We can do more!

earthobservation_earthAfter two weeks of negotiations in which we observed UNFCCC Parties, stakeholders, and all the people that make possible the Conference of the Parties (COP), I leave Bonn with several reflections.

Parties do have the ability to achieve consensus and adopt the necessary decisions towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

People all around the world are working to fight climate change. Universities, institutions, NGOs, and subnational governments like cities are individually trying to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, for example by using and promoting renewable energy to reduce GHG emissions.

Volunteers and observers (like VLS) are there to encourage and support the negotiators in this journey 24/7. So, what are we missing to move forward in the implementation of the Paris Agreement? Why do we still think/feel that the negotiations are going too slowly?

Even though the Paris Agreement entered into force just 11 months after its adoption in December 2015, Parties agreed that its effects would only take place from 2020 onward while they worked to put in place the implementing rules needed to make the Paris Agreement operational.

But the implementation action plan is not clear yet. For example, the developing countries are still waiting for the developed ones to commit in matters relating to finance so that they can achieve their NDCs. In addition, it is not clear how Parties are going to register their adaptation communications in the public registry determined by the Paris Agreement.

Time is passing by. COP23 was important and some decisions were taken, but we need more. We need more commitments from the developed world. We need more people passionate about climate change. We need to implement more actions to pursue the global temperature goal, and limit the temperature increase to 1.5 ºC above pre-industrial levels. do-more-quote

What am I going to do? I want to keep doing what I am doing, even though sometimes it feels that it has no impact. I will talk to people (communities, schools, family) and explain to them how a simple action like turning off a light can mitigate the effects of climate change.Hopefully, if we start changing minds, we will stop changing the climate.


G77 + China: Perspectivas de la COP23

230202_600Compuesto por 130 países, el G77 + China representa el grupo negociador más grande en la Convención Marco sobre el Cambio Climático (CMCC). El día de hoy durante su conferencia de prensa, la señora María Fernanda Espinoza en nombre del grupo, expresó los retos y debilidades de la COP23, así como los resultados positivos de las negociaciones sostenidas durante las últimas dos semanas en Bonn, Alemania.

En cuanto a los resultados positivos, el grupo resaltó la creación de la plataforma para las comunidades locales y los pueblos indígenas , la cual busca reforzar los conocimientos, las tecnologías, las prácticas y los esfuerzos de las comunidades locales y los pueblos indígenas para hacer frente al cambio climático.

Igualmente, destacó el trabajo que se ha realizado en el área de las pérdidas y daños con ocasión a los efectos de cambio climático en la que se están cuantificando los mismos para así definir los recursos necesarios para mitigación y adaptación y sobretodo recuperación después de un evento de cambio climático como los vividos en los últimos meses (Huracanes Irma y María).

Por otro lado, en lo que tiene que ver con las debilidades y los retos a los que todavía se enfrenta el grupo, Espinoza señaló que aún no está claro cómo las Partes van a cumplir con sus compromisos de adaptación y mitigación, en especial por los problemas de acceso a financiamiento y recursos, transferencias de tecnologías y el fortalecimiento de capacidades de los países.

En cuanto al financiamiento, resaltó que ocho años después de su creación el Fondo Verde Climático no ha recaudado el monto determinado para cada año y el acceso a este se hace cada vez más difícil, lo que pone en desventaja a los países menos desarrollados.

¿Qué está haciendo el G77 y China para mejorar el acceso al financiamiento y que las Partes puedan cumplir con sus metas de mitigación y adaptación? change_in_hand_2x3

El grupo presentó una propuesta ante la Conferencia de las Partes-COP23, en la que además de solicitar que el procedimiento para acceder a los recursos económicos sea más sencillo, se está solicitando un acceso real y consistente a los recursos que se necesitan por parte de los países.

Adicionalmente, se solicitó que estos recursos sean nuevos, predecibles y sostenibles en el tiempo para que se puedan financiar las actividades por medio de las cuales se busca cumplir con los compromisos adquiridos bajo el Acuerdo de París.

Así las cosas, y aunque se cumplieron algunos de los objetivos que se tenían para la COP23, los medios de implementación y en especial el acceso al financiamiento y los recursos sigue siendo “la pata débil” de las negociaciones.

Se espera que con la petición efectuada por el G77 y China, la COP continúe negociando y se llegue a un consenso para mejor el financiamiento que requieren los países menos desarrollados para cumplir con las metas propuestas bajo el Acuerdo de París.


How to Improve the Role of Women for Climate Change Solutions

ZAN-EH-2011-005Every year at the COP, the number of actors and stakeholders that want to fight climate change increases. Women are developing an important leadership on this matter, but it is necessary to keep improving their participation.

The United Nations developed a fact sheet called Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change, which concludes that “the consultation and participation of women in climate change initiatives must be ensured, and the role of women’s groups and networks strengthened.”

The number of women leading the climate fight is increasing. They play an important role and are making a difference at every decision-making level. “In the US studies show that more women believe in the science of climate change than men and are likely to act upon it.

Women have been constantly fighting for their basic rights at a global scale and although they have such experience demanding respect for their rights, it is necessary to improve their participation in climate change issues. So, how can we improve the role of women for climate change solutions?

We need to continue working with study cases, background and training to keep empowering women to challenge climate change decisions taken by corrupted governments.

Women´s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN) “is a solutions-based, multi-faceted effort established to engage women worldwide to take action as powerful stakeholders in climate change and sustainability solutions.”wecan_fb_default2

WECAN is committed to educate and empower women through stories and case studies to advocate for climate justice, gender equality, and rights of nature among others. To accomplish this purpose, WECAN created the “U.S WOMEN´S CLIMATE JUSTICE INITIATIVE”. This initiative calls for immediate action on climate justice and protection of natural resources.

It includes a series of online education and advocacy trainings. These free trainings seek to empower women to reclaim democracy, and make a difference in decisions made by the government while understanding issues relating climate change.

Today at COP23, WECAN reiterated the importance of women for climate change solutions. It highlighted that women are no longer only victims of climate change, but a solution to it.

Education is definitely the key to improve women participation in issues regarding climate change. Helping women understand what are community rights and rights of nature, and ecological economics and the price on carbon, would empower them to claim their rights.

Their knowledge and experience on issues related to the management of natural resources is the perfect combination to make substantive contributions in the decision-making process on environmental governance. More education means more women participation, which hopefully means more progress in the fights against climate change.


Handmade Solar Cookers: Mitigation Starts at Home

A solar cooker is “a device which uses the energy of sunlight to heat food or drink to cook it or sterilize it.”  Solar Cookers International (SCK) was founded in 1987 in the Central Valley of California. SCK started by pooling its knowledge to produce “solar cooking manuals to help others build and use simple solar box cookers similar to those developed in the mi-1970s by Barbara Kerr and Sherry Cole.” solar-cooking-1

Solar cooking can improve health by preventing dirty cooking, which produces air pollution causing major health problems like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, lung cancer, pneumonia, and respiratory tract infections.

In Tanzania, a group of women who used solar cooking for 10 months saw their health problems from smoke decrease from 77% down to 13%. Equally important, it can also reduce cooking expenses. “The sun is free”, so as soon as a person, family or enterprise has access to solar technology, they are saving what they are supposed to invest in cooking with fossil fuel.

In addition, SCK has training sessions that promotes and provides training in use and construction of solar cookers, which can reduce cooking expenses even more. It can also prevent deforestation by reducing demand for charcoal made from wood.

SCK uses the acronym “CARES” to describe the solar cooking process.“C” is the collection of the energy through reflectors on a solar a cooker. “A” stands for absorbing solar energy through black cookware. “R” means retaining the heat to use it for cooking, rather than losing it tothe ambient air. “E” means efficient and easy, while “S” indicates safety. There are three types of solar cooking that use this process: (1) reflective panel cooker (2) solar box ovens and (3) parabolic reflector.

SCK expressed that the principal reason for attending COP23 is to make more people aware about the environmental and health benefits of solar cooking. Only a quarter of the Parties include cooking in their climate change plans and only two mentioned solar cooking as a mechanism to achieve the target of their NDCs. The challenge is to help Parties realize that solar cooking and clean cooking are mechanisms for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.01b549f334a66d8601e0468ce0334fc6_f728

So, can solar cooking improve the Paris Agreement implementation? The answer is yes. Encouraging the use of solar cooking in homes, business establishments, and schools would: (1) reduce environmental harms like deforestation, (2) improve health reducing smoking effects, and (3) reduce fossil fuel investments.


“Replace NAFTA Don´t Let Trade “TRUMP” Climate: #TransformTrade”

“Find the Justice now, Keep it in the Ground, … not in this town, we will fight this NAFTA now and replace it next round.” That is the song that a group of young people from Canada and the U.S. sang in the Bonn Zone of the COP23 today.

According to the Sierra Club, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)  has empowered corporate polluters and locked in fossil fuel dependency, “boosting destructive mining in Mexico and contributing to the rise of Canada´s toxic tar sands industry.” Captura de pantalla 2017-11-14 a las 12.50.14 a.m.

President Trump signed an executive order to renegotiate NAFTA to grow the U.S economy.  Even though it was not intended, the Sierra Club believes that this renegotiation could be an opportunity to incorporate and enforce the climate goals in the Paris Agreement.

For these young people, the trade agreements are more binding than the climate agreements. Transforming NAFTA limiting fossil fuel activities and improving workers lives, will enhance the protection of workers rights, communities and the planet.

As noted by Anthony Torres from the Sierra Club, “corporate trade agreements like NAFTA have undermined the Paris Agreement´s core objective of tackling climate change. Instead leading environmentalists across North America have called for a NAFTA replacement that incorporates and enforces the Paris Agreement´s climate goals.”IMG_9274

Likewise, Maia Wikler from SustainUS and a Vancouver, BC resident said: “My government has an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure that NAFTA´s replacement enforces the Paris climate goals rather than undermining them. So far, our trade and climate agreements have gone in opposite directions- a huge gap not being addressed at this conference.”

Everyday we get to see more young people clamoring for decision makers to improve climate actions. #TransformTrade is one more. Hopefully, if the governments involved in NAFTA follow their petitions, and don´t let trade “trump” climate, the renegotiation of NAFTA will incorporate the Paris climate goals.

 

 


From Talanoa to the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue

Captura de pantalla 2017-10-24 a las 10.23.12 a.m.The Paris Agreement requires Parties to submit new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 and participate in a regular review of whether their individual actions contribute to the collective achievement of the Agreement’s aim of keeping the global rise in temperature to “well under” 2C degrees. Article 14 of the Agreement outlines this “global stocktake” procedure, but the first one does not take place until 2023. Given how quickly the Agreement entered into force just 11 months after its adoption in December, 2015, and that most Parties rely on NDCs formulated in 2014, waiting till the first global stocktake would result in an almost ten-year gap between when these mitigation and adaptation pledges were made and when they were assessed collectively for sufficiency. Fortunately, COP21 anticipated the need for a “first draft” stocktake and created the Facilitative Dialogue. At COP23, the Fijian presidency seeks to design this Dialogue that will take place in 2018.

At COP21, Parties agreed to have a Facilitative Dialogue  that will “take stock of the collective efforts in relation to the progress approaching the long-term temperature goal determined in Article 4.1. of the Agreement.” Furthermore, the Parties agreed that this stocktaking would “inform the preparation of the nationally determined contributions in accordance with the Article 4, paragraph 8, of the Agreement.”

Since the COP21 decision did not specify the design of the facilitative dialogue, COP23 is expected to determine what inputs should feed the stocktake, what its modalities should be, and what outputs the dialogue should produce. The Incoming President of COP23 underscored in a May 2017 speech how important this outcome is to Fiji: “To uphold and advance the Paris Agreement, ensure progress on the implementation guidelines and undertake consultations together with the Moroccan COP22 Presidency to design the process for the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.”

The design proposal recently presented by Fiji and Morocco outlines core principles, three central questions, information to answer them, and a phased process. The Dialogue should be “constructive, facilitative and solutions oriented,” and not single out individual Parties. It should answer these questions: (1) where are we, (2) where do we want to go, and (3) how do we get there. To do this, it should use inputs from Parties and observers, like written material in blogs and reports, videos, or other formats, and gather it all on an online platform. The latest scientific information from the IPCC and UNFCCC reports on National Communications and Biennial Reports could also be inputs. Finally, the Dialogue should proceed in two phases, with a “preparatory” period starting at the May 2018 intersessional meeting and ending at the beginning of COP 24, and the “political phase” taking place at COP24. The first phase is intended to lay the groundwork for the second, when government ministers will focus on how to achieve more progress in the next round of NDCs.

Captura de pantalla 2017-10-24 a las 4.23.40 p.m.In addition to proposing this Facilitative Dialogue design, the Fiji Government offers a traditional process called Talanoa to help the parties agree on it. At a recent informal meeting of Heads of Delegation, Talanoa was described this way:“The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions, which are for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.” 

The Talanoa process was employed in Fiji in 2000, when Fiji´s Parliament sought to build national unity and stability after having a hostage situation (described by the international media as a “civilian coup”) resulting from political differences between the government, ethnic leaders, and other parties. The first Talanoa was the most important one because, even though there was an atmosphere of fear and political tension, the participants–who were representatives from the diverse ethnic and religious communities, political parties and other government and military personnel– talked and listened to each other’s pain, resulting in an adjustment of people´s personal opinions and an integration of viewpoints. It was shown that the parties could sit down and talk to one another without the meeting getting out of hand, as anticipated by some leaders.”

Captura de pantalla 2017-10-24 a las 4.30.38 p.m.By using Talanoa to design the Facilitative Dialogue of 2018, the COP23 Presidency seeks to create an environment of “inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue.” Fiji hopes that Talanoa will allow Parties to hear one another’s concerns, especially for developed countries to listen to the needs, opinions and experiences of developing countries. If so, the process of the Facilitative Dialogue could give Parties the opportunity to build empathy by identifying climate action in areas that have not been covered by the NDCs, taking into account the differentiation between developed and developing countries. Talanoa could also help countries reiterate their collective commitment to make a wise decision for the collective good: new and more ambitious NDCs by 2020 to achieve the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.