Tag: climate change

The Air Pollution and Climate Change Nexus: SLCP's as a Double Trigger for Action

October 2017

Climate change and air pollution are two of the most dangerous and grievous problems of our time. An estimated 8 million people worldwide die due to air pollution while climate change is linked to over 3.5 million deaths and will lead to a possible 23% loss in average global income by the end of the century.

The mitigation of Short-lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) has received much attention in the past few years for its potential to lessen health-related impacts of air pollution, prevent major crop losses, and in some cases also slow down global warming.

Join us to learn more about the science and the interlinkages between air pollution, SLCPs and climate change This webinar will include presentations on the science behind the three issues, examples of local policy and civil society initiatives and an outlook to UNEA III.

Air Pollution and Climate Change Nexus: SLCP's as a Double Trigger for Action Webinar - video

Presentations:

  • Quick action on SLCP's for quick result with multiple benefits - Drew Shindell - 03:02mins
  • Phillipine membership to the CCAC and national work on SLCP reduction - Alan Silayane - 17:10mins
  • Air pollution, health and climate change. Unmask My City initiative - Anne Stauffer - 33:44mins
  • Fast action, Quick results, Multiple benefits - Helena Molin - 51:18mins

Click the title for the video and pdf's for each presentation are below

photo courtesy of Unmask My City

Statement regarding cost recovery policy on behalf of all observer constituencies

Even though the Secretariat and Parties keep saying that civil society plays a critical role in the negotiations, there’s very little they’re doing to help us participate effectively. The proposed cost recovery policy for side events and exhibits is a case in point. The following is the collective response on behalf of all non-governmental observer constituencies, which offers to work with the Secretariat and Parties to find a real and sustainable solution. Why not give us more than four days and an open and participatory process to do so.

On behalf of the constituencies representing business and industry, research groups, indigenous peoples organisations, environmental groups, women and gender, trade unions, local government and municipal authorities, farmers and youth, we would like to express our concern regarding the policy on cost recovery announced in the Secretariat’s information note dated June 4th. This policy threatens to undermine the quality of observer participation in the UNFCCC process.

From its beginning, the UNFCCC has recognised the value of observer participation, most recently during Thursday’s Article 6 dialogue on public participation. Within the SBI negotiations and workshops, numerous ministerial statements and today’s discussion, the Secretariat and Parties have repeatedly acknowledged the “crucial and integral” role of observers in and the value of our contributions to this process. 

Despite this widespread recognition, the proposed cost recovery policy would effectively exclude many voices that cannot afford to pay the new costs, and threaten the credibility and legitimacy as well as mutual trust that have been established within this process. It would also undermine our ability to share diverse views and to present current research and innovative solutions to this complex problem. 

This policy – which essentially shifts the burden from Parties to observers – would have significant impacts on our ability to engage in, inform and influence the process. Many observer organisations face significant resource and capacity constraints and, as recognised by the Secretariat, have limited opportunities to share their views and perspectives. The voices of civil society, in particular organisations from developing countries and regions and other groups representing those most vulnerable, will be further marginalised if the right to speak is premised on the ability to pay.

As we’ve demonstrated in the past, we are committed to working with the Secretariat and Parties to find solutions together. We are willing to work with the Secretariat to find a real solution that doesn’t link financial contribution to the ability of observers to effectively participate in this process.  In the interim, we urge you to put this policy on hold until other options have been considered through a transparent and participatory process, involving the constituencies, which is critical to protecting diverse points of view and ensuring legitimate outcomes.

Let us work together to find a solution.

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Missing Persons Bulletin

Parties might be wondering about those empty seats in the recent ADP contact-group meetings and noted the absence of NGO observers.

ECO doesn’t want you to worry, NGOs were there… well, two of them, representing Climate Justice Now! and Climate Action Network. Both have been allotted a grand total of 2 (yes, that’s two) seats for the ADP contact-group meetings, on behalf of more than a thousand member organisations. Two (luckily very committed) note-takers have been there to observe, what will shape the future of everyone, what’s going on inside and reporting back to the rest of the world locked out of negotiations.

In order for you to identify the CAN observer in the room, ECO has this handy photo for you, although, it probably wouldn’t have been hard to spot amongst all of the empty seats anyway…

ECO finds this to be extremely unfortunate, to say the least. Space constraints have been cited as the reason, and civil society participation has been downsized to fit within the designated space. ECO believes it should work the other way round: the space should be sized according to the overall need, which includes civil society participants just as much electricity, bathrooms, the stale sandwiches and over-priced coffee required for talks to function effectively. At least, that’s how civil society participation in the UN system has worked for many decades.

Observers’ suggestions to use CCTV in an overflow room have not been taken up, on grounds of, again, alleged budget and space availability. ECO notes that, for at least yesterday, the plenary hall wasn;t in use during the late afternoon’s ADP contact-group meeting in Room Bonn. ECO has heard rumours that smaller rooms, with little civil society participation, are being seen by some as more conducive to constructive discussions. ECO agrees there may be times when such closed-door meetings can help,but that reasoning mustn’t be used as a pretext to establish a general practice of excluding all but two colleagues of environmental NGOs from regular contact-group meetings.

ECO suggest that Parties look, again, into their purses to ensure that at the next session there are no holes in the budget holes. Come on, you want to be scrutinised. That’s what you’re always telling us!

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Fully Branded COP

Everyone needs to take part in the battle against climate change, and we all agree that includes the private sector. Still, it was a shock to learn that the COP Presidency invited fossil industries to sponsor these climate talks, even while these very same companies do their utmost to fight against climate policies.

Corporate sponsorships to 'brand' stadiums have been around for a while.  All the same, ECO wasn't quite ready for this new trend at the COP. Branding is all about visibility and alliances. And money. So what message are we seeing here in Warsaw?

Just look around you. Fossil industry logos are everywhere in the conference center – on the water dispensers, in the meeting hall and on the welcome bags for COP guests. And the USB stick – you guessed it!  It’s full of presentations about the “excellent” environmental performance of these companies! But somehow the most important facts are missing:

* Alstom and PGE (the Polish majority state-owned energy utility) plan to build a huge new 1,800 MW coal power plant in Poland – a monster which would emit about 350 million tonnes of CO2 in its lifetime.

* The car maker BMW made headlines recently because of its generous donations to Ms. Merkel’s party, the political player who watered down the latest EU-wide regulation to reduce CO2 pollution from cars.  

* Arcelor Mittal, a global behemoth, was not only a tireless lobbyist against ambitious EU climate legislation, but has also been vocally against carbon pricing regulation in South Africa.

Of course, bags and pens aren’t really what we need from these companies. Instead, the best gift would be to keep the fossils in the ground – and fossil interests out of climate negotiations.

 

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IPCC: 1.5 Still Alive

Parties in Doha requested expert advice to ensure the scientific integrity of the 2013-2015 Review. Well, yesterday they got it, fresh from IPCC Working Group I. In the first of two dialogues in Warsaw, IPCC experts provided advice on the adequacy of the 2oC goal in light of the ‘ultimate objective’ of the Convention.

Working Group I confirms what we already knew: warming is unequivocal, human influence is clear, and limiting climate change and its impacts requires substantial and sustained emissions reduction – in fact, down to zero.
But there is good news as well.  The “peak and decline” trajectory of the lowest concentration pathway (RCP2.6) could limit the increase in global mean temperature to 1.5oC and would increase the likelihood of meeting the long term global goal of keeping below 2oC. That’s not easy, but it’s still within reach.

The findings show that even 2oC warming will increase the potential for dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, and delaying emissions reductions would speed the pace and severity of impacts such as sea level rise and storm intensity. The WG I report gives Parties one less excuse to delay or hedge their mitigation commitments and actions up to and beyond 2020.

Working Group II will not release its full report on impacts until March 2014, but it is already evident that failing to reduce emissions quickly means that the ultimate objective of the Convention would not be met: sustainable development, food security and ecosystem adaptation would all be sacrificed. The joint contact group of SBSTA and SBI at COP 19 should advise that Parties' commitments and actions must be tabled at COP 20 and their adequacy must be benchmarked against the IPCC findings.

The second session of the IPCC expert dialogue is at 3 pm today, and it will continue to address findings of the highest importance.

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The Topsy-Turvy Land Downunder

You may have heard that things have gone a little awry in the climate downunder.

Not only has Sydney just had the worst bushfires ever in October (mid-spring!), this year saw national temperature records broken month after month after month. After the hottest day ever across Australia in January, the Bureau of Metereology had to include a new colour for much hotter levels of hot. And perhaps this is no surprise -- now the heat seems to have gone into the heads of the politicians.

Despite the fact that the majority of Australians want action on climate change (as made clear by extensive exit polling at the recent election), the new government sacked the independent Climate Change Authority (which provided independent scientific advice on climate policy), and is in the process of repealing Australia's carbon price and limit on pollution as well as its legislated commitment to 80% reductions by 2050.
Say again? With more than 40 countries, states and provinces around the globe implementing a carbon price, the new government is falling backwards, scrapping Australia’s pricing scheme and moving to an inefficient government funded scheme that – wait for this! -- pays polluters to pollute.

But unfortunately, there’s even more. What about Australia’s ability to meet the middle or upper end of their 5% to 25% 2020 target range? Seems to be gone in a flash. Other countries should sound alarm bells and question Australia’s intentions to contribute its fair share to cut global pollution and limit warming.

The new Australian government is hardly inclined to take climate change seriously -- but they must.

 

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CAN Statement given at the UN Security Council Arria meeting on climate change and security

 

CAN Statement at UN Security Council Arria Meeting

15 February, 2013

Given by Wael Hmaidan, Director of Climate Action Network 

 

Thank you Co-chair:

I am making this statement on behalf of Oxfam and the Climate Action Network, a coalition of more than 700 national and international NGOs.

Let me join others in thanking governments Pakistan and the United Kingdom for providing us with this opportunity, and also thank the panel for their excellent input.

For many years, civil society has warned that our collective planetary failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions entails grave consequences. These consequences are already being felt, first and foremost by the poorest and most vulnerable within our societies. They include a heightened risk of poverty, inequality, instability, and conflict that ultimately affects us all; and they demand an unprecedented commitment to collective action to drastically reduce this risk.

Nowhere can this climate risk be more clearly seen than in the global food system. 870 million people will go to bed hungry tonight, a billion more are malnourished. They are among the billions of people in developing countries that are dependant on agriculture for their livelihoods. As net food consumers, many spend more than 50% of their incomes on food. Many are living in post-conflict or fragile States.

Climate change means they are facing increasing uncertainty from rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns that act as a drag on crop yields. Droughts or floods can wipe out entire harvests, as we have seen in recent years in Pakistan, in the Horn of Africa and across the Sahel. And when extreme weather hits major world food producers – like last year’s droughts in the US and Russia – world food prices rocket. This presents a major risk to net food importing countries, such as Yemen, dependant on imports for 90% of its wheat consumption.

It is clear that mass hunger, exacerbated by climate change, can be a major driver of instability. As the Zulu proverb goes: "Plenty sits still, hunger is a wanderer." The food riots and social unrest seen in the wake of the 2008 food price spikes were not a one-off phenomenon, but a sign of the risks we face through our failure to feed a warming world.

Extreme weather has continued to drive and exacerbate food price volatility in the years since. This week the US seasonal drought outlook warned that severe drought conditions persist in much of the region. With other major producers like Australia and Russia either suffering or barely recovering from extreme heat and drought too, and with world cereal stocks falling again, world food security remains on a knife-edge. 

In addition to these new and increasing pressures on the food system, climate change is also driving scarcity in critical natural resources like water and land. While conflicts between and within countries over such resources are driven by multiple factors, it seems clear that in many cases climate change is a contributing or exacerbating factor, that should be taken into account in our efforts towards prevention and risk reduction, crisis management and peace-building.

Finally, we are gravely concerned by the prospects for mass displacement of people within States and across borders - which the Security Council has already recognised as a threat to international peace and security - driven directly by climate impacts like sea level rise, droughts, desertification and indirectly by its impacts on food and natural resources. For countries such as Bangladesh and many Small Island Developing States, the threat to their people is already visible; but it is a threat which peoples around the world – rich and poor alike – will face in the coming years and decades.

We recognise that the decision to leave one's home and community is often the result of multiple factors, but that climate change impacts are often a critical driver. For example, the thousands of people who were displaced from Somalia into neighbouring countries in 2011 were not only fleeing conflict, but in search of food in the wake of drought. As climate change impacts become increasingly severe and in some cases permanent, unlike migration driven by conflict or natural disasters, climate-forced migrants may have no hope of ever returning home. Without adequate provisions from the international community, the consequences of displacement and landlessness on such a scale for international peace and security will be profound.

For more than 20 years, global civil society has raised the alarm about the diverse consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions on our international community. We are already seeing the impacts in our work around the world, and we know from scientists that the window to prevent further, non-linear and catastrophic impacts is now rapidly closing. As repeatedly urged by the Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, leaders must act fast with all the tools available to reduce this risk.

This includes a major scaling-up of public investments to help communities and countries adapt to the changing climate. It includes a gear-shift in international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions to prevent much greater harm. And it includes adequate preparation for permanent loss and damage inflicted by climate change, including the establishment of a new international mechanism under discussion at the UNFCCC and the recognition of new rights for climate-forced migrants.

We stress that many of these initiatives can and must be delivered through the UNFCCC, - in particular through the legally binding global instrument to be adopted by its 2015 conference. The UNFCCC should remain the central locus of fair global efforts to confront climate change. But given the far-reaching consequences of our ongoing failure to take decisive action in that forum, we are grateful for the opportunity to explain again here today the gravity of the risks we see posed to the international community by unchecked climate change.

We Stand With Philippines

As climate talks enter their second week, the reality of a changing climate is striking home. In the LCA Plenary session Monday, a delegate from the Philippines said “instead of getting ready for Christmas, we may be counting our dead”, referring to the impending landfall of Super Typhoon Bopha.

On Monday night, the storm caused over 40,000 people to flee their homes, and many wait to see the impact of the 16th extreme weather event to batter the Philippines this year. 
 
Meanwhile, ambition remains off the table in Doha. The outcome on loss and damage lacks any mechanism necessary to address bigger issues. Policies limiting polluting industries' drive to blow past our global carbon budget are more than dreams of civil society and nations already bearing the brunt of a warmed world.
 
The time for talk has run out. Yet still the talks stagnate, and those responsible for this crisis stand in the way of justice. Blocking ambition and equity on the global scale is a criminal act. It is, at a minimum, the willful destruction of property and the knowing neglect of human life and loss. The parties who continue to defend business as usual are guilty, and history will judge them as such.
 
We stand with the Philippines and the millions of people around the world paying for the ignorance and arrogance of countries and fossil fuel corporations who put the interests of profits ahead of the needs of people. 
 
On ne lâche pas – we won’t back down.
 
In solidarity,
The #ClimateLegacy Team and YOUNGO
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Bring Out the Tequila

Watching the UNFCCC process from afar, one may well feel that the world is trying to address its carbon addiction by developing a new addiction to endless agenda fights. While many of the countries most responsible for climate change provide excuse upon excuse for woefully inadequate mitigation action, others are putting their shoulders to the wheel and getting on with saving our planet.

On this occasion, ECO wants to celebrate the approval of the Climate Change Law in Mexico, which represents not only an important step for the country, but a clear benchmark for others. This new law helps to give political continuity by building on existing efforts to address climate change. It strengthens the institutional structure to address both mitigation and adaptation by setting a common vision for all sectors of the economy.

Central to the law is the recognition of Mexico's COP15 commitments – namely, a 30% pollution reduction below BAU by 2020 and a 50% reduction by 2050. Furthermore, the new law mandates a share of 35% clean energy in the power sector by 2024. The law also promotes the creation of a Climate Change Fund, which recognizes the need for registry instruments to record and efficiently manage funding from international cooperation, and mandates an allocation of federal budget to this fund (the exact amount is still to be determined).

By accepting the Climate Law, the Mexican legislature has achieved something truly remarkable. Through wide participation by all parts of society to develop the law, Mexico has shown the world that it is possible for any country to make a binding commitment to a better, low-carbon future. The message from this example is clear: countries need not wait until 2015, and definitely not until 2020, to embrace the advantages of low-carbon, climate-resilient sustainable development. If a developing country like Mexico can achieve this, ECO wonders – surely the USA, Canada, Russia and Japan can do the same and more. Action is clearly possible, necessary and extremely urgent. The window for limiting global temperature increases to less than 2°C is closing fast, but Mexico has shown that hope remains. Now, it just remains for other parties to stop talking and start doing.

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Vulnerable groups are making much progress in adapting to climate change, but where we are in Panama through to Durban?

Wanun Permpibul on flooding in Thailand

Photo 1 - Photo credit: Forests and Farmers Foundation, 2011

Photos 2-4 - Photo credit: HBS Southeast Regional Office, 2011

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

Climate change is already a threat.  Extreme and unprecedented climatic events are affecting poor communities already and they have little capacity to adapt.  They have already been affected by economic and social injustice as well as other difficulties and climate change is adding another burden to their existing problems.  Adaptive capacity needs to be strengthened while longterm adaptation is necessary and must be enhanced.

A few months before the Panama Climate Talks, provinces in the lower Northern Region of Thailand, particularly Pitsanulok Province, were hit severely by floods.  Paddy fields, orchards, houses were flooded and destroyed.  People died and went missing.  Flood levels even rose up to their roofs.  Most of the houses were submerged.  Boats were floating up to the first floor of the house while residents had to stay on the second floor.  Some had to leave their houses temporarily.  Some villagers were bitten by poisonous snakes and scorpions, others were faced with infections on their feet, and other disease.  Not only are their houses and paddy fields inundated, but other resources that could be sources of income are also damaged.

As a matter of fact, villages here are flooded every year during the wet season, but the current floods are extraordinary in the sense that rainfall came two months earlier this year in a very heavy and lasting pattern before the rice could be harvested.  This is the second time for Bang Rakam Subdistrict that the rains have come earlier, the last time was in 2000 and in 1995 for the Jom Thong Subdistrict.  During the floods, villagers could not harvest, and thus were unable to earn any income.  Communities were not warned and informed well in advance enough of the floods and were not able to prepare for it.  Floods have lasted for longer periods of time.  Previously, they lasted for two months, but now it has been almost three months.  The government was trying to solve the floods problem using a traditional top down approach: they flushed out the water from the areas, but then found this created a flooding problem in another area.  

Rather than waiting for humanitarian aid and the government’s help, communities implemented their own responses to the floods and have been adjusting themselves to the climatic changes.  These are their homes for generations and they do not want to leave.  Some couldn’t afford to move elsewhere.  Their responses include changing the crop calendar by starting to grow rice months earlier than usual.  They will have to observe natural signs using their local knowledge to predict the climate pattern each year in order to prevent massive loss to crops.  Some have initiated a rice bank to store traditional rice varieties that are pest and flood tolerant with longer stalks that will not be damaged by floods.  Some have tried to grow different rice varieties in higher land or even in orchard fields.  Some have prepared for food insecurity by recovering endangered food species that are floods resistant.  Also, the pattern of housing architecture has been changed.  Many villagers have lifted their houses higher from the ground to free the flow of water.  Some even have boats to ease their travelling.  They also have learned to store some food and drinking water, and other necessities.

Additionally, they have built their own reservoirs to store water for farm use and nurturing some fish species.  They have looked for alternatives for income generation like catching fish and snakes, during floods.  Some have initiated a communication system to ease information flow during the floods among those located up-, middle- and down-stream river.  The system could also help mobilize immediate needs and supports among each other.  This should be further developed to enhance preparedness and prevent massive losses longterm.  Apart from the immediate responses, communities have been engaged in a planning process for longterm adaptation to future impacts of climatic change.  Initially, they came up with an idea of constructing an improved flood protection, but it would require significant funds and take lots of time.  Also, more research on flood tolerant species is needed.  All these elements for longterm adaptation require funds and external supports.

The Panama Talks are, therefore, important.  The delay in taking ambitious reduction targets would mean more severe and frequent extreme climatic events and poor communities will be hit the most.  As Pitsanulok, Thailand and others are faced now with the impacts, longterm adaptation is really needed.  We need to massively scale-up support for adaptation actions to cover full implementation of National Adaptation Action Strategies and Plans, from immediate to longterm actions, that will deliver regular flows of financial and other support for adaptation planning, implementation and monitoring. These should be in the form of predictable periodic grant installments and help is needed to facilitate, enable and support generation, gathering and dissemination of data, knowledge and experiences, including traditional knowledge on adaptation planning and practices.  Building upon what was agreed in Cancun – the Cancun Adaptation Framework – the creation of an Adaptation Committee under the UNFCCC will have to provide an oversight of streams of adaptation work, where the Committee should comprise members of civil society and experts in each necessary field.  This will have to be achieved in Panama so that it can be finalized in Durban in December.  

Communities are faced with hardship and are simply attempting to survive.  They might or might not know that the disasters and unpredictable patterns of rainfalls are as a result of climate change or anthropogenic emissions, but changes are happening and affecting their livelihoods and most of all, they need to live with these.   Those in Panama are well equipped with all the science, they need to make more progress.  Community voices must be heard.

          
 

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