TEMs: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

13 May 2017

ECO has long supported the Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs), even though discussions haven’t yet translated into accelerated action. TEMs provide a useful space to discuss real-life sectoral and technological climate solutions, and recently more opportunities have been given to observers to engage in the Q&As. However, this week’s events on “Cross-cutting issues in urban environments and land use” have been a mixed bag.


Starting with the Good; the mitigation TEM event on “Partnerships that deliver technical and financial support for accelerated implementation of actions in Cities” got straight to the point. Looking at the role of financial institutions in providing access to financial support to deliver on sustainable urban development, this TEM had key strategies and sectors, including  a useful discussion on simplifying processes for accessing finance.


Next, the Bad. Thursday’s “Collaboration Forum” was supposed to be an interactive session between national, regional and city governments, international organisations, and private sector. Full points for the city representatices who turned up early, eager to engage and with  materials in hand. But with no apparent organisation, facilitation or icebreakers from the Secretariat, the process was chaotic, and frankly, rather awkward.


Then there was the downright Ugly. The event on “Attracting private sector engagement for ambitious mitigation actions in land use” may be one of the most blatant greenwashing efforts ever hosted by the UNFCCC. Representatives from some of the world’s largest agribusinesses, including Syngenta, Olam and Yara, all claiming their controversial “sustainability” practices represent ambitious mitigation action, dominated the all-male panel. ECO’s eyebrows were raised particularly high when the World Business Council on Sustainable Development credited Monsanto’s leadership for making agriculture a recognised climate change issue.


This TEM raises questions about the coordination process. What are the selection criteria for a TEMs panel? How transparent is the process? How can the Secretariat prevent such platforms from being used for greenwashing? While ECO is keen to see good TEMs discussion translating into action on the ground, for example through the work of the High Level Climate Champions, the Yearbook for Climate Action, and the annual High Level Summit, there must be clear and transparent selection criteria to avoid inserting harmful practices into UNFCCC processes.


As Clint Eastwood’s Blondie might have said, there are two kinds of TEMs in this world: those that help us to equitably meet the 1.5°C target, and those that don’t.


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