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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.

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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DOHA EXPECTATIONS FROM WEST AFRICA

Emmanuel Seck
ENDA
Senegal

If no action is taken, farmers in parts of Africa could face a decline in crop yields by more than 50% from this or future generations. Global food prices could more than double by 2030 and climate change is half responsible. According to scientists, the curve of global GHG emissions must be reversed before 2015, and, while the leaders agreed to a global pact for 2020, this means ten years are lost in the fight against climate change.

According to these same scientists,  the world is currently on a trajectory of warming above 3° C with the serious potential consequences - most severely felt in South Asia and West Africa. West Africa is a region constituted by a large number of Sahelian countries that are vulnerable to climate change, at least 13 of whom are a part of the Least Developed Countries. The economy of this region, which is essentially agricultural, is negatively impacted by drought and desertification; this establishes a serious handicap for the population’s development and livelihood.

The impression in the region is threefold: the expectation of a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, the setting of ambitious targets of GHGs emission reduction for Developed countries and the result of a Global Agreement for 2020. The question often raised is: how should the gap be filled from 2012 to 2020, knowing the serious potential consequences increased temperatures could have for West Africa? Official creation of the Green Climate Fund is a step in the right direction, despite concerns on how this fund will be fed and the financial gap between the “Fast Start” and the “100 billion USD per year by 2020”.

The 14th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment will be hosted by the Government of Tanzania from 10-14 September 2012. This meeting will provide an opportunity for the Ministers to develop a common approach to engage with the international community in the climate change negotiation process, especially in preparation for the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 18), to take place in late 2012.

 

Expectations from Doha: A Vulnerable Country Perspective

Geoffrey Kamese
National Association Of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)

Uganda

Climate change is already having devastating impacts on the African continent that are only continuing to accelerate in magnitude. There are fears that the window for preventing and stopping climate catastrophe is rapidly closing. Climate change today has multiplied the sufferings of many people who have become victims of famine, water stress, floods, diseases and drought among other things. Today, climate change is a crisis that does not only threaten to wipe out vast populations and overwhelmingly alter the way of life of a number of organisms on Earth, but also threatens a number of development processes in many developing countries. Already, climate change has greatly reversed development in many vulnerable countries by destroying roads, schools, hospitals and a number of many other development processes. Addressing all these impacts, calls for collective global action.

The objective of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change is to achieve the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The convention also aims at achieving this level within a time frame that is “sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change” in a manner that would; among other things, ensure that food production is not threatened and so are peoples’ livelihoods.”

As the world moves to Doha, there is a lot of expectation from least developed and most vulnerable countries on the possible outcomes from the COP. From the Ugandan perspective, decisions have to be made on the shared vision: it should include the goals of the Bali Action Plan (BAP) pillars of finance, technology, adaptation and capacity building.

Being that Uganda has been a victim of a number of climate related impacts, both adaptation and mitigation are central in reducing the frequency and intensity of climate related impacts. It is expected that Doha will set the groundwork for real and meaningful actions that will reduce and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The most vulnerable countries expect Doha to provide an opportunity for developed countries to build on their pledges and close on the global ambition gap.  It is therefore expected that these pledges will be reflected in the numbers that will be put on the table.

In conclusion, poor countries have already been exposed to severe impacts of climate change, yet they have not significantly contributed to the current climate problems. While the concept of equity has been disappearing under the table, poor countries- which are the most vulnerable- expect that fairness of both the processes and outcomes of decision-making in Doha reflect the critical values of equity.

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Redefining the Concept of Negotiation

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis
Regional Coordinator
Climate Action Network Latin-America
Argentina

For many years now, climate change negotiations are not delivering what the world needs in order to stay below an increase of 2ºC. The influence of inaction and lack of ambition or compromise from developed countries means new big emitters are not willing to move forward.  

Interestingly, climate change meetings no longer seem like real negotiations- countries are simply informing others of their views. To negotiate means to have formal discussions with someone in order to reach an agreement, therefore, the main task is to listen. Agreement is only possible once middle ground is found, and, in order to do so, clear positions and some flexibility are needed.

When Countries have the floor, they speak only on the issues to which they are personally inclined to. In fact, once they finish their speaking, they are even permitted to leave the Plenary! This makes you wonder: how is it possible to reach an agreement if we won’t listen to anyone but ourselves!

Latin-America needs desperately a climate agreement that will allow LA countries to adapt, receive appropriate technology, and develop NAMAs that contribute to mitigation actions. None of this will happen if parties continue to rehash old speeches and speak only amongst themselves. There are countries with good proposals, but they seem to keep that information to themselves and are not willing to listen to others. Learning about others’ opinions is beneficial for everyone involved.

As a Civil Society representative, I am very interested to see countries start looking to each other: to listen and move this process forward.

There may be only one skill that parties are missing: listening.

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Where there is a will, there is a way...

Sandra Guzman
Program Director Air and Energy
Mexican Center of Environmental Law (CEMDA)
Mexico

COP17 is supposed to advance the elaboration of a binding agreement to resolve the adverse impacts of climate change. Unfortunately after one week of negotiations here in Durban the future still looks bleak and full of uncertainties given the lack of agreement on some of the key issues.

This week saw the delivery of the COP pass from the Mexican Presidency to South Africa, who have dedicated sessions with informal consultations on various issues including a transparent and inclusive format.  But there is no clear indication as to what kind of agreements we can expect from the various issues in the negotiation tracks.

On the one hand, the likelihood of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2CP-KP) is becoming increasingly remote because countries resisting the 2CP have intensified their position as Canada has done by announcing her intention to abandon the KP.  The African group has threatened to wash their hands of the entire process if no agreement is reached for a 2CP. The reality is that failure to agree a mandate, or a clear signal for the KP to continue, or for a legal framework that allows the constitution of a legally binding agreement will be disastrous for the entire UNFCCC regime.

Similarly, this week was crucial for the definition and design of the Green Fund because the countries must decide whether to open the text that resulted from the meetings of the Transition Committee or approve it and go forward with other definitions. Since it was not accepted by the United States and Saudi Arabia, the text came to Durban hoping for approval. However, the ALBA group conformed for Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Cuba, noted that the text needed correction before they could give approval. The problem is that re-opening the text could delay the operationalization of the fund in Durban.

In the finance discussions there are two other issues that needs to be defined to create the international architecture – one is the issue of sources, and the other is where the resources are to be derived from. This is because although developed countries provide the funds from their public resources, there are other sources that may contribute to raise the funds necessary to achieve the goal of 100 billion dollars that must be provided by 2020.

All of these issues show the importance of civil society in this process because the governments are making decisions that don't necessarily reflect our social vision. We will continue to push for the creation of an integrated global regime that is effective, inclusive, transparent and democratic whilst dealing with climate issues in view of human rights, gender equity, and sustainability.
 

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I LOVE KP, full speed, no comma, and no full-stop!!!

Pelenise Alofa
President
Kiribati Climate Action Network
Kiribat

What does it mean to be in love? Love is a four letter word that makes the world go round…makes people go crazy? I believe that love is a word that will conquer all because it breaks all barriers and does not discriminate.  I love KP (the Kyoto Protocol). Why? Because KP loved me first.  He is my pillar to lean on; he made me stand tall, he gave me freedom, he prepares my path to walk on.  I cannot help but love KP. And I gave my all to be in this relationship with KP. I also realize that KP is not perfect like everyone else, so I accept KP the way he is and am prepared to work with KP to strengthen, empower and grow together in harmony.

I admire KP because he is faithful and the only one that gave me a legal binding agreement to live together.  He is a strong advocator for a clean environment because he wanted our children to grow-up in a healthy home.  He tells people to reduce and to stop pollution.

My challenge today is that I want a forever relationship with KP, but the industrialized world wanted a short life for KP. They think that he is not perfect, he should be kicked out for he is not worthy to have around.  Some think that I should shorten my relationship with him (to have a second commitment). But how could I do this when KP has never failed me. He has always been there for me…he has never changed.  

Today, especially this week, I stand with some of my friends and families (all NGOs and AOSIS) in support of KP. KP is on the verge of termination.  His life is being weighed in a balance.  I cannot save KP alone….I need  help from everyone to give me a chance to love him forever.  KP’s love encompasses all, not just me but all my friends and families and the whole world.  I wish we could wake up and see the beauty of his love.  I am prepared to tell the world that I could not stop loving KP.  I am wearing my T-Shirt to show everyone that no matter what….KP is still my love and my future.  And I am shouting and pleading to the world to give him a chance to live.  I am hoping and praying that Durban be a home where KP finds life!
 

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No vague decisions please...

Mahlet Eyassu
Climate Change Program Manager
Forum for Environment
Ethiopia

The first week of the Durban COP has ended and it seems like things have not moved forward.   Parties are not yet knuckling down in concrete discussions and it almost looks like they are just waiting for their Ministers to arrive and lend an air of authority to the political discussions....and yet, there are lots of issues that need to be dealt with at the technical level.  

Just looking back at Cancun exactly a year ago, even though the weather seems the same, the mood in the corridors is different.  We were all here with a lesser expectation and lobbying hard to save multilateralism, just to keep the motivation levels up and to get people back in work mode after the Copenhagen drama. Parties genuinely trying to get a balanced outcome started putting together parts of the puzzle, leaving the other part for the year to come. And now that year is up, it looks like we’re back to square one talking about another balanced package with some Parties wanting to re-arrange the same pieces of the puzzle they had already put together last year instead of fitting in the other pieces to complete the puzzle.  After seven long days and four more remaining of the negotiations, I personally am not sure what to expect at the end of this COP17.  This being THE African COP, I was hoping to see some actions and outcomes but the way I look at it now, we’re not going to get much…

I have been following Finance, which is the crucial element in these negotiations without which other decisions (adaptation, mitigation in developing countries, technology transfer and capacity building) cannot move forward.  Whatever outcome we get from here needs to be concrete such as the Green Climate Fund, which should be operationalized in the first half of next year (2012) with a clear commitment and pledge from Annex I Parties to fill the fund majorly with public sources and other innovative sources of finance.  Without concrete decisions like this, it will be very difficult for me to go back home and tell my people that Parties have agreed to negotiate and/or continue discussions on certain elements. My country, Ethiopia, which is being affected by climate change impacts needs concrete decisions from this COP to be translated to action on the ground, not vague decisions meaning something else for other countries in the next session.
 

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