Civil Society in the MENA region calls for renewable energy and climate protection

Civil society organizations dealing with the environment and renewable energy in the MENA region: We want to cooperate on the protection of the climate and get engaged in the political decision- 
making processes on low carbon development strategies and the promotion of renewable energy in our region 

On October 29th, just one day before the opening of the 4th Dii Desert Energy Conference in Rabat, key representatives from civil society organizations in the MENA region discussed the role civil society should play to contribute to the protection of the climate, to low carbon development strategies and the promotion of renewable energy in the MENA region. All participants agreed that transforming our fossil fuelled energy system into a sustainable one can only be accomplished through cooperation and dialogue among all relevant stakeholders. 

During the meeting it was reaffirmed that in order to achieve the required social acceptance for the energy transition in MENA countries it would be mandatory to develop it along the needs and interest of the civil society stakeholders who have, so far, only gained little traction in the debate. 

According to Fadoua Brour from the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement “The engagement of civil society becomes a prerequisite for the sustainable and successful implementation of renewable energies and measures of energy efficiency”.

With regard to the political changes in many MENA countries as a result of the Arab Spring Patricia Sfeir, Director of the Lebanese NGO IndyAct underlined that “People are demanding their right to participate in the energy transition in their countries and do not want to be seen as just passive recipients of foreign technologies. They are claiming a transparent and equitable distribution of socio-economic opportunities for the best of society”. 

At the end of the meeting, all participants agreed that the establishment of a consolidated and interconnected civil society framework would allow for more structured and effective engagement with the public and private actors in seeking a direct and equitable cooperation on climate protection, low carbon development and the promotion of renewable energies in the MENA region. 

“The discussions during this meeting have clearly showed that there is an urgent need to support the networking among MENA NGOs to collaborate on environmental and energy related issues, build capacities to enable civil society engagement in the context of developing and implementing national energy plans and increase awareness on the needed shift towards a sustainable energy future” noted Wael Hmaidan, Director of the Climate Action Network (CAN), while stressing the very positive spirit of collaboration in the meeting. 
 
For further information, please contact Ms. Patricia Sfeir, Director of the NGO IndyAct (psfeir@indyact.org) or Maria de Lope, WWF Morocco representative (mjdelope@wwf.panda.org). 

Obviously the world is changing…

 

Lama Ghaddar
IndyACT

Changes are happening on different levels: political, economic and demographic.

Arabs’ policies are changing too… the Arab region is already being impacted by climate change. They will have to survive through important economic challenges and environmental threats in the near future.

Arabs countries were drilling the earth for black gold and ignoring the climate change deterioration. What changed after hosting the 2012 December UN Climate negotiations (COP18) in an Arab Country? Apparently, Arabs are now more headed for green-growth policies that seek to make the processes of economic growth more environmentally friendly, more resource efficient and more resilient without slowing down their growth pace. Arabian governments are remedying the situation and they are looking and planning for strong strategies that enable them to implement and build their strength, resilience, and democratic institutions.

“Qatar and PIK announce creation of climate change research institute” a title that drew my attention. I thought that it is worthwhile to share it with the rest of the world.

A new Climate Change Research Institute and a Global Climate Change Forum are being set-up and it will be based in Qatar. It will seek to fill critical gaps in research on mitigation, adaptation and climate resiliency for key regions such as tropics, sub-tropics and dry lands. The aforementioned institutes are the first of their kind in the region. A country whose wealth is founded on fossil fuels, Qatar, will have much attention is directed toward itself. We are all waiting for the results of this amazing initiative, hoping that Qatar will inspire the rest of the Arab world to start developing longterm strategies that address the economic, social and environmental challenges facing this region. Governments should integrate into their policies and plans climate change mitigation and adaption to its effects.

Today Arab countries are undergoing seminal transitions politically and demographically. So together, Arabs countries and communities can make a progress towards an Arab green economy and a stable region. It is time to join developed countries and unite our efforts.

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Fresh Breeze from the Arab World

 

A milestone was passed today, when perhaps for the first time ever, an intervention by Saudi Arabia got an enthusiastic round of applause. Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, Saudi Arabia delivered an intervention devoid of the finger-pointing that an ADP co-chair lamented about past sessions. The applause came when the Saudi speaker delivering the intervention stumbled over an unpronounceable English word, then recovered with grace, humour and dignity.

She went on to commit the Arab group to assume its fair share of efforts to combat global climate change, to move past finger-pointing, to implement new and renewable energy strategies, to delink growth from emissions, and then called for a principled approach based on equity and science. A breath of fresh air, and quite different from a Saudi intervention earlier this session that emphasised uncertainties in the climate science.

PS: After the advice offered from one of the co-chairs, no non-native English speaker should ever feel compelled to utter this 8-syllable word again. But even if it becomes treated as a 4-letter word, we still want it to happen!

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Arabs are more than just oil

Lama Ghaddar
IndyACT

The global campaign against climate change needs all the resources it can obtain, and the Arab world should not be an exception. The Arab world will not be safe from the impacts of climate change; in fact it will be one of the most affected regions. Arabs have to wake up and contribute to developing and implementing climate change solutions.

Always weak positions” this is what I can say when I read the history of the Arab region and its role in the climate change negotiations. This region should raise its voice louder and should be more effective in its positions and in the implementation of solutions. This region urgently needs leaders in climate change. And when I say leaders, I mean politicians, NGOs, Arab governments and opinion leaders… Politicians and Arab people are either not aware of the impacts of climate change or they are being delusional that combating climate change will affect their economic situations and will cause major damage to their countries.

This region needs progressive and strong political leadership that can activate public support, decision makers and financial resources for climate change solutions. Due to the lack of forward-thinking political leadership, the social challenges coupled with the absence of information and financial greed this region’s work on climate change has been crippled.

Arabs should seek to change the belief of the rest of the world that our nations are just oil countries and must convince them that “Arabs are more than just oil.” We can also contribute to enhancing sustainable development in a highly active region while rising economic and social capital.

Arab governments, NGOs, the private sector and academia need to take action soon before it is too late.

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Feelings after Doha

 

Lama Ghaddar
IndyACT

I am writing this from Lebanon, after I returned back from the Qatar National Convention Center in Doha for COP 18.

After 2 exhausting weeks and a very busy schedule consisting of attending sessions, side events and meetings, talking to delegates, doing actions and writing ECO-articles, here I am!! I went from a person who had zero experience or knowledge about climate change negotiations to someone who knows what KP, LCD, ADP and other eco acronyms mean.

One week ago, I was asked to write about my feelings at the COP, and my answer was simply: “I have neutral feelings”. Being asked that same question now, I can effortlessly say that it is the best feeling ever. I must confess that the last two weeks were a great turning point in my life; I’ve changed a lot on a personal level.

As this was my first COP, I didn’t have much background knowledge about it, but I learned a lot during my short journey to Qatar. I got to learn about the decision-making process: now I can say that I have a clear idea of how political games work.  I am sincerely disappointed by the failure of COP18, being that it was hosted in Doha- an Arab country! Why didn’t the Arabs lead? I expected Arab countries to give pledges to reduce GHG emissions since they have the financial power to do so. Why did they miss this opportunity?

There is no question that climate change is happening, but the main question remains: why are countries like Russia, Japan and Canada seemingly unaware of this global problem? We have an agreement on KP, but a weak one… is this the concurrence that we are looking for?

It is not the time to blame civil society, who had a very weak position and a feeble influence this year, nor the government. But we should always keep our positive outlook. Change doesn’t come without persistence and resistance and a lot of work (and struggle) is waiting for us.

We came to save the world, so let us keep this spirit….

 

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Doha talks on the brink; political leadership yet to arrive

    

Press release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

[Doha – Qatar] – December  6, 2012 – The Qatari Presidency of the UN climate talks  needs to show leadership now and help ministers finalise a deal in Doha that sees countries reduce their carbon emissions more quickly and provides adequate finance to help poorer countries deal with climate change in the next few years.

The climate talks – the first in the Middle East – are at a crucial juncture with key elements stalling despite the arrival on ministers yesterday, Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network-International said.

“Qatari political leadership has so far failed to materialise but there are two days left of the negotiations, so Qatar needs to, today, pledge to reduce carbon emissions put money for climate finance on the table in order to lift the political energy in the talks,” Hmaidan said.

“The presidency needs to bring together countries on the unresolved issues in these talks in a way that raises the ambition of climate action globally.”

Liz Gallagher, senior policy advisor from E3G, said the shape of a deal was starting to emerge with consensus being sought around the crunch issues on the Kyoto Protocol, but the long term cooperative track (LCA) was a mess.

“The disorder in the LCA track jeopardizes the entire Doha deal as well as progress towards an inclusive treaty in 2015,” Gallagher said. “We run the risk of having a zombie outcome here in Doha.”

“This is an urgent plea to ministers to roll up their sleeves and start driving the UN talks forward,” she said. 

Steve Herz, from the Sierra Club, said the main blockage in the LCA was climate finance -  which was crucial to achieving a deal which was acceptable to the countries most vulnerable to climate change. The US is trying to prevent discussion on how the countries would get to the $100 billion a year target. 

“The US risks snatching defeat from the jaws of victory if it keeps blocking action on finance in these talks because it risks bringing down the Durban Platform for a new deal which Washington fought so hard for last year,” Herz said.

Archived video footage from the press conference can be found at:

http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop18/templ/ovw_onDemand.php?id_kongressmain=231

Contacts

Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 700 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.

For more information, please contact CAN International Communications Coordinator Ria Voorhaar, email: rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org, local mobile: +974 33 38 6907.

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NGOs respond to expected new emission reduction pledges

 

Media Advisory – Webcast Notice

 

[Doha – Qatar] – December 4, 2012 – Experts from NGOs who are members of Climate Action Network will be available to respond to the expected announcement by Qatar in the morning that it will pledge to reduce emissions.

Available to comment after the announcement are:

Wael Hmaidan, director of CAN-International, with expertise on the Middle East and Gulf region.
Contact: Ria Voorhaar - +974 33 38 6907, rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org

Tim Gore, 
Climate Change Policy Advisor for Oxfam International, with expertise on climate finance.
Contact: Sunita Bose - +974 5504 6084, sunita.bose@oxfaminternational.org

Ruth Davis, chief policy adviser, Greenpeace, with an expertise on climate negotiations.
Contact: Tina Loeffelbein - +974 6618 6317, tina.loeffelbein@greenpeace.de.

Key NGO experts attending UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, including Tim Gore and Ruth Davis, will also host a media briefing, webcast live, on Wednesday, December 5 at 15.30 on the Qatar pledge and the current state of the negotiations.

·      What: Review of current national pledges and update on the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Doha

·      Where: Press Conference Room 2, QNCC, Doha, Qatar

·      Webcast Live at:  http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop18/templ/ovw_live.php?id_kongressmain=231

·      When: 15.30 local Doha time, Wednesday, December 5, 2012

·      Who: NGO experts on UNFCCC negotiations

Contacts

Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 700 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.

For more information, please contact CAN International Communications Coordinator Ria Voorhaar, email: rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org, local mobile: +974 33 38 6907.

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Thoughts from Lama, at her first COP session

 

Before I begin, I want to draw to your attention that COP18 is my very first negotiation session. If you have ever participated in such a conference for the first time, you will understand well how I feel.

Just the fact that you are in the process of participating in a conference where they are discussing the existence of the humanity and the civilization makes this one of the most interesting conferences in the world. Everyone knows the importance of the participation in COP; you meet a lot of people of different nationalities and have the ability to make connections all over the world.

To be honest, I don’t have specific feelings, nor specific expectations. If I did, I believe that it would make the COP18 less interesting. But I am here today knowing that, in future years, I will have a better knowledge of environmental policies and, more specifically climate policy. 

So, for the moment, I can say that I am neutral.  I am trying to understand the process, and it is getting better day after day,  

Coming from the MENA region, the effects of climate change are already being felt in some areas and others are currently being threatened. This is why I've chosen to focus on mitigation; I am really keen that the knowledge I gain at the UNFCCC and through CAN will have a practical application in my work and within my region. I am looking forward to pushing all countries in my region to respond to climate change by reducing GHG emissions and enhancing sinks and reservoirs.

As I said before, I have no expectations, but I have some hopes. I have a hope that Arab countries submit concrete pledges for mitigation targets at COP18, real ones that take climate change effects into consideration. I have a hope that Arab Countries can prove that they are serious about this.

Finally, I really hope that COP18 will be a success!

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Where are the NAMAs for Arab Countries?

Having COP18 in Qatar presents a unique opportunity to move forward with mitigation and adaptation efforts for climate change in the region, as well as for climate finance. With this in mind, ECO is calling for leadership from the Arab states beyond the conference hall. 

ECO supports Greenpeace's call for east-west regional integration in the Arab world with regard to the research, financing and development of renewable energy technologies. This regional cooperation can build on the work already done by individual states in renewable energy development, while developing a new role for regional states at the forefront of clean energy technology innovation.
 
Renewable energy cooperation will also promote economies of scale and fraternal ties crucial to dealing with the other pressing climate impacts faced by many regional states: growing water scarcity amid shifting weather patterns and, in some, projected sea-level rises on coastal communities and aquifers.
Climate mitigation requires both regional and global efforts to switch from dirty fossil fuels to safe renewable energy sources. 
 
ECO favours a regional approach in which economic diversification crucial to future prosperity is built on sustainable national and regional energy strategies—where renewable energy progressively takes the lead role in generation. This includes a transformation away from fossil fuel over-reliance.
 
Qatar and fellow Gulf States have the economic capacity to make this shift and simultaneously play a key role in climate change financing. For equity reasons, this should only occur in the context of Annex 1 fulfilling their commitments to climate finance.
 
Where market adjustments are made, Greenpeace has demonstrated in its Energy [R]evolution that the capacity of Middle East States and the world as a whole can make the rapid switch to solar and other renewable energies, which are already becoming cost competitive, despite the massive subsidy advantages that fossil fuels enjoy. 
For Arab states, renewables provide the promise of energy sovereignty and the path to sustainable development and prosperity. But the Arab states are not the only ones who have not submitted their NAMAs.
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