CAN Position:Conflicts-of-interest and polluting industry obstruction of climate policy in the UNFCCC Process

We must urgently address the climate emergency and bring the world in line with a 1.5-degree Celsius pathway through ambitious and just climate action. However, the undue influence of industries who’s profit-making depends on activities that harm the climate, pose a major obstacle in advancing climate ambition. In direct contravention of the mandates of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the fossil fuel, big forestry and agribusiness industries, amongst others, drive the use and expansion of emissions-intensive products.  They use their accreditation and access to the UNFCCC processes to distract from the level of ambition needed and advance proposals that instead of bringing us fully in line with the goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC, protect their profits above all and serve their private interests. They also block progress, fund climate denial, muddy political narratives and question scientific consensus on climate change publicly.

The UNFCCC has yet to address the issue of conflicts of interest in regards to the role of engagement with non-Party stakeholders. It is in the UNFCCC’s interest to ensure that strong policies that address and manage the risk for conflicts of interest and draw on best practice is put in place. Agreeing on a process to address these issues is an essential step towards ratcheting up ambition in line with what is necessary to achieve the Convention’s objectives.

In light of the above, Climate Action Network (CAN) recommends that the UNFCCC should:

  • Adopt an appropriate definition of ‘conflict of interest’, and a rigorous conflict of interest framework that
    • prevents entities with private interests from unduly influencing or undermining national and international climate policy; 
    • strengthens the procedures for admission of observers within the UNFCCC and its instruments; and
    • draws on established international precedent in a manner that is appropriate for the UNFCCC context.
  • In the absence of a process to develop policies to address conflicts of interest and to not undermine the objectives of the UNFCCC any further, the UNFCCC should stop inviting industry trade associations and other entities which represent and/or are beholden to the interests of polluting industries to present their views during the UNFCCC negotiation process, workshops or other events.  

CAN Briefing: Expectations for the 18th Informal Meeting on Further Actions Against Climate Change, February 2020

2020 is a decisive year - it marks the start of a decade of climate ambition and it starts now. We need to focus on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the closing of the emissions gap. This is what your citizens are asking you to do and assess you against at the end of this year. The 18th Informal Meeting on Further Actions Against Climate Change is a first moment to respond to that unprecedented urgency. and must be used as a moment to send strong and credible signals that countries are committed to delivering enhanced, transformative, just and fair NDCs.

Climate Action Network prepared this briefing outlining expectations for 2020 with the intention of supporting parties at this Meeting and expects countries to discuss and send clear signals for how they will increase their national climate targets by COP26; implement a robust climate agenda in line with the long term goals of the Paris Agreement; and develop a resilience framework responding to the needs of the most vulnerable countries.


CAN Joint COP/CMA/CMP Closing intervention, December 2019

CAN has followed these climate negotiations since they started in 1991 and never before witnessed such a disconnection between what the science and the people demand and what governments are delivering. We witness an almost complete absence of ambition and urgency from all large emitters. And then to hear that one country blocked language on addressing these gaps is obnoxious. The arrogance to block progress while leaving the Paris Agreement is treacherous.
Furthermore, this COP has failed to provide new and additional finance to support those people suffering from climate-induced loss and damage and the increasingly dramatic impacts of the climate crisis.
On rules for Article 6, Climate Action Network applauds all those who stood strong on environmental integrity and social safeguards, including human rights and indigenous peoples rights. However, we are gravely concerned by the exclusion of vulnerable countries from key negotiations and call on future presidencies to ensure full inclusiveness.
But as governments screw up, people rise up. COP25 has not delivered, but we will return stronger in 2020 - we will rise and unleash unprecedented movements if governments keep failing the people and the planet. We are closing ranks with the unions, the climate justice movements, the indigenous peoples, faith communities and the youth.
This COP has failed the people and the planet. People power, climate justice!


CAN Intervention: High-level Pre-2020 Stocktake, COP25, December 2019

Your lack of action and willingness in the pre-2020 period is jeopardizing our chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and increases the risk of devastating loss and damage. 

The adoption of the Kyoto Protocol and later, the Paris Agreement, were landmarks, committing us to act soon, fast and effectively. There is a dramatic lack of leadership from all big emitters but in particular the developed and industrialised countries in cutting emissions. We further urge contributor countries to provide adequate support for adaptation and to address Loss and Damage. 

Parties - you all know pre-2020 climate action has been inadequate. Emissions are still rising and have to peak as soon as possible.

We urge you to

  • Mandate a work programme on pre-2020 implementation and ambition as part of the Second Periodic Review, to start in 2020 and end in 2022, to identify the progress and gaps on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building of the pre-2020 commitments by developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention and the Cancun pledges by developing countries under the Convention.
  • Take the outcomes and outputs of the work programme on pre-2020 implementation and ambition into consideration during the first Global Stocktake.

The climate emergency demands for your commitment and ambitious action. But lack of action pre-2020 must not be used to avoid action post-2020 by all big emitters. The world is watching and we will hold you accountable. 


CAN Intervention: High Level Segment, COP25, December 2019

I live and grew up as a settler in colonial Canada and this is only my fifth COP - my experience pales in comparison to my countless colleagues who have been here fighting for climate justice for decades, to Indigenous Peoples who have been fighting for their rights and the rights of Mother Earth for centuries, to the millions who are watching the place they have called home for millennia burn up or slip into the sea.  

But I have been here long enough to notice a few things. And I am no longer willing to write placating press releases that pretend everything is ok.

Year after year you talk about running out of time. But for so many people gripped by devastating floods, fires, and storms, time is up. And instead of helping them, rich countries hold on to your dollars and hold up loss and damage.

You talk about inclusivity and then developed and developing countries alike bicker over the few paltry words that enshrine human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples in these talks. You delay just transitions for workers and communities. You systematically chip away at civil society space. You can’t even land a gender action plan.

You talk about urgency but you can’t even decide when to decide what time period your future plans should cover.     

You talk about ambition and then make plans to expand fossil fuel production and make your emissions everyone else’s problem.  

Public mobilizations are swamping the streets. The status quo you are protecting so stubbornly is not working for people or the planet. Rest assured everything will change. The question for your governments is whether you will lead that change or be left behind.


CAN Joint SBI/SBSTA Closing Intervention, COP25, December 2019

People are rising, but are you responding?

Last Friday, 500,000 people were on the streets in Madrid sending a clear message to your ministers:  The climate strikers and the people around the world expect this COP to deliver a strong outcome responding to the climate emergency with the highest possible ambition. This entails urgently delivering finance to address loss and damage,  enhancing NDCs, and upholding environmental integrity, guided by Science. 

On article 6, the options that have remained on the table are highly risky. We must avoid any outcome that allows for double counting and carryover of Kyoto credits and urge you to reinsert human rights into the text. Many have high expectations to deliver “a deal” on article 6, we want to reassure you that if you insist on robust rules to avoid the undermining of integrity, we will stand with you. But if you allow this decision to jeopardize the Paris Agreement - then we will hold you accountable. 

We are extremely disappointed that Parties have not yet delivered on a renewed Lima Work Programme and Gender Action Plan but have instead tried to negotiate away previously agreed principles on rights and equality - seemingly using this critical driver of progress for gender-just climate action as a bargaining chip. We are also disappointed that Parties have failed to adopt a Response Measures work programme on just transition. We expect Parties to show leadership now on this issue to deliver a robust gender and just transition action plan. 

As we are witnessing people suffering and dying from climate impacts around the world, the outcome of this COP depends on you providing new and additional sources of finance to address loss and damage. It will be a grave injustice if you let a weak decision further endanger the lives of vulnerable people.  

We urge you to enhance your national mitigation ambition and close the emission gaps in line with the 1.5C limit through national transparent and inclusive review processes. Furthermore, adopting a  5-year common timeframe is equally important.  

Parties, yet again we remind you that the people are rising, you need to listen - to the demands of the young people,  the indigenous and frontline communities, and you to the science. You need to act now!


CAN Intervention: Pre-2020 Stocktake, December 2019

In the pre-2020 period, you have had the chance to get the world on track to avoid catastrophic climate change and prevent loss and damage to people, particularly in vulnerable countries.

With all respect, when it comes to domestic climate action, in particular from large emitters, your leaders have fundamentally failed to show the political will and courage matching the crisis we face. 

We urge all countries, especially big emitters, to respond to the fundamental lack of ambition and we will hold your leaders accountable. We will stand up to those who want to continue profiting from climate-destroying practices, and stand up for those vulnerable people facing devastating losses and damages.  

We furthermore urge developed countries to make all efforts to meet the climate finance goal of US $100 billion per year in a way that is fair and transparent, including by significantly increasing the share of adaptation finance, as well as new and additional public finance, and agreeing new and robust accounting standards.

Next week’s Stocktake should recognize the climate action shortfall in the pre-2020 period particularly by developed countries and call on developed countries to do all they can to meet and exceed their 2020 commitments in the short time left.

The lack of ambition in pre-2020 from developed countries is not going to go away and must be compensated post-2020- by those same countries.


CAN Joint Opening Intervention, COP25, December 2019

This conference starts against the backdrop of a wave of protests for a better life around the world, including in my home country, Chile, where COP25 was supposed to take place. What happens in Chile is just a symptom of a global problem: our current models do not sustain us and worsen the climate crisis.

Chile and the world is waking up. We see better than ever the dramatic impacts of the climate crisis and grave warnings from three recent IPCC reports. In response, a historic mass movement for climate justice is rising.
At the Climate Action Summit in September, heads of state and government from the biggest emitting nations failed to provide a response to the people and the science.

Now at this COP, we will hold ministers and leaders accountable and demand just solutions to the climate crisis:

  • How will you address loss and damage impacting the most marginalised through a robust Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) review that provides real finance and support for impacted countries and people?

  • How can you ensure that market mechanisms do not undermine environmental integrity, human rights, and climate ambition as they have done in the past?

  • How will countries, especially major economies step up in 2020 and contribute their fair shares to the global effort to close the emissions gap towards the 1.5 degree threshold and raise national climate ambition in the next decade as we cannot afford another lost decade?

We are not lacking ideas but you are lacking the political will. Parties, you must start raising your domestic climate ambitions while internalising the inherent social, economic and climate justice linkages. 

We are more united than ever. With the full power of our networks Climate Action Network and Climate justice movements from around the world, we are closing ranks with the people on the streets and hold your leaders accountable!


CAN International: Annual Policy Document, Executive Summary, French Translation, November 2019

Dans le monde entier, des millions de personnes - de Hong Kong, du Royaume-Uni, d'Haïti, du Liban, d'Équateur et du Chili - sont descendues dans la rue pour réclamer leur droit à une vie meilleure. 

Ces manifestations sont l'aboutissement d'une prise de conscience croissante du public et d'un manque d'action de la part du gouvernement pour s'attaquer aux causes profondes de l'urgence climatique et à l'injustice sociale ; les deux étant intimement liés.


CAN Annual Policy Document, Executive Summary: Madrid - Responding to the People and the Science, English, November 2019

Around the world millions of people have taken to the streets — from Hong Kong, the UK, Haiti, Lebanon, Ecuador, and Chile — demanding their right to a better life. These protests are the culmination of increasing public awareness and a lack of government action to address the root causes of the climate emergency and social injustice; the two of which are fundamentally linked.