Sustainable energy access for all and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

Integrating climate change into the post-2015 agenda: HOW and WHY?
With special focus on sustainable energy access for all

Time and Date: 27 Nov 2013, 1.15-2.30 pm, 

Location: Conference Room 7, UN HQ, New York

This side event during the 5th session of the Open Working Group on SDGs will tackle two crucial topics that are prerequisite to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development: climate change and sustainable access to energy for all. Climate change is an existential threat that will continue to disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable people and places, impacting negatively on those least responsible for the climate crisis. 

Securing universal access to modern energy services and transitioning energy systems away from fossil fuels will central to solving both the climate change crisis and the global poverty crisis. Without addressing the causes of climate change and all its impacts, comprehensively, goals on eradicating poverty – including any goal on energy access for people in poverty – will be ineffective and short term, and fail to ensure sustainable development.

It is essential to start finding concrete ways to integrate climate protection, energy access and poverty reduction in a holistic development framework. During this side event, the panellists will outline government, UN and civil society perspectives on such concrete ways, followed by a short questions and answers session.

Panel
David Hallam, Special Envoy on post 2015, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Janine Felson, Ambassador of Belize and special adviser to the UN PGA
David O’Connor, Chief, Policy and Analysis Branch, Division for Sustainable Development. UN-DESA
Minoru Takada, Senior Policy Adviser, Sustainable Energy for All
Wael Hmaidan, Director, CAN-I
Bernadette Fischler, Post-2015 Policy Analyst, CAFOD, Co-Chair of Beyond 2015

Chair
Dominic White, Chair of Bond

RSVP to bfischler@cafod.org.uk

Integrating sustainable energy and climate change into the Post-2015 agenda: how and why?

Integrating sustainable energy and climate change into the Post-2015 agenda: how and why?

Time: 26 November 2013, 8am-9am
Location: Amartya Sen Conference Room, FF Building, New York. 

Introduction
The aim of the post-2015 development framework is to “eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms while ensuring a sustainable development path for all countries”. However, climate change is an existential threat, that is and will continue to disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable people and places the most, impacting negatively those least responsible for the climate crisis. Further, securing universal access to modern energy services and transitioning energy systems away from fossil fuels is central to solving both the climate change crisis and the global poverty crisis.

A goal on energy access for people in poverty and many other goals on poverty eradication will only be effective in the long run if it addresses also the causes of climate change and all its impacts. It is essential to start finding concrete ways to integrate climate protection and human development needs in a holistic development framework.

A group of environment and development organizations convened by CAFOD and WWF UK with the support of Beyond 2015 and CAN-International put together a set of concrete recommendations on how to meaningfully address energy access and climate change across the post-2015 framework. The resulting discussion papers form the basis for a conversation on these pertinent topics during the November sessions of the OWG on SDGs.

Purpose
This breakfast meeting will provide a space for open and informal discussions on concrete suggestions to integrate sustainable energy access for all and tackling climate change into the post-2015 development framework.

Program
 

  • 8:00am – Welcome and introductions, Corinne Woods, Director UN Millennium Campaign
  • 8:05am – Concrete suggestions on how to integrate energy access and climate change into the post-2015 framework, Bernadette Fischler, CAFOD/Beyond 2015
  • 8:15am – Open Discussion moderated by the Chair, Corinne Woods, Director UN Millennium Campaign
  • 9:00am – End of event

*The discussion will be held under Chatham House rules to encourage an open dialogue 

The Rio Gap

One of the key obstacles to achieving sustainable development is agreeing who will carry the burden. Stopping environmental degradation requires resources. Some argue those resources could be needed somewhere else, such as eradicating poverty. So it could appear that the need to eradicate poverty and the need to stop environmental degradation are in conflict.

ECO does not buy into this argument.  At all.  Environmental degradation is fast becoming the biggest contributor to increased poverty. If we want to eradicate poverty, then we need to invest also in what is leading to more poverty, which includes fighting environmental degradation.

The more scarce resources become, the more sustainability must be at the center of poverty alleviation. The world has no choice but to choose a path that would combine them.  In fact, many developed and developing countries are already providing a lot of good examples on the national and subnational levels, such as developing efficient public transport that reduces CO2 emissions and at the same time increase mobility and affordability, which is needed for economic development.

Now that governments have agreed as little as they have, given the existing and rather pathetic political will now available, the question is what will they do when they go back home. The current conference document, with all its weaknesses, has nonetheless indicated many potential opportunities for further action. There are no hard numerical commitments and actions in the text, but it provides processes for governments to develop these commitments and actions. Such processes include:

  •  establishing an intergovernmental high level political forum that will follow up on the implementation of the sustainable development commitments contained in Agenda 21,
  • committing to promote an integrated approach to planning and building sustainable cities and urban settlements,
  • committing to maintain and restore marine resources to sustainable levels with the aim of achieving these goals for depleted stocks on an urgent basis by 2015,
  • adopting the 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on sustainable consumption and production (SCP),
  • resolving to establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on SDGs that is open to all stakeholders.

There are many other opportunities highlighted within the existing text for governments to take us forward. Nevertheless, this will not happen unless political reality on the ground changes.

The failure of the international process is not because multilateralism is wrong. The process is good. What we lack is political will. The international process can only work within existing political will. If there is no new political will to capture, the process will not do anything.

Political will is not created at international venues, it is created back at home, and on the streets. It is up to the youth and civil society movements to take it forward.

But reality can change, and we saw it in the Arab Spring. What is needed is persistence, and continued action.  Civil society campaigned for years in Egypt to achieve political change against harsh suppression, but they never gave up. Then a tipping point was reached, and everything changed in only one day.

Civil society must use all the anger that exists as a result of the Rio+20 reality check, and then alter that reality.  After all, we are running out of time.

So ECO is going home for now.  We are angry, but that will focus our energy, and we will organize. Because as Nelson Mandela so wisely said: “it always seems impossible, until it is done.”

Related Newsletter : 

Dear Mr. Prime Minister...

In a disappointing and disheartening plenary session today, the Brazilian chair adopted the watered down draft text to be taken to world leaders tomorrow to formally adopt. As delegations clapped away at our failed future, civil society loudly protested from the back of the plenary hall. 

As a last attempt to salvage this summit, civil society has united its efforts to write a letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the G20 Summit calling for an urgent intervention to deliver ambition at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. The letter highlights that the draft text is severely lacking in ambition, urgency and political will. Countries are reluctant to commit to a bolder agenda largely because they do not believe that the money can be found to deliver the transition to a fair, prosperous and sustainable world for all.

Civil society is calling on the UK, as a member of G8, G20, UN Security Council and the European Union, to take matters into their own hands and be pioneers in this endeavor to save the planet and forge an international agreement on tackling global inequalities. To do this, three commitments are needed to transform this summit.

  1. Phase out harmful fossil fuel subsidies, with safeguards for the world poorest communities.  Commitments to begin such a process were made by the G20 at their meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009 and again in Toronto in 2010, but with almost no progress to date. Developed countries spend around $100bn a year in subsidies and tax breaks to prop up fossil fuel production, according to the OECD.
  1. Introduce a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) which has been proven by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and independent studies to be a credible, effective and development friendly tax. It is a hugely popular idea, supported by 63% of European citizens and more than 1000 economists, and could raise at least $400bn a year.
  1. Stop multinationals dodging their taxes. This would generate an extra $160 billion a year in tax revenues in poor countries alone. This is money that these companies already owe but which they are not paying.

The biggest impediment to means of implementation and finance is that the money isn’t there, but as shown above, the money is clearly there and can be easily freed up and utilized. Strong political will and even stronger leadership is needed now to push these negotiations to deliver a safe and prosperous world for everyone.

Related Newsletter : 

Statement NGOs Major Group during High-Level Plenary session – 20th of June

 

delivered by Wael Hmaidan, Climate Action Network

Watch the presentation Wael delivered to Rio+20 on behalf of NGOs at Rio.

 

 

Thank you, Vice-President.

I am making this statement on behalf of the NGOs in Rio+20.

It feels amazing to be in this room among all the world leaders, and feeling all this power around me that can shape the World. We all know the threat that is facing us, and I do not need to repeat the urgency. Science is very clear. If we do not change in the coming five to ten years the way our societies function, we will be threatening the survival of future generations and all other species on the planet. Nevertheless, you sitting here in this room have the power to reverse all of this. What you can do here is the ideal dream of each one of us: to have the opportunity to be the savors of the planet.

And yet we stand on the brink of Rio+20 being another failed attempt, with governments only trying to protect their narrow interests instead of inspiring the World and giving all of us back the faith in humanity that we need. If this happens, it would be a big waste of power, and a big waste of leadership opportunity.

You cannot have a document titled ‘the future we want’ without any mention of planetary boundaries, tipping points, or the Earth’s carrying capacity.  The text as it stands is completely out of touch with reality. Just to be clear, NGOs here in Rio in no way endorse this document. Already more than 1,000 organisations and individuals have signed in only one day a petition called “The Future We Don’t Want” that completely refuses the current text. It does not in any way reflect our aspiration, and therefore we demand that the words “in full participation with civil society” are removed from the first paragraph.

If you adopt the text in its current form, you will fail to secure a future for the coming generations, including your own children.

To mention a few examples of failures in the document:

In the issue of finding resources to implement sustainable development, we see countries using the economic crisis as an excuse, while at the same time spending 100s of billions of dollars subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, the most profitable industry in the world. The first thing you can do is eliminating the existing harmful subsidies, especially fossil fuel subsidies, which was voted as the number one issue during the civil society dialogue.

Under the oceans section, you have failed to give a clear mandate to even start negotiating an implementing agreement to stop the Wild West abuse of the high seas.

There are many other failures in the document related to women’s reproduction health, missed opportunities to start new global treaties on civil society participation and on sustainability reporting, the extraordinary lack of any reference to armed conflicts, nuclear energy (especially in light of the fukushima disaster), and many others.

But it is not too late. We do not believe that it is over. You are here for three more days, and you can still inspire us and the world. It would be a shame and a waste for you to only come here and sign off a document. We urge you to create new political will that would make us stand and applaud you as our true leaders.

Thank you

Brazil Takes 1st Place; Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, EU, Canada US, & More 2nd

It was a full day for fossils Sunday at the Rio+20 negotiations. Brazil earned the First Place Fossil for a frightening new draft text. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela took Second Place for trying to save fossil fuel subsidies. The European Union, United States, and other developed countries earned another Second Place Fossil for bringing empty pockets to plans in need of financing. The Fossils as presented read:

“Brazil earns the First place Fossil. Yesterday Brazil took over as host country of the negotiations for the Rio+20 summit and presented its new draft of the negotiating text. With great power comes great responsibility. The world is watching how Brazil performs in its task of steering negotiators towards agreement on ambitious, concrete outcomes. Outcomes that will get the world on the path to sustainable development and ensuring all members of this and future generations access to quality food, clean water and renewable energy, as well as a healthy, liveable planet, a stable climate and a vibrant prosperous economy. The outcome also need to find new sources of financing and ways to mobilize the technologies to achieve these goals.
 
Unfortunately the text yesterday shows no signs of movement in this direction. It appears that Brazil is missing the chance be a force for raising ambition and living up to the hopes and trust that the world has placed on its shoulders, and will be content with using its growing political clout and indisputable diplomatic capacities only to find clever compromises and get agreement on a watered-down document devoid of clear commitments and actions. Furthermore it seems that the Brazilian government are more focused on closing text, even though it is slashing the ambition, rather than ensuring the outcome we need. Of course Brazil can’t single-handedly turn this process around, and it needs bold and ambition proposals from other countries and a willingness from all countries to get this process on track to creating the world we really do want.”
 
“The United States, European Union, Canada, and other developed countries earned the Second Place Fossil. US, Canada, EU and other developed countries, turned up in Rio with not a Euro cent or Dime, and now that we see all references to finance and technology commitments deleted from the Rio negotiating text it’s clear that developed countries are intending to run away from the Rio principles signed 20 years
ago, especially Common But Differentiated Responsibility. Rich, industrialised countries need to step up and provide the predictable and adequate support that allows developing countries to pursue truly sustainable development.”
 
“Saudi Arabia and Venezuela also earn a Second Place Fossil. During closed door negotiations Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have consistently blocked progress on ending fossil fuel subsidies. Despite an honest effort by Brazil to bridge the divide, these two countries remain the biggest obstacle to stopping our governments handing taxpayers' money directly to the dirty energy industries. Why aren't these billions being spent on access to clean energy for the billions without? The oil industry' slippery tentacles are strangling sustainable development and driving us closer towards a climate catastrophe, with our governments in on the act. By refusing to end these dirty handouts, we give Saudi Arabia and Venezuela the second place fossil, hopefully we won’t see them on the podium again.”

 

Brazil Takes 1st Place; Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, EU, Canada US, & More 2nd

 

It was a full day for fossils Sunday at the Rio+20 negotiations. Brazil earned the First Place Fossil for a frightening new draft text. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela took Second Place for trying to save fossil fuel subsidies. The European Union, United States, and other developed countries earned another Second Place Fossil for bringing empty pockets to plans in need of financing. The Fossils as presented read:
 
“Brazil earns the First place Fossil. Yesterday Brazil took over as host country of the negotiations for the Rio+20 summit and presented its new draft of the negotiating text. With great power comes great responsibility. The world is watching how Brazil performs in its task of steering negotiators towards agreement on ambitious, concrete outcomes. Outcomes that will get the world on the path to sustainable development and ensuring all members of this and future generations access to quality food, clean water and renewable energy, as well as a healthy, liveable planet, a stable climate and a vibrant prosperous economy. The outcome also need to find new sources of financing and ways to mobilize the technologies to achieve these goals.
 
Unfortunately the text yesterday shows no signs of movement in this direction. It appears that Brazil is missing the chance be a force for raising ambition and living up to the hopes and trust that the world has placed on its shoulders, and will be content with using its growing political clout and indisputable diplomatic capacities only to find clever compromises and get agreement on a watered-down document devoid of clear commitments and actions. Furthermore it seems that the Brazilian government are more focused on closing text, even though it is slashing the ambition, rather than ensuring the outcome we need. Of course Brazil can’t single-handedly turn this process around, and it needs bold and ambition proposals from other countries and a willingness from all countries to get this process on track to creating the world we really do want.”
 
“The United States, European Union, Canada, and other developed countries earned the Second Place Fossil. US, Canada, EU and other developed countries, turned up in Rio with not a Euro cent or Dime, and now that we see all references to finance and technology commitments deleted from the Rio negotiating text it’s clear that developed countries are intending to run away from the Rio principles signed 20 years
ago, especially Common But Differentiated Responsibility. Rich, industrialised countries need to step up and provide the predictable and adequate support that allows developing countries to pursue truly sustainable development.”
 
“Saudi Arabia and Venezuela also earn a Second Place Fossil. During closed door negotiations Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have consistently blocked progress on ending fossil fuel subsidies. Despite an honest effort by Brazil to bridge the divide, these two countries remain the biggest obstacle to stopping our governments handing taxpayers' money directly to the dirty energy industries. Why aren't these billions being spent on access to clean energy for the billions without? The oil industry' slippery tentacles are strangling sustainable development and driving us closer towards a climate catastrophe, with our governments in on the act. By refusing to end these dirty handouts, we give Saudi Arabia and Venezuela the second place fossil, hopefully we won’t see them on the podium again.”
 
 

CANADA COMES OUT OF FOSSIL RETIREMENT TO TAKE HOME A SURPRISE SECOND RIO FOSSIL - RECOGNIZED FOR GUTTING THE TEXT IN RIO AND ROLLING BACK ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS AT HOME

Canada was awarded the second ever Rio Fossil of the Day today in a surprise move that brought them out of Fossil of the Day retirement with a real bang. The combined impact of their moves to delete and undermine many key pieces of the Rio texts, while pushing through a budget bill that guts environmental and climate policies at home, has earned them a top spot once again.

Today’s Rio Fossil was chosen through a vote by representatives of hundreds of global NGOs and youth based on Canada’s opposition to funding for a Green Economy, their obstruction of key initiatives to protect oceans and sustainable fisheries, their constant watering down of strong commitments on the phase out of Fossil Fuel Subsidies, and their request to remove the recognition of Common But Differentiated Responsibility in the Rio text.
 
The Fossil presentation text read as follows:
 
This evening’s recipient of the Rio Fossil may come as a surprise to some of you. That’s because at the UNFCCC negotiations in Durban last December, the international community gave Canada a lifetime achievement award, vowing never again to waste a fossil on a country that has made itself irrelevant when it comes to combating climate change.
 
But just when we think Canada has hit the bottom of the barrel, they always seem to find more bitumen – so to speak – moving from conventional forms of obstruction to dirtier, darker and more intensive forms. Yesterday Canadian negotiators continued weakening the language around fossil fuel subsidies along with oceans and fisheries, coming out in favour of continuing billions in handouts to big polluters and against protecting the high seas, the low seas, and any other seas. They also hit the delete button on green economy funding and stayed true to form calling for removal the principle of common but differentiated responsibility…sorry – what they consider to be “guilt payments” to the global south…Not content just being a perpetual thorn in the side of progress here in Rio, the Government surprised us all by flipping the proverbial bird to nature. They turned back the clock on decades of environmental regulations, protections, review processes, most things related to protecting the climate, and generally anything green and or nature-related by pushing through a 400 page budget bill that guts Canada’s environmental review and regulatory processes.
 
For coming out of retirement with a bigger bang than any of us could have imagined, CANADA this FOSSIL is truly for you…you have earned it!!
 
The Rio Fossil was presented at a mock award ceremony at the RioCentro space where Canada “cut out”
environmental protections. This Fossil of the Day is another in a long history of Fossil Awards for Canada, the all-time champion who has taken home more fossils at United Nations climate talks than any other nation.
 
“At home and here in Rio, Canada has really earned this Fossil award for undermining a just and sustainable future,” said Amara Possian, a young woman from Canada who accepted the award. “Canada had to go pretty far to get back on this list, and they’ve managed to do it by fighting against the bare minimum of commitments, like ending $1.4 billion in handouts to the fossil fuel industry.”
 
The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries
who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy.
 
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