Subnationals around the world stepping up to combat climate change

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Panel discusses city climate change initiatives at COP22 side event

While only sovereign countries can be parties to the Paris Agreement, that fact has not prevented cities, states, and regions from stepping up to take their own climate actions. Several subnational entities have joined groups like the C40 and Under 2 MOU, which create voluntary agreements to reduce emissions and develop more sustainable municipalities. Under the NDCs submitted so far, the parties to the Paris Agreement have not been stringent enough to meet the 2˚C (much less the 1.5˚C) goal. As a result of this and increasing urbanization, subnational actions will be crucial to protecting the earth from the devastating effects of climate change.

Subnationals have taken several approaches to becoming more sustainable. For example, the City of Edmonton, Canada, has focused on providing citizens with accurate climate change science information while stomping out climate change myths. Kaoshiung, Taiwan, on the other hand, created a month-long “Ecomobility World Festival” where citizens were not allowed to drive vehicles down particular roads; these roads were only for pedestrians and bicyclers. Kaoshiung used this event to help change residents’ behavior, which is an essential, but difficult piece of climate change policy. It will hold another “Ecomobility World Festival,” this time only a week long from Oct. 1-5, 2017. Individual states have also voluntarily committed to climate action. For example, the State of California has committed to various goals, including reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030. Vermont has also set a goal to obtain its energy from 90% renewable sources by 2050. Regardless of the United States’ national stance on climate change in the coming years, these individual states (and others) are committed to achieving environmental objectives.

In addition to coming up with unique ideas to address climate change, subnationals also frequently exchange ideas with one another to help other cities, states, and regions follow suit. Despite their lack of ability to make formal commitments under the Paris Agreement, subnatonals will play an important role in the future of the global environment.


A New Dawn

King Mohammed VI of Morocco, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, COP 22 President Salaheddine Mezouar, and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa wait to greet arriving dignitaries to the first meeting of the UNFCCC under the Paris Agreement.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, COP 22 President Salaheddine Mezouar, and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa wait to greet arriving dignitaries to the first meeting of the UNFCCC under the Paris Agreement.

One year ago, parties to the UNFCCC signed the Paris Agreement, expecting it to come into force over the next four years as individual nations went through the slow process of ratification. To everyone’s surprise, the requisite number of nations ratified it, and as of November 4, the Paris Agreement officially came into force. Today, the parties to the UNFCCC held the first meeting under the Paris Agreement. At the opening ceremony, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that this historic approval marks “a new dawn for global cooperation on climate change.” All of the speakers at the ceremony emphasized that this rapid endorsement demonstrates that the world is ready to move forward together to address climate change.

The shadow of US President-elect Donald Trump occasionally threatened to cloud the day’s proceedings, but the new dawn continued to shine through. President François Hollande of France

People's Daily

President François Hollande of France

called for consistency and perseverance to work towards the goals of the Agreement, which he called irreversible in law, in fact, and in the minds of the citizens of the world. He specifically thanked President Obama for his crucial role in obtaining agreement in Paris, and then called out the United States, stating that “the largest economic power in the world and the second largest greenhouse gas emitter must respect the commitments they have undertaken.”

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Jonathan Pershing, U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change

The conversation about U.S. participation in the Agreement continued throughout the day. Jonathan Pershing, the Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, focused on market forces that have made fossil fuels unsustainable. For example, he pointed out that the U.S. currently has over 2 million renewable energy jobs compared to 65,000 coal miners. Although refusing to speculate on the future administration, he hinted that a President focused on jobs might find the renewable energy sector more attractive. He also observed that cities and local governments are already adapting to natural disasters, whether they were calling it adaptation to climate change or not.

In a heavily attended panel on U.S.

Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese and Secretary of Natural Resources for Vermont Deb Markowitz

Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese and Secretary of Natural Resources for Vermont Deb Markowitz

Climate Action, Deb Markowitz (Secretary of Natural Resources for Vermont) addressed the tension head-on, theorizing that many people were there to find out just what effect the Trump administration would have. The panelists’ answer? Not as much as one might fear. Brian Deese (Senior Advisor to the President overseeing Climate Change and Energy Policy) emphasized that the Clean Power Plan was promulgated in response to a mandate from the US Supreme Court holding the EPA has a duty to regulate greenhouse gases. Even President Trump cannot reverse the Supreme Court’s holding, nor can he eliminate the Clean Power Plan without backing in science and law. Markowitz, meanwhile, focused on state action. She observed that state actions drove U.S. climate response during the Bush years, and pointed out that states from Texas to Vermont are deploying renewable energy projects.

As President Hollande observed today, our world is in turmoil – a setting in which “those who trade in fear are allowed to thrive.” In this world, many have come to doubt what the international community can do. But the Paris Agreement is a beacon of hope in the night, and “a promise of hope cannot be betrayed. It must be fulfilled.” With, or without, the President of the United States.


Transitions at CMA1: the Winds of Change

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 12.22.37 AMTransition is in the air at the international climate negotiations in Marrakech. With the Paris Agreement going into force sooner than expected, Parties to the Agreement are having to quickly transition from last year’s commitments to this year’s implementation strategies. And with the Paris Agreement’s CMA 1 opening today, the Parties need to get to work. Appropriately, the theme of this year’s COP is the COP of Action, and Parties are taking action with regard to their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).    IMG_2121 As Parties are looking for means to act on these NDCs, public-private partnerships are developing to provide the help needed. One such partnership was launched today as part of a COP 22 side event. The NDC Partnership  is a coalition comprised of 25 developing countries,12 developed countries, and 10 international institutions providing Parties with technical and financial support to assist in reaching their Paris Agreement commitments.

The reality of implementing NDCs can be difficult in terms of finance, technology, politics, and the public narrative. As Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute said, “If implementing the NDC is not difficult, then the NDC is not ambitious enough.” But the question is how can Parties best catalyze their NDC implementation? The answer may lie with public-private paScreen Shot 2016-11-16 at 12.17.35 AMrtnerships, facilitated by groups such as the NDC Partnership. These partnerships can connect the Parties with financing to support various NDC programs, expertise, and  technical assistance. For example, the NDC Partnership provides the NDC Funding & Initiatives Navigator. Developed with the UNFCCC, the Moroccan government and the German agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), this web-based platform has benefits for both the Parties and the donors. The platform provides a means for Parties to implement their NDC by matching their needs with specific funds. In addition, donors can tailor their programs more effectively to meet the needs of the Parties. The NDC Funding & Initiatives Navigator lists more than 300 funds and support initiatives for implementing NDCs. The Navigator is just one of the many tools available to Parties for NDC implementation.  In addition, the NDC partnership can provide expertise and technical assistance to Parties for developing sustainable cities, encouraging clean agriculture, educating about sustainable consumption, and providing clean energy such as solar and wind power. Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, suggests that key features to NDC implementation are effective spending and involving both the public and private financial sector.

At the opening CMA 1 ceremony today, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon emphasized the “power of partnerships.” The NDC Partnership may be just the type of cooperative action needed to keep the NDCs on track and the Paris Agreement moving forward. Cooperation and unity is imperative to keeping the Paris Agreement commitments, with the bigger picture in mind. As President François Hollande said at today’s CMA 1, “What unites us is what we all have in common and that is our planet.”

 


Approving Decisions on a WIM

After many late night negotiations the Subsidiary Bodies (SBs), the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice (SBSTA), came to a surprising agreement on both issues related to the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts in their 45th sessions. The main agenda items related to Loss and Damage (L&D) for SBI45 and SBSTA45 were item 11 and 5 respectively, but since these items were originally to be considered by a joint session of the SBs, they resulted in the same draft conclusions proposed by the Chair of the SBI, Tomasz Chruszczow, and the Chair of the SBSTA, Carlos Fuller.

Chair of the SBSTA, Carlos Fuller

Chair of the SBSTA, Carlos Fuller

The first issue established the indicative framework for the WIM’s five-year rolling workplan to include a strategic work stream to guide the WIM in enhancing action and support through finance, technology, and capacity building. This step is crucial to understand L&D and provide the COP with a range of strategic activities as it goes beyond the initial 20-year workplan. This decision also extends an input invitation to, not just parties, but also “relevant organizations.” However, this decision alone falls short of the SB’s directive. In decision 2/CP.19, the COP called for a review of the WIM at COP22. This aspect incited contentious debate among the parties. Delegations disagreed as to the terms of reference to be used during the WIM review. Through the dedicated leadership of the co-facilitators, Alf Willis from South Africa and Beth Lavender of Canada, the parties eventually reached a decision on the draft conclusion to be recommended to COP22. If the COP accepts the draft, the WIM will be periodically reviewed no more than five years apart with the next review to be in 2019. The terms of reference for each review will be determined no later than six months before the review.


Week 2 of COP22

L to R: DJ Haskins, Julia Muench, Miranda Jensen, Jenny Leech, Jonas Reagan

L to R: DJ Haskins, Julia Muench, Miranda Jensen, Jenny Leech, and Jonas Reagan

Yesterday saw COP22 kicking into high gear, with the subsidiary bodies trying hard to wrap up their recommendations for the COP, CMP, and CMA, which began – in a fashion – today. The SBI had partially closed last Friday, and finished agreeing on the remainder of its draft decisions on Monday afternoon.  Afterward, the SBSTA plenary began and stopped — and then tried to begin again.  But the APA plenary boxed it out.  With an agenda filled to the brim with tasks assigned at COP21 to bring the Paris Agreement to life, the APA took up most of the Parties’ energy.  It finally finished at close to midnight. So SBSTA was bumped until this morning, when it closed with quick agreements on the remaining loss and damage issues.

The Vermont Law School COP22 Observer Delegation second-week team arrived on Sunday and jumped into the fray with aplomb. Moving from negotiation room to room, keeping up with a fluid schedule that regularly changed, and setting aside their jet lag, our new group of five JD students and one teaching assistant picked up the baton from their first-week partners.  Hence you’ll see a continued focus on agriculture, forestry, and other land uses; adaptation; loss and damage; NDCs and other reporting requirements; and the Paris Agreement’s transparency framework.

COP22/CMP12/CMA1 is due to conclude this Friday with a more clear sense of how the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement will be developed between now and 2018.  Stay tuned.


LDCs – Concern, yet hope, entering Week 2 of COP22

Courtesy www.afd/frAt the end of the first week, many were expressing concern that Marrakech’s purported COP of Action wasn’t measuring up for the world’s most vulnerable countries. Yesterday morning, Least Developed Countries (LDC) Chair, Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, identified troubles on key issues of ambition, adaptation / loss & damage, and climate finance. In particular, he noted that:Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.37.17 PM

  • The Paris Agreement rulebook development is being stymied and strong action on pre2020 commitments is not materializing.
  • Adaptation needs of the most vulnerable, exploding as a result of inadequate mitigation by developed countries for decades, are not being addressed in a balanced manner, with even the adaptation registry being complicated. And, foot dragging on other seemingly simple decisions, such as the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM), is eroding trust and confidence that the global community will concretely respond to the very real and devastating losses and damages increasingly suffered by poor countries on the front lines of climate change impacts.
  • Developed countries have been blocking the Paris-mandated inclusion of the Adaptation Fund in the Paris Agreement rulebook, and the developed country recent “roadmap” to reach the promised $100 billion/year by 2020 lacks credibility – – unfortunate circumstances in the face of developing countries’ low-carbon climate resilient development needs now estimated to collectively exceed $4 trillion.

Work did continue yesterday, while heads of state and ministers arrived for the high-level segment. By the end of the day, among some positive developments were two improved draft decisions on the WIM (here and here). (More on these to come.) Additionally, the Green Climate Fund expedited grants for Liberia’s and Nepal’s National Adaptation Plans. Climate finance remains a hot topic on this week’s COP22 agenda, in particular, the upcoming High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance; so, Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.09.30 PMhope remains for new and encouraging news on that front. (Check back with us on this, too!)

 

Photo credits: Action Time courtesy www.afd/fr; Informal negotiations courtesy iisd enb


Parties come to decision on transparency framework

 

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APA celebrated a successful transparency framework negotiation with a group photo

Today the subsidiary bodies winded down in preparation for the first session of the CMA to begin tomorrow. Happily, APA discussions around transparency framework modalities, procedures, and guidelines (MPGs); Global Stocktake; and Implementation generally ended on a high note. In particular, the APA informal meeting on transparency framework this morning left parties in good spirits.

The decision was unanimously and enthusiastically adopted by the parties. On Saturday, APA Co-Facilitators created a draft informal note that captured the Parties’ views on transparency framework developments.  This note highlighted a work plan, which includes an organization scheme, tools for success, and future steps for the parties to take regarding the transparency framework.

Several components of the work plan merit highlighting. First, the countries acknowledge work should proceeding in a “balanced, holistic and logical manner.” During discussions today, the importance of this point was reiterated by several parties. In addition, the draft note states that the CMA1 will continue to build on the transparency framework during its session, so the APA’s end does not signal the conclusion of transparency discussions this week. As for the tools under the work plan, the parties intend to use workshops in advance of APA sessions, submissions before intersessional workshops, and potentially technical or synthesis papers in the future. Finally, the next steps include submissions in response to specific questions in the draft decision, and a workshop in 2017 ahead of the Bon conference in May.

Today, the parties met to discuss this draft note. Party after party exuberantly supported the note. In their statements, several parties acknowledged the fantastic cooperation among the group. In fact, China was met with a round of applause when it called for a group photo to commemorate this group’s successful negotiations. More substantively, many parties reiterated support of proceeding quickly in a balanced fashion to achieve the goals of the transparency framework.

While much work remains on the MPGs of the transparency framework, the parties’ enthusiasm for urgent and cooperative work moving forward shows much promise for Bon in May 2017 and beyond. As the backbone of the Paris Agreement, robust transparency framework will set the stage for the parties to meet their goals in other articles of the Agreement as well. These developments, therefore, are key to preventing the global temperature from rising more than 1.5–2 degrees Celsius. In the next few months, parties will begin to address the specific components of the MPGs, enhancing the transparency under the Convention, flexibility for developing countries, and more.

In addition to transparency framework, the APA also wrapped up the discussions on the global stocktake and implementation articles under the Paris Agreement. These items both leave several questions unanswered that parties will work to develop in the coming months.

The APA was scheduled to conclude its session this evening, but at the request of the parties, APA1-2 was suspended. It will resume discussions in May 2017 at Bonn.


Bonn Challenge Takes First Steps

rainforestThe Bonn Challenge is a global initiative to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020, and 350 million by 2030. So far, 38 countries have pledged to restore 124.32 million hectares in order to achieve this goal. The challenge now is holding these nations to their commitments and ensuring the necessary financing mechanisms are in place to support their efforts.

A partnership of several organizations, including the Global Canopy Programme and Unlocking Forest Finance, has initiated three pilot programs in South America to test a landscape-focused approach. A landscape restoration project focuses on the drivers of deforestation – generally, agriculture and poverty – and works with local communities to manage land uses in a way that meets the needs of the community and the needs of the ecosystem as a whole.

The pilots focus on finding private investors to build disneypermanent markets for premium crops, rather than securing government and NGO grants, because these partnerships will be more permanent and sustainable than a government-sponsored program. For example, Walt Disney has partnered with local coffee farmers in San Martin, Peru to grow sustainably harvested coffee at a fair price for exclusive sale at Disney World. This guarantees the farmers a premium market that ensures their continued participation in the program.

In addition, today the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced the launching of its new website for tracking news, analysis, resources, and updates on forest landscape restoration projects around the world. The website so far provides detailed analysis on policies, successes, and failures in 42 different nations. It will also soon offer a “Bonn Challenge Barometer,” which will quantifiably track forest landscape restoration successes in support of the Bonn Challenge and provide resources to help address obstacles to progress.


Can Trump Trump the Paris Agreement?

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“How do you see the future of the Paris Agreement without, possibly, you?”

On Thursday, Venezuela posed this question to the U.S. delegation during the facilitative dialogue for enhanced action and support. The U.S. delegate spoke about how a Trump presidency may impact international efforts to combat climate change. South Africa asked the U.S. a follow-up question, giving the delegate some additional speaking time to elaborate. While acknowledging he could not speak to the intentions of the new administration, the delegate pointed out that the global effort is strong, as evidenced by the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement. His candid and articulate responses drew applause from those in attendance, but is he right?

The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016, less than a year after it was crafted at COP 21. The Agreement provides Parties with more flexibility than previous international climate agreements. The Parties agreed to adopt a bottom-up approach in which all Parties pledge contributions to the global effort. This approach resulted in 190 climate plans based in national priorities and interests.  Even if the U.S. reneges on its contribution, the other parties are still committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change. The status of the U.S. in the Paris Agreement has nothing to do with China and India’s need to clean up their cities and protect the health of their citizens.

During his campaign, Mr. Trump promised to withdraw U.S. support for the Paris Agreement if elected. He believes that the Agreement gives foreign governments control over how much energy the U.S. uses. This understanding is inaccurate, as the Agreement does nothing to impose limits on energy use. There are no top-down limitations.

To withdraw from the Agreement the U.S. would need to meet the obligations in Article 28. No party may withdraw from the Agreement until three years after it enters into force. Additionally, the withdrawal only takes effect one year after the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal. However, withdrawal from the UNFCCC, which takes effect a year after written notification of withdrawal is received, constitutes withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Thus, the U.S. withdrawal could be effective as early as January 2018.

The election of Donald Trump does not guarantee that all is lost when it comes to the global effort to combat climate change. Many participants at COP 22 have said that it is now up to the rest of the world to lead the charge and redouble their efforts. Others remain hopeful that Trump will change his tune now that he no longer has to cozy up to the oil industry. However, the U.S.’s action could establish a bad precedent going forward and may encourage other Parties to withdraw their support. Dana Fisher, director of the Program for Society and the Environment at the University of Maryland, said “[t]he Paris Agreement and any U.S. leadership in international climate progress is dead.” But is he right?

Only time will tell.


End of Week Wrap-up: Adaptation

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Source: UNFCCC

The first week of COP 22 wrapped up today. Throughout the week I tracked a number of adaptation items under the UNFCCC. This post summarizes the developments of a few of these items. In all, Parties were engaged and prepared to move forward towards implementation. Regarding several agenda items, developing countries stressed the inclusion of support (capacity-building, finance, and technology transfer). Despite differences, overall countries appeared to be determined to move swiftly and developed draft decisions with relatively few disagreements.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs)

The SBI approved a draft decision of agenda item 9 on National Adaptation Plans. There are a few items worth mentioning. First, the decision noted that up to $3 million USD is available to each Party via the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for support in planning or formulating their NAPs. Additionally, several of the developing countries emphasized the importance of strengthening the relationship between the Adaptation Committee and the Least Developed Countries Expert Group and the GCF. Accordingly, a provision was added requesting the two groups report on their engagement with the GCF by SBI 47. Finally, several developing countries were concerned about access to adaptation funding, particularly from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). In the draft decision Parties noted with concern that 12 funding proposals seeking to implement NAPs were cleared by the Global Environment Facility but had not received funding under the LDCF.

Report of the Adaptation Committee

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Participants mime implementation actions during an interactive session at the 10th Focal Point Forum on Health and Adaptation. Source: www.iisd.ca

There were joint informal consultations discussing SBI agenda item 10 and SBSTA agenda item 4 on the report of the adaptation committee. Overall, the Parties managed to easily reach a draft decision on the Adaptation Committee. Per a request by the COP, Parties included a decision to review the progress, effectiveness, and performance of the Adaptation Committee at COP 27. Moreover, the decision noted a shortfall in resources available to the Adaptation, and it called for Parties to make available resources for the implementation of the adaptation three year work plan.

Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change (NWP)

SBSTA agenda item 3 covered the NWP.  First, the draft decision made a call to expand partnerships with diverse stakeholders, including local governments, the private sector, scientific organizations, academia, organizations representing indigenous and traditional communities, spiritual and religious groups, gender constituencies, and youth organizations, among others. This demonstrates the strong commitment the NWP has to expand its knowledge base. This provision reflected Australia and Canada’s call for more engagement with indigenous cultures. Next, the decision includes three paragraphs on the 10th Focal Point Forum on Health and Adaptation that was held in conjunction with SBSTA this week. The draft decision requests the Secretariat to prepare a synthesis paper with submissions by the Parties issued before and during the Forum to be considered at SBSTA 46.

During the Negotiations, the G77 +China and the Arab Group proposed including text on economic diversification. A co-Chair and the United States opposed including this language in the final text, arguing that it was already included in a previous decision. After a number of rounds of informal and informal informal consultations, the final draft decision did not include text on economic diversification.


A Story of Non-Economic Loss & Damage

http://loss-and-damage.net/The easiest way to approach loss and damage (L&D) in the face of climate change is to throw money at the problem, because presumably, everything has a price. But most people in who experience the actual L&D from climate change know that this is not the case. There are some losses that cannot be quantified.

Earlier today, COP22 featured a side event on L&D, where the theme throughout was non-economic or intangible loss. It is much easier to develop a fund to help hurricane victims rebuild their homes or to help a family or community relocate because their home is threatened by sea-level rise. But this fund isn’t a catch-all. There are infinite losses and damages that cannot be quantified, such as loss of culture, a sense of community, identify, youth, family, life, burial grounds, and many others.

Two of the presentations on the panel touched on a unique topic within non-economic L&D. Dr. Naomi Joy Godden presented on inequality in non-economic L&D. In her presentation, she touched on how gender issues intersect with loss of livelihood. One case study she highlighted was in Australia, where droughts have caused farmers to lose their crops and their livelihood. In addition to the tangible, quantifiable loss of crops and livelihood, they also lost their sense of identify, which is closely tied to their jobs as farmers. This loss of identity is unquantifiable and is likely experienced elsewhere in the world in the context of L&D.

The second presentation focused on the specific losses and damages felt by youth in informal settlements in Cape Town, South Africa. Phellecitus Montana and Harriet Thew from the University of Leeds presented the results of the unique losses and damages felt by the youth in these settlements, such as loss of identity, lack of institutional trust in the government, and loss of the ability to play. These types of L&D are not often discussed but are important to consider when researching potential solutions for L&D.

Both presentations demonstrate that economic compensation and financial support for L&D, while important, isn’t enough. Non-economic L&D is also an important factor to consider when researching solutions for L&D. The WIM also recognizes the importance of non-economic L&D moving forward under the Paris Agreement. Under its framework five-year workplan in the Executive Committee’s (Excom’s) 2016 Report, non-economic L&D is listed as the second strategic workstream. When the WIM takes up this work in 2017, studies such as the ones presented on in this side event will be vital to the Excom’s research and work in this area moving forward.


Gender and Climate Change Update

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon conducts Swearing-in Ceremony: Ms. Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Source: United Nations

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon conducts Swearing-in Ceremony: Ms. Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Source: United Nations

After the United States’ election results, there is a heightened sense of awareness about gender. As mentioned earlier this week, gender and climate change is on the agenda at the COP. After three days of negotiations, the Parties approved a draft decision on gender and climate change, which will be submitted to the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) for approval next week.

In the draft decision, the Parties extended the Lima work programme. By doing so, the Parties demonstrated their commitment to continue efforts to increase the participation of women delegates. The program helps female delegates build skills to effectively participate in the UNFCCC process. Extending the Lima work programme shows the world that the UNFCCC is committed to incorporating women’s perspectives in the negotiation process.

During my time at COP 22 I have witnessed first hand the results of these efforts. In the adaptation arena, most of the negotiations I attended had a strong female delegate presence, and all of them had at least one female co-facilitator. Increasing the number of women leading the world on climate change efforts can result in more dynamic decisions and more complete decision-making.

Despite the benefits of having more gender-balanced climate change negotiations, a recent study looking at 881 environment sector ministries from 193 countries found that only 12 percent were women. As the recent election shows, there is still a strong glass ceiling waiting to get shattered in many parts of the world. Without women’s larger participation at the national level, a true balance at the UNFCCC will not be possible. However, for the countries that do have women in higher positions, the concerted effort to bring women to the negotiation table is important.

In all, much work has been done and much is left to do. As long as Parties continue to put gender on the agenda, they will be sending a message to the world that women’s voices are valid and necessary in the fight against climate change.


Transparency Framework Update

Throughout this first week of COP22, I have followed the progress of the enhanced transparency framework (TF). The Paris Agreement created this TF through articles 13, 14, and 15. Because the TF is new, the discussions started out slowly. However, the Parties agreed that there is a sense of urgency in developing the modalities, procedures, and guidelines (MPGs) of implementing the new TF, as the Paris Agreement was ratified earlier than expected.

The Parties of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Paris Agreement (APA) met several times this week to discuss agenda item 5, relating to the TF in article 13 of the Paris Agreement. The co-facilitators, Andrew Rakestraw (US) and Xiang Gao (China) focused discussions on (1) transparency; (2) flexibility; and (3) national capacity. They presented the Parties with a draft work plan, which includes elements on organization of the work plan (balanced and logical manner that addresses elements of article 13), modalities for the work plan (submissions, technical paper, and workshops), and next steps. Most of the Parties welcomed the work plan. They agreed on a number of next steps: targeted submissions of Parties, and an intersessional workshop that will be forwarded to the co-chairs. The co-facilitators will post an updated work plan this evening, and will meet in a final informal consultation on Monday, Nov. 14, to receive Party reflections on the note.IMG_3806

The APA group met to discuss item 6, the global stocktake (GST) in article 14 of the Paris Agreement, several times this week. Co-facilitators Nagmeldin Elhassan (Sudan) and Ilze Prūse (Latvia) summarized Party inputs on the GST in an informal note. Many Parties requested a technical workshop and a technical paper by the Secretariat, however some Parties did not believe they were ready for technical papers. These Parties would prefer more conceptual work guided by the focused submission. Thus, the co-facilitators are working on incorporating the views of the Parties on next steps in a revised informal note. They will release a revised paper to share at the last meeting on Monday, Nov. 14.

Finally, the APA group met to discuss item 7, article 15 of the Paris agreement several times this week as well. Earlier this week, co-facilitators Peter Horne (Australia) and Janine Felson (Belize) released a set of guiding questions for the Parties. These focus areas included: (1) Scope; (2) capacity and national circumstance; (3) trigger mechanisms; (4) relationship with existing bodies; (5) enabling party participation; and (6) next steps. The co-facilitators then released a short summary of the conversations, and offered guidance for working forward. Today, co-facilitators invited the Parties to submit proposals on (but not limited to): specifying the modalities and procedures in paragraph 102, 103 of 1/CP.21, elaborating the elements the mandate, and sharing views on how to take work further such that it is in line with 1/CP.21. The purpose of these focus questions was to help the Parties develop the concrete details of the mandate; the co-facilitators have appreciated the rich exchange on conceptual ideas, however it is now critical to get down to the concrete details so that it is prepared for the CMA by 2018. The Parties were not prepared to answer these questions today. They may, however, offer recommendations at their final consultation next Monday, Nov. 14.


Following the Growth of Loss & Damage through the First Week of COP22

http://scroll.in/article/811797/the-loss-and-damage-caused-by-climate-change-and-what-we-can-do-about-itLoss and damage (L&D) has come a long way since the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements. Last year at COP21, L&D received its own article under the Paris Agreement, Article 8. But what happens next? For the first week of COP22, L&D was on the agenda under SBI agenda item 11 and SBSTA agenda item 5, so the chairs of both subsidiary bodies created a joint informal consultation to discuss the following two issues. First, the informal consultation was tasked with consider the recommendations in the WIM Executive Committee’s (Excom’s) 2016 Report, especially as it relates to its framework proposal for its five-year workplan. Second, the parties at the informal were asked to undertake the review of the WIM, as mandated by the mechanism’s creation in 2/CP.19.

Since the beginning of the week, the parties have been working toward agreements on both agenda items. Led by Beth Lavender of Canada and Alf Willis of South Africa, the parties are beginning to come to agreements on each of their two agenda items. One agreement the parties came to was there needed to be two separate decisions on each agenda item to present to the subsidiary bodies. For the Excom Report, the co-facilitators circulated draft conclusions on Wednesday to begin discussions on the topic. One sticking point on these conclusions was whether the decisions should invite parties to make submissions on the financial placeholder in the five-year workplan framework from the Excom Report.

The issue of financial support for L&D is still an issue with all parties involved in this process. When the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) first brought up the concept of L&D in 1991, its goal was to create a compensation fund in order to compensate those countries who would be harmed by sea-level rise from climate change. From this point on, the idea of compensation has been hotly contested, especially by developed countries like the United States. This idea was also debated in Paris, but ultimately, the parties agreed that Article 8 did not “involve or provide a basis for any liability compensation.” Despite this, many developing countries still need financial support from the developed world to deal with L&D.

Late Friday night, the co-facilitators and the parties issued a second version of the draft conclusions text. This version of the text included a paragraph specifically asking parties to make submissions on the various placeholders in the framework workplan, including finance. Presumably, this new text signifies a compromise between the parties and that this text will be approved and sent to the subsidiary bodies for approval by the COP.

On the second agenda item, the parties were still discussing how and when they should conduct the review. Some believed that the review of the WIM needed to be completed by the end of COP22, while others thought that the parties needed time for party submissions on various issues before the review could conclude so the actually review should not be finalized until COP23. In order to help bridge this gap, the co-facilitators drafted questions with inputs from the parties and these questions would help guide the review process. The parties have yet to come to an agreement on the issues, but they need to do so before the COP closes for the weekend on Saturday night.

Reviewing the WIM is important, especially following questions in Paris as to whether the WIM was going to continue to be the L&D mechanism under the Paris Agreement. Because the parties decided to continue the mechanism, the review is especially important to ensure it performs all of its mandated functions from the past as well as to ensure that it is well-equipped to perform its future duties under the Paris Agreement.

Approving the Excom Report is also important for the future of the WIM under the Paris Agreement because it includes approving and strengthening the WIM’s five-year workplan, which dictates how the WIM will operate moving forward. Inviting party submissions on financial matters may seem like a small issue but there is no financial mandate for L&D in the Paris Agreement, making any information about financial support extremely important for developing countries. L&D is not a remote issue to be addressed in the future. The effects of L&D are affecting countries now. The strides made in the first week at COP22 may seem small when compared to the growth witnessed in Paris, but these developments are extremely important to ensure that the WIM is adequately equipped to address L&D now and in the future.


Human Mobility in the Face of Climate Change

http://coastalbangladesh.com/english/65#.WCVz8_krJEYHuman mobility in the face of climate change is an issue that is closely linked to Loss and Damage (L&D). Under Article 8 of the Paris Agreement, L&D includes extreme weather events as well as slow-onset events. Both extreme weather and slow-onset events could necessitate human mobility or displacement, whether it be rising sea levels displacing coastal communities and entire islands or increasing hurricane and tsunami threats that cause communities to move inland.

In the face of these threats, the COP has taken action. At the end of COP21, decision 1/CP.21 requested that the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for L&D create a task force on displacement “to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change.” Since the COP issued this decision last December, the Executive Committee (Excom) of the WIM has published its 2016 Report to give an update on its progress over the last year, including information on the displacement task force. In the report, the Excom stated that it initiated the task force at its latest meeting and requested that the task force deliver its findings on displacement by COP24.

Keeping in line with this increasing focus on human mobility and displacement due to climate change, Thursday featured three side events on this topic. The first event discussed human mobility in the context of organizations and frameworks outside of the UNFCCC and in some instances, how those organizations and frameworks intersect with mechanisms under the UNFCCC. For example, Dina Ionesco with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) discussed a technical meeting and workshop on human mobility that occurred recently in Casablanca, Morocco, with the WIM in order to discuss capacity building, and action and implementation under the WIM. The WIM continues the call for expert advice from UN organizations and other expert bodies on the topic as part of action area six in its initial two-year workplan, further emphasizing the importance of human mobility and displacement under the WIM.

Another side event focused on the impact and importance of human mobility and displacement in especially vulnerable countries with a focus on a rights-based approach to displacement. This side event featured speakers from APMDD, COAST Trust, LDC Watch, and Friends of the Earth Africa and included discussions on what types of terminology is appropriate—migration or displacement—when discussing human mobility and climate change. Terminology in the context is important because they have set definitions in international law and these definitions don’t always conform with the context under which some human mobility occurs.

The final event from yesterday focused on cultural and heritage losses associated with human mobility and displacement. This event grounded the discussion in the noneconomic loss felt by many communities who voluntarily migrate or who are forced to leave their home behind in the face of repeated natural disasters or rising sea levels. Noneconomic losses are often overlooked when discussing human mobility because it’s difficult to assess these losses when conducting a cost-benefit analysis on whether to uproot communities. However, determining noneconomic losses, like loss of culture, are important to ensure any voluntary migrations are successful. The impacts are real and felt by all of the community members who are forced to leave their homes and sometimes livelihoods behind. Attending to and understanding these communities’ cultural wellbeing in addition to their physical wellbeing is a vital part of the conversation when discussing human mobility and displacement. With the new task force on displacement under the WIM, the above concerns should be taken into account in order to ensure the success of the program in understanding the full range of issues associated with human mobility and displacement due to climate change.