Blog Posts

Global Climate Politics: less instead of more climate protection

Sixbert Simon Mwanga

Climate Action Network - Tanzania

The UN climate change meeting (COP19) was concluded in the city of Warsaw in Poland on 23rd November 2013. Initially the meeting was planned to wind up on 22nd November 2013. Like in many other UN climate change negotiations, COP19 witnessed developed countries acting as last minute brokers to most decisions. This left many delegates from developing countries who had high expectations from this COP for a roadmap to Paris frustrated and angry.

Some even left the national stadium and hotels before final decisions to most important issues.

NGOs and civil society walked out of the meeting hall in protest of the lack of progress in Warsaw. This was followed by shouting “Stop Climate Madness” by activists and civil society who remained into plenary meetings. As said earlier delibarately delaying until the last minute is not new in the UNFCCC talks and no one cares except representatives of the vulnerable countries.

This ever growing culture in the UN’s structure leaves many questions to delegates and civil societies representing already affected communities by climate change. These questions include: why delegates from developed countries push most of decions at the last minute of the negotiations even where there is a possibility to reach consensus earlier? Are they enjoying to make climate decisions alone as they are the main causative? Is this another form of climate change in the UNFCCC negotiations? Is it possible for these countries to show real leadership to address climate change impacts by providing climate finance with 50% on adaptation as well as meeting their emissions reduction commitments? What is the role of the UNFCCC secretariat  in these negotiations, how can it be utilized by whom and when? There is no easy way COP19 can easily forget countries like Australia, India, China, Poland and Japan which are responsible for the weak outcome of the conference.Some even came to decrease their mitigation ambitions while the Polish government welcomed COP delegates in a cynical environment because at the same time a coal conference was held in Warsaw.

Future of Climate Action

Regardless of the discouragements, relatively slow pace and hard time; a successful fight to climate change impacts needs a global partnership. The effective use of the Bonn sessions, Ban Ki-moon summit and COP20 in Lima will help us reach our goal of a strong, equitable international agreement by 2015 in Paris.


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Can the Warsaw summit take a significant step towards more climate justice for all?

Ange David Baimey 
Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement Cote d'Ivoire

In the beginning of June 2013, a World Bank report described a frightful scenario for the future. A few months ago, in September 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the first installment of its 5th report underlined that we are on a trajectory which is dangerous for all of us! In a time where we blithely progress towards the 2°C, in a time where an unprecedented typhoon  hits the Philippines and Vietnam, where droughts decimate crops in Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti, it is time to speak up for equity and climate justice.

Even better, it is time to stop speaking about it and take action.

But, although equity should be the cornerstone of the next climate deal, the concept seems to be labeled non grata by all the countries that refuse to strengthen their reduction actions, to save the adaptation fund or to mobilize additional public finance.

Maybe we should remind these countries that a deal in 2015 will be impossible if we do not first agree on equity. If we are not able to propose a fair distribution of efforts and benefits according to responsibilities and capabilities, we will not be able to rally the developing countries, from the least developed to the emerging economies.

The NGOs have a simple proposal: let’s agree here in Warsaw on the indicators which will allow to measure the ambition and appropriateness of each country’s future commitments in the 2015 deal: are these in line with what the latest IPPC report calls for? Do they match both the country’s historic responsibility and capabilities?

We will also have to make sure that the deal includes a mechanism allowing for an evolution of the level of commitments and of their repartition.

Obviously, for such a proposal to be credible, for developing countries to participate in this negotiation, the starting point should be to respect the already made commitments.

The NGOs thus expect the developed countries to reinforce their reduction goals instead of creating new ways out by leaving the Kyoto Protocol or going backwards on their targets. The NGOs expect that the developed countries live up to their financial promises. It is the necessary starting point for an acceptable deal in 2015.

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COP 19 : “I Care”, Do You?

Henriette Imelda
Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR)

Leaving for Warsaw, for COP 19, with the Polish Government’s promises in mind that COP 19 would be the Finance COP, has - to some extend -  given me a bowl-full-of-expectations. Finally, I thought, the climate change negotiations will turn into a positive, meaningful, and fruitful talks. Walking home not only with pledges but also the commitment for full implementation of the pledges.

As I walked around the centrum, reaching a place for a meeting, I suddenly saw this big banner over COP 19 with a tag “I Care”; what a hopeful banner for me, someone who comes from developing countries that still have problems with access to energy, as well as the fact of being heavily threatened by the impact of climate change. With the possibility of losing around 200 islands, and with a growing population that is currently over 240 million, do you think that we won’t have land issues for residence? Our dependence on fossil fuel to generate cannot be used as an excuse, to force us in reducing our emission, as we only have fossil fuel to light our houses. Renewable energy is still expensive for us to avail, which gives us more homework to be done because we still need to grow.

With such kind of a background, I came to Warsaw with full expectations.

Early morning on the day the COP 19 was supposed to end, I took a look at the ADP text that was uploaded at 5.45 in the morning. How surprised I was when I saw that all the important things were deleted; equity, timeline to review developed countries’ pledges, as well as enhance ambition. I felt betrayed, now that my expectations have been turned down, since developed countries have violated things that both developed and developing countries have agreed upon.

Many developing countries have to bear the cost of climate change by themselves. The Philippines has to bear the cost of destructions from the Haiyan typhoon, and some developing countries had to bear their own cost to develop their Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). We have done so many things to rebuild or sustain lives, but developed countries seemed not to care. Many times developed countries ask for NAMAs from developing countries. Now that we have some, why don’t you just put some money in there, showing that you, as developed countries, can still be considered as accountable for developing countries? We’ve done our part, now it’s yours, isn’t it?

The green big banner that I saw in the centrum, does not reflect on what the developed countries think of; not even for Poland’s government, the host. “I Care”? Really?? Do you???

If it is true, then show me! Put your pledge!

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Opportunities for a change - Why COP 19 is important for Latin America

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis
Fundación Biosfera
Climate Action Network Latin America (CANLA)

While UNFCCC negotiations continue in COP 19, countries still struggle to make significant progress on crucial issues that are due to be agreed in this COP. Many issues need to be covered by the end of this week if we want to be certain that we are on the correct path for a 2015 deal.

Latin American countries are excited about COP 20 in Peru, but some challenges are in the way, right here and right now. The Latin American COP will be the last stop before we go to France for sealing the deal that will shape the commitments for the future of our climate, and we have our expectations for it. It is fair to say that a lot of planning has to happen and it is good to see that Peru is taking a lot of time to prepare for it.

Nevertheless it is important to recall that negotiations are happening right now and right here. Crucial issues like Finance and Loss and Damage are key for the remaining 5 days and countries know it. Latin American countries are playing active roles in the G77 and the negotiations in general. But we need to see more action; we need to come up with creative and diverse ideas that contribute to solve the problem, and they might be in Latin America.

Loss and Damage has to come up with a clear result. What happened in the Philippines is not impossible to happen in Latin America, and we know it.

Actions to promote Low Carbon Development should be highlighted here from all Latin American Countries. We don't want them to be in the same path that brought us here. It is just not acceptable to defend fossil fuels saying it is a necessary evil...

So it would be good to see that creativeness coming from the next COP presidency and its neighbours. After all, whatever is not agreed in Warsaw will have to be dealt with in Lima, and considering how much is already in the list of issues for 2014... that is just too much.

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MRV in Warsaw

Photo: IISD

Vositha Wijenayake

Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA)

Article 12 of the UNFCCC recognises measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) as a key element or rather a pillar for ensuring transparency, building trust among parties. Furthermore it adds to ensuring accountability among the Parties. The Convention calls upon Parties for regular reporting on efforts taken by countries to address climate change.

The requirements pertaining to countries are developed based on the common but differentiated principle (CBDR). This in turn explains that the Annex1 countries i.e. developed countries are endowed with a higher level of obligation on their reporting than the developing countries. In more specific terms this involves the developed countries having to undergo a review process by experts to ensure completeness, consistency and accuracy of reported information. The review also encompassed a review by Parties, of efforts made by developed countries to meet their obligations under the Convention.

The Bali road map extended the gambit of the MRV by strengthening the reporting requirements of both the developed and developing countries as well as instituting a formal process of review, international analysis and review (IAR) for developed countries and international consultation and analysis (ICA) for developing countries.

This in turn required the developed countries to report annual GHG inventory every year; prepare a biennial report – highlighting the progress made in meeting its obligations under the Convention, both, on mitigation pledges and support; and national communication every four years; and, for the developing countries to prepare a biennial update report, including GHG inventory, on planning and implementing NAMAs, and to prepare a national communication every four years.  All efforts of developing countries for reporting are supported by the Convention.

Guidelines for measurement is the key of an MRV system. This is the first step in ensuring consistency, relevance and completeness of information. One such measure can be seen in the form of all countries being required to prepare their GHG inventories in accordance with the IPCC GHG inventory methodology. The common accounting methodology also makes it possible to compare the information across sectors, both within and across countries.

An outstanding issue at present is the common tabular format (CTF) to compare the pledges, progress made in pledges, as well as reporting on the support provided. The challenge faced concerns defining climate finance, how to report different forms of public support (grants, loans, etc), and defining new and additional support. The last element relates to separating, in broad terms, the finance provided for development issues in developing countries through bilateral aid from finance provided for climate related activities.

Here in Warsaw there are a few things that we need to achieve, among which lies the creation of a process that allows all countries to understand what is pledged by others, and to be able to develop new offers for the post-2020 period.  Warsaw needs also to be able to highlight what needs to be included in Party offers, equity and scientific benchmarks, in addition to how these offers need to be reviewed.  

Furthermore there is also need for the procedures and the outcomes for both the preparation and assessment processes to be equitable. Thus this process needs the inclusion of credible elements that possess the capacity to assess whether countries are doing their “fair “share, in line with science and a set of equity indicators.


References made to discussions of CAN MRV working group, and to “MRV in Warsaw” by Mr. Sudhir Sharma for ClimAsia, Warsaw  edition. 

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What Can Motivate Delegates to Make Right and Timely Decisions?

Sixbert Simon Mwanga

Climate Action Network - Tanzania

The second week of November 2013 witnessed delegates and representatives from more than 190 countries landing on Polish land. The reason for their coming was not to see the beauty of Poland but to discuss and make important decisions on harmful climate change impacts at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties 19 (COP19) and the 9th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol taking place from 11 to 22 November.

The first week of the Warsaw climate change conference was full of sadness and sorrow due to Super Typhoon Haiyan which caused massive deaths across our beloved Philippines. These were the innocent people with insignificant contribution to climate change. This can be a topic of its own.

Since their arrival, civil society representatives have been showing their clear concern and demand from delegates to take a lead in making decisions to address climate change; both causes and impacts. However, since 1994 and up to now, not much ground has been covered in these negotiations. There has been a culture of lagging behind which has favored the increase of events related to climate change around the world.

This leaves many questions to already suffering and vulnerable communities. Among these questions, one could ask “what motivates delegates to make right and timely actions?” If delegates are not motivated and cannot act based on what science tells us regarding the climate and global warming, wouldn’t they be motivated to save their children, elder brothers and sisters who are already suffering from the impacts, sometimes to death? Why can’t they consider and value billions and billions of money their governments invest in infrastructure year after year that then get destructed within a minute? Should climate scientists stop climate studies and put heads together with medical doctors and psychologists to find what can motivate UNFCCC climate change negotiators to take right and timely actions?

Should we continue delaying while learning words and vocabulary to use while extending our condolences to countries and families which will be losing their manpower and future generations? Should we continue waiting to advertise ourselves in meetings that we care enough and we have offered money to bury dead people? May be we should find another name to replace the word delegate.

“Country representatives”: increasing finance, adaptation and mitigation ambitions here in Warsaw, this is what we want from you. This is our simplest indicator of success. Don’t turn yourselves into stones, please establish international mechanisms on loss and damage.

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Bring Your Finance Ministers to Warsaw

Henriette Imelda
Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR)

As the SBs session in Bonn ended in June, there were several issues that still need to be clarified. The climate finance issue is amongst the crucial issues that was barely discussed in the session. The fact that now there are so many different entities that need to discuss climate finance probably has made everybody to go their own way. The Standing Committee on Climate Finance has their own task, Long Term Finance Work Programme also has their own direction, as well as the issue of establishing the Green Climate Fund. The above entities do represent some progress, yet those are not enough.

Clarity on whether the 100 billion dollars will be ready and how it will be deployed are still mysterious. Nobody knows whether the number could be achieved by that time. While the needs of developing countries and least developed countrie are growing, so are those of the small island developing states. This is due to time as well as due to climate change impacts that are currently threatening the above countries.

Long Term Finance Work Programme would have two expert workshops on the pathway towards the 100 billion, and the second part would be the enabling environment. The fact that Long Term Finance Work Programme does not have the mandate to come up with decisions is, therefore, important to have all the discussions within the Work Programme to be delivered to countries related ministers, especially ministers of finance. The issue of climate finance is highly important and that high-level dialogue must be conducted on the issues of finance.

Warsaw would be one of the most important COPs, especially in related to the new agreement that should be agreed in COP 21 in Paris. And the only thing to remind all countries, especially the developed countries, is to bring in the finance ministers to start thinking on possible climate change related, not only the implementation, but also the mobilization of the 100 billion dollars from the public finance. More funding scenarios on how to mobilize the 100 billion dollars are needed fast, not only to be considered, but to be decided.

So Parties, bring your finance ministers to Warsaw!


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Strategies, Working Groups and Regional Cooperation in Bonn


Vositha Wijenayake
CAN South Asia

It has been a little tough to put words together to come up with a sensible piece of writing for the second half of the Bonn sessions. It could be that there were so many things I wanted to write on, and then the brain would fail at picking which thematic area, or activity I need to follow on. Hence the delay in putting this together, and not presenting it immediately at the closure of Bonn talks. Then again, the delay would have given me a better perspective of what needs to added, what the two worlds of grass-root activism and the UNFCCC corridors have in common or NOT have in common. Simply put, it would mean that I am now settling down to type these words with a regional perspective as well as a local perspective which is definitely heightened post-Bonn.

Focusing on legal issues is what I follow during the UNFCCC process, while working on the Southern Voices Project, which focuses on regional capacity building to raise the voices of the South in the discussion and building the skills of advocacy to ensure enforcement of policies that are beneficial at the grass-root level. Southern Voices workshop held on the 10th and 11th of June brought the possibility to those attending the Bonn session to develop their knowledge on what is happening in the different regions, by sharing information on their activities, as well as through panel discussions. The workshop focused on thematic areas such as adaptation and climate finance, and also on communicating the work on the ground to those outside. It was an eye-opener on certain levels to what could be lacking in our work, as well as identifying what could be lessons learnt from each other.

Speaking on law and the UNFCCC, it was somewhat evident that international law was very much linked with country politics. We respect the concept of sovereign equality and thus end at logger-heads, unable to move forward when one or few countries block the process. A simple answer to a question requires a lot of analysis, (if one of course does not want others to get into trouble thanks to the brilliant advise one provides). Article 3 para 7 ter seemed to occupy a lot of my time since jumping the guy too fast on responding to a query, and then deciding that I need to sit down and read the whole development of the section before reaching a decision. Bonn has definitely been a learning experience when it comes to the involvement in the legal group in that, since being introduced to the group in Doha, I have finally started to get a grasp of the pace at which it moves. So more focus on the ADP and the proposals for legal structure on the work front for the next months ahead!

Low Carbon Development strategies and Communication also played a key role during this process. While LCD strategy is worked on for more elaboration and active involvement of different domestic and international actors, a communications workshop on the 16th of June, helped my understanding of the strategies of communicating science in a language that people do understand. The psychology based analysis of three types of people in a society seemed something to build on for campaigns, and possibly improving my personal communication with the world at large.

UNFCCC sessions in Bonn was definitely a time for contemplating on how to move forward as a movement, and as a regional entity as well. It was about building regional and international capacity while developing the leadership among regions. And I close the post with hopes for more theme specific writing for November!


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"Apple of discord" on SBI 38

Andrey Zhelieznyi
The National Ecological Centre of Ukraine (NECU)

International cooperation on tackling climate change has a deadline for a new global agreement in 2015. The agreement must be ambitious, legal and fair. Before this can be agreed a lot has to be done at the Un climate negotiations.

The regular session ended in June, but with very slow progress. The Subsidiary body for Implementation under UNFCCC has not started proper work, not brining any added value to the process. This was done because of rising submission from Russia on behalf of Belarus and Ukraine, which have "special" status as "Economies in transition," around the legal adoption of rules and procedures in UNFCCC process.
Of course, during negotiations proper understanding of rules and procedures are important, but not surprisingly  EiT raised concerns at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Doha, where new rules for a 2nd period of the Kyoto Protocol were adopted, braking objections of EiT countries, eliminated around 3.6 billion of "hot air." There is no doubt that violation of rules and procedures is unacceptable, and today countries share the importance of this issue. However, no progress during negotiations was made raising the issue to high political opposition. No matter what the Doha outcome should not be indulgent.
So why are the rules and procedures the "apple of discord?" There might be political reasons from both sides from a post-2020 period. For countries with EiT, this principle it may be to keep flexible treatment under Convention referencing their "special" status and to get opportunity for economical benefits. On other hand developing countries also oppose mitigation responsibility not only for Annex 1 countries. So, it seems, rules and procedures become as a shield during negotiation for a new deal that covers the political interests of delegates.
Before 2020, countries that oppose on the issues of rules and procedures have nothing to lose: Russia beyond commitments on the 2nd period of Kyoto and emergency developing economies also with voluntary commitments. Moreover how long, objectivly, can economies can be in transition?
A review of the shared responsibility in mitigation is needed for all countries. It is clear, that Russia is tactically significant and keeps the face of vindicator for a fair way of decision adoption on SBI 38 and having no economic value from Doha decisions. Issues of rising voice for strengthening positions is a way of solving situations when violation of interests has place for "top 5" countries. In 2015, a new clear and fair formula for sharing responsibility must be implemented. This should not be put under concern with questions regarding legitimacy. 
Survival during global climate change is not a question of rules and procedures or interests of big economies. Today we are on track for 4C. And science says that today projections are worst than in 1990. There are no options for adaptation in a wide sense when 4C happens.


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2014. A year full of challenges, big time!

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis
Fundación Biosfera, CANLA

In Bonn GRULAC endorsed Peru’s nomination as COP host for 2014. In the last day of negotiations, Peru’s Minister of Environment himself notified Parties about Peru being the COP 20 presidency. This is great news for Latin America; and the COP will certainly bring a lot of focus on the issues that concern the region.

But 2014 is not just another year, COP 20 will not be a transitional COP, neither something to diminish. Many international climate events will mobilize media attention, people, citizens and politicians to ramp up ambition in the year (2014) countries should present targets on both mitigation and finance. Besides the regular intersessional and ADP sessions, UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, called world leaders to meet for highlighting the urgency of decisions in this matter (in 2014). Venezuela on the other hand proposed to host the traditional ministerial Pre-COP, but they have decided to do things differently and to invite all Civil Society to participate in a non-traditional manner. The list of important events in 2014 concludes with the FIFA World Cup in Brazil ,which will have all attention from all around the world, especially the attention of Brazilians.

With all this happening around Peru as the COP Presidency and with so many milestones to be achieved, there is a very interesting challenge ahead. Finance pledges have to be on the table, and mitigation pledges have to be clear. Also a legal architecture of the new legal instrument should be approved in Lima, Peru by th end of 2014; this is key.

Peru has a good potential as a facilitator, and many coutries are expressing their support, we will have to see how Peru manages the pressure and how constructively countries work to let Peru conduct successful meetings in a year full of expectations.

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