Other 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.


Morocco's INDC - A strong signal coming from the first Arab country

Morocco, which will be the host of the 22nd climate negotiations in 2016, reacently submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC. This makes Morocco the first Arab and second African country to put forward its national mitigation target and manifests its climate and energy leadership in the region.

The Moroccan INDC encompasses two economy-wide targets covering CO2, CH4, and N2O: An unconditional target and another based on certain requirements to unlock the country's maximum ambition.

  • Unconditional target: By investing around $10 billon into greening its economy, Morocco is committed to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions unconditionally by 13% below Business as Usual (BAU) by 2030 and according to the base year of 2010;
  • Conditional target: Under the condition that a) significant additional finance could spur $35 billion in support between 2015-2030 as financial, technical and capacity support through new climate finance mechanisms by other countries, and b) a new legally-binding agreement under the UNFCCC would be adopted at the 21st COP in Paris, the emission reductions could increase to 32% below BAU by 2030;

Driven by increased energy demand Morocco has seen a steep increase in its GHG emissions in recent years. Total GHG emissions almost doubled in the last decade and the emitted 94 million tons (MT) of GHG in 2010 are again expected to increase by more than 80% to 171 MT in 2030 under BAU. For the unconditional target, the pledged 13% GHG reduction translates into an increase to 129 MT in 2025 and 148 MT by 2030, which equals a cumulative GHG mitigation of 142 MT compared to BAU. If the required conditions for the 32% target would be met, the emissions would still increase but rather slowly reaching 104 MT in 2025 and 117 MT by 2030, thereby saving 401 MT GHG over the BAU period 2010-2030.

In order to achieve the targets set in the INDC, the country has given clear and transparent indications on the additional mitigation actions needed. The unconditional target is based on the implementation of 10 actions, while the conditional target assumes 54 actions over the period 2010-2030 in the main economic sectors.

  • Energy (50%): Energy production and demand (i.e., households, transport, industry services);
  • Agriculture (26%): Fermentation, cropping systems;
  • Waste (18%): Solid waste and waste water management;
  • Land use and forestry (5%): Afforestation, horticulture, forest fires;
  • Industrial processes (1%): Cement industry, steel and metal manufacturing;

All these actions are rooted in national priorities and policies, thereby making them part of a coherent sustainable development strategy. The most prominent ones are: the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD), the National Strategy to Combat Global Warming (NSGW), the Green Morocco Plan (GMP), the Green Investment Plan (GIP) and the Moroccan Solar Plan (MSP).

Due to its acute vulnerability to climate change, Morocco's INDC also includes a climate adaptation component which will be complemented by the development of a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) focusing on decreasing the vulnerability of the country's largely agrarian population and better coordinating the envisioned actions.

  • Adaptation target: Morocco seeks to continue its efforts to increase the resilience of key infrastructures, vulnerable populations and fragile ecosystems, especially in the mountain, oases and coastal areas, by devoting at least 15% of its overall investment expenditures to adaptation actions, such as integrated water resource management and artificial refill of aquifers, anti-desertification measures, protection of cultural heritage, and conversion of grain crop areas to fruit plantations.

How ambitious is the Moroccan INDC?

Despite Morocco being responsible for less than 0.2% of global GHG emissions, and with its per capita emissions of 3 tons being well below the global average and four times lower than the average of industrialized countries, the country's progress in climate policy planning and institution building over recent years has been commendable. Its commitment towards a climate-compatible and low-carbon development pathway is mirrored in its institutional framework, multiple national plans and international agreements. As a result of its great political efforts, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) identified Morocco already as the biggest global recipient of international climate funds. Furthermore, the 2015 Climate Performance Index published by Germanwatch and ClimateActionNetwork currently ranks Morocco among the top ten countries globally and first among African and developing countries based on its climate and energy policies.

Being the first Arab country to submit its INDC, Morocco continues to demonstrate its political willingness and responsibility to fight climate change by promoting an ambitious outcome at the COP 21 in Paris, both as a regional climate policy leader and as the host of COP 22 in 2016. The kingdom's suggested mitigation and adaptation actions to achieve the INDC targets are coherent with national policies and a clear follow-up of its previous efforts which show that in developing countries the right policies can contribute to the fight against climate change and the achievement of sustainable development objectives simultaneously.

For a developing country for which its annual GHG emission growth is projected to reach levels of 7% and who's future focus will be on adaptation due to its high climate vulnerability, setting formal targets for curbing its emission trend downwards by 13% or 32% respectively means a significant strengthening of Morocco's ambition. Reflecting on the country's capacities, the Moroccan commitment therefore can be regarded a positive step that should encourage other countries to follow by announcing their own climate mitigation pledges in a timely fashion. Further positive elements of Morocco's INDC include the specification of economy-wide emission reduction targets and timeframes with a special focus on energy through a) the extension of the national solar and wind programs in order to increase the installed capacity to more than 50% by 2025, b) reducing energy consumption in buildings, transport and industry by 15% by 2030, and c) phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. These transparent clarifications on what can be achieved with and without international support send a clear signal to private investors and make access to international climate finances (i.e., GCF) more likely.

Although the constraints stipulated by climate science leave now doubt that global GHG emissions must peak by 2020 and phase out in the long term in order to limit global warming to below 2°C, Morocco's INDC indicates a shallow but steady increase of absolute emissions until 2030. Yet, this could still be considered fair as countries of the Global South should be allowed to peak their emissions later than industrialized countries. What is remarkable, however, is that despite no emission peak year has been mentioned in the Moroccan INDC, the emission trend illustrated in both targets appears to sharply decline after 2029, suggesting an emission peak and a decoupling of Morocco's GHG emissions from economic growth and the effective transition towards a green economy at the end of the INDC period. An assumption which is also reflected in a statement mentioned in the INDC that within the conditional target the per capita emissions would not exceed 3.1 tons CO2eq in 2029.

Although, there are many positive aspects to be found in Morocco's INDC that could term it ambitious, there are also critical issues. Based on the analysis provided by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the ambition of the INDC is only rated as "Medium", not yet consistent with limiting warming below 2°C unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort. The reason for this primarily stems from the fact that.

Furthermore, referring its mitigation targets relative to BAU as baseline rather than to a base year raises questions over how the pledge would be adjusted if the emission development would differ from the projected BAU - especially considering uncertainties about future economic and demographic growth. While this approach is in line with the target setting of other developing countries (e.g., Gabon), making it appear more ambitious than measured against a base year, it is significantly different than the approach taken by the EU for example. Because global temperature rise ultimately depends on cumulative emissions, Morocco should therefore, not view its submitted INDC as the final word on what could be achieved, but rather as a first concrete step to operationalize a dynamic process to avoid dangerous climate change. In this regard, and as a next step forward, the host of the COP 22 in 2016 should build on its ambition of action and consider progressively increasing it targets throughout the target period and clarify the level and year at which the country expects its emissions to peak. The planned international INDC forum in Casablanca in October 2015 organized by the Moroccan Government to examine the global progress of the INDC submissions could provide an opportunity for such readjustments.

While shortcomings indicate room for improvement, some of the suggested measures to achieve the pledged targets should be abandoned overall. What is especially disappointing is that instead of moving towards a low-carbon economy based on 100% renewable energy sources, which is both feasible and economically viable due to the country's abundant sun and wind potential, some mitigation actions would definitely thwart Morocco's role as a regional climate and renewable energy leader. This concerns the suggested switch from coal to substantially increased imports of liquefied gas that would manifest the country's energy import dependency and create a fossil lock-in. Even more worrying are the plans to build a nuclear power plant after 2030 which certainly cannot be regarded part of a sustainable energy future.

Lastly, although stated to have undertaken a broad stakeholder consultation process, no civil society representatives were consulted during the preparation and review process of the submitted INDC ambition levels and their respective actions. The good news is however, that the early submission now allows the Moroccan Government to establish a transparent and inclusive dialogue with civil society to ensure their active participation in the further development and implementation process of Morocco's climate policy and to raise awareness on the actions needed to meet the submitted targets. Just a few weeks ago, end of May 2015, 18 Moroccan NGOs urged their Government to establish a structured and open participation process to give civil society an active voice in decision that affect their future (see: https://germanwatch.org/de/download/11488.pdf). The Moroccan Competence Centre for Climate Change (4C) of the Ministry of the Environment should address this call by taking the proposals of civil society seriously and increasing the inclusion of national civil society organizations into the country's climate and energy policy-making.

The Magic of the ECO Newsletter

Adrian Yeo tells us why ECO has magical properties... 
A day in UNFCCC sessions will not be complete without flipping through a copy of CAN’s ECO Daily Newsletter. For negotiators, the magic of ECO usually begins while they are still having breakfast. Readers get a quirky, insightful perspective into the previous day’s negotiations and more. But as I learnt, many hard-working elves are needed in order to let ECO work its magic.
According to Gene Sharp’s 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action, producing a publication allows communications and engagement with a wide audience of stakeholders. Editors of ECO have been known to receive calls from parties, NGOs and journalists enquiring the titles of the next day’s issue. What makes it so popular?
ECO has proven to be an effective tool, especially when used to amplify issues that have not been discussed in the negotiating room. Any of the over 900 CAN member organisations can submit articles to be published, and inspiration for these comes from many places - from the security check queues, along the corridors, in the café or of course within the plenary and negotiation rooms. But the best usually come from unsuspected turns of events, in the heat of a power play of the negotiations. And last but not least, a good dose of humour allows the elephant in the room to surface, and keeps parties on their toes.
During the latest Bonn UNFCCC session, I joined one of the midnight Editorial Board shifts – where the magic happens. Linh Do, the Chief Editor / Wizard of ECO, explained to us newbies that the submitted articles always need to be fact-checked and deliberated on by the various thematic working groups in CAN. This ensures the credibility of the piece and allows us to be strategic in using the article to drive negotiations forward.
Then it’s the editors’ job to put the articles in plain language, explaining some of the technical terms, as besides the negotiators, media and NGOs, ECO is also read by the general public outside the UNFCCC bubble. After more than 3 hours of revising and finalising, the Chief Editor begins the laborious task of arranging the articles to fit into the famous ECO template (that has been around since 1972!). Juggling word count, simple graphics and titles, her task may run until 2-3am before calling it a day! The next morning, volunteers will pick up the warm fresh prints of ECO which have magically appeared and have them distributed at various stations around the venues.
Sourcing and enlisting writers and articles, coordinating experts to fact-check, having volunteers to edit and produce ECO and using the newsletter as a lobbying tool for the greater climate change movement is a mammoth task, but somehow CAN manages to pull it off again and again. To me, ECO really defines the network. It takes so much to have it work and thrive so successfully, but when that all comes together magical things can occur!

Engaging Everyone

Adrian Yeo, Leadership Development Fellow from Malaysia, reflects on the shape of activism in Norway... 

Upon reaching Oslo, for my CAN Leadership Development Program Study Trip, I oriented myself with the city by walking around the neighbourhood. As I was passing by the Norwegian Parliament grounds, two things struck me. One, there is lack of the usual security perimeter or any fence around Norway’s law making institution building. Second, there was a large rally outside the parliament ground, focusing on stopping the dumping of mining waste into the much loved fjords.

The people of Norway are highly engaged with their government on environmental issues, both local and international. Two days after the mining waste rally, the same parliament ground hosted the much talked about #DivestNorway petition rally. The Norwegian people do take their sustainability agenda seriously. Citizens’ engagement with policy makers is high and this is reflected in the elected representatives in the Parliament. Having Members of Parliament who can intellectually debate and produce climate friendly policies is crucial  not only for good policy but even better for implementation on the ground.

Seeing all the banners and messaging of the rallies were in Norwegian, I asked a smartly dressed gentleman next to me to explain. He laid out in detai, the background, the impact on the environment, the government’s justification and why the people are so angry about this legislation. He impressed me with his in-depth knowledge on the issue and his high-level policy understanding, especially on climate change. Much later into the conversation, I learnt that he is a Member of the Parliament, Mr Terje Breivik, and the Deputy Leader for the Venstre Party.  Kudos to him.

Norges Naturvernforbundet also known as Friends of the Earth, Norway, is the country’s largest member-based environment organisation, with over 100 local chapters. They recently celebrated their centenary anniversary in 2014. Later, on a visit to their offices, I was flipping through their commemorative book, I saw there were congratulatory messages from a full spectrum of the society. From political parties, to labour unions, community leaders, faith group leaders and youth groups, even the Royal family of Norway.

The big lesson here is to engage and include everyone in the society, if you wish to see success in your campaign. Build bridges and invest to keep the links and networks strong. Only then, there might be hope to move everybody across the finishing line.


Talks underway as civil society demands transition away from fossil fuels to achieve sustainable food system

NGOs and social movements have gathered in Milan at the Expo dei Popoli Forum on Food Sovereignty to discuss the need for governments and the agricultural sector to raise their ambition to tackle agricultural emissions, phase out fossil fuels, and switch to 100% renewable energy in order to protect food sovereignty and livelihoods around the world.

The existing global food sector accounts for around 30% of the world’s total energy consumption and for around 22% of total greenhouse gas emissions. This contributes to rising temperatures, increased desertification and more unpredictable, severe rainfall patterns.

Today 805 million people suffer from hunger and climate impacts are making things worse by causing overall crop yields to decline in many African and Asian countries. The global food supply network is complex and everyone faces more food insecurity as a result of climate change hitting crops and infrastructure - but it is the most vulnerable set to suffer the most.

Transitioning to an agricultural system powered by renewable energy will give small-scale farmers more energy access than ever before. For instance, solar refrigeration technologies can be used in regions with lots of sunlight to keep food cool and reduce food waste. Wind, water and solar powered mills can be used to extract oil from crops, cutting both the expenses and pollution of fossil fuel based engines and generators.

As UN climate negotiations in Bonn continue, groups across civil society who took part in this weekend’s 100% renewable mass mobilisations will continue to call on parties to phase out coal, which contributes a whopping 40% of the world’s carbon emissions and thus directly contributes to climate change’s impact on world hunger. If we do not act to phase out this dirty fuel, another 50 million people could be pushed into hunger by 2050 as a result of climate change. (Oxfam, 2015)  



Beyond the walls of the UNFCCC

Adrian Yeo gives a presentation on his CAN Leadership Development Programme study tour in Norway. 
Norway is an obvious choice of location for the CAN Leadership Development Programme study tour. The level of environment awareness and sustainable responsibility in Norway is among the highest in the world. While 96% of their local energy source coming from hydro power, they are also the top 10 oil producing countries. It was enlightening to learn how  Norwegian civil society organisations work within such dynamics and how we can bring learnings back to our own countries.
We were excited with the dynamic discussion in the seminar on “Net-Zero Emissions” hosted by ‘ForUM for Utvikling og Miljo’. Here we wanted to answer the following questions:
What is the real meaning net-zero emissions ?
What technologies do we have today to achieve net-zero emission?
How is it perceived by various stakeholders?
To start with, we learnt that there are several ways to describe strategies or ways to achieve net-zero emissions. Terms likes geo-engineering, decarbonisation are  relatively new terms while Bio-Energy Carbon Capture & Storage (BECCS) has been widely used within the UNFCCC and is more commonly referred to. Camilla Skriung from ZERO presented a case for the adoption of Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) in Norway and the rest of the world. She argued that decarbonisation is extremely difficult without using CCS in the near future.
Bård Lahn from Regnskogfondet (Rainforest Foundation Norway) reminded us of a different view. He mentioned that one thing often missed out from discussion is the technology to keep the trees in the forest standing. While we filled our mind with the efforts to solve the impending climate crisis, we often forget that prevention is often the best solution.
Pat Mooney from ETC-Group continued by sharing the story about the iron-pumping-plankton growing projects that failed in the past, and similar patterns and worrying paths that can be observed in recent attempt on solar radiation management projects. However he also stressed the potentially shock-knee-jerk adverse decision that may occur in the coming decades if this climate crisis continues. 
Then it was our turn, the CAN Leadership Development Program Fellows, Neoka Naidoo from CAN-South Africa and myself Adrian Yeo from CANSEA  to share our strategies & challenges on GHG emissions reductions from our respective countries and regions.
This seminar was very encouraging for me. To see the participations from labour unions, university researchers alongside the usual environment NGOs is wonderful. Back in Malaysia, such in-depth discussion on a particular subject only happens within the UNFCCC working groups and only awareness talks happen on a public level. This gave me hope that there is a bigger community that takes the discussion beyond the walls of the convention.

The city that (almost) never sleeps, Oslo

Neoka Naidoo blogs from her CAN Leadership Development Fellow study trip to Oslo this week. 

The almost 23 hours of travelling welcomed a beautiful end in Oslo. I had chills of excitement and nervousness coursing through me. There were many hurdles to conquer.

The first hurdle was addressing Norwegian civil society. Public speaking is not my forte but I was calm explaining to a room of 40 people about South Africa‘s energy battle and the sense of how renewable energy is perceived. I explained how South African’s energy is tightly interwoven with our development, and how this is used as an argument by the fossil fuel industry to peptuate our reliance on fossils fuels.

This was accepted and known by the civil society present even as a 1st world nation with an open government. The retail of fossil fuels riddles the Norwegian carbon ‘low’ record with blemishes that can’t be easily removed. Civil society plays a vital role in pointing this out and providing alternatives. With extended sunlight hours we were able to capitalize on working into the wee hours of the morning. We met with lots of different organisations: Zero, WWF Norway, Friends of the Earth Norway, Naturvernforbundet, Youth and Environment and ETC-group. The variation of the groups was great, and allowed us to get a variety of opinions. But think what I found more interesting was the fact we had some of the same fights.

One of the prominent examples is getting the government to divest the biggest pension fund in the world out of the fossil fuel industry. There was sustained pressure from civil society and whilst I was in Oslo there was the long awaited victory. The Parliament of Norway decided before their scheduled voting parliament that there would be measures to move the pension fund out the fossil fuel industry. Norway might midnight sun but the civil society are the ones that shines and this is just one example of how collaboration of like-minded people can achieve something unbelievable.

Norway might be a 1st world country but they are dealing with post-industrial issues that need to be addressed immediately.

I think I had a great realisation that as global civil society we have the same problems and we are not alone. We as a movement are addressing injustices and not just climate change related issues. We all know that ‘Growth for the sake of growth is the same ideology that the cancer cell uses.’ – Edward Abbey

Adrian lends his wisdom on climate communications in Guardian Live Q&A

On Thursday 30th April Adrian Yeo, our Leadership Development Fellow from South East Asia will join a panel of experts for a Guardian Q&A entitled: What are the best ways to communicate climate solutions? Climate communications can be a tricky busieness, so this Live Q&A seeks to shed some light on the most effective ways to get our our messages whilst campaigning and advocating. Joining him on the panel will be our very own CAN Director Wael Hmaidan, as well as Hoda Baraka from 350.org, Ester Agbarakwe, founder of the Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition and Jamie Clarke from Climate Outreach Information Network. 

The LiveQ&A is at 12.00GMT-14.00GMT. Even if you miss the live stream, you can still visit this page to see all the comments and questions.