate farming activities and springing up of unplanned urban areas. Infrastructural developments including roads, roofed buildings, and pavements have created impermeable surfaces in mostly urbanizing areas reducing the ability of water to infiltrate into the soil.

There are lessons to be learned in these circumstances:

  1. Nature/earth is distressed and tired of being traumatized. We must be disciplined, respect nature, and not take creation for granted. It is time to conduct a critical and focused study on nature’s guidelines to be adapted and which must be followed in order for us to live in harmony with it.
  2. While undertaking developments of any nature, a proper and genuine impact assessment must be done by credible persons or groups avoiding a mix of personal motives/agendas and avoiding unprofessional interruptions, influences and work ethics.
  3. Uganda’s Climate ambitions/the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) should emphasize interventions/actions based on reality and future projections based on proper investigations, studies and science.

John Mary Odoy is the NDC/Ambition Champion-Uganda for the Climate Action Network-Uganda

Email: johnmary.ceon@gmail.com

Mobile phone: +256783457990

The MDBs and a Just, Paris-aligned Recovery

The MDBs and a Just, Paris-aligned Recovery - If you missed the Big Shift webinar catch up here!

A Paris-aligned and just recovery to Covid-19 by the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) is a vital part of the global response. On 28th May, members of  the Big Shift Global Coalition organised a webinar to discuss this further with 4 panellists: Bronwen Tucker, OCI; Dileimy Orozco, E3G; Augustine Njamnshi, ACSEA and Andrew Scott, ODI. The discussion was moderated by Vibeka Mair of Responsible Investor. 

Panellists presented views on: MDBs’ track records in energy financing;  recovery packages so far; what a Paris-aligned, just recovery should look like; why this should not include investment in oil and gas and specifically what this should look like in the case of Africa. 

The MDBs and COVID-19 response so far

MDBs and other public finance institutions (National Development Banks, Export Credit Agencies) have a crucial role in the recovery from COVID-19 given its global impact. In a blog the World Bank called for green stimulus and support for energy efficiency and renewable energy and the ADB in a blog  stated that ‘Recovery financing must go into green infrastructure.’ However, apart from the EIB no one has gone beyond talking about this and made it policy and President Malpass of the World Bank has even talked of structural adjustment as part of the response.

MDB financing is still currently in the initial response phase to COVID-19 but even within this current, important stage in spending there are opportunities to ensure resilience. For example, if energy efficiency is integrated then finance to build health facilities could lead to more resilience in the health system.

Dileimy Orozco summarised the role of the MDBs in the COVID-19 response and beyond: ‘The MDBs’ role is – as it has always been - to support countries in not losing sight of their long-term vision, and to build resilience in every aspect of their development’

Why should MDBs implement a just and Paris-aligned recovery?

The Big Shift Campaign holds the main MDBs to account in their commitment to the Paris Agreement and SDG7 on energy access for all. As a result of COVID-19, we already know millions of people have lost their job or suffered a reduction in income. And we know that lower-income, vulnerable and socially marginalised groups have been impacted most – the same people who are most at risk to the impacts of climate change.

We also know that measures implemented now may have long-term consequences for the climate and sustainable development. We need to avoid measures that would lock-in future greenhouse gas emissions or result in stranded assets. 

In her presentation, Bronwen Tucker showed how the main MDBs continue to invest in fossil fuels directly and indirectly through facilities that support fossil fuel projects, financial intermediaries and technical assistance. We saw how a number of banks including the World Bank, the EBRD, the ADB and the IsDB actually increased their investment in oil and gas between the periods of 2013-2015 and 2016-2018.

Yet, as well as the climate risk this poses, Andrew Scott pointed out, investment in oil and gas production also does not necessarily lead to faster economic growth than investment in other sectors, and arguably it leads to fewer jobs than investment in renewable energy. Price volatility remains a threat for higher-cost producers, and global demand is expected to level off and decline within a few years. And the imperative of rapid and steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change suggests we should seek to use recovery measures as way to accelerate reduced oil and gas production.

The case of Africa

Augustine Njamnshi presented the specific experience of Africa where he described how the experience of COVID-19 in Africa has ‘made the case for decentralized, participatory renewable energy plus the role of civil society more compelling’ He described how COVID-19 patients are dying due to a lack of energy in most health centres especially in rural communities and also how the drop in oil prices will negatively impact oil dependent economies of Africa hence exposing the volatile nature of the fossil fuel- based economies

Furthermore, COVID-19 has only compounded the effects of climate change which are ever increasing. This includes the reduction in food productions due to climatic conditions which have been aggravated by COVID-19. It is projected that locust invasions in east Africa will be three-fold in mid-2020 hence the situation is not getting any better

So what should a Just, Paris-Aligned Recovery by the MDBs look like?

The webinar touched on a broad range of proposals for a Paris-aligned, just recovery including:

  • MDBs can play a role as investors of first resort helping to build a pipeline of green projects.

  • MDBs will be key for shaping national economic policy and regulation and supporting pro-climate action reform efforts through technical assistance and policy-related lending. To do so they should help countries reframe their economic analysis and planning to drive the required systemic change both globally and domestically.

  • Green stimulus needs to be supported by structural change and MDBs can provide important support through technical assistance and also as thought leaders

  • A just recovery should include debt relief as advocated for by the G20 countries

  • There should be scope to fast track projects which can contribute to Paris Alignment.

  • We could also go further and ask recovery measures to be assessed whether they accelerate climate action.

  • MDBs should seek to use recovery measures as way to accelerate reduced oil and gas production.

  • By financing decentralised, participatory energy systems MDBs would guarantee not only security, but also could create jobs in the rural economies

  • Nearly all African countries have renewable energy as part of their NDCs, it is important to prioritize this.

  • MDBs must include effective participation in recovery decision-making. Sustainability of a project is guaranteed when the stakeholders understand their stakes in it

  • Transparency is key and MDBs should be transparent about their assessments of the climate implications of recovery measures.  

As Augustine concluded ‘COVID-19 has taught us a lesson. We can’t continue business as usual. It’s not profit that will help us, it is humanity.’  Members of the Big Shift Coalition will be continuing this conversation and continuing to advocate for Paris-alignment by the MDBs and their financing of a just sustainable recovery

For further information about the webinar – the slides can be found here and a recording of the event here

#BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter - Messages of Solidarity from across the CAN Network

By Tasneem Essop, CAN International Executive Director

We are bearing witness to unprecedented actions by the Trump-led government in the US. The deployment of the military on domestic soil is not only unconstitutional, but also a chilling signal that America is hurtling towards fascism. Trump has, in effect, declared war on his own citizens.

We have witnessed unbelievably violent responses by the police in many cities across the US in reaction to the justified and necessary protests against the horrific murder of George Floyd who was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis. Thousands have been arrested, spurring protests in cities across the world in an important demonstration of global solidarity.

All of this takes place within the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is impacting Black and brown communities disproportionately in the US, as it is everywhere else. It has laid bare the fault-lines of poverty and inequality in that country and the world.

The disproportionate burdens that Black and brown people, especially those living in poverty and suffering inequality across the world, face, is also fundamentally a feature of the climate crisis. Those bearing the worst impacts of climate change are not responsible for the cause of the climate crisis. The very systems that have contributed to the climate crisis has systemic racism built into its fabric. This is the climate injustice that we all need to fight against.

While we are struggling to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and while we are fighting racial injustice and autocratic rule in the US and elsewhere, many people are continuing to suffer  the destructive impacts of climate change. The violence of the loss of life, livelihoods, homes and safety is devastating. And yet again, it is mainly Black and brown bodies on the line. We have seen this in the Pacific with cyclone Harold and in Bangladesh and India with Cyclone Amphan. Mega-swarms of locust, heatwaves, floods and landslides are all threatening millions with hunger and conflict and exacerbating the social and economic insecurity caused by the pandemic.

As a network we stand for equity, justice and human rights and we have recognised the fundamental connection between social and climate justice. It is now incumbent on us to express our support for those fighting racial injustice in the US right now, but it is also important for us to reflect the fight against racial injustice and systemic racism in all the work we do on climate, including the way we work, our policy positions and ensuring that our decision-making structures and platforms are inclusive.

We stand in solidarity with all our colleagues and allies in the US during these tragic and turbulent times and call for justice for George Floyd, Ahmad Arbary, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and all other Black and brown women and men who have been subjected to police violence and systemic racism in the US.

Typhoon Vongfong Displaces 150,000 during a Pandemic in the Philippines

"Already stretched having to deal with the devastating effects of Covid-19, the Philippines faced a double whammy when Typhoon Vongfong made landfall on May 15 forcing the mass evacuation of up to 150,000 into emergency shelters.

Having to deal with a humanitarian crisis during a pandemic requiring social distancing was described as complicated. According to Associated Press, rescuers and volunteers had wear face masks and protective suits while evacuation rooms which could previously shelter up to 40 families could only accommodate four families.

Typhoon Vongfong caused an estimated US$43 million in damage and killed five people. Categorised as the first named storm of 2020 season in the West Pacific, it is indicative of more typhoons to come over the year. Extreme weather events (EWE) are not going to take a pause just because a pandemic is raging.

If there is no shift from a carbon-intensive economy globally, EWEs will be a recurring theme in the region of Southeast Asia where four countries – including the Philippines – were listed among the 10 most affected countries according to the Long-Term Climate Risk Index (CRI) for the period 1999-2018. As these events also result in huge economic losses for the countries and region, it makes economic sense for the global community to address the overarching cause of climate change by increasing climate ambition."

- Nithi Nesadurai, Regional Coordinator, CAN Southeast Asia

 

“Typhoon Vongfong is a grim reminder of the harsh climate realities faced by our cities and communities already suffering from a devastating public health crisis and economic uncertainties. We will always face the perils of extreme weather and low-onset events unless we radically shift away from dirty, business-as-usual economic models that put profit over people's well-being and the environment. Climate and public health considerations should always be at the forefront as post-pandemic nations move forward to a new and better normal.”

- Rei Panaligan, President, Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, Philippines

 

Photo: Philippine Army

Why Indonesia should Raise Climate Ambition

By: Nithi Nesadurai, CAN Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator

If there is one country which raises the profile of Southeast Asia and ASEAN, it is Indonesia. First and foremost, because of its huge geographic spread, population of more than 273 million and membership to G20.

Additionally, as one of the world’s 12 most mega biodiversity countries, it has played a prominent and progressive role in both the Biodiversity and Climate Change convention negotiations hosted by the United Nations.

In its intended nationally determined contributions (INDC), Indonesia had pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26% below the business as usual (BAU) level by 2020 through unilateral actions, and by 41% with international support through bilateral cooperation.

This original NDC target was considered relatively high by Indonesian officials compared to other countries, including industrialised nations. Subsequently, this target was mainstreamed into government policy by the low carbon development strategy developed in 2019 to achieve economic benefits by transitioning to development with a lower carbon footprint.

This led many to look forward to an announcement from the Indonesian Government of raised climate ambition and higher targets in its revised NDC. During a discussion hosted by NDC Partnership on 11 May, senior Indonesian government officials said it was not going to happen because of the adverse economic effects of Covid-19. As a result, Indonesia will retain its original targets of 26% and 41% respectively.

While the pandemic has adversely affected Indonesia’s economy in general, this has resulted in huge reductions in energy-related emissions from the industrial, transportation and commercial building sectors. It would have been an opportune moment for the revised NDC to build on this trend and create a new normal with an enhanced emissions reduction target prioritising renewable energy and energy efficiency.

This would have provided leadership to other ASEAN countries to follow in its path. After all new research1 shows every country in the world would be economically better off if all could agree to strengthen commitments on the climate crisis through international cooperation. Conversely, weak action would lead to steep economic losses and losses of life.

 

1 Wei, Y., Han, R., Wang, C. et al. Self-preservation strategy for approaching global warming targets in the post-Paris Agreement era. Nat Commun 111624 (2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15453-z

In 2020, the power of people must defeat failing politics : Tasneem Essop, CAN Executive Director

 

This blog first appeared as an article on Thomson Reuters Foundation 

----------------------------

We cannot cheer incrementalism when what we need is transformational change

2020 was pitched as a goalpost for climate ambition. A moment when the fog of political apathy would clear and governments moved by the mass strikes, the unwavering evidence from science and a commitment to honest governance would line up to deliver new climate targets that collectively cut global emissions by half by 2030.

There should have been substantial money on the table this year. A cumulation of the $100 billion a year that rich countries owe developing countries in climate finance, as was promised in 2009. 

Developed countries should have fulfilled their pre-2020 emission reduction commitments for an equitable transition to a zero-carbon future.  

By now governments should have agreed to a “loss and damage” funding mechanism as a lifeline of support and a means of justice to those suffering unavoidable climate damages. 

The 20 largest economies in the world should have ceased all new fossil fuel production and phased out harmful subsidies.

Following the debacle of COP25 in Madrid last December where large emitters, backed by the fossil fuel lobby, steadfastly blocked progress we now see them continue their regressive tactics at home. 

The Canadian government, in total violation of its own climate promises, is allowing a 670-km fossil gas pipeline to run through Indigenous people’s land. Japan is set to approve 22 new coal mines that will lock in emissions for decades. The Australian government continues to justify its addiction to coal even as the country is up in flames. The Bolsonaro government has submitted a bill to permit commercial mining on Indigenous people’s land. The United States, one of the largest emitters, has literally left the party but is still eating the cake. 

At the start of 2020, let’s take a moment to condemn the litany of lies and broken promises that have exacerbated this climate and ecological crisis. We grieve the loss of lives, lands, livelihoods and ecosystems that are a direct result of bad faith politics, of putting profit ahead of people especially the most vulnerable people in the global South.

If 2019 comes to be remembered as the year that the climate emergency finally broke through mass consciousness, 2020 must be remembered as the year that we stop shifting the goalposts to accommodate our weak leaders and mobilise the power of people to tip the scales towards lasting change.
It is time to not only hold those in power to account, but to let them feel the consequences of their inaction. Let us understand what is needed to do this and build our collective strength and courage.

We can no longer cheer meaningless incrementalism disguised as climate progress when what is needed is transformational change. There is no excuse to pivot to net-zero 2050 climate targets that defy science and principles of equity without taking immediate decisions to cut emissions at source. 

As we embark into a new era of organising and mobilisation in this ‘decade of climate ambition’, let us ask ourselves what international solidarity really means in a climate crisis. What will it take to tackle the ‘most powerful’ head on? How far are we willing to challenge ourselves in this long arc towards climate justice? How can we become better allies, build stronger and more inclusive networks and sustain each other through periods fraught with inevitable setbacks?   

While the youth and school strikers have had an enormous impact in such a short time, there is a diversity of resistance movements and frontline defenders from around the world to learn from and to learn about

We can begin by unpacking and unlearning assumptions, checking our impulses and privilege and stand ready to cede space and power to new voices and those historically marginalised. It is time to articulate and put into practice a climate activism that straddles social justice and labour movements, that fights racism and inequality and demands the full rights for Indigenous peoples. We must do this without diminishing, tokenizing or appropriating voices and victories from these inter-connected struggles.

Let us acknowledge the complexity of the task ahead and get prepared. Our foes are organised, desperate and willing to hold onto the status quo through any means. Politicians may lie to us and the fossil fuel cartel is frantically recycling misinformation to obfuscate the facts.
Unleashing the power of people in unity, respect and love is a critical responsibility this year. Now is the time to get this right. In 2020 we cannot afford to settle for what is “realistic” we must get what is necessary. 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Fossil of the Day 13 December 2019

Brazil receives Colossal Fossil Award at COP25 in Madrid

Today the winner of the Colossal fossil may not come as a surprise to many. Yes there is a country that really outdone others in destroying the climate concretely on the ground and in the negotiations, attacking and killing the very people who are protecting unique ecosystems: indigenous people.

Brazil is the winner of CAN´s COP25 colossal fossil.

What a difference a year makes. Cradle of the UNFCCC and widely praised for impressive emission cuts in the last decade, Brazil has become a climate pariah. Eleven months into the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro, the South American country has joined the United States as one of the main threats to the Paris Agreement.

Bolsonaro, self-dubbed “Capitan Chainsaw”, has managed to kill environmental policies that helped Brazil achieve spectacular emission reductions in the past decade. The results were the highest Amazon deforestation rates in a decade, a spike in land invasions and the murder of three indigenous leaders just this week. The government is also cracking down on environmentalists – who Bolsonaro famously blamed for setting fire to the jungle. 

Brazil had some bizarre behaviors in Madrid, such as blocking mention to human rights on article 6.4 and opposing language on “climate emergency” in the COP decision. And the usual ones, like insisting on lose accounting rules for article 6.4 and on flooding the market with rotten Kyoto credits in order to appease old lobbies that got pink badges for Madrid – unlike civil society. Jair Bolsonaro is a walking carbon bomb who no doubt deserves this great achievement, the Colossal Fossil.

And much more.

 

Ray of the Year goes to Indigenous People and the Youth

Despite continuous discrimination and risk, indigenous people have fought to save the environment since the beginning of time. Today more than ever and despite suffocating closing on their space, they continue to fight at the forefront of climate struggles. For this and for simply existing and challenging systemized monocultures, they systematically get oppressed - often having to hold space with patience, love, and resilience, despite all the violence they face on a daily basis. This COP25, which originally was supposed to be held in Chile, where access was easier, was a golden opportunity to express themselves. But another oppressive government decided to change that and the COP shifted to Madrid. Still, they showed up and raised their voices. Despite exclusion and silencing, they continue to safeguard environmental and cultural diversity and integrity..

 

Young people around the world have mobilized millions of people to march on the streets, fighting desperately for their lives and their future. It’s not inspiring - indeed it’s downright depressing - that they have to mobilise like this just to get a halfway decent future, but it’s their resilience, their courage, and their determination to never let politicians get away with destruction of their hopes and dreams that is truly inspiring. They have been called radical, yet what is truly radical is to continue blitzing the world with fossil fuels. What’s truly radical, is to pretend that the cost of action is somehow greater than the cost of inaction; the cost of the future, the cost of entire civilisations. Young people’s mobilisation forced Governments to act, demonstrated the power of the people, and inspired so many. 

 

These beacons of hope deserve CAN´s Ray of the Year. Power to the people.

Fossil of the Day 12 December 2019

Fossil of the Day at COP25 - December 12th

Today we have in first place for the fossil of the day award the United States of America (USA) (again and again)!

The main reason is for generally really standing in the way of any money going to the people suffering from climate change. This has been going on for at least six years. This should really raise eyebrows about the country´s lack of empathy. Are there real people in office in the US People with actual hearts? Or have they replaced their humanity with a lump of coal?

First inhumanity, and now they put on full display their paranoia! They are afraid of being held accountable for causing droughts in Africa. They are afraid of being held accountable for the drowning of the Pacific; the destruction of entire civilisations. Actually, they should be held accountable but this is not what the Paris Agreement is about. It is about international cooperation, no developing country talked about liability. Yet the US insists on language on liability and compensation in the draft COP Decision text on the Review of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss & Damage (WIM).

Hey US you are on your way out, you are not giving a single dollar to the Green Climate Fund and now you don’t want any help to get to the people bearing the brunt of the mess you created! And still, you want to be part of the WIM’s Executive Committee! Pay up or step out, let others move forward already.

The Second Fossil of the Day award goes to developed countries with special mention to the European Union, Canada and Australia for showing lack of ambition in responding to vulnerable peoples’needs on loss and damage.

The WIM Review unofficially began on December 1st, and the overwhelming message was that finance to address loss and damage must be an outcome of COP25.

Two weeks later, poor and vulnerable countries and civil society are wondering if developed countries attended a different meeting on December 1st.

While we acknowledge they have been less problematic than the US, developed countries, including Australia, Canada and the European Union have done very little very late to advance discussions on loss and damage finance age. It’s especially confusing when all three have agreed that existing climate finance is insufficient. Anyhow, aren’t they the rich people in the room? And part of the club that caused the problem in the first place? Why is it so difficult for them to pay for the damages they are still causing.  Also…hey Canada… isn’t high time you differentiate yourself from cronies like Australia and the US? 

It is beyond us to understand how developed countries can sit by and continue to twiddle their thumbs whilst vulnerable communities in developing countries experience severe losses and damages. You have one day left to show you want to be on the right side of history!

 

The third fossil award goes to Australia - for using carbon market loopholes to meet its climate targets

We award this fossil to Australia for planning to cheat the atmosphere by carrying over its credits from the Kyoto protocol. Instead of cutting greenhouse gas pollution, Australia is using creative accounting. Please bear with us now: Australia plans to count surplus carbon credits from exceeding previous targets against future targets. Regrettably, this was allowed under the old Kyoto protocol, but it is not even mentioned in the Paris agreement. No country in though about such trickery.

To make things worse, since the Paris Agreement is a new and separate treaty, this is not even legal stuff! 

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