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2020 Fossil of the 5-Years | Special Paris Agreement 5-Year Anniversary Edition

#Fossilof5Years: the Fossil of the Day Paris Agreement 5th Anniversary Special Edition

11 December 2020: Five years after the Paris Agreement, countries continue to outdo each other at being best in doing the worst to fight the climate crisis. But some are always better than others (hint: surprise they haven’t been invited to the Paris Agreement Birthday Party). 

Through a fair and democratic voting process (that required no recounts), Climate Action Network, the world’s largest network of 1,300 civil society organisations working on climate change in over 130 countries, chose the USA as the overall winner of the Colossal Fossil of Five Years to mark the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Agreement. USA also won a second Fossil Award for Not Providing Finance and SupportAustralia won a Fossil Award for Not Honoring the 1.5°C Commitment, and Brazil won two Fossil Awards for Not Protecting People from Climate Impacts and Not Listening to the People and Shrinking Civic Space.

USA: Colossal Fossil of Five Years
Let’s be honest, the USA has never been the loudest cheerleader for climate action. In some ways President Trump simply said the quiet parts aloud. ‘America First’ has always been the north star guiding the US’ official line in international climate talks, like when verbally bulldozing proposals for climate compensation and finance for Loss and Damage to vulnerable countries, arm-twisting poorer nations into accepting weak climate targets from rich countries and flexing their diplomatic muscle to break or make deals, all the while with handshakes and smiles. Until….2016.
A Colossal Fossil of Five Years can never capture the depths of ineptitude and damage of the Trump years: from amplifying climate denialism, to dismantling domestic environmental policies to undermining progress in multilateral spaces like the UNFCCC, the IPCC, the G20 & G7 and the GCF

USA: Fossil for Not Providing Finance and Support   
In the Trump years, the USA has been particularly stingy on finance for climate action. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement was bad enough but the USA used its bully pulpit to obstruct finance to developing countries. By ceasing all finance to the Green Climate Fund (inspiring other countries like Australia) it deprived millions of people in poor countries critical resources to adapt to the climate crisis. Funding to the IPCC was also summarily halted, unsurprisingly some might say, by an anti-science administration.

So when it comes to climate change, ‘America First’ only means the USA’s outsized lead as the largest historical carbon emitter. To be clear, this is not a fossil award to the American people. We salute them for voting out a climate denier! Polls consistently show Americans want a climate-safe future and President-elect Biden must act on this mandate. He must take a seat at the international table and ensure the US does its fairshare on cutting its domestic emissions drastically by 2030 and substantially increasing international finance. Rejoining the Paris Agreement and recommitting money to the Green Climate Fund will be the starting steps in this new journey. It is time for the wealthiest nation to put the planet and all its people first.

Australia: Fossil for Not Honoring the 1.5°C Commitment

Before Scott Morrison became Australian Prime Minister, he once brandished a lump of coal in parliament. That was in 2017, when he accused his opponents of having a “pathological fear of coal”. A few short years later, the only pathological behaviour remains his government’s ongoing infatuation with fossil fuels when the rest of the world has moved on. As the largest exporter of coal and gas, Australia’s federal government has done virtually nothing over the past five years to tackle the climate emergency. The government's woefully inadequate 2030 Paris Agreement target is in line with a catastrophic 3°C rise. And it has tried to cheat by using carryover credits from the Kyoto Protocol to meet around half of it. The Australian government has refused to set a national long term target (net zero by 2050)despite every State and Territory of Australia having now set a long term net zero climate target. Australia’s current emission reduction trend will reach net-zero in 300 years! And to top it all, Australia has withdrawn funding entirely from the Green Climate Fund

The world watched swathes of Australia's bush burn last summer contributing to significant biodiversity loss and impacting the most vulnerable people. Besides stinking up the planet, Australia appears to be reneging on acommitment to net zero emissions made to Pacific Island Neighbours in October 2019. How does Australia face its Pacific Island neighbours, many of whom will be displaced in the next two-to-three decades unless we scale up efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C?  Australia must get sensible fast otherwise the Morrsion government is staring at a dark legacy of climate inaction. Will future generations have to view plastic replicas of the Great Barrier Reef in a museum of climate horrors alongside stuffed mounts of the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum?

Brazil: Fossil for Not Protecting People from Climate Impacts

An alarming climate tipping point could happen much sooner than expected when the dense, green canopy of the Amazon rainforest turns into a dry open savannah, an irreversible process that is being hastened by increasing fires and logging. The policies of “Chainsaw” Bolsonaro have ensured that the ‘"Cooler of the Planet"’ is now a scarred, choking mess. This year’s fires are among the worst in ten years with a 14% increase in fires compared to the already catastrophic figures from last year. The world’s largest tropical wetland, the Pantanal, was consumed by flames this year, wrecking the lives of Indigineous communities there and all its biodiversity. Things look grim in Brazil as Bolsonaro offers concessions to agribusiness and mining magnates, turns his back on Indigenous communities and repeatedly denies climate change. Just to prove the point, Brazil has pledged over 70% of funding under its existing energy plan to fossil fuels and has extended subsidies to offshore oil exploitation until 2040! 

Brazil: Fossil for Shrinking Civil Space

Despite tough competition from Russia, Brazil was voted for a fossil for its escalating crackdown on civil society groups resisting its regressive policies and fighting for the rights of Indigenous communities. A leaked document shows Brazil’s military plans to control “100% of NGOs working in the Amazon” and is set to advance policies to starve NGOs of funding. It is no wonder that Brazil ranks number three in the world for the murder of environmental defenders.   
"Civil society, despite being threatened in Brazil, must strengthen itself to pressure, nationally and internationally, for effective emission reduction measures, to preserve our forests and protect Indigenous Peoples", said Nayara Castiglioni Amaral, general coordinator of Engajamundo, a Brazilian youth organization.

About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (, members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 1,300 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 120 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.  


Finance in Common Joint CSO Statement

Posted as an op-ed article here:

Full CSO statement uploaded here:


The world faces the gravest global health crisis in a century, intertwined with the rising social and economic inequality, the sixth mass extinction of species and record-breaking ecological and climate disasters. Against this backdrop of global upheaval, we call on public development banks meeting this week for the Finance in Common Summit to become part of the solution towards building a just, equitable, inclusive and sustainable world. 

To do so, they must commit to devoting their considerable financial resources and influence to achieving a safe, healthy and prosperous future for all. That is why today more than 320 civil society organisations signed a joint letter urging the public development banks gathered at the summit to transform their financing models.

The COVID-19 pandemic is only the latest example of the multi-faceted crises our societies are confronted with and which could push 150 million more people into extreme poverty by 2021. It is time to address the root cause of such systemic crises, otherwise we risk dramatically increasing the plight faced by billions of people.

Women and girls, as well as those experiencing the cumulative impacts of various vulnerabilities, are affected the most and worst. Whatever the duration of this pandemic, the challenges the world is facing deserve global answers to meet the needs of local communities.

Public development banks should not repeat the mistakes of the past. They must seize the opportunity of the Finance in Common Summit to initiate a deep and rapid shift in the way they operate and place democracy, inclusiveness, equality, solidarity, and the common good at the core of their actions.

Public money should only be spent to promote the wellbeing of people and the planet. Not a single penny can go towards the violation of human rights, economic, social and cultural rights, or the rights of Indigenous Peoples, nor should it allow for the destruction of nature. 

It is time public banks take a collective stand to stop money going towards fossil fuels and other sectors that fuel the climate and biodiversity crisis. We believe that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, limiting global warming to 1.5°C by fully implementing the Paris Agreement and protecting nature should be the key drivers of action over the coming decade. 

Through a rights-based approach and strong mechanisms for meaningful participation of civil society at all stages, from the development of policies to the evaluation of their impacts, public development banks should enhance the respect of human rights and promote community-led development. 

Their direct and indirect operations should promote resilience-building and the development of essential and qualitative public services, support anti-corruption and anti-tax-avoidance efforts, and adhere to a “do-no-harm” principle so that their financing does not undermine climate and environmental objectives, increase the burden of debt, or expand inequalities.

To ensure accountability, the highest transparency standards, reporting guidelines, and risk and impact assessment methodologies must be applied by all public development banks and their intermediaries.

The current context is dire and highlights yet again the urgency of rethinking development finance. It requires thinking one step ahead; it's not only about how public money is being spent, it also means addressing the largely negative impacts that public-private partnerships have on communities.

These efforts must be supported by countries providing the right mandate, policies, measures and the necessary resources to public financial institutions.

The public development banks gathered at the summit should act immediately to transform their financing models, by adopting the commitments set out in our joint letter. Their public interest mandate must be clear, their governance transparent and accountable.

Civil society will continue to play its part to ensure that the response to the current global economic crisis brings economic, social and ecological transformation. If not now, when?


This oped was authored by by Iara Pietricovsky de Oliveira, president of the International Forum of NGO Platforms (FORUS),  Eléonore Morel, chief executive officer of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Tasneem Essop, executive director of the Climate Action Network.

CAN Arab World holds its General Assembly

By: Fatima Ahouli and Hala Kilani

Despite the challenges with having a virtual meeting, CAN Arab World pulled off a very successful General Assembly (GA) on 7 and 8 November. Members from Sudan, Lebanon and Yemen shared their challenges in dealing with multiple emergencies including impacts, the pandemic and political and economic upheaval. These particular members sounded the alarm on the issues they are facing, particularly with impacts and food insecurity.

Sudan witnessed the worst floods on record since 100 years and Lebanon the worst fire season on record, which cost this small country the loss of 7,000 ha of forest land. Yemen is still struggling with a raging war and its population is facing serious hunger threats in addition to the exasperating climate crisis causing droughts, extreme floods and water scarcity. 

Over 50 CANAW member organizations were able to join the virtual GA, including representatives from Ministries of Environment from Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan who participated in the opening session with updates from their respective countries on the efforts, accomplishment as well as challenges that the pandemic has imposed on the national efforts in fighting against climate change.

The opening session also saw the participation of CAN Executive Director Tasneem Essop who brought an international perspective to the room and what CAN International has been doing in bridging the national and regional efforts in a more member- and node-driven approach.

The two-day GA has brought into perspective the priorities that the node has lined up for its work, and also the achievements and developments that happened since the foundation of the node - it created a space for dialogue between civil society and government representatives. The node, which has grown stronger since its creation in 2015 and continuous support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, will be guided by the national efforts of its members to enhance its influence on the regional level.


CAN Reaction to the US Elections

The Biden-Harris administration has won this victory on the back of a strong grassroots movement that has laid the groundwork for the fight for democracy, and transformative climate action. We salute and stand by our friends and allies in the United States who worked so hard to make this happen and together we will fight to keep political leaders accountable to the people.

The US must seize this moment to confront the full scale of the climate emergency. It must stop pouring billions into fossil fuels and must lead in the managed decline of fossil fuel production and ensure a Just Transition for workers. The re-entry of the U.S. into the Paris Agreement must be the basis for paradigm shift in its climate leadership as a major emitter, to step up its obligations on equitable and transformative climate action, both at home and internationally.

The Biden team must build international solidarity and set ambitious near-term and long-term national climate targets in line with principles of fair-share and equity that deliver on the 1.5C goal. This must include substantial finance for developing countries to make up for the shortfall in support to vulnerable countries.

US Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

The formal withdrawal of the US today from the #ParisAgreement comes amidst a shifting tide of public support for urgent and far-reaching action to stop the climate crisis. Poll after poll show that the American people want climate-friendly policies.

As the US formally exits the #ParisAgreement, the world is moving forward. China, Japan and South Korea have recently committed to go net-zero by mid-century. Just as with the #COVID19 pandemic, no one country can stop the #climatecrisis alone. This is the moment for the strongest levels of multilateral cooperation.

Regardless of the current US administration's exit from the #ParisAgreement, it cannot undo the powerful movement for #climatejustice built by millions of people in the U.S. and across the world, empowered by a renewed sense of international solidarity for a safe and just future.

The fight for social justice and anti-racism, led by young people, Black people, Indigenous Peoples and people of colour, resonates globally and will continue to push the US government to deliver on transformative action & climate justice both domestically and abroad.

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Amazon fires: a climate disaster

The Amazon, the world’s largest carbon sink and most biodiverse region, is burning. The forest fires are now spreading into virgin forests, deforesting millions of hectares across the region, affecting people's health during a pandemic. Some of our colleagues in the region describe this climate disaster and what urgently needs to be done to recover from it.


Antonio Zambrano Allend, Coordinador, Nacional Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático MOCICC:

During this year, forest fires have increased by 120% throughout Peru, according to the National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR).

During the pandemic and the health emergency decreed in the country since March 15, illegal activities have not only not been stopped but have intensified, particularly illegal logging and activities to penetrate and expand the agricultural frontier in the Amazon, which is an additional consequence of the process of internal migration in Peru from Andean peasant communities to the Amazon basin.

This migration, in addition to having been historically promoted by the State, is a direct consequence of the droughts and intense soil erosion generated by climate change in the highlands.

In little more than a decade, Peru has lost more than 2 million hectares of forest in the Amazon basin and the rate of deforestation has reached new peaks in recent years without effective measures being prioritized by the State.


Karla Maass Wolfenson, Asesora LAC - Climate Action Network (CAN):

Es imperativo tomar la ventana de oportunidad del COVID19 para resetear los cimientos de nuestras sociedades hacia una en armonía con los límites planetarios y sobre la base del respecto a los derechos humanos y de la naturaleza.

Los incendios en el Amazonas, avalados por gobernantes indolentes y soberbios, están absolutamente fuera del marco del nuevo pacto socioecológico que se requiere para los desafíos que enfrentamos.

Gobernantes como Bolsonaro quedarán fuera del mapa.

Hemos visto que las empresas, la cooperación internacional, la ciudadania y los diversos actores no estatales apuestan por una reactivación transformadora y eso requiere que los 8 paises con territorio en el Amazonas no solo firmen el Acuerdo de Escazú y desarrollen Pactos, como Leticia, sino que sean operativos y diligentes para restaurar y remediar el ecosistema...por ti, por mi y por los que están por venir.

Juntxs por una reactivación Transformadora, es posible y urgente.

(It is imperative to take the COVID19 window of opportunity to reset the foundations of our societies towards one in harmony with planetary boundaries and human and nature rights.

The fires in the Amazon, endorsed by indolent and arrogant rulers, are absolutely outside the framework of the new socio-ecological pact required.

Rulers like Bolsonaro will be left off the map.

We have seen that companies, international cooperation, citizens, and non-state actors are betting on a transformative recovery and this requires that the 8 countries with Amazon territory not only sign the Ezcazu agreement and develop pacts, like the Leticia Pact, but be operative and diligent in restoring and remedying the ecosystem...for you, for me and for those to come.

It is possible and urgent.)


Tackling Climate Crisis in Uganda through Tree Planting

VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINES: Tackling Climate Crisis in Uganda through Tree Planting

31 July 2020

By: John Mary Odoy, CAN-Uganda Board Chair

Uganda’s NDCs National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) emphasizes the need to plant trees  as one way of increasing forest coverage which was 21% of total land coverage in Uganda in 1960s, but came down to 14% by 2016. Unabated, the percentage continues to go down.

Ugandan’s Green Growth strategy which is an inclusive low emissions economic growth process that emphasizes effective and efficient use of natural resources, it focuses on green tourism, water resources management and sustainable use of forests and wetlands, as its key strategic interventions to address Climate Change.

In light of the above, several climate actors have embarked on undertaking actions in this regard. One of the activities of tree planting took place on 19th July, 2020, where  Climate Action Network-Uganda joined the  Kingdom of Buganda through  Busiro County, Undugu Youth Empowerment Group and the Franciscan Missionaries  in Uganda, Save the Planet and Nurturing Uganda,  launched the planting of 5,000 tree seedlings. The launch took place at St.Padre Pio Prayer Centre  - Akright in Wakiso District, about 22 km Kampala – Entebbe Highway with 6 symbolic trees planted.  The planting of the rest of the 5000 tree seedlings, which are of assorted tree species including fruit and indigenous  trees will be done in Busunju in Ssingo County in Central Uganda on a part of the 20 acre piece of land owned by the Franciscan Missionaries, which they have dedicated for tree planting.

In his remarks, John Mary Odoy, the Climate Ambition Ambassador thanked the Undugu Youth Empowerment Group for  donating the seedlings worth five million Uganda shillings, the Buganda Kingdom for the support and promotion of tree planting and re afforestation in Buganda Kingdom and beyond, Save the Planet team and  Nurturing Uganda for the continuous growing and supply of tree seedlings and the  Franciscan Missionaries for committing land to tree planting. John Mary said that the exercise done was in line with global efforts to address the climate crisis and it also corresponds with Uganda’s National framework of getting a greater part of Uganda’s land under tree cover again.  He also said that this is a great contribution to driving Uganda into achieving the 22% emission reduction and control the global temperatures to below 2% degrees delicious by 2030.

Sebwana, Eng.  Charles Kiberu Kisirinza, the Busiro County Chief,  who represented the Kingdom of Buganda reiterated the message by the Kabaka of Buganda that everyone should endeavour to protect and conserve the environment”  He also officially handed over the 5,000 seedlings   to the Franciscan Missionaries in his capacity as the Busiri County Chief (Sebwwana)

Ms Proscovier Vikman, the Chairperson Buganda Environment Board in the Buganda Kingdom and head of Lay Christians at the St Anthony Prayer Group said that the Church is willing to collaborate with any one, organization  or youth group that is addressing challenges of climate change and working towards environment protection and conservation, the church has land and is committed to mobilize members to commit part of their land for indigenous tree planting to restore natural forest cover. The trees planted will bear names as follows; Sebwana (planted by Eng. Charles Kiberu Kisirinza), CAN-Uganda  (planted by John Mary), Pope Francis (planted by Rev. Fr. Godwin Ogam), St. Anthony (planted by Ms Proscovier Vikman), TYE (planted by the Youth) and  St. Padre Pio (Denis Mpanga)


John Mary Odoy is the NDC/Ambition Champion-Uganda for the Climate Action Network-Uganda


Mobile phone: +256783457990

All Coalition members must support a “Better Recovery, Better World” and subscribe to it: A report that must translate words into action

Reaction to the Coalition of Finance Ministers Climate Action Report “Better Recovery, Better World” by CAN International.

Last week, the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, issued a report,  “Better Recovery, Better World”. This report, drafted by the LSE Grantham Institute and the Brookings Institution, with contributions by Coalition members and international organizations spells out how and why finance ministers must align COVID-19 recovery packages with the Paris Agreement and make investments that align with updated climate targets.

While CAN welcomes this report and its recommendations, a disclaimer that “the views expressed, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Coalition or its members” renders it - if not backed by meaningful measures - as yet another example of empty words. CAN calls on Coalition members to subscribe to the principles and actions proposed by the Report by taking concrete actions to address the multiple crises the world is facing. Finance Ministers need to take full ownership of it and investigate how to implement the recommendations in their national context, honoring their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy future for their societies.

CAN stands with the proposal of making the NDCs a guiding script for injecting financial resources and, at the same time, stepping up ambition in the NDCs in line with the additional financial resources that are to be made available through the global fiscal effort for the recovery.

In the current economic emergency, when lives and jobs are being lost at speed, bailouts of fossil fuel-related industries and high carbon emitters will occur. However, in all cases, these bailouts should come with strings attached to ensure environmental and social benefits are realized. As mentioned in the Report: “Bailout conditions are also timely and helpful in times of crisis when significant numbers of jobs are at stake. They can save jobs and accelerate low-carbon restructuring in ‘brown’ firms/industries'' (p. 32). They should become just transition tools. Preparing the smooth transition that Mark Carney mentions1 to lower the financial stability risk from stranded assets.

The Report makes a clear case for designing a wise investment strategy with a long-term perspective that CAN welcomes:

  • Prioritize COVID-19 heavily hit communities.
  • Following the NDCs and addressing neglected historical needs on social & human capital, ecosystem conservation among other issues.
  • It makes a key point on the need to enhance investment management and governance.
  • Focus on green and decent job creation, and small scale and local economy solutions.
  • Align budgets – and public policies – with agreed long term SDGs and Paris Agreement goals.

Nobody challenges the report statement: “Action on private finance mobilization, alignment and shifting the financial system will also be key; it will be particularly important to prepare now for ways to unlock private finance” (p.12). Transparency and accountability of financial flows coming to the economic system are of the utmost importance. The undue transfer of public money to the private domain makes up a considerable share of the income inequality issues that prevent societies from developing in an environmentally sustainable, just, fair, and equitable direction.

Global solidarity needs to be at the core of the recovery. COVID-19 has impacted harder on those already the most vulnerable. As the Report mentions “the amount of support that will be needed is potentially huge, with big implications for debt and fiscal positions” (p. 11).

Within societies, the poorest are the most exposed. Most earn their income on a daily basis and need to go to work daily for a living. The majority of developing country governments already face sovereign debt issues and they don’t have the fiscal space to face the looming financial needs the recovery will require.

The Coalition should lead on showing solidarity among its members. A way forward is to work together for debt relief schemes in line with the Paris Agreement prioritizing support for workers and the most vulnerable segments of society. Another aspect of global solidarity is to definitively align MDBs operations with the Paris Agreement in the framework of the SDG, particularly with the original MDB mandate to fight poverty. In this regard, the Report acknowledges the key role that Ministers of Finance play “…as shareholders of the MDBs and the international DFIs, the Coalition can help give impetus to the changes needed to make the overall system more effective” (p.44), a demand the Big Shift2 has been making for some years, as many MDBs still undermine3 the Paris Agreement objectives’ achievement.

A critical topic that is in the Report, but with not the detailed approach it deserves, is to properly assess who will pay the recovery bill. The whole fiscal effort to inject large amounts of financial resources into the economic system will need to be paid at some moment. Financial stability resilience needs to have a clear set of measures on extracting the resources from where they are. In the Report, there are several references to the need for the recovery to address the rising inequality. The link between the source for financing the recovery and fighting inequality makes the case for taxing the richest of the utmost importance. There are many voices4 asking for it and there is an economic case for it. The current income accumulation in a few hands is unsustainable for the economic system's resilience and for the wellbeing of our societies.

Building resilient societies is not only about health – most certainly in the current times, it is also about many other threats that most people are already facing. We need to make a just reboot. The economic system must work for all and for the planet.

CAN couldn’t agree more with the Report statement on page 27: “A key imperative is therefore to strengthen societal resilience in a way that integrates people’s well-being and climate goals”, as we – as a climate CSO movement - have been increasingly sharing objectives with many other social movements. The ultimate objective of climate action is human wellbeing – for all – with full respect to nature, our home.

We note with disappointment, that many Coalition members were part of the G20 Ministers of Finance and Central Banks’ Governors during their Summit, last July 18 & 19 and didn’t raise the need for a green and just recovery, neither made any statement on the imperative for decisive climate action.

Therefore, CAN International, the largest climate NGO network, advocating for climate action, representing more than 1300 members in more than 120 countries calls on the Coalition to:

  1. Start a collective process for its membership to subscribe to the findings and proposals presented by the Report.
  2. Engage national stakeholders in national policy processes on enhancing climate ambition in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and using NDCs as guidelines for fiscal investments.
  3. To be transparent and accountable in how public money (taxpayer money) is being used in the economic recovery.
  4. Take into account gender, indigenous communities, racism, and other critical social issues in building a better world.
  5. Ministers need to work to ensure that the recovery is beneficial across all dimensions of sustainability and realizes co-benefits where possible. This will use up-front resources most efficiently and may reduce debt burdens going forward.
  6. Push for a multilateral concerted and applied action for putting the burden of the recovery cost in the wealthier percentile of society, including closing tax havens.
  7. Make a soundly progressive fiscal reform at the national level. Individual members of the Coalition can benefit from mutual support and sharing of peer experiences.


Background on the Minister of Climate Finance Coalition Report

  • The Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (“the Coalition”) is a group of fifty-two finance ministers, engaged in efforts to address climate change through economic and financial policies according to the six Helsinki Principles. Peer learning and knowledge exchange plays a fundamental part in the Coalition’s success.
  • The Coalition published a report with the title: Better Recovery, Better World: Resetting climate action in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 14th of July 2020.
  • The report examines the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis on climate policies from the angle of economic policies and offers a set of policy options for Finance Ministers.
  • The paper was prepared at the request of the co-chairs of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (‘the Coalition’). The co-chairs “invited Nicholas Stern and Amar Bhattacharya, advisors of the co-chairs, with input from the IMF, the OECD, the WB and WRI, to prepare a paper on the implications of the Coronavirus on recovery and long-term growth strategies from the finance ministers angle.” The paper has benefitted from feedback from Coalition members and other institutional partners. The views expressed, however, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Coalition or its members.


Lakes and Rivers in Uganda have gone crazy; Reclaim what belongs to them

VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINES: Lakes and Rivers in Uganda have gone crazy; Reclaim what belongs to them

24 June, 2020

By: John Mary Odoy, Climate Ambition Ambassador, CAN-Uganda

It is believed that nature only claims what belongs to it and that it severely reacts to an attack and it is also believed that water has a given path on the ground and whenever it rains, it will always take that path to its destination. This is what we are currently observing with the water bodies in Uganda.

Lake Victoria is refilling its parts where it had retreated from and it is regaining its territory. While many may feel and condemn the water, it should not be regarded as an attack. The water is merely going back home, it is reclaiming its space from the man-made shores. Property worth lots of money has been destroyed. Beaches, hotels, residences, landing sites, business houses, gardens/crops, etc have been submerged. Lives have been threatened with the possible outbreak of diseases. People have died.

Ugandas President (Left) and John Mary Odoy (Right) Climate Ambition Ambassador CAN-Uganda at Kitubulu where lake victoria crossed the highway to Entebbe International airport Uganda

Lake Kyoga in the Eastern part of Uganda which is fed partly by the Nile River is also overflowing. Shores on lake Kyoga are now flooding and persons who were living on the landing sites and other areas have been forced to vacate. In several districts along Lake Kyoga like Nakasongola, Kaeramaido, Serere floods have displaced thousands of people. Lake Albert, in Mid northwest of Uganda, has also had its water levels rise due to increased rainfall. The shores have flooded and the majority of the settlements along the lake shores have been closed with over hundreds of households displaced in Ntoroko District.

The rivers on the other hand have also “gone crazy”. The Nile is overflowing and affecting the economic and social setup of the persons living close to it along its route from Jinja city the source of the Nile to its boarders with South Sudan and beyond.

Homestead submerged along the Nile river in Pakwach  North west Uganda

River Nyamwamba in Kasese District southwest of Uganda and other rivers in the area have ravaged the area with fast running water from the mountains and hills. The water came down with much force in large volumes and heavily loaded with rocks, gravel, and all sorts of stuff. It destroyed and virtually erased Kilembe Hospital the largest hospital in the area. Several buildings are on the ground and others badly damaged. Roads have been destroyed and blocked with heavy stones and are impassable.  Over 100,000 people are now homeless.


Buildings of Kilembe Hospital erased by river Nyamwamba floods in Kasese South west Uganda in May 2020

Behind all this is the human factor. Water levels in the lakes have risen fast because of the human activities in and around the lakes and rivers especially environmental degradation including indiscriminate cutting down of forests, encroaching on wetlands/swamps, lakeshores and river banks.  Poor land-use practices have resulted in uncontrollable soil erosion leading to the siltation of the lakes and rivers. The water storage capacities of the lakes and rivers have been badly abused through sand mining and inappropriate farming activities and springing up of unplanned urban areas. Infrastructural developments including roads, roofed buildings, and pavements have created impermeable surfaces in mostly urbanizing areas reducing the ability of water to infiltrate into the soil.

There are lessons to be learned in these circumstances:

  1. Nature/earth is distressed and tired of being traumatized. We must be disciplined, respect nature, and not take creation for granted. It is time to conduct a critical and focused study on nature’s guidelines to be adapted and which must be followed in order for us to live in harmony with it.
  2. While undertaking developments of any nature, a proper and genuine impact assessment must be done by credible persons or groups avoiding a mix of personal motives/agendas and avoiding unprofessional interruptions, influences and work ethics.
  3. Uganda’s Climate ambitions/the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) should emphasize interventions/actions based on reality and future projections based on proper investigations, studies and science.

John Mary Odoy is the NDC/Ambition Champion-Uganda for the Climate Action Network-Uganda


Mobile phone: +256783457990

The MDBs and a Just, Paris-aligned Recovery

The MDBs and a Just, Paris-aligned Recovery - If you missed the Big Shift webinar catch up here!

A Paris-aligned and just recovery to Covid-19 by the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) is a vital part of the global response. On 28th May, members of  the Big Shift Global Coalition organised a webinar to discuss this further with 4 panellists: Bronwen Tucker, OCI; Dileimy Orozco, E3G; Augustine Njamnshi, ACSEA and Andrew Scott, ODI. The discussion was moderated by Vibeka Mair of Responsible Investor. 

Panellists presented views on: MDBs’ track records in energy financing;  recovery packages so far; what a Paris-aligned, just recovery should look like; why this should not include investment in oil and gas and specifically what this should look like in the case of Africa. 

The MDBs and COVID-19 response so far

MDBs and other public finance institutions (National Development Banks, Export Credit Agencies) have a crucial role in the recovery from COVID-19 given its global impact. In a blog the World Bank called for green stimulus and support for energy efficiency and renewable energy and the ADB in a blog  stated that ‘Recovery financing must go into green infrastructure.’ However, apart from the EIB no one has gone beyond talking about this and made it policy and President Malpass of the World Bank has even talked of structural adjustment as part of the response.

MDB financing is still currently in the initial response phase to COVID-19 but even within this current, important stage in spending there are opportunities to ensure resilience. For example, if energy efficiency is integrated then finance to build health facilities could lead to more resilience in the health system.

Dileimy Orozco summarised the role of the MDBs in the COVID-19 response and beyond: ‘The MDBs’ role is – as it has always been - to support countries in not losing sight of their long-term vision, and to build resilience in every aspect of their development’

Why should MDBs implement a just and Paris-aligned recovery?

The Big Shift Campaign holds the main MDBs to account in their commitment to the Paris Agreement and SDG7 on energy access for all. As a result of COVID-19, we already know millions of people have lost their job or suffered a reduction in income. And we know that lower-income, vulnerable and socially marginalised groups have been impacted most – the same people who are most at risk to the impacts of climate change.

We also know that measures implemented now may have long-term consequences for the climate and sustainable development. We need to avoid measures that would lock-in future greenhouse gas emissions or result in stranded assets. 

In her presentation, Bronwen Tucker showed how the main MDBs continue to invest in fossil fuels directly and indirectly through facilities that support fossil fuel projects, financial intermediaries and technical assistance. We saw how a number of banks including the World Bank, the EBRD, the ADB and the IsDB actually increased their investment in oil and gas between the periods of 2013-2015 and 2016-2018.

Yet, as well as the climate risk this poses, Andrew Scott pointed out, investment in oil and gas production also does not necessarily lead to faster economic growth than investment in other sectors, and arguably it leads to fewer jobs than investment in renewable energy. Price volatility remains a threat for higher-cost producers, and global demand is expected to level off and decline within a few years. And the imperative of rapid and steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change suggests we should seek to use recovery measures as way to accelerate reduced oil and gas production.

The case of Africa

Augustine Njamnshi presented the specific experience of Africa where he described how the experience of COVID-19 in Africa has ‘made the case for decentralized, participatory renewable energy plus the role of civil society more compelling’ He described how COVID-19 patients are dying due to a lack of energy in most health centres especially in rural communities and also how the drop in oil prices will negatively impact oil dependent economies of Africa hence exposing the volatile nature of the fossil fuel- based economies

Furthermore, COVID-19 has only compounded the effects of climate change which are ever increasing. This includes the reduction in food productions due to climatic conditions which have been aggravated by COVID-19. It is projected that locust invasions in east Africa will be three-fold in mid-2020 hence the situation is not getting any better

So what should a Just, Paris-Aligned Recovery by the MDBs look like?

The webinar touched on a broad range of proposals for a Paris-aligned, just recovery including:

  • MDBs can play a role as investors of first resort helping to build a pipeline of green projects.

  • MDBs will be key for shaping national economic policy and regulation and supporting pro-climate action reform efforts through technical assistance and policy-related lending. To do so they should help countries reframe their economic analysis and planning to drive the required systemic change both globally and domestically.

  • Green stimulus needs to be supported by structural change and MDBs can provide important support through technical assistance and also as thought leaders

  • A just recovery should include debt relief as advocated for by the G20 countries

  • There should be scope to fast track projects which can contribute to Paris Alignment.

  • We could also go further and ask recovery measures to be assessed whether they accelerate climate action.

  • MDBs should seek to use recovery measures as way to accelerate reduced oil and gas production.

  • By financing decentralised, participatory energy systems MDBs would guarantee not only security, but also could create jobs in the rural economies

  • Nearly all African countries have renewable energy as part of their NDCs, it is important to prioritize this.

  • MDBs must include effective participation in recovery decision-making. Sustainability of a project is guaranteed when the stakeholders understand their stakes in it

  • Transparency is key and MDBs should be transparent about their assessments of the climate implications of recovery measures.  

As Augustine concluded ‘COVID-19 has taught us a lesson. We can’t continue business as usual. It’s not profit that will help us, it is humanity.’  Members of the Big Shift Coalition will be continuing this conversation and continuing to advocate for Paris-alignment by the MDBs and their financing of a just sustainable recovery

For further information about the webinar – the slides can be found here and a recording of the event here