Blog Posts

This is Supposed to be the Loss and Damage COP

\Clearly, on climate action, and especially on loss and damage, the global situation and the political situation are sadly out of sync. Here at the COP we started with a great deal of optimism. However, a COP that was perceived as an opportunity to reshape and strengthen the WIM looks now to have been a false promise. The urgency that we are seeing, with unprecedented climate impacts and with marchers on the streets demanding action, has not resonated with those shaping the language in the negotiating rooms. For almost two weeks in the corridors of IFEMA, we have not seen the commitment from Parties that the global community is expecting. So, as we enter the final official day of negotiations, here are some suggestions for developed and developing countries.

Developed countries:

Really, you need to try harder. This COP was supposed to be the moment to demonstrate your solidarity with those on the frontline of the crisis that you caused, and address loss and damage. In these final days before the Paris Agreement becomes operational, you have the opportunity to show leadership and demonstrate that you really meant it when you said finance could be provided on a cooperative and facilitative basis for loss and damage. This would – obviously – require you to cooperate! But instead you have been practicing your sneaky and underhand negotiating skills, creating diversions and divisions in an attempt to derail the process. You argue that the WIM cannot talk about loss and damage finance as that it is the standing committee on finance’s responsibility.  But at the same time, you argue in the SCF that it is essential to get a mandate from the WIM ExCom. Of course, this is in line with your consistent and irresponsible insistency that there is no mandate for finance on loss and damage. To help you get this straight, ECO recommends you read Article 8 of the Paris Agreement, the 2/CP19, or just look out of your window and maybe at the news. Your mandate is marching in the streets, demanding solidarity and action. Your mandate is the climate refugees arriving on your doorstep. You are better than this – and you still have time to prove it.

Developing countries:

For developing country negotiators, we have a clear and simple message: we have your back! Your citizens, those on the frontlines of climate change, need you to stand strong. Do not allow yourselves to be rolled over by developed countries who want to shirk their responsibilities. The escalating costs of loss and damage require a global response, and civil society will not allow the developed world and the polluting industries to get off scot free. Compensation may be unpalatable to many negotiators, but if they continue to fail to act compassionately (and also in line with their obligations), then litigation is waiting around the corner. Litigation + people power = change. We can either get that change here, or we can push for it in Glasgow. The climate emergency demands solidarity, and this require systems change, not climate change.

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Article 6: Get the Rules Right Here… Or See You in Glasgow

As Article 6 negotiations enter their final hours ECO has a simple and short message for ministers, HoDs, and negotiators: if you cannot agree to a good deal, the only way to uphold the integrity of the Paris Agreement, and multilateralism – is to take the time needed and continue discussions at COP26.

As you are surely tired of hearing from us, ECO wanted to provide a kind reminder of what is the bare minimum for a good deal: no double counting; no carryover of any Kyoto units; social and environmental safeguards, including for human rights; and overall mitigation of global emissions.

ECO trusts the Chilean presidency will show the strength and bravery to stand up for these principles. And to the other ministers, please also show some courage and strongly speak up for these non-negotiable red lines.

While ECO is frustrated and appalled by the Parties blocking environmental integrity under Article 6 — we are looking at you in particular, Brazil and Australia — ECO applauds all those who will stand up to the pressure to “get a deal”, and will prefer coming back to the table at the next session if a good deal cannot be found in Madrid.

ECO knows Article 6 is not easy. But that’s why it is so important to get it right. Getting Article 6 wrong would be a real disaster and would undermine the whole Paris Agreement. Dear Chilean Presidency, this is not the legacy you want to leave behind. ECO and the world will be watching.

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Indigenous Peoples Caucus

“Ea” is a Hawaiian word that is given many meanings; chief among them is “sovereignty”. For Hawaiians, sovereignty is a word that rings close to the heart. In 1843, King Kamehameha III proclaimed the return of our sovereignty through the Hawaiian Kingdom after a six-month occupation by the British: “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻaina i ka pono,” loosely translating to: “the sovereignty of this land is perpetuated in righteousness.” It was only fifty years later that once again the word “ea” rang through the islands — only now it was a death knell.

In 1893, the last Queen of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Her Royal Majesty Liliʻuokalani, was overthrown in an American-backed military coup. The “ea” of the Hawaiian people was stolen. Though a majority of Indigenous Hawaiians petitioned for the restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the passage of the 1898 Newlands Resolution led to the annexation of Hawaiʻi as a territory, pulling Hawaiʻi steps closer to her induction into the ever-expanding American empire.

The final stage in extinguishing Hawaiian sovereignty was meted out in 1959, when the Territory of Hawaiʻi was forced into statehood, officially adding it to the stars on the American flag. Sovereign no more, the Hawaiian people looked on with solemn eyes as their home was wrought from their hands by the cold gears of empire.

Meanwhile, Native Hawaiians continued to resist changes imposed by America. Despite negative stereotyping, oppressive legislation, and land dispossession, isolated communities continued to express their songs, dances, chants, and most of all, their sovereignty. Nevertheless, many Hawaiians were forced to assimilate into American ways of being and knowing for survival’s sake, while also facing a distinct lack of access to those benevolent benefits they were ostensibly  granted upon annexation. The state of the Hawaiian people descended into a desolate facsimile of a once proud nation.

In 1976, the Hokuleʻa, a modern Hawaiian voyaging canoe, made her maiden voyage from Hawaiʻi to ancestral lands in Tahiti, with no Western navigational tools. Hawaiians had finally come home. The Hokuleʻa voyage was a watershed moment; it finally proved, after decades, that Hawaiian culture had substantive value in the modern day. Hawaiians could do great things, while being unapologetically Hawaiian. Hokuleʻaʻs feat ignited a fire in the souls of many Hawaiians, burning into their hearts a word that had since left the islands vacant — sovereignty.

In the following decades, a fervent movement for Hawaiian independence marched confidently throughout the Hawaiian Islands, demanding for Hawaiians to govern the land they called home once again. Today, the Hawaiian sovereignty lives on through the collective action to defend sacred land in many places: Mauna Kea, Hunananiho, Kalaeloa, Hanapepe, Makua Valley, Pohakuloa, Kahoʻolawe, and more. The threat of land use change for corporate or military interest has ignited a newfound wave of Hawaiian desires for sovereignty, and the “ea” of the Hawaiian people may soon be restored.

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Drawing Parallels at the Latin COP

Negotiations are falling apart, in a stark reflection of the political climate in Latin America. After several attempts at holding COP25 in Latin America, we have found ourselves back in Europe, hosting a Latin American Presidency in Spain.
 The agenda has polarized talks on common time frames, the transparency framework, and adaptation. Progress in the negotiations on market mechanisms has so far also been incredibly disappointing. 
Have Parties not learned enough from the failure of market responses in Chile to block loopholes?
Going into the final plenary, it seems progress on any of these crucial points is entirely out of the question; countries have acted entirely in their own interests, remaining deaf and unresponsive to the calls for action coming from outside.
The parallels are eerie between the social injustices and oppression of civil society happening in many parts of Latin America and the shrinking space for civil society found here at this COP. The voices of minorities, those who are most affected, least responsible, and fighting for their future, are being ignored, both in Latin American and in this COP.
The Escazú Agreement, which will provide the tools for establishing and protecting a dignified and sustainable environment and provide agency to disadvantaged Latin American communities, also gained little traction in Madrid. This agreement is crucial to protecting those who are fighting to protect our future, yet governments have been slow to sign on and ratify it. Instead, we hear, too frequently, reports of environmental defenders being threatened, harassed or even worse.
So far, this Latin American COP has ECO feeling left out in the cold. With so much at stake, ECO questions if a comprehensive and ambitious COP decision is too much to expect of a country so socially and politically fragmented? However, for all its history of turmoil, Latin America also has a history of resilience; ECO will reserve its final judgement until plenary closes tonight.

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Bending the Curve for a Better World: Why Distant “Net” Zero Targets Are Not Enough to Drive the Near-Term Action We Need

ECO is in need of a good glass of Spanish wine over which to reflect on COP25’s failure to match the urgent demands for climate action being made by our fellow citizens back home. The emphasis now shifts to real climate action at the national level — where it really counts.
“Net zero” targets have become a rather fashionable way for countries to claim that they are acting on climate change. But this simplistic phrase ignores important components, and allows for obfuscation and delay.
Let’s be honest: there is hardly any carbon budget left to stay under 1.5°C of warming, which means there can be no waiting around for future governments to have the courage to act. Certain countries’ targets of “net zero by 2050” are woefully insufficient. ECO reminds parties that at this rate, the planet, and its people — including our adorable future grandchildren — will be long-fried by 2050.
Emissions must decrease as fast as conceivably possible in rich countries, including a complete phase-out of fossil energy. Action needs to start now, and strong near-term targets for 2025 and 2030 are needed to make sure that any target is effective. We need to not so much bend, as smash the curve for steep reductions in wealthy and high-polluting countries.
This must be accompanied by similarly unprecedented emission reductions in poorer countries – but this will require and be enabled only through a huge scaling up of support from richer countries. At the same time, with adequate and economy-wide Just Transition strategies and policies, countries must ensure that the poorer parts of their societies do not pay for this necessary transformation. Social justice is a fundamental precondition for climate justice.
It also makes sense to have separate targets for reductions of the emissions that are currently being released, vs targets for CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere using so called “negative emissions” approaches, so as to avoid obfuscating mediocre emissions reductions through “net-zero”.
The longer we wait to act, the more cumulative emissions will be released, and the hotter the planet will get. Clearly, we don’t want to rely on risky technologies such as BECCS to fix the problem, and neither can we rely on teleportation or unicorns to save us. So we’re going to have to do it ourselves, with the knowledge and technologies we have now. We need to reduce consumption, consume resources efficiently, and produce them sustainably.
When ECO thinks about the opportunity to go home and build a better world of renewable energy access for all, ecological food systems, sustainable transport and biodiverse ecosystems — all of which enable social opportunity AND help the climate — she gets pretty inspired! We look forward to hearing all about your ambitious plans for transformational pathways at COP26 next year!

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Och Aye the COP

In many ways, the COP can take place anywhere. Inside the halls, meeting rooms and plenary spaces of IFEMA, you could be forgiven for forgetting that you are in in Spain at all. Each year the COP comes to town and creates a world of its own. Whether you are in Katowice, Bonn, Marrakech or Paris, the view from the negotiating table is frustratingly generic. Each year the negotiations are characterised by the same tedious bickering, the same dragging of heels, and the same proactive vandalism of the process by big polluting countries.
However, when the COP comes to Glasgow next year, it will be coming to a very specific place. From a UK point of view, the COP taking place in Glasgow is a complex predicament. Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom, but has its own government with extensive powers in key areas, including over many aspects of climate change policy. COP26 will therefore be a UK Government event, taking place in a part of the country that develops its own, more ambitious, climate policy. Furthermore, just as we don’t know if the UK will still be in the EU this time next year, there will be questions asked about Scotland remaining in the UK, as its government seeks legislation for a second referendum on Scottish Independence.
But aside from the national question, COP26 next year will also be taking place in a city with its own unique story to tell — a story which can help shape our understanding of the crisis we are in. Glasgow was founded in the 6th century, and takes its name from the Gaelic for “dear green place”. In later years, this “dear green place” was transformed into an industrial heartland. It became a centre of shipbuilding in the 15th century, when vessels from Glasgow were used to transport slaves across the globe and plunder far-away territories. In the 19th century, Glasgow became the heart of the industrial revolution, processing the raw materials brought back by ships from the Caribbean and from plantations in the US.
However, the wealth that the ships brought back to Glasgow did not go toward feeding the people who built them. In a time where Glasgow was known as the “second city of the British Empire,” it was also a host to slums, extreme poverty, and an ever-more furious working-class. In the 20th century, Glasgow became a site of resistance, with its people leading movements that would transform workers’ rights across the country. Many of the same people would go on to travel to Spain to fight fascism in the 1930s, and those who returned brought with them a deep sense of local and global justice.
This history of Glasgow simmers beneath its streets, and when the COP comes to the city, it will bubble up over the surface. Questions of colonialism, of its legacy of slavery, of industry, of strikes, and of social movements, will frame our discussions when the world comes to town on equity, loss & damage, human rights, climate justice and the just transition.
Glasgow’s story is a common story to many cities in the ‘developed’ world. It encapsulates the historical exploitation which shaped our current crisis, the local exploitation that fuels global exploitation, and the need for urgent transformation to repent for the sins of the past. It also reminds us of the change that can occur when the oppressed refuse to take it any longer. When the COP comes to Glasgow next year, its people will be ready for them, and will let the negotiators know exactly where they are. 

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It’s Not Time to Say Goodbye

Dear Party delegates,

2019 has been a year in which millions of people have taken their demands to the streets (and hundreds to the halls of the IFEMA Conference Center), clearly voicing our discontent with the c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e lack of ambition to address the climate emergency.

With only 17 days separating us from 2020 — the year when global emissions need to decrease drastically — it’s high time to adopt an ambitious package here at COP, before going home and getting to work in our respective countries and communities.  We came here to hear your concrete plans on how you will enhance your NDCs by 2020 to ensure we limit warming to 1.5°C, and we didn’t hear much that inspired hope.

To prepare you for such an exciting year as 2020 will be, ECO has put together a list of the necessary ingredients for a truly transformative NDC:

This NDC will affect everyone, so include everyone; ensure a broad civil society based approach. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a TIP: process needs to be Transparent, Inclusive and Participatory.
A well-defined timeline for enhancing your NDCs, making sure they are complete by the end of August or, at latest, September.
A long-term strategy that will ensure a sustainable, equitable, and just transition of our societies, for people and planet, with real positive impact on the ground and at local levels.
A little bit of courage to make sure that, in spite of the lobbying efforts of big emitters and industry, we have ambition that embraces human rights, ecosystems and addresses the needs of the most vulnerable;

If you wrap these ingredients with the best available science — like the three very comprehensive special reports that you yourself ordered to guide your work and the IPCC has so kindly laid out — you (and we) will be just fine.

It is, once again, that time of the year when we depart from these halls. But now, with the NDC revision process knocking at your door, it’s not time to say goodbye. Rather, we’ll say: we’ll see you very soon, at home. And please do not worry, we’ll be there to make sure you unpack the ambition package properly.

Hasta luego!

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Voices From the Front Lines

At COP24 in Katowice, 14
accredited participants were stopped at the border and denied entry into Poland
so that they would not be able to attend the
COP. These people were from the Ukraine,
Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia.

After 1 year, it is still a mystery to ECO on how
the Polish authorities identified those climate activists as a possible
“threat to national security” of the
hosting country. Most of them were newcomers at international climate change
events, and did not have records of offences in Poland or any other country. ECO
hopes it was not like in the movies when police officers make their investigations
based off some paranormal perception of the future.

This year, we met Nugzar Kokhreidze from
Georgia, who had been denied the right to
participate in the climate negotiations by Poland and spent 4 days in the transit zone at the Katowice airport. He is
a friendly, cheerful,
and kind person and  it is still
not been made clear why and how he was selected as a person who poses a
potential threat to Poland’s national security. Now
at COP25, Nugzar has become one of the 12 people who were physically debadged
during a peaceful protest on Wednesday, December 11th. He has stayed optimistic
throughout the whole process and already made jokes about what will likely
happen to him at COP26. Although it helps to cheer each other up in these hard
times, these issues are no joke. We see that the media at COP is not covering
these stories widely enough. We see how negotiations are moving so much slower
than the climate catastrophe. And, to be honest, we are a bit scared that this
is the reality civil society will face from now on.

But we are also hopeful. We want you, the person who reads
this article, to spread the word as far and wide as you can. We want you to
support your local activists and maybe even join them. And we want you to cheer
each other up in hard times, like Nugzar did. Because we need to be strong and
we need each other in the forthcoming years.

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Six long months ago CAN published a briefing on climate change and the SDGs which rightly
sought to bring the discussion way beyond goal 13 on climate change. In this,
it argued that efforts to achieve all the goals are dependent on efforts to
respond to global heating. The clue is in the ‘sustainable’.
Similarly, responding to the climate crisis depends on advances made towards
the development goals.

As the IPCC 1.5ºC
report said: “sustainable development supports and
enables the fundamental societal and systems transitions and transformations
that will help limit global warming to 1.5°C. It can achieve
ambitious mitigation and adaptation in conjunction with poverty eradication and
efforts to reduce inequalities”.

Several SDG themes (i.e. socio-economic sectoral categories) are
addressed by numerous climate actions, indicating that there are multiple
opportunities for policy coherence. This can be a major contribution of climate
action to the delivery of coherent delivery of Agenda 2030.

Analysis has shown that links between existing NDCs and the SDGs are
found in the areas of water, food and energy.

Despite environmental goals being represented in a bunch of the
NDCs, many countries do not make explicit plans to realise potential for
nature-based solutions that could help deliver SDG 14 (life below water) and 15
(life on land), as well as contributing to climate mitigation and resilience.

The social SDGs are highly under-represented in NDC commitments
compared to the environmental and economic goals; in particular health, education
and gender equality (SDGs 3, 4 and 5, respectively).

NDCs should reflect the findings of the IPCC
on climate-resilient development pathways and “the importance of addressing structural, intersecting inequalities,
marginalisation, and multidimensional poverty” to “transform the development pathways themselves toward greater social
and environmental sustainability, equity, resilience, and justice”.

Given the multiple connections between climate vulnerability and
poverty, more ambitious NDCs should account for social as well as the
environmental goals of Agenda 2030.

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Two Sides of the Same Coin: A Youth Perspective on Climate and Social Crisis

The twin traumas of social and environmental crises
are bearing down on citizens around the world, but political leaders lack the
passion and ambition needed to address thelooming catastrophe. In some places, they lack even simple acknowledgement
and acceptance. To get a better sense of what happens outside the walls of COP,
ECO spoke with youth from Chile and Mexico, and their experiences show how
stark the contrast is between the struggles of people on the ground and the
attitudes of their leaders. The people in charge could learn a thing or two
about working together from these youth.

What’s clear is that the climate crisis and the
social crisis are two sides of the same coin, and need to be addressed together
in order to fully be addressed at all.

Chileans are facing enormous challenges with their
government. And because COP25 was supposed to be there instead of here, let’s
hear from a Chilean youth as COP comes to a slow, unsteady end.

What the world, and even Chile’s own government,
doesn’t understand is how most Chileans are alarmingly exposed to the
disastrous effects of the environmental catastrophe. Because of extreme social
and economic differences, the 1% live comfortably and ignore the social issues
that affect the most vulnerable. People are waking up, but no matter how much
they protest, the government is not listening.According to politicians, youth have no voice to speak with.

It is inconceivable that there is not a single drop
of empathy from politicians who watch from afar while their own city burns to
the ground and rots from the inside out.

In Mexico, being an environmental activist is a heavy, dangerous task. ‘Disappeared,’ ‘found dead,’ ‘gone missing.’ These are words and phrases that we see in the news every day. Chilling images under countless names — as much as one tries to ignore the headlines, fear builds in our hearts — is the risk, the fight, even worth it? How can anyone expect people to fight the climate crisis when their own safety is being threatened every day?

Fear and safety are boiling issues in this country.
Mexicans face the displacement of millions, loss and extinction of species, and
the segregation of vulnerable groups like women and Indigenous Peoples. All
these issues are escalating on account of the climate crisis.

These are only a few of
the ways people’s rights are being threatened, and it’s time for countries to
address both sides of the coin. No one said leading a country was easy, but our
leaders signed up for it. And now it’s time for them to deliver.

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