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Thoughts from Ben, a CAN LDP fellow in Doha

 

(photo credit: IISD)

My name is Ben Namakin, and I come from the small island state of Kiribati in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is a place in which, along with our other pacific islands neighbors, we contribute less than 0.001% to the global greenhouse gas emissions; sadly, we are currently paying the price for global emissions with rising sea levels, droughts and saltwater intrusion contaminating our groundwater.

Kiribati was the first place to ring in the new millennium in 2000 and will also likely be the first state to be shown on international news as being underwater. What steps should those in our region take? We may be small, but we are not insignificant.

I am fortunate to be a Leadership Development Program (LDP) fellow for CAN International, which gives me the opportunity to increase my knowledge and skills on the issues, especially at the United Nations negotiation level. We are doing as possible to adapt to climate change: raising awareness on the issues of our people, building sea walls to prevent coastal erosion, and working on other adaptation activities. Despite this work, we still need to make our voice be heard at international negotiations! We must express the concerns of vulnerable communities to the leaders of the world, who claim they make decisions on behalf of us. Here I would like to highlight those of the developed states.

I am here in Doha, Qatar with 7 LDP fellows from various parts of the world following the UNFCCC COP18 negotiations. We all come from the South, and represent the most vulnerable parts of the world to climate change impacts. Though few in numbers, we try to cover the different issues that most concern us, such as mitigation, equity, finance, sustainable development goals and adaptation.

My focus is on adaptation, given the situation faced by those of Kiribati today. We are indeed in need of support for adaptation mechanisms that will ensure the survival of my people. My expectations here concentrate mostly on the call for international mechanisms for loss and damage, for adaptation committees as well as developed countries raising their ambitions on both finance and mitigation.

I want us to leave Doha with an outcome in which the role of the adaptation committees is well arranged so that they will function appropriately. I would also like to see arrangements under loss and damages adopted with concrete mechanisms for all LDC countries, including easy access to funding mechanisms for implementing national adaptation plans. What we want out of this gathering in Doha is not pretext of commitment, but real commitment.

What divides us should not be stronger than what unites us!

 

From the 26th of November to 7th of December 2012, the 18th Conference of Parties (COP-18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 8th Conference of the Parties serving as Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol was held in Doha, Qatar. This crucial time attracted the attention of thousands of people whose shared interest can be described simply as: AMBITION.

Climate and Development Network, which brings together over 70 Francophone civil society organizations, was present and reminded us this conference is an important milestone and a chance for humanity to decide not to follow the critical path to 3.5 and 6 °C.

"We will work to remind negotiators Africans and others from around the world that we need clarity, fairness and ambition!" says Ange David Baimey, Project Coordinator of Climate and Development Network.

Thousands of participants and observers have low expectations from their respective countries as far as a commitment to amending the 2nd period of the Kyoto Protocol, set to expire in a few days. Instead, there were only revised reduction targets that have actually increased.

Also, the Durban platform, launched at South Africa's COP 17, takes us into a new negotiating framework requiring a particular focus on loss and damage, as well as enabling African communities to adapt to the consequences of climate change. There has been an increasing number of floods and droughts in these regions, causing negative impacts to crops. It is necessary that adequate resources are made available to these areas.

"Communities continue to suffer, we cannot emphasize this enough! COP 18 needs to clarify the financial issues with early funding periods ending without fulfilling its proposed outcomes. We need specifics as to what will be done next year and each subsequent year leading up to 2020," says Aissatou Diouf, Communications Officer at Energy Enda Senegal.

Doha should lead to an ambitious agreement that commits all parties, especially developed nations, on issues such as agriculture, energy and technology transfer, in the spirit of integrity and justice.

DOHA CLIMATE TALKS: A BETTER WAY FORWARD

In late November 2012, world governments will meet in Doha, Qatar, for the UN Climate Change Conference, to firm up the outcomes of the Durban conference held in 2011. 

Christian Aid believes Doha gives governments a vital opportunity to advance global cooperation in confronting the challenge of climate change. It believes it is possible to achieve an ambitious outcome from the conference that will deliver on all the elements of the package agreed in Durban. 

<Read More> 

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Bridging the Gap

Manjeet Dhakal
Clean Energy Nepal (CEN), Nepal

It has been nearly three years since I started following the climate change negotiations. I first attended the UNFCCC intersessional meeting in Barcelona organised just before COP15, a well-known Copenhagen climate summit. After that, I got selected as a Southern Capacity Building Fellow of CAN International for two years (2010 and 2011). Southern Capacity Building Program is more about strengthening capacity of civil society members from developing countries on climate change negotiation. I attended every COP and intersessions during 2010 and 2011 as a fellow.

After having some experience at the grassroots level and this short engagement in the UNFCCC process, I find it very challenging to link the expectations of communities with the progress of ongoing negotiations. Last week, after attending the Bangkok intersession, I faced a similar situation- having to update the communities within my country about the current state of negotiation. The Bangkok intersession was about exchanging of ideas on key issues to build on Durban decisions and finding ways to bring one of the Ad-hoc working groups to conclusion. This is not easy to convey to the grassroots people, who were waiting for action, not discussion.

Furthermore, the Bangkok session focussed on how to raise ambition and strengthen international cooperation while finding ways to frame the Ad-hoc Working Group on Durban Platform (ADP) to deal with what will be implemented by 2020. Similarly, AWG-KP and LCA were focussed on fulfilling specific mandates from COP 17 and to resolve outstanding issues to ensure the successful completion of the group’s work in COP18. In reality, this makes little sense to the communities.

Unless such discussions and decisions at the international level do not adequately address the expectation of vulnerable communities at grassroots level, people will attach less importance to such meetings. The time has come for negotiators to take decisions to save the Earth and not only to sustain their national economy in the short run. By lengthening the process, we are only contributing towards the problem and not the solution. The ultimate goal of such international conventions and the development of a treaty is to make this Earth liveable for every living being. But, one way or another, we are stuck with petty discussions and negotiating in pieces – this is very problematic.

This is not to say that nothing happened in the Bangkok meeting: some progress was made. The AWG-KP produced an informal paper outlining the elements for a Doha decision and increased clarity on options to address the transition to the second commitment period. Similarly, the work of the AWG-LCA was captured in an informal overview note of the AWG-LCA Chair to help clarify areas of convergence.

But again, how can I share these updates to the people back in my country who are waiting for some concrete decisions for action? How should I explain to the farmers that we are advocating for actions at the global level, after having been told their agriculture yield will be impacted by climate change? Also, how could I convince the Sherpa in the Himalayas, who have recently replaced flat stone roofs with slope roofs, because nowadays they’ve started getting rain instead of snow? These are only a few examples, but again: how can I convince them that we have pushed the global deal for 2015 -that will be only implemented by 2020? Must they just adapt with what they have? It seems so, because we have no progress on reducing emissions, building on financial need or building the institutions on adaptation, technology or finance. 

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Don't Violate the Trust

Henriette Imelda
Senior Program Officer on Energy and Climate Change
Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR)
Indonesia

The Bangkok Informal Meeting 2012 has ended. This informal meeting came out at the last minute after the Bonn session, which had left many uncertainties. “The name of United States has been removed from the list at their request”, said the Kyoto Protocol (KP) chair at its closing plenary here in Bangkok . Developed countries left no pledges on mid-term finance (2013-2015) and words like “there won’t be any finance gap” were used instead. Thus, they must prefer the ‘no text’ option for LCA ‘final’ decision in Doha.

For developing countries, it is difficult for us not having concrete finance pledges on the table, especially for the implementation of all development plans that we, the developing countries, have produced. The pushes from developing countries to developed countries to resolve the 1bi of the Bali Action Plan came to a gridlock. Developed countries would like to see the developing countries  have ‘meaningful mitigation action’. We’ve actually agreed in the Convention that the developed countries should take the lead, so developed countries need to get their domestic mitigation ambition on the table first!

Though Bangkok is an informal meeting, it plays a big role in preparation for the coming up Doha talks. The clock is ticking: many people are affected by climate change-induced damage and billions of dollars need to be injected into these suffering countries. But, there’s still no evidence that developed countries will increase their ambitions on either pledges or implementations.

As the LCA is indicated to be closed at Doha and the Kyoto Protocol needs to move forward to its second commitment period, several outstanding issues need to be resolved. Between now and the end of November 2012, we can only hope for miracles to happen in Doha- hopefully meaning that there will be pledges on emission reductions and financial assurance from on board developed countries to developing countries. Developed countries, don’t violate the trust... 

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“We are sinking” and “no-agreement-text”- What is the relation between both ideas?

Mónica López Baltodano
Officer for Climate Change
Centro Humboldt
Nicaragua

While the negotiations in the UNFCCC concluded in the Bangkok intersessional meeting in September 2012, many questions arise for us in preparation for COP 18 in Doha. Can we find any logical relationship between developed countries’ claims that this was an “informal session, meaning “no-negotiation-text” should be agreed in Bangkok, while we read there´s super-shrinkage of the Arctic sea ice?

The massive heat wave melting the Arctic is just one –of many- clear signals that expose governmental representatives of countries around the globe aren´t achieving what they are supposed to in UNFCCC negotiations. The ultimate objective of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is to guarantee the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. But, that clearly can´t be achieved if developed countries are limiting the negotiation process, hiding their lack of political will to act with procedural claims and “formality” excuses.

Coming from a highly vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change, this seems more like a bad joke - not funny at all. Even though we understand that climate change claims for actions in the developing world, particularly in emerging economies, we cannot accept this to be an excuse for developed countries not to act as needed.

When we hear United States, Australia, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, the European Union, New Zealand and others saying there is not supposed to be any negotiating text on adaptation issues and finance under the LCA, we fear this is leading to a dead-end. Of course, there is clearly a much needed link between, for instance, Adaptation Committee, Standing Committee and Green Climate Fund Board´s work. Why would developed countries fear this should be in an agreed text coming out of Doha?

There are no “political skills” necessary to understand that this might mean they are not truly committed to fund adaptation actions in our countries as needed (i.e. promptly and effectively). If this is true, it would certainly undermine any strong effort in the most afflicted countries, including LDCs, SIDs and Central American countries.

We surely expect that, in the road to Doha, these countries find the logical connection between “we are sinking” –in all of its meanings- and the need to complete the work in the LCA track. This means an agreed outcome is a MUST, including a clear agreement on international finance for adaptation actions to take effect now.

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