Blog Posts

Weight on young shoulders. Introducing Amit, our Leadership Development Fellow in the Pacific

Climate change is a problem deeply affecting the Pacific Island countries. As young professionals we have weighty expectations on our shoulders. We are expected, with the support of our elders, to find ways to make our communities more resilient and enable those younger than us to be free of an unsafe and insecure environment created by climate change. Being a victim of climate change during my own childhood, I am inspired to seek opportunities to enhance my leadership capabilities and competencies in the climate and sustainable development sphere, to create a better living environment for the next generation. 

In order to become a leader I’ve undertaken two opportunities. The first, my masters degree in Australia, has allowed me to understand the decision making process on climate and policy development. This is knowledge that I can share with others. But to compliment my studies, I have also become the CAN Leadership Development Fellow in the Pacific. It has been a fantastic experience so far working with CAN International and PICAN. This programme has enabled me to build my own capacity and build relationships with others in the network. Young people are tagged as agents of change and are required to demonstrate themselves as drivers and thought leaders of the future. However, there are few opportunities in the Pacific for young professionals to enhance their leadership capabilities so this programme offers something new. 

With more new challenges facing the Pacific, I hoping to gain competencies on policy issues and decision making process, develop my skills in building coalitions and networks, most importantly improve my communication skills to transfer my knowledge and lesson learnt from this programme to other young people in the Pacific.

In the time machine - a short history of CAN South East Asia

Whilst working on CANSEA’s new website, Leadership Development Fellow Adrian Yeo got the chance to dig through the archives and realised how CANSEA has had to ‘adapt’ over the years…  

CANSEA was established in 1992 with CAN members from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The first Steering Committee meeting was held the following year. Thailand members joined CANSEA on later years. It was felt that this form of partnership was needed to address the socio-political issues associated with the climate change debate and to exchange information, strengthen communication and coordinate activities at the regional level.

South East Asia is also diverse in history, culture and religions.The diversity in these 4 countries are much celebrated, but that diversity comes with a challenge as they share no common language, making documentation and conversation difficult. Combine this with other challenges, phone calls and air tickets were expensive, skype call was not yet created.  It was amazing to learn that the founding members of CANSEA has the foresight to come together despite such adversity.

My climate change activism started with my involvement in YOUNGO back in 2009. We mobilised over 2,000 youths from around the world towards COP15. English language is widely used, we connected via the internet, information was shared endlessly on emails and google wiki sites. Being in the youth constituency, we worked naively towards a fair, ambitious and binding climate agreement. But how did CANSEA did it back in 1992?

When I attended one of CANSEA meeting recently, it felt more like a close friends gathering rather than a work meeting. The trust that built working over the years was evidently shown in the maturity during negotiation and conflict resolution. Such trust is lacking in today’s UNFCCC processes, from my humble opinion.

When going through the archives, I realised founding documents were produced by a typewriter on the old type of paper. I couldn’t believe that if such documentation were needed during one of the COPs then, it would take a whole truckload of paper instead of our thumb drive or storage in the cloud now. My short involvement with CAN and CANSEA allows me to experience and document the evolution throughout the years. One thing for sure, like climate change, we have to adapt to these changes.

It made me think of the future of CANSEA. My 90’s generation grew up with the popular cartoon “Captain Planet and the Planeteers”, and inspired a whole new generation of environmentalists. Much have changed since.

I wonder what is the green-themed cartoon children watches today, and what that will mean for CANSEA tomorrow?

The ad-hoc what? Reflecting on the Geneva 2015 ADP session

Neoka Naidoo, Leadership Development Fellow from South Africa reflects on her experience of the February 2015 ADP session in Geneva.

Firstly, getting our terms out the way. ADP stands for The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), - what a mouthful! 

On behalf of Project 90 and as a representative of South Africa CAN, I went to Geneva for this bizarrely named session last month. This was my first time being in this space, but I found it interesting and enlightening. There were so many differences to what I experienced in Lima - for example, I noticed there were smaller party delegations with a greater sense of openness to engage with civil society. The conference was held in the old League of Nations building, which is steeped in a history of world changing decisions. I am not sure if it was the environment or the setting itself which was conducive to consensus as opposed to the high-pressure situation in Lima.

The ADP session finished on time with agreement of a 86 page text that included all options. This was somewhat of a disadvantage as the semantics take away from the strength of the elements. I wonder if every option is negotiable and the options are on a varying scale of ambition, will an agreement at COP 21 in Paris just unravel?

The Intended National Determined Contributions were hot on the off record agenda as there were murmurs through the halls of the release dates. In my opinion it is definitely necessary that a full assessment is completed on the all UNFCCC measures that address average global temperature increase and the measures to adapt to a world we are already ‘cooked’ into.

 

Same-same but different? South East Asia's INDCs

Leadership Development Fellow Adrian Yeo, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, gives us his take on how civil society is influencing the region's climate commitments. 

The UNFCCC has decided that each country must produce an ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC), which will form the foundation for climate action post-2020. They should include specific measures or projects countries will expect to do in order to keep average global temperature rise below 2˚C – the internationally-agreed limit aimed at preventing irreversible climate change.

South East Asia, the region I live in, has been making headway on this process.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to help organise and attend “A-FAB/CAN Workshop for Fair and Ambitious INDCs in Southeast Asia” in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was a collaboration between A-FAB (ASEAN  for a Fair, Ambitious & Binding Global Climate Deal) a regional policy lobby group network and CAN. The workshop aimed to identify each ASEAN country’s position on their INDC and strategise on how to make them more ambitious.

The workshop was always going to be challenging - are the participants ready to strategise just after Lima? Are the technical aspects of the INDC formalised? Do we have the right experts on the subject to lead the discussion?

However the conference opened promisingly. We watched various speakers share their country’s position on climate change and their current thinking on their INDC. It was interesting to hear about the different approaches from a developing country viewpoint and also recognise the risks.

The following day, we delved deeper into strategising strong INDCs in ASEAN’s context. The workshop invited Mr Apichai Sunchindah, former ASEAN Secretariat and Mr Jerald Joseph from ASEAN People Forum (APF) to share great insights on how ASEAN works and our advantages in lobbying INDC in this regional block.

A statement put out by ASEAN last November however does provide us with some hope. This statement contains strong commitments and should be used to remind ASEAN policy makers that it stands as a basis for future INDC’s commitments.

On the final day, I moderated a sharing session, where I tried to supply participants with  practical tools and action items from the previous days of discussion so the ideas could be implemented in their home country. There was also a press briefing conducted for the media on the INDCs and their importance in the run up to Paris COP21. 

The experience of working with regional networks and fellow colleagues enriched my understanding of Southeast Asia. It is a small region which shares many similarities but also has very diverse climate and environmental issues. Like the local Malaysian saying “same-same but different”.

Homework between now and Bonn

The Geneva session ends today—step one on the road to Paris. Ten months and just three more negotiating sessions to go!  The world is eagerly awaiting an international agreement that represents a turning point and brings us significantly closer to keeping warming below 1.5°C, ensures protection for the most vulnerable by ramping up adaptation to climate change,  and helps countries cope with loss and damage — the impacts of climate change that go beyond adaptation.

ECO looks forward to continuing the collegial atmosphere here in Geneva at the next session in Bonn, building on what we are sure will be frequent formal and informal consultations, within groups and between groups, over the next three months. Of course, Parties, listening to your commitment to transparency, civil society expects to be engaged in these discussions and is ready to provide constructive input.

So how can Parties best use the time between now and Bonn?  First and foremost, they must talk to each other, so that they come to Bonn with a clearer understanding of what each others’ proposals mean, where they see options for “editorial streamlining”, and how to maximise ambition in the Paris agreement.

Differentiation

The elements text is peppered with options for differentiation, in which “developed”countries are required to do one thing and “developing” countries are required to do another. In practice, there are two matters at stake here: (1) should there be multiple groups that have different requirements for target types, finance obligations, and reporting requirements? and (2) how do we determine, numerically, when countries are doing their fair shares in terms of domestic mitigation on the one hand and international means of implementation on the other?

On the first question, national fair shares on mitigation and finance should be judged in terms of a basket of equity indicators: adequacy, responsibility, capability, adaptation need, and development need. For the second question, we’d like to hear from the Parties. Should the existing Annexes be kept? Kept but not operationalised? Redefined as dynamic annexes that are based on equity indicators, as in the Ethiopian proposal? Should we introduce more groups, as in the Brazilian proposal? Or should we just give up on having any overarching grouping system, and accept that we’re in a purely self-differentiated world (which seems to be the default path that we are on)? It’s clear to ECO that a constructive discussion is needed on these issues at the Bonn session in June.

Adaptation and loss and damage

There are plenty of good proposals in the text on guiding principles, the global adaptation goal, the link between mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage, national contributions and their communications, and institutional arrangements on loss and damage. Parties should spend the next few months making sure they understand these proposals better. Perhaps a Google hangout on the proposed institutional arrangements on loss and damage is in order?

As regular readers will have noted, ECO has spent some time this week emphasising the importance of both adaptation and loss and damage in the Paris agreement. When the schedule and focus of informal meetings between now and Paris is being decided, the importance of adaptation and loss and damage should be fully reflected.

There are several events in the weeks to ahead where Parties can build further consensus on these issues, including the April meeting in Bonn where LDCs and other countries come together to take stock of progress on their National Adaptation Plans, as well as the first meeting of the Warsaw Loss and Damage Mechanism Executive Committee.  When putting forward their INDCs, Parties should outline their adaptation plans and the support required to implement them.

Mitigation

In order to get us on a pathway compatible with keeping warming below 1.5°C, we need cycles and timeframes that will help to increase ambition over time. ECO recommends a five-year cycle for mitigation linked to a cycle for support, as well as regular, robust reviews, all guided by a clearly defined long-term goal.

And as any regular ECO reader will know, increasing ambition after 2020 is not enough to avoid dangerous climate change. We need action now, and we actually have a workstream for that purpose.

Parties should communicate to the co-chairs their priorities for the technical examination process; ECO suggests renewable energy, energy efficiency, and fossil fuel subsidies reform. The technical examination process (TEP) needs to consider concrete actions, barriers, and support needs. It is also time to start thinking about how an ambition mechanism that builds on the experiences from Workstream 2 can continue after Paris.

Finance

On climate finance, ECO is pleased that several helpful suggestions made it into the text, including five-year-cycles for setting, reviewing and updating collective targets for the provision of financial support, a requirement that developed countries and others [in a position][willing][happy] to do so contribute to achieving these targets, and that they regularly communicate what they are providing. The text also includes a proposed process through which developing countries would be enabled to identify what support they need to enhance action, again, in cycles.

Although not on the ADP agenda, many corridor conversations in Geneva circled around pre-2020 finance. Even the most stubborn developed country delegates seem to understand that clarity on the $100-billion-promise is a must-do for success in Paris.  So here’s a friendly warning: the roadmap to $100 billion must not be a cheeky accounting exercise, but must reflect a real scaling-up of public finance on top of levels that were already being provided or mobilised in 2009 when the promise was made.  ECO hopes this issue will be on the menu when finance ministers meet at the spring World Bank/IMF meetings in April, and that positive movement will be evident well before Paris — perhaps even by the June session in Bonn.

Long-Term Goal

Last, but not least, ECO expects Parties to appropriately respond to the accumulated insights coming from the conclusion of the three year-long Structured Expert Dialogue (SED). Here’s a quick summary: there is evidence for dangerous climate change even with 2°C warming, and we are not even close to on track to stay under that limit. And if you prefer, a tweet:

#TimeForClimateAction WAKE UP, PEOPLE! We are heading for a horrible climate catastrophe, and we really, really need to act.

Starting in Bonn, countries must work towards language in the Paris agreement that clearly expresses our need to phase out fossil fuel emissions by mid-century, and to build a global economy based on 100% clean, renewable energy resources. The science is clear: to stay below a temperature increase of 1.5°C, we must do no less.

So there you have it: five easy pieces. If Parties come to Bonn prepared to engage on these issues, the prospects for the deal we need in Paris are bright indeed.

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Ultimate Paris Legal Quiz

Test your knowledge about the legal form of the Paris agreement. Multilateral choices possible!

  1. Does the legal form of the agreement matter?
    a) Yes, it ensures that all Parties will fulfil their promises.
    b) Yes, otherwise the carbon market will collapse.
    c) Yes, as long as it’s possible to achieve it.
    d) Yes, because it could help countries meet the objective of the climate convention.
  2. Many Parties call for a Protocol. What is a “protocol”?
    a) An unwritten rule on how to behave, like here in Geneva or on the Internet, often referred to as ”etiquette”.
    b) An instrument tied to and often seen as extending or deepening a treaty (see Montreal Protocol to the Ozone Treaty and other well-known protocols).
    c) Something to expect in Paris, because we like the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol.
    d) Something to expect in Paris, because we like the lack of effective compliance we have now.
  3. What would “legally binding” mean for this agreement?
    a)
    That it is written in such a way that everyone knows what to do and what to expect.
    b) That if a polluter that has to pay, it really has to pay.
    c) That the word “shall” appears more times than “will”, “should”, “can” and “may” in the text.
    d) It has provisions to ensure compliance, and is, at least in principle, judicially enforceable.
  4. Does a Party need to establish domestic climate legislation?
    a) Of course! An agreement (see 1) requires this.
    b) Of course! Parties refer to this in an agreement.
    c) Of course! So civil society can sue the state to make it comply with the obligations.
    d) No! If a Party signs and ratifies an agreement, it will always comply.

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(p + (ɔ + (q + (ɐ ˙Ɛ
(q ˙ᄅ
(p ˙Ɩ
sɹǝʍsuɐ

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INDCs for Parties

INDCs Image

Parties: as you return home to do your INDC homework, ECO reminds you that sequencing is important. Remember to do so on your commitments on finance, mitigation and adaptation assignments, and to do so with fairness and equity in mind. For the first batch of students with submissions due in March, your tasks are clear:

  1. Ensure that the INDC presents enough information so that you can determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that will be emitted over the entire commitment period. Ask yourself: “Can I tell how many tonnes my country is going to emit over this period?”. Then add more information until the answer is: “Yes!”
  2. Ensure that the type of the mitigation INDC fits your country’s profile. All developed countries capable should provide an economy wide GHG emissions carbon budget to 2025. Other countries in a position to join them should do so—the more the merrier!
  3. Ensure that the INDC provides clear and transparent information on the role of the forest and land sector. A full proof way is to count the tonnes that the atmosphere sees.
  4. For countries with high responsibility and capability, the INDC should include a finance contribution. For countries that will require financial support, the INDC should indicate financing needs.
  5. Ensure that you provide a description on how your INDC is fair and ambitious. Here’s a simple way to do this is to answer the following questions. 1) In your opinion, what’s left of the carbon budget, and is it compatible with 1.5°C and 2°C and the objective of the convention? 2) How many tonnes of this budget do you do you intend to claim? 3) Why is this your country’s fair share? Before getting too creative, reflect what would happen if other countries applied your criteria.
  6. Outline what your country is doing to cope with the ever-increasing impacts of climate change, and if you are a developing country, describe your needs for finance and capacity building to implement adaptation strategies that are up to this challenge.
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There are still new ideas under the sun – If you know where to look…

Dear delegates, after an [exhausting][exhilarating] week here in Bonn some of you might be feeling tapped out of new [ideas][text]. But ECO is here to assure you that there are some new-old and new-new ideas still out there to be taken advantage of in finance.

The UNEP Adaptation Gap report gave the full rationale for exploring these ideas. It is clear that [new] [innovative] [alternative] sources of finance offer significant potential to raise new, additional and predictable finance for adaptation and loss and damage. In fact, we could raise between USD 26 and 115 billion by 2020 from just 3 of these sources:

  • A Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in the EU has been given a new lease on life by President Hollande, with his plan to host a meeting of 11 interested Eurozone nations this year. The opportunity is there to commit FTT revenues to the GCF.
  • A clear signal from the Paris agreement that international transport emissions must be addressed by international aviation and maritime bodies ICAO and IMO.  This could unlock new finance, whilst helping diminish a projected BAU emissions growth of up to 270% in this sector by 2050.
  • Despite 87% of auction revenues from the EU ETS going to climate finance, less than 20% of this, from just five countries, has gone to international climate finance,. This offers an opportunity to change the rules so that all allowances are auctioned, increasing total funds and committing participating countries to providing revenue to international finance.
  • The idea of a Fossil Fuel Extraction Levy, to be paid into the Loss and Damage Mechanism, offers the opportunity to raise substantial new and predictable finance from the fossil fuel industry, rather than treasury coffers, to pay for loss and damage.
  • Finally, there is the matter of the millions that could be freed from the largely dormant funds in the UNFCCC’s Sustainable Development Mechanism unit, as well as the CDM scale-up fund, and redirected either to the Adaptation Fund or towards capacity building.

Thanks to a group of forward-thinking Parties, we have the option to explore these new sources of finance in the text. We need Paris to agree to kick this effort off immediately in 2016, with a view to identifying and mobilising these alternative sources of finance by 2020, or 2025 for the sources that will take longer to come to fruition.

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The right stuff

When ECO learnt that February’s ADP session would be held in Geneva, home of the Human Rights Council, we started dreaming of how the UNFCCC could use a change of scenery (from Bonn) to agree, respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights for all, in all climate change related actions.

Little did we know that nations of the world would actually come one step closer to fulfilling this dream, and in the very first few hours of the session too! Well done. A significant number of groups and countries; including Mexico, Uganda, Chile, the EU, Bolivia, and Tuvalu, supported the inclusion of strong language of human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, and gender equality. This was done throughout different sections of the text including Section C which will help ensure that these principles apply to all aspects of the agreement.

Even though the engagement levels have been great from a wide array of Parties, the road to Paris is short and winding. As Parties are about to engage in the so-called streamlining exercise, remember that beyond all the legalese, climate change has profound human consequences. The lives and livelihoods of literally billions of people are riding on what comes out of this process.

ECO is hopeful that the Geneva legacy will make history, and recalls President Hollande’s words last month that COP21 will be an opportunity for “all nations of the world to take a new step in favour of human rights through the UN climate conference. It is our duty to succeed.”

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Join the movement

Be heartened, delegates! Soon you’ll be back in that other, outside, world, away from all things ADP, streamlining, contact groups and spotty Plug-N-Play Internet.  This wonderful outside world is also home to a global movement of citizens who have taken climate leadership into their own hands.

There’s the 400,000 activists taking to the streets of New York, or millions working on climate solutions every day at a variety of levels – the world is pressing ahead to end the fossil fuel era. Today, Global Divestment Day, will see hundreds of communities in 58 countries sending a clear message to institutions: it’s time to stop funding fossil fuels.

As you move ahead towards Paris, ECO hopes Parties will keep an eye on this exciting outside world, and be encouraged by the progress happening all around us. This week has seen you walking in the right direction, but the sooner you pick up the pace, the sooner you’ll catch up to the rest of us.

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