Good News

Friday, November 22’s issue of the Climate Action Network’s publication ECO described the full operationalization of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (“CTCN”) as “the good news story of COP19.” ECOIndeed, a global network of experts committed to collaborating with developing nations to implement imperative climate technologies upon request is a significant success in globally addressing climate change. Nevertheless, ECO makes suggestions for improvements to the policies behind the Technology Mechanism.

The Technology Executive Committee (“TEC”) is the policy arm behind the CTCN’s technology implementation. ECO suggests the TEC should develop a Global Technology Action Plan. This would offer optimized plans for technology choices, and allow countries to choose certain paths for mitigation from a pre-designated selection. This may be unlikely to happen, as CTCN is focused on achieving the technology goals of nations based on the plans of national governments. Presenting preconceived options seems to deviate from this principle.

ECO also recommends defining the term “environmentally sound technologies,” which is instrumental in the CTCN’s founding language from Cancun (1/CP.16, para 123). This could deter the development of dangerous and radical climate technologies. Regardless of any radical technologies that might emerge, it is important to define the “environmentally sound” term that is central to the purpose of the CTCN.

ECO also discusses funding. A multitude of things will fund the CTCN, including the UNFCCC, but it will likely rely heavily on public and private contributions. So far, countries have pledged $22 million dollars. However, ECO states that these are one-time pledges, and that CTCN needs reliable, long-term funding to be successful. The CTCN is a critical resource for developing nations, so finding consistent funding will be important for global climate technology in the future.

The operationalization of CTCN is an important success from COP19. Many claim that the UNFCCC system is incapable of finding new international solutions to climate change. The CTCN shows that the UNFCCC is capable of producing global mechanisms that advance Party nations’ goals to mitigate and adapt. peaceCOP19 has produced an invaluable resource for countries in need of new climate technologies. Hopefully, this may restore some confidence in the UNFCCC’s effectiveness.


Linking Technology and People

Developing and transferring technologies is imperative for nations fulfilling their commitments under the UNFCCC. In Cancun, in 2010, the UNFCCC established a new Technology Mechanism by creating a policy arm- the Technology Executive Committee- and an operational arm- the Climate Technology Centre and Network (“CTCN”)(1/CP.16, para 123). Essentially, the CTCN, “[a]t the request of a developing country party,” helps countries develop and implement “environmentally sound technologies.” The CTCN receives requests from nations, and then enables them to achieve their goals through technology development and implementation. The CTCN does not provide direct funding, but provides crucial support for new climate technologies based on the plans of national governments. It is funded by the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC, private donations, participants, and more.

CTCN experts are dedicated to getting developing nations the technology they need for their people to survive the climate crisis.

CTCN experts are dedicated to getting developing nations the technology they need for their people to survive the climate crisis.

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, a panel of experts announced that the CTCN will become operational upon its adoption at COP19.

The CTCN will improve nations’ abilities to achieve their technological goals for mitigation and adaptation. Under the CTCN mechanism, Nationally Designated Entities (“NDEs”) make the requests, and serve as the focal point between the CTCN and the Party nation. Thursday’s panel included people from numerous countries that had plans to develop climate technology. Zambia is planning many clean energy projects to achieve ambitious mitigation. Bangladesh will request technology for improving crop yields. The Philippines will request assistance for rebuilding, with clean energy, after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. It will also develop technology for adapting to threats such as extreme weather and flooding.

The shadow of typhoon Haiyan looms large in Warsaw. CTCN is committed to empowering the Philippines to adapt.

The shadow of typhoon Haiyan looms large in Warsaw. CTCN is committed to empowering the Philippines to adapt.

The CTCN will enable many developing countries to undertake national projects that may not otherwise happen. This mechanism is controlled by what a nation’s project is trying to accomplish at a national level. Therefore, the projects facilitated by CTCN will involve issues of public participation pursuant to Article 6 of the UNFCCC. The founding decision of CTCN mentions that providing information, training, and capacity building are goals of the mechanism (1/CP.16, para 123). This means that local citizens in developing nations could receive training for long-term positions, operating the technology developed through the collaboration with CTCN. This capacity-building could change the livelihoods of native people in developing nations. CTCN will enable nations to connect technological experts with local communities through national projects.

Essential to the mechanism of request and implementation is the intent of the requesting nation. Presumably, the country will have to be attempting to achieve public participation in order for CTCN to incorporate capacity-building. For instance, “collaboration with the public sector” is an aim of the mechanism (1/CP.16, para 123(b)). On the one hand, this could create jobs in a developing country. On the other hand, this may mean that a corporation (which may be from another country) is hired to implement the technology, and this would decrease public participation from local peoples. Therefore, nations should attempt to engage citizens when deploying these new technologies, and nations should be training citizens to participate in national projects for mitigation and adaptation. National governments are responsible for maximizing Non-Carbon benefits, such as improving livelihoods and ensuring government accountability, conveyed from collaboration with CTCN.

CTCN’s purpose is using technological and intellectual resources to implement essential technologies. Presumably, CTCN will confer whatever Non-Carbon benefits are possible based on the nation’s request. It is apparent that CTCN carefully considers social and governance factors: the panel emphasized that a request for collaboration must be based on a national strategic plan. In this way, CTCN would view all of the potential effects of a project before fulfilling a request.

CTCN will provide a crucial link between international technology experts and the people of developing nations. At the end of the event, the enthusiastic panel conveyed three main points: CTCN is “open for business,” name your NBE’s, and start submitting requests!Insert_image


Carbon + Human Rights = REDD+

Resolving the climate crisis involves far more than carbon emissions. International commitments agreed on at the COP will result in profound actions by national governments. These actions will impact citizens at the local level in every nation involved. The UNFCCC REDD+ program has added “safeguard” programs to ensure that national policies under the program protect people and ecosystems from harmful government action. Of course, national government actions to reduce carbon emissions will benefit everyone on earth. An imperative new initiative is adding Non-Carbon Benefits (“NCBs”) to the advantages of emissions reductions. Currently, groups at COP19 are working hard to ensure that “national strategies” created by national governments, under REDD+, benefit local communities and biodiversity.

The REDD+ Safeguard Working Group bring together people from around the world to decrease carbon emissions and protect human rights.

The REDD+ Safeguards Working Group brings together people from around the world to decrease carbon emissions and protect human rights.

Generally, there are three recognized NCBs being discussed at COP19. One is social benefits, such as those that support sustainable livelihoods or improve the security of land tenure. Another is environmental benefits, such as the preservation of biodiversity and natural resources. Governance is also a benefit, and this incorporates principles of government accountability and transparency, especially regarding funding allocation. In this way, NCB’s are protecting international human rights in addition to reducing emissions.

Decision 1/CP.16, or the “Cancun Agreement” from COP16 in Cancun, established “safeguards” within the REDD+ program (1/CP.16, Annex I para 2 (a-g)). These safeguards essentially preserve a “do no harm” principle for people and the environment. The Cancun decision also established a results-based financing system (para 77). Thereafter, if a nation’s mitigation actions harm people or the environment, such that the Cancun safeguards are not “addressed and respected,” nations lose funding they would otherwise receive through the UNFCCC for decreasing emissions by reducing deforestation and preserving carbon sinks (1/CP.16, para 71 (d)).

COP19 is teeming with friendly delegates. This delegate from Norway took time to explain results-based incentives regarding both carbon and NCBs.

COP19 is teeming with friendly delegates. This delegate from Norway took time to explain results-based incentives regarding both carbon and NCBs.

NCB’s, arguably, are a part of these safeguard protections: the Cancun decision lists “enhancing other social and environmental benefits” as a requirement (Annex I, para 2(e)). Effective safeguards can identify problems that lead to benefits in addition to emissions reductions. At COP18 in DOHA results-based financing was applied to NCBs (1/CP.18, para 29(b)). A crucial question being addressed by Working Groups of NGO’s and Party delegates at COP19 is: how can NCBs be incorporated into the results-based financing mechanisms of REDD+?

Eliminating the “drivers” of climate is a main purpose of what REDD+ is designed to accomplish (Cancun agreement, para 68). In developing nations, the “human pressure on forests that results in climate change” often come from livelihoods. Conversion of forests to agricultural land is the largest driver of carbon-emitting deforestation. Yet, 75%  of the worlds people living in rural areas rely on the agricultural sector for their livelihood. An example of a benefit to suit this identified problem, utilized in Nepal, is providing native people positions monitoring forest conditions. Therefore, Nepal’s people are benefitting economically and participating in fulfilling their countries’ emissions-reduction commitments. Of course, farming is necessary to feed growing national populations in a changing global climate. REDD+ NCBs should be carefully tailored for every government action, and relevant safeguards must be applied to each nation’s increasingly complex land-use issues. Negotiators are now dealing with how to quantify a nation’s NCBs, and then proportionately reflect these achievements in results-based financing that requires not only emissions reduction but also benefits to local communities and biodiversity.biodiversity

Interestingly, the Cancun agreement lists “the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities” as a safeguard (1/CP.16, Annex I para 2(d)). This reflects Article 6 language regarding public participation in actions taken at the national level. It is logical, therefore, to infer that the the REDD+ safeguards contain the Article 6 principles of public awareness and education. This education and communication is essential, as many native peoples may not realize they are driving climate change with their ecological practices. National governments should educate native people about climate change, and then protect their human rights as they decide how to respond to their knowledge of threats and potential solutions. Educating native peoples on these issues is important when the sovereignty of indigenous communities, and government actions at the national level, must coexist. One may hope that, given the right information on climate mitigation and adaptation, local communities will decide for themselves to make adaptive ecological changes.


UNFCCC Article 6 Implementation

Article 6 implementation can provide life-changing opportunities and rights for indigenous people. On Monday, November 18, 2013, the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation (“EQPF”) and the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (“CISDL”) hosted a COP side event on implementing Article 6.snap Nations interpret the UNFCCC Article 6’s principles of public participation with unlimited diversity of scope and purpose.  Article 6 focuses on what Parties are doing at a national level to educate and empower citizens. Therefore, national governments must take steps to implement Article 6 (paragraph a), and then share their peoples’ sustainable practices at COPs (paragraph b).

The panel at the Article 6 side event discussed the rights of indigenous peoples. When trying to fulfill climate change commitments under the UNFCCC, nations cannot infringe upon the rights of indigenous people. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights protects peoples’ right to fair housing. People deserve to live in the areas of their home, regardless of how climate change, and projects intended to mitigate or adapt to it, may cause governments to photoattempt evictions. For example: should the Maldives national government perpetrate “forest evictions” against native people when attempting to adapt to inevitable extreme weather events? Allowing people to not only have recognized property rights in their home, but also participate in climate change adaptation and mitigation, should be top priorities for national governments implementing Article 6.

One way nations can implement Article 6 is through their national constitution. The panel stated that the Republic of Nicaragua has directly incorporated  Article 6 into its constitution. Article 50 of the Constitución Política de la República de Nicaragua provides that “the people have a right to participate equally in government affairs . . . (Arto. 50.).” Rights to a safe environment are also protected in this constitution. When the national government of Nicaragua initiates a project to mitigate climate change the people have a constitutional right to participate in the measures. In this way, interpreting the definition of the word “participate” may affect the peoples’ substantive rights. Nicaragua has developed innovative programs for engaging citizens, such as making a certain number of hours of ecological community service a requirement for a high-school diploma. Hopefully, at future COPs, Nicaragua will share successful implementation strategies.

Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development is instrumental in Article 6 implementation. Principle 10’s incorporation of Article 6’s “public awareness” and “participation” language has been extremely influential on a global level. Principle 10 has influenced numerous multilateral agreements that protect human rights, and provide access to information and participation.

Technology utilization is a fascinating aspect of Article 6 implementation. Technologies can raise public awareness regarding threats, facilitate citizens’ producing adaptive technologies, and enable citizen communication on a national level. Monday’s panel discussed improving severe weather forecasting in Taiwan, constructing water-permeable sidewalks in China, and giving city-dwellers in Metro Manila “open-source” access to interactive maps. smartphone-weatherAs the flow of information is critical for public awareness and emergency response, national governments should consider the distribution of communication devices for adaptation.


Localizing Monitoring

The 2013 Global Landscapes Forum in Warsaw, Poland viewed ecology from countless angles. 2The climate negotiations at COP19 involve nations agreeing to commitments that will benefit the entire planet. Yet, it is “on the ground,” in local areas, where solutions to climate change will be implemented. Native people in their local communities are the ideal actors for implementing the international decisions made by the UNFCCC. Empowering local citizens to monitor the effects of climate change in their native areas is imperative for effective public participation outside of the COP.

Research shows that native people in local communities can monitor forests as well as other, more hi-tech, methods. Not only are native people an “under-used” resource for monitoring climate change, but helping people protect their native areas is a central goal of the UNFCCC negotiations. Decision CP 15/CP.18, on public participation, calls for a country-driven, long-term approach to developing skills for accomplishing effective implementation of adaptation and mitigation actions. Monitoring is a crucial part of the UNFCCC’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries’ (REDD+) Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (“MRV”). Therefore, local communities can greatly assist international efforts to monitor carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation by developing ways of monitoring forests and forestry practices in their local areas.

The Global Landscape Forum panel stated the importance of public participation and sustainable livelihoods.

The Global Landscape Forum panel stated the importance of public participation and sustainable livelihoods.

In developing nations, people must find ways to interact with their surrounding environment to survive. Implementing Article 6 with public participation can change unsustainable ecological practices to  practices that achieve UNFCCC goals. This year, a draft decision by SBSTA indicated indigenous livelihoods as a main driver of climate change. Land use methods, such as agriculture, contribute to deforestation that worsens climate change. It is imperative that local ecological practices in developed nations is developed to quantify natural resources and preserve natural ecosystems. Nations are currently making decisions on forestry and carbon sinks at COP 19. Implementing these decisions can be done in a way that is efficient, implements Article 6 of the UNFCCC, and benefits local communities.


Empowering People to Solve Climate Change

    Educating and empowering citizens to achieve climate mitigation and adaptation is an essential goal for every nation. Article 6 of the UNFCCC states Parties shall provide educational and public awareness programs, and train personnel, in order to maximize “public participation” in solving the climate crisis. Therefore, in addition to Parties sending delegates to the international Conference of Parties (COP), the people of these nations will learn to lead the way in fulfilling their countries’ commitments nationally, regionally, and locally.

The ultimate goal of the UNFCCC.

The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC.

     At past COPs, Parties have been working on how best to engage the public through Article 6 implementation. Decision 11/CP.8 at COP8 in New Delhi indicated that Parties may use “national focal points” to facilitate the sharing of information and opportunities for international collaboration. The YOUNGO Article 6 Working Group Toolkit for enhancing youth participation and education identifies these focal points as crucial contacts for youth groups initiating advocacy actions and projects. Case studies of successful youth programs from all around the planet show that Article 6 implementation has tremendous potential for educating, empowering, and engaging citizens on climate issues.

Educating youth is an essential objective of Article 6.

Educating youth is an essential goal of Article 6.

    At COP18 in Doha, Qatar, decision 15/CP.18 from a work programme on Article 6 stated the importance of grass-root communities adapting to the impacts of climate change.  The Parties are seeking to empower citizens to find solutions through methods such as improved communication and training people to educate others. The decision calls for Parties to seek input from all members and groups of the public, as well as encourage all public stakeholders to participate in the climate change negotiation process.

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    At COP19 I will have the honor of collaborating with the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). In Warsaw, my focus will be on public participation under Article 6. The above decision from Doha calls for the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to organize an annual in-session dialogue for the purpose of accomplishing the six elements of Article 6: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation. I hope to observe all I can about what will transpire at these dialogues. Public participation is an exciting approach to changing behaviors internationally and mitigating anthropogenic climate change from the ground up!