Blog Posts

CAN director gives statement at Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda negotiations

Distinguished Co-Facilitators,

Thank you for this opportunity to interact.

As we all know, climate change impacts are unfolding rapidly, threatening poverty eradication and putting  the attainment of the sustainable development goals and targets at risk as recognised in the Secretary General’s Synthesis Report. Right now the preamble and declaration fall short of adequately emphasizing the link between climate change and poverty eradication and recognizing the new solutions available, which can inspire all members of society to act against climate change and end poverty in the next 15 years.

We need a visionary declaration that drives inspiration and ensures that climate change is treated as a development issue, rather than portraying it as solely environmental issue. We recommend to improve the integration of the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development starting with the preamble. We propose to separate climate change and natural resources, to strengthen the cities and human settlement headline- emphasizing the need for cities to be resilient and sustainable, to have a focus on sustainable economic development rather than on growth  and to include sustainable energy and energy access in headline two as key solutions on how to achieve sustainable economic development.

Clear references to phasing out emissions and phasing  in renewable energy in the vision and the declaration (Paragraph  27) are essential. By adding a reference to the urgent need of phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in renewable energy, we can shed a light on how to provide energy access to people in marginalised areas, achieve sustainable development and a common temperature goal of 1.5ºC, that can inspire all members of society to act against climate change and end poverty in the next 15 years.

The declaration must show countries determination to decisively address the threat posed by climate change by ensuring climate resilient development. To build resilience, including of marginalized people and vulnerable groups, we need to promote climate justice and maximize resources for investment in low-carbon development paths through adequate and appropriate financing, technology transfer and capacity building for poorer countries.

Climate change is an existential crisis which we all need to address now. The post-2015 agenda has a unique role to play in tackling climate change while fighting poverty and inequality and by that getting closer to a more sustainable future in 2030.  It will be also crucial to send a strong signal of political ambition for COP21 in December.

Thank you.


Bumps in the road to Paris

Written by Neoka Naidoo, Leadership Development Fellow from South Africa. 

The thing that resonates with me about the UNFCCC process, and I take it resonates with everyone else within the CAN community, is the disparity between political will and action. Everyone sitting in the plenaries knows what the impacts of climate change are and how this will negatively affect people back in their countries, but the actions back home continue to be slow comparatively to the ambitious action that is required, according to the science, to minimize the catestrophic impacts of climate change.

Nikola Tesla proclaimed that “the individual is ephemeral, races and nations come and pass away, but man remains” and this might have been true in his time but after reflecting on SB42, so much has happened and nothing has changed. In my opinion there are no climate borders that align with our political borders, so its about time we realised it. Our leaders need to act because the likelihood of, to quote Tesla, 'man remaining' is decreasing. But I believe the UNFCCC process stilll provides an opportunity to come together and realize our common humanity. This is especially the case  within the smaller sessions, like the SB42, where the creases are ironed out and political disagreements resolved. In the same breath common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities need to be upheld.

Our thinking needs to be amalgamated with the great sense of humanity. This is not the time to silo climate change because it is difficult topic but rather embrace the cavity that calls for innovation.

The trip ended just before the Papal Encyclical and the REN 21 report were launched. These complimented each other, one pointing out the great moral duty we have to act, with the REN21 report showing that the path to 100% renewable energy is already laid out, and we just need the courage from our political leaders to take it.


4 Things I learnt from the June 2015 Bonn Session

Written by Adrian Yeo, CAN Leadership Development Fellow from CAN South East Asia. 
Like every UNFCCC Session, the recent Bonn #SB42 2015 was so fast paced there is barely time to make your own reflection. So now, a few weeks later, here are 4 things I learnt from this Bonn Session that I wish to share with you.
All members work as one. Unlike small party delegations, like Saudi Arabia for example, who have to dash from one meeting to another and sometimes only making it half way through, CAN coordination allows smaller CSO delegations to work together and tap on the experience and expertise of the wider network. CAN members share intelligence, gossip and strategies throughout the session in their daily meetings and on CAN-Talk. This goes beyond their own organisation that they represent. Many CAN working groups produce results as a team and not individually. I really appreciate this.
Many of the old guard from YOUNGO are still around, doing great work. I was heavily involved in the youth constituency, YOUNGO, back in 2009-2010. It is amazing how many YOUNGO-ers from back then are the movers and shakers of today’s negotiations. Education and early exposure of the UNFCCC process is important, and must be inclusive and accessible to all, championing diversity in gender, country, language and age. We should have more capacity building workshops to ensure young people from civil society will continue to be involved in the UNFCCC during their careers.
Malaysia’s negotiators bike to the meeting venue! One morning as I was walking towards the Conference Centre I saw Dr Gary Theseira, a Malaysian negotiator, locking up his bike. He takes C02 emission reduction seriously, and puts it into practice.
One must be very focused to be effective. At any one time, there could be 5-6 meetings happening during the session, side events, actions by civil societies, bi-laterals, briefings and CAN working group meetings. It is a well-documented diagnosis called “COP Fever” where you get lost in the circus of things, so one has to have a laser focus on your role and your objectives in coming to these meetings. Make a priority list and never let anything come in between, including lunch.


Cycles, cycles, cycles

While ECO daydreams about cycling along the Rhine into the sunset, the EU seems confused about how cycles move us forward. On one hand, the EU supports stock-takes of mitigation ambition in 5-year cycles. But on the other, it’s against synchronising commitment periods with these 5-year cycles, and has no 2025 target.

Now, a review cycle that is not linked to a decision-making moment lacks credibility and becomes a weak mechanism to increase ambition. All cyclists know that if you want to move up a gear, you need momentum and a mechanism that works.

Common and regular target end dates create political moments. To see that others are zooming forward can drive countries to go further on new updated targets. Without 2025 targets, the EU risks locking in low ambition. A deal in Paris won’t increase ambition over time if it’s based on cycles with missing parts. Just like a bicycle without pedals, a cycle without a mechanism that obliges countries to go faster won’t accelerate decarbonisation!

Some EU leaders supported a phase-out goal at the G7 and the Petersberg Dialogue. This goal has to go in tandem with meaningful short-term cycles – particularly because the goal they have set requires faster progress down the global path to becoming 100% fossil free and phasing-in 100% renewables. In that context, 5 year commitment periods make a 2050 goal mean something.

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What is an encyclical?

“Laudato Si” or “Praised be You” is the title of the much anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis, which will be somewhat longer than ECO and just as devoted to the future of our planet and people.   It will talk not only about climate but broadly of the environment and human development. Anticipated for release on the 18th of June, it will explore the relationship between care for creation and concern for the poor. It will help Catholics and all people, Heads of States and governments to rediscover the spiritual roots of ecology, and it will remind us all of our common moral imperative to act and have an ambitious long-term goal to reducing emissions.

The encyclical is being released ahead of both of the key UN negotiations on sustainable development and climate. In his message to COP20 in Lima, Pope Francis noted the “clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act.” In the event, the outcome of COP20 fell short of ECO’s expectations. Pope Francis too described the results as “nothing great” and showing a distinct lack of “political will”.

Integral ecology, as the basis for justice and development in the world, requires a new global solidarity, one in which everyone has a part to play and every action, no matter how small, can make a difference. This will be Pope Francis’ message to world leaders. He will challenge them to be courageous and to take decisions that go beyond technical and economic considerations, and instead prioritise solidarity and the protection of the poorest and most vulnerable people and communities. He will call on them to put the needs of the poorest before blind protection of any economic system. Dear negotiators, are you up for the challenge?

Civil society is certainly ready to take up the challenge. On 28 June there will be a multi-faith/civil society march from Rome to St. Peter´s Square in the Vatican to show support for the Pope´s climate change advocacy and his encyclical. Mini-marches are also planned from peoples of faith and activists everywhere in the world.

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Assurance about insurance

It’s a relief to see that G7 leaders didn’t entirely forget about climate impacts. They seem to remember the responsibility of industrialised countries to make amends for their large share of CO2 emissions. They announced an initiative to cover up to 400 million people in vulnerable countries with insurance instruments to help manage a portion of the climate risk that they face. There are many unanswered questions though.

First, how will the approaches really benefit poor and vulnerable people who cannot pay premiums? Focusing on risk platforms such as the African Risk Capacity (ARC) is a good start. Such platforms offer safety nets and assist vulnerable communities. However, more details are needed on how the implementation will directly benefit vulnerable people, especially considering if they may not be able to pay insurance premiums.

Second, the G7 statement doesn’t say much about the immediate way forward, or about how much money will be put into the initiative. It is important that implementation will be done in consultation with affected countries’ governments,  civil society and vulnerable groups. In addition, the initiative should properly follow through with an M&E system that looks at whether vulnerable people receive assistance and truly benefit.

Third, climate risk insurance has a contextual background in the UNFCCC. The G7 initiative should not attempt to shift the climate risk burden to people and communities by asking them to buy insurance from the private sector. Climate insurance by itself is not a silver bullet, instead a comprehensive strategy is needed for Paris and beyond to appropriately respond to the entire loss and damage challenge.

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INDCs: it is not just the “WHAT” but also the “HOW”

Most analyses of the INDCs that have been submitted thus far have focused on what is included. Here’s a reminder: Annex 1 countries who still haven’t submitted should mention finance, technology and capacity building support in their upcoming INDCs.

But the INDC process isn’t just about pulling together the numbers; it is also about how the level of ambition and the proposed policies are selected, as well as how they will be implemented.

As countries put together their INDCs, they must ensure effective participation of civil society in the drafting the contribution, and consider which policy options are most beneficial for the largest segments of society, including vulnerable groups. Parties must also abide by the prescriptions of human rights and gender equality throughout the design and implementation of their INDCs.

The greatest contribution to human rights that countries can make in the lead up to COP21 is to accept their fair share of climate action, in line with the science and with equity. Ambition combined with just and participatory implementation is the only way to guarantee that the outcome of the Paris agreement will benefit both the planet and its people.

ECO welcomes the inclusion of references to these important issues in the INDCs submitted by Mexico and Morocco. All countries should use this opportunity to foster the engagement of civil society and commit to integrate human rights in their long-term climate policies.

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Adapting the INDCs

When delegates return to their countries, some trade in their negotiator hat for that of a practitioner. Back home, they’ll have to advance domestic debates on mitigation and adaptation. For many, one of the most urgent objectives will be to submit their INDC in a few months. While the focus clearly and rightly lies with mitigation action, the INDC process also offers a chance to highlight relevant aspects for adaptation. This is a key moment for Parties to communicate key climate change vulnerabilities (hint – they are already in your National Communications), flagship national policies and goals, potential adaptation investment pipelines, and other adaptation policies relevant to share with the international community.

The first set of INDCs already show different ways to include a meaningful adaptation component. Mexico communicated its overarching adaptation policy priority and a goal to halve the number of vulnerable municipalities. Morocco gave concrete goals on adaptation-related policy outcomes, and Ethiopia communicated its mainstreaming approach. Gabon highlighted coastal adaptation priorities.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) which are underway in many LDCs and other countries should have a link to the INDCs. Synergies should be maximised and duplication of efforts minimised. Both INDCs and NAPs are likely to be most effective if they are based on a long-term vision for development as well as dealing with climate change impacts. If a country is already progressing in the elaboration of a NAP, it should be able to derive much of the concise information for an INDC from that process. Other Parties may use the INDC process to attract attention to adaptation needs and potentially kick-off a national adaptation planning process.

Adaptation must be a policy priority, especially for vulnerable countries. The INDCs can be a facilitative approach to share the top-line state of adaptation action and plans. In line with the Cancun Adaptation Framework these should be designed in a participatory and gender-sensitive manner taking into account exposed communities.

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Phase-out or get out!

The final days of Bonn have seen hundreds of thousands of people issue a resounding call to Parties to protect climate policymaking from the undue influence of the globe’s biggest polluters. ECO, too, wants it heard loud and clear: kick big polluters out of climate policy.

A broad coalition of individuals and NGOs delivered a petition with approximately 250,000 signatures to Parties through the Secretariat yesterday. ECO hopes that this call will be heard, and it will run interference with the fossil fuel industry’s aggressive lobbying at the national level, and bankrolling international meetings, including the climate COPs. The very industry driving the problem cannot be trusted to help find the solution.

Parties also need to protect COP21 from dirty energy sponsorship. As you might remember, industry co-option of treaty meetings is a growing problem. We were all there in Warsaw for COP19, where corporations with a direct conflict of interest in the treaty’s success sponsored the talks. This cannot happen in Paris when so much is at stake. Corporations such as EDF and Engie, with ties to coal and fracking, are now listed as lead sponsors, despite contributing close to 50% of France’s emissions. If this process wants to be credible, it needs to reject dirty energy sponsorship.

ECO acknowledges that this is a Party-driven process, which is why it is asking Parties to heed the call from people around the world to protect climate policymaking and the UNFCCC process from powerful corporate interests. The world is watching.

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Urgent and immediate, but not worth funding?

It’s hard to believe but, yes, it’s been nearly 15 years since Parties set up the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) to support LDCs in identifying “urgent and immediate” adaptation projects by preparing National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). Yes, that’s the same fund that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) managed with voluntary contributions from developed countries.

Here’s the good part of this story: all 48 LDCs have completed their NAPAs and most have started implementing priority adaptation projects with LDCF funding. So far the LDCF has received nearly 900 million USD. However, during last week’s GEF Council session, it emerged that there are 29 “urgent and immediate” projects approved and ready to be implemented that require around 200 million USD in total — but there is no money left in the LDCF.

Even more concerning, there were no contributions offered for the LDCF during this session.  Maybe it was just an “oversight” by developed countries, so ECO trusts the money for these urgent and immediate adaptation projects will be forthcoming soon.

While the LDCF is busy fulfilling its mandate to fund urgent LDC adaptation actions, let’s not forget that there are various options to address further adaptation funding for LDCs in the future. One option is to make the LDCF a vehicle for delivering continued adaptation funding to the 48 LDCs, with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) channeling adaptation funding to link the two processes.

Another option is to establish an LDC adaptation funding track directly under the GCF. However, such a track would have to be carefully protected from other demands. Alternatively, other GCF provisions could be put in place to ensure sufficient adaptation funding for LDCs. These ongoing discussions are critical – but for now the LDCF needs continued support and new pledges from rich countries so it can continue its current mandate to help those that need it most.

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