Koronivia Joint Work Programme News Feed

One week after the draft conclusions for the the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) were submitted, and the subsidiary bodies concluded their independent negotiations, representatives from Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and France addressed the media about the work done and conclusions made at the completion of KJWA’s work at COP24.

The panel had a lukewarm response to the outcome of the first “Road Map” workshop since the 4/CP.23 mandate.  The representative from Rwanda was very disappointed about the lack of “welcome” for the IPCC 1.5 Report, which he said is a joke to African countries in particular, who are living the harsh realities of climate change now.  Mr. Bassey of Nigeria emphasized the role of small scale farmers moving forward in response to our changing climate.  Agriculture that works with local knowledge, without the extensive chemical inputs commonly associated with industrial agriculture – farming that “can be done on the streets” – is how we need to move forward with farming our fields and feeding our families.

Modalities and procedures for the implementation of the KJWA were the focus of these joint SBI/SBSTA meetings.  But South Africa’s representative noted that developing Parties, particularly the Africa Group, felt that little support for implementation came to fruition, with finance remaining as the primary roadblock moving forward.  Panelists believe guidelines need to reflect a just socioeconomic basis for food security: adaptation, absolute emissions reductions, ecological integrity, and gender responsiveness.

The session concluded with a question posed by an audience member who, like myself, was unable to attend much of last week’s negotiations – “how can other organizations such as Latin American groups participate in the SBI/SBSTA joint meetings next year?”

The French panelist who promoted France’s sustainable Agroecology initiatives responded by emphasizing engagement in the KJWA workshops via the Submissions Portal.  Participation by all parts of the agricultural community, not just Parties, is key.  Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 1.59.02 PMWe need to ask questions, offer solutions, and promote an inclusive, equitable, just future for those feeling the drastic effects of climate change already.  As the Nigerian representative concluded, “we have the wisdom, we have the knowledge. We need to share it.”  Lots of experience from the global South remains to be shared by the farmer-scientists who have the tools and must feed the way!


What’s cooking in the COP24 kitchen?

IMG_2287The Polish Presidency addressed observers this evening about what remains to be negotiated on the Paris Agreement Implementation Guidelines before their impending deadline.  As the second week of COP24 comes to a close, tensions are high as the remaining items to be hashed out by high level Ministers run late into the evenings. This comes as no surprise, given the existential crises certain Parties are facing as a result of our changing climate.  In the words of the Presidency, “discussions continue to happen in silos, as they try to ‘cook’ a balanced text” that is fair in the eyes of all Parties.

The remaining items to be negotiated include: Financial matters; Modalities, procedures and guidelines under the Paris Agreement (PA); Adaptation; Cooperative instruments under Article 6; Matters relating to technology; Response measures; NDC registries; and the Talanoa Dialogue and IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.  This is no small feat, given the mounting social, environmental, and economic pressures. A few prominent observer groups felt strongly about these items, and when invited by the Chair of the session did not hesitate to voice their opinions and confront the Presidency about their concerns.

IMG_2281The Environmental Non-Governmental Organization (ENGO) felt that responses in NDCs to the IPCC report remained inadequate, and feared that trading and compromise would not end favorably for “non-PAWP” related items.  The Women and Gender group echoed these concerns, stressing most about the preamble of the pending 1/CP.24, because anything that does not reflect these principles “would be a fraught to humanity.”  The Indigenous Peoples Organization responded to the Presidency by admiring the fact that while the COP is trying to “cook a balanced package,” they are concerned about human rights issues, and the IPCC 1.5 Report.  YOUNGO called attention to the lacking mandate around enhancement of NDCs, and fears that the Talanoa Dialogue will not be preserved in the final process.  Trade Union-NGO (TUNGO) group wanted clear recognition of the IPCC report as well, because “this is why we are here.” The IPCC report is the “why” and the “how” to address our climatic conundrum.

The Presidency responded to everyone’s concerns by reiterating what was said in the plenary earlier that day, and what he outlined in his introduction to this session.  He directed observers to the Talanoa Call for Action that called for a rapid mobilization of a variety of social actors to respond to the climate goals agreed upon in the PA, and expects most of these issues to be preserved in the final text as well.  While the Presidency hoped to console observer’s concerns, we all still wait in anticipation to see what the head chefs in the Convention kitchen have cooked up for the finale of COP24.


Feminist Electrification is about Health Care!

The United Nations Climate Action Awards were announced on December 11Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 10.58.13 PM at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24). One of the 15 Momentum for Change awards went to EarthSpark International for their work on energy poverty. Globally energy poverty is understood as a lack of access to modern energy services.  As I discuss in my October 14 blog, over three billion people rely on wood, charcoal, or dung for cooking resulting in more than 4 million deaths per year from household air pollution. Electrification IS about health.

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 10.48.11 PMEarthSpark recognizes this crisis and also the disproportionate affect on women in rural areas. Women tend to be the ones that travel hours and hours per day collecting fuel. They also tend to be the ones tending and breathing these smoky fires for cooking. The EarthSpark winning project has a gender lens they refer to as “feminist electrification.” The projects range from small-scale clean energy projects such as solar lanterns and efficient cooktops to their current project creating 80 community scale microgrids in Haiti to bring electrification to these rural communities. These types of projects help address many of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

There are still 1.2 billion people without access to electricity. 1.2 billion people Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 10.58.27 PMthat can’t refrigerate food, cook on a stove, run a light to read by, or charge a phone to communicate (yes most rural communication is by cell phone). We have an opportunity to leverage today’s technology to bring smart infrastructure to these communities while we equalize gender opportunity.  Let’s build it right the first time!


Africa Day at COP24

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Africa Day is a traditional day where the African countries bring awareness to the impacts of climate change on their peoples. This day is a way for African countries to make concrete commitments for addressing climate change. At COP24, Africa Day is used to table all the climate change issues African countries face, and learn how to effectively present them to all the other COP parties. Today, African nations hosted multiple presentations addressing their efforts and challenges in implementing their NDCs. Of the many discussed, I want to highlight two important issues: international support and the power of the next generation.

1. (Lack of) International Support

One presenter joked about how Africans should have intellectual property rights over the term “poverty” because everyone thinks everywhere in Africa is basically poor. In all seriousness, the presenters did make some valid arguments in response to the lack of international (mostly financial) support for implementation of African NDCs. Collectively, the continent of Africa only emits about 2-3% of global GHG emissions. Here, African officials expressed their frustration with other Parties’ expectations from African countries, yet do not want to assist the African countries financially to achieve those expectations. Moreover, African countries stressed the importance of including adaptation measures in their NDCs, whereas most developing countries would like to focus more on mitigation. It’ll be very interesting to hear the negotiations on whether to mandate adaption in NDCs, and I will be sure to keep you all updated on that process.

2. African Youth

Several African students and young professionals used these sessions as opportunities to confront their nations’ leaders on improving conditions to keep more young people in Africa. Last year alone, about 17 million young Africans migrated to Europe in search of food, work, and education. Both the young advocates and officials had constructive dialogue on how to keep more youth in Africa while tackling tough climate change issues. Some suggested to restructure budget allocations so the majority of funding no longer goes to agriculture. Food security is very important, but, according to the youth at this event, not at the expense of stimulating the economy or educating the next generation to lead the African nations.


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.


Are Human Rights Lost and Damaged?

Haiti after Hurricane Matthew

Haiti after Hurricane Matthew

Loss and Damage (L&D) includes the permanent loss of land, culture, and human life and will escalate existing tensions over increasingly scarce resources. This tension will ultimately incite conflict in many parts of the world. In some places, the loss of habitable land is forcing individuals and families to leave their country, threatening their sovereignty, and some countries are entirely submerged as a result of increasing sea levels. Since human rights include the right to life and the right to health, some have wondered why these aspects of climate change are not considered a violation of human rights.

One reason could stem from traditional human rights violations. Typically, human rights violations must be obviously traceable to an entity. An article in the Bangladesh Chronicle observes that extreme weather events cannot violate human rights through volcanic eruptions, mudslides, or events outside human control. As L&D is defined as the impacts of climate change that people are unable to adapt to, there might be an argument that the consequences are outside human control. Certainly, this is the case for L&D up to a point.

However, the risk of L&D is exacerbated through current inaction. By countries not adopting aggressive mitigation targets, they are not only increasing the already widespread need for adaptation, but they are worsening the situation by exponentially raising the risk posed by more frequent extreme weather events and more extensive slow onset events.  Therefore, there is a direct connection between lackadaisical mitigation reductions and increased risk of L&D. This trend, when coupled with scientific advances that can determine the impact of a specific country’s emission contributions on another’s climate, could provide vulnerable countries with an avenue to seek compensation through the international courts of justice, or some other court with requisite jurisdiction.

Still, in order to bring a claim, the claim must be valid. This is where one of the major criticisms of the Paris Agreement might work toward concerned parties’ advantage. Throughout the negotiation of the Paris Agreement, mentioning human rights in the substantive body of the text remained contentious. Ultimately, the concept was relegated to the preamble and isolated from any significant application to the implementation of the Paris Agreement requirements. Also, under decision 1/CP.21 para 51, the Parties agreed that Article 8 of the Paris Agreement dealing with L&D does not provide a basis for liability or compensation. Theoretically, since human rights are not mentioned in Article 8, a human rights violation resulting from widespread indifference to climate action leading to increased L&D might provide relevant parties with enough of a legal basis to establish liability. The Paris Agreement does not explicitly exempt human rights violation claims founded on L&D. The Paris Agreement and following decisions only prevent L&D grievances rooted within the operative text of Article 8. The specific language states that L&D does not “provide a basis for compensation or liability,” but does not preclude liability founded in human rights. Therefore the Paris Agreement only prevents parties from declaring entitlement to compensation from developed countries based on the mere fact that L&D will occur. It does not preclude liability imposed through claims not covered in the Paris Agreement like human rights violations.

Albeit seemingly outlandish, challenging the unambitious mitigation offers from developed countries with human rights violation claims might prove to be a form of viable motivation so as to adequately protect the most vulnerable countries to climate change. In this narrow window of opportunity, the international community should not wait to mitigate. When that window closes, they can only hope for the best and provide compensation.


Young and Future Generations Day at COP22

Away from the negotiation sessions, contact groups, informal discussions and other exciting diplomacy exercises, COP22 devoted its fourth day to young and future generations. This focus explored the intergenerational equity dimension of climate justice. The principle of intergenerational equity is concerned primarily with the distribution of “public goods” and “public bads,” as expressed by John Rawls’ definition of justice between present and future generations. It mainly rests yse_yfgdon the belief that future generations are entitled to a future that is not diminished by our the current pattern of living, such as high energy consumption and over depletion of natural resources.

Young and future generations deserve to be heard and should have the chance to influence the climate negotiation. They are the ones that will inherit this planet. Climate change is threatening their inheritance and right to development. A series of side events, workshops and activities presented today showcases the important role that young people already play in climate actions implementation worldwide.


Using the Paris Agreement to Incorporate Indigenous Peoples Knowledge into Climate Change Policies

Panelists presenting today on indigenous peoples knowledge outlined land use and resource management practices adopted by indigenous peoples that are viable and sustainaenvironment_climate_bolivia.jpeg_1718483346ble approaches to climate change adaptation. To date, climate change approaches have focused largely on utilizing modern technologies and developing new technologies to the detriment of indigenous peoples. Panelists began by describing specific indigenous adaptation approaches, but slowly shifted the discussion toward human rights.

One panelist’s presentation stood out in particular. Kittisak Rattanakrajangsri, a panelist from the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Foundation (AIPP), presented on holistic land use and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. Kittisak told the story of the Pgakeuyaw people in Thailand. Made up of 20 households, 35 families, 107 people, and 5 clans, the Pgakeuyaw believes in a deep connection between humans and nature, and that without the forests, there is no life. The Pgakeuyaw have developed a complex system for managing their land that involves classifying land use into categories such as settlement area, cemetery area, wet-paddy field area, and mix farm land, to name a few. The way the Pgakeuyaw manages resources reflects their intricate knowledge of the different ecosystems within their village territory; the way they manage their land and avoid land pressure and degradation demonstrates their sustainable and holistic approach to land-use practices.

Until recently, the needs and practices of indigenous groups like the Pgakeuyaw were pushed aside to make room for new and fresh climate change policies. Edward Porokwa, a panelist from the Pastoralists Indigenous Non-Governmental Organization (PINGO’s) Forum, boldly pointed out that actions taken to address climate change affect indigenous peoples just as much as the adverse effects of climate change. The Paris Agreement represents a step in the right direction in encouraging Parties to consider the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as indigenous knowledge bases, although indigenous peoples feel the Agreement does not go far enough.6a00d8341d43c253ef00e54f1c02678833-500wi

The Paris Agreement explicitly calls for the consideration of the rights of indigenous peoples in the preamble, and the taking into account of the knowledge of indigenous peoples in adaptation actions in Article 7.5. Areas of the Paris Agreement beyond those two provisions present opportunities for the rights and knowledge of indigenous peoples to be considered by Parties. These include Article 5.2’s mention of non-carbon benefits and Article 8.4’s inclusion of the need to account for non-economic losses and the resilience of communities, livelihoods, and ecosystems.

To ensure the rights of indigenous peoples are protected, Tunga Bhadra Rai, a panelist from the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), stressed that when implementing the Paris Agreement, Parties must tap into indigenous knowledge bases for adaptation approaches, include non-carbon benefits as mitigation approaches, and focus discussions on capacity building and non-economic loss and damage.

Despite the lack of attention to indigenous peoples in previous climate change negotiations, COP 22’s emphasis on community-based approaches presents a real opportunity for these voices to be heard. 

 


Caught on the Front Lines of Climate Change

In an event hosted today by WOCAN (Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management), six inspiring women shared their stories of community, loss, and leadership. The panel was comprised of women from diverse and remote regions of the world, including a Native American of the Ponca Nation, a representative from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a Quechua-speaking native of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and several leaders of global non-profit organizations. All of these women came to COP21 with the same message: the voices of women and indigenous peoples are essential to effectively addressing climate change.

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Panelists at today’s event, Global Women & Indigenous Peoples on the Frontline of Climate Solutions: Forests & Renewable Energy

Each of the panelists shared shockingly similar stories of their lives and their communities, highlighting their plight against the effects of climate change. Most indigenous communities contribute very little to climate change, yet feel the effects far more profoundly than the rest of the world. Women also face disproportionate impacts from climate change, indicating that this group had tremendous insight to offer from both perspectives. They had faced the direct impacts of climate change and had established innovative methods of addressing the associated problems. In the case of the Ponca Nation and the Amazonian natives, both groups are actively opposing resource extraction in their sacred ancestral lands. Women in Colombia are reclaiming land for traditional agricultural practices after years of protests allowed them to begin saving seeds again. Women in the DRC are creating carbon negative local economies by planting trees. By organizing their communities and utilizing traditional and institutional knowledge, they are developing robust, local solutions to climate change.

Nevertheless, a Paris agreement may not address these groups’ needs or their suggestions. There are currently four binding sections of the agreement that reference gender equality or the rights of indigenous people, and two of those references are bracketed. This means that the rights of indigenous people and women may not be adequately addressed in two important parts of the agreement (purpose and finance). Hopefully, this panel discussion, along with the other events associated with Gender Day, will encourage the negotiators to avoid this absurd result.


Celebrating Gender Day at COP21

Today is Gender Day at COP21. In celebration, the Women and Gender Constituency of the UNFCCC recognized the winners of the Gender Just Climate Solutions competition. These winners were celebrated for their great work combating climate change in a “gender-just” manner.

Photo Source: Island Eco

Photo Source: Island Eco

Island Eco from the Marshall Islands won the Technical Climate Solution Award for its work in training young women how to install solar photovoltaic DC refrigeration. Under this project, young rural women learn the electrical and mechanical skills needed to assemble, deliver, and install solar powered lights, refrigerators, and freezers in the Marshall Islands.

Next, the Non-Technical Climate Solution Award was presented to Gender CC – Women for Climate Justice for its efforts to raise awareness on gender integration in climate change adaptation and resiliency building activities in Southern Africa. Gender CC’s project connects women leaders, government officials, and NGOs to local women farmers in order to provide awareness training and capacity building skills concerning the installation of biogas digesters, PVC solar units, and water harvesting tanks.

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Photo Source: GenderCC

The final award was presented to Tulele Peisa of Papua New Guinea for its local relocation efforts, that are being led by the Carteret Islanders who face imminent extinction due to climate change impacts and increased numbers of extreme weather events on their home island. This project prepares and provides support to three communities on Bougainville in order to ensure there is adequate land, infrastructure, and economic opportunities for the Carteret Islanders when they choose to voluntarily relocate. The purpose of this project is to ensure that the Carteret culture and society continues to exist even after their home island becomes unlivable.

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Ursula Rakova was called upon by the Carteret Elders to lead Tulle Peisa. She accepted the award on behalf of Tulle Peisa. Photo Source: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Thin Lei Win

Overall, the Gender Just Climate Solution awards highlighted amazing groups led by inspiring women who are all working to ensure that climate change decision making provides equal access for both women and men to effectively participate and address local concerns caused by the effects of a changing climate.


What story will COP21 tell?

UNClimateChangeNewsroomHdrEverywhere you turn at COP21 there are exciting stories – stories of unprecedented financing partnerships to ramp up renewable energy technologies; stories of global knowledge exchanges on successful strategies for adapting to climate impacts; stories of cities leading breakthrough initiatives in energy efficiency; and more.

Behind the scenes, though, in rooms open only to official country delegates, there are negotiations (now at the ministerial level) on a draft text of the Paris Outcome that still has many issues, even at this late date. The results will impact every single person on the planet, and it could be a very sad story. In fact, according to Stuart Scott, host of Climate Matters, a video series covering COP21, “[i]f you’re paying attention to what’s going on here, you can’t talk about the negotiations as an honest effort.”

Scott’s guests today offered a piece of that sad story already unfolding- the one of vulnerable individuals, communities and nations suffering heartbreaking impacts of climate change right now all around the world. His focus was the Pacific Islands.

Kiribati King TideTo the backdrop of powerful images, Tinaai Teaua of Kiribati and Maina Talia of Tuvalu both spoke of the physical and emotional losses they’ve experienced and witnessed in the face of king tides, cyclones and water shortages. Teaua described how the king tides wipe out homes, how coastal erosion is destroying the tree fruit crops on which her people depend, and how people are scared. They don’t want to leave home. “Without our land, we are nothing. Our land is our identity.” T Teaua of Kiribati

Talia’s home of Tuvalu is a group of 8 islands with no land at more than 2 meters above sea level. Climate change is forcing many to relocate; nearly 5,000 have already moved to New Zealand. He echoed Teaua’s words.

Another guest, Maria Tiimon Chi-Fang of the NGO Pacific Calling Partnership articulated the climate justice reality permeating the room: “It is not just about moving people to a safer place. It is very unjust for developed countries to keep doing what is so wrong, to keep jeopardizing the lives of our people.”

“The youth look into my eyes, saying ‘Why must we move?’ This is where we were born. Our ancestors are buried here.”

The message Kiribati’s Teaua has been taking to the delegates is clear: “You are not immune, no matter where you live. If you save me and my future, you save the world.”

Now that’s the story we need.Tuvalu_-_Funafuti_-_Beach


“What would we tell our grandchildren if we fail?”

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech during the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015.   REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech during the opening session of COP21 at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Today’s children and their future heirs have been getting a lot of airtime at COP21 as Parties and world leaders regularly invoke “our children, grandchildren, and future generations” in a call for immediate action on climate change. At the Leaders Event Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Prince of Wales, French President Francois Hollande, and the prime minister of Tuvalu were among those who invoked future generations – even mentioning their own children and grandchildren – to stress the importance of a long-term deal. This personal appeal to “think of your children” is unsurprising as climate policy fundamentally asks the present to sacrifice for the future.

A 2013 Time magazine article discusses the question of intergenerational equity and cites a study about “the retirement saving crisis” to suggest that human beings are not good at planning for the future even when their own future selves stand to benefit. Time suggests that this inability to sacrifice for the future is compounded in the climate change context because the most severe impacts from climate change are many years away or else they are happening in developing countries that are out of sight.

So, is there hope for a climate deal in Paris when human beings only think of themselves?

Some reassurance comes from the text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or “Convention”) itself. The first stated principle of the Convention under Article 3 reads, “[t]he Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.” While Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, observed at the CVF meeting this week that this article includes the only mention of people in the Convention, the principle makes clear that Parties should consider future generations when making decisions.

youthThis principle is the subject of tomorrow’s Young and Future Generations Day at COP21, a non-stop celebration of youth power and participation in the climate talks. This celebration “recognizes the key role that young people play in reaching innovative and ambitious solutions to climate change,” and will generate several related side events on tomorrow’s calendar.

Beyond Paris and the Convention, three weeks ago, Our Children’s Trust hit a major milestone when, for the first time, a judge ruled in favor of intergenerational climate justice. The judge ordered the State of Washington to reconsider 8 youth plaintiffs’ petition requesting that the Department of Ecology write a carbon emissions rule that protects the atmosphere for their generation and those to come. The judge’s eloquent opinion summarizes the importance of intergenerational equity stating, “[the youths’] very survival depends upon the will of their elders to act now, decisively and unequivocally, to stem the tide of global warming before doing so becomes first too costly and then too late.”


Where do Human Rights Belong?

Today marked the first meeting of the ADP Contact Group. Though the meeting started out going over what seemed to be relatively mundane logistical issues, it quickly heated up when human rights were brought up. The problem? Whether human rights issues should be left to the preamble, or given a place in the operational text.

As a refresher, the preamble to an international agreement is not part of the legally binding, operative text of an agreement. Rather, it more or less sets the stage for the agreement and provides a context under which the agreement may be interpreted.

This morning, while addressing Article 7 of the Draft Agreement on Technology Development, Mr. Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, the Facilitator from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), addressed concerns over parties introducing new ideas this late in the game. Specifically, he mentioned that while working on the language of Article 7 Section 3, a party motioned to add language regarding human rights. Mr. Mpanu Mpanu noted that this addition slowed the progress they had been making on the text up to that point. However, because COP21 is a party driven process, Mr. Mpanu Mpanu felt obligated to mention it amongst the larger body.

http://paristext2015.com/2015/05/human-rights-in-the-paris-text/Mexico, the party in question, immediately responded. “Human rights is not preamble language.” Mexico maintained that human rights issues are operational issues and should thus not be relegated simply to the preamble. They expressed their willingness to be flexible with the placement of human rights, as long as it received a home somewhere within the operational text. In essence, that human rights text would be legally binding within the text. And in response to suggestions that the issue was being newly introduced, Mexico maintained that they have been asking for its inclusion for a long time leading up to these negotiations.

So that leaves the world with a big question. Should human rights be included in a binding agreement on climate change? Undoubtedly, climate change solutions will involve human rights issues. Climate change is about more than weather, it highlights and intensifies inequalities already in place. For this reason, it is likely that an agreement without biding language on human rights will be to some extent incomplete.


Individually Survivors, Together a Force – World’s Vulnerable Take Action at COP21

photo-19Today, at the Third High-Level Meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), government leaders representing over 40 countries that are the most vulnerable to impacts from climate change adopted a historic joint declaration, the Manila-Paris Declaration. The Declaration, and its associated three-year Road Map, calls for a more ambitious long-term temperature goal of 1.5˚C, zero emissions by mid-century, and 100% renewable energy decarbonization by 2050.

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At the meeting, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, acknowledged this important action but raised concerns that CVF was not making a coordinated effort to push for an ambitious Paris agreement. Outgoing chair of the CVF, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, also called for collective action stating, “individually, we are already survivors; collectively, we are a force towards a fairer, more climate-proactive world.”


The Secret Weapon Against Climate Change? Family Planning

2_evidencebased_programming_2Family Planning may be the most cost-effective weapon against climate change. At least according to a new report from the University of California, San Francisco’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. According to the report, family planning could provide between 16 and 29 percent of the needed greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Additionally, last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognized for the first time the benefits of family planning for impacting climate change. The IPCC report recognized the importance of family planning in areas with a high vulnerability to climate change, including the Sahel region of Africa, as well as in rich countries like the United States. Increasing access to family planning not only helps reduce human suffering, especially in extremely vulnerable areas, but also decreases overall consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

PopulationToday the world population is over 7 billion, a number that is relatively recent in the history of human civilization. Between 1900 and 2000 the world population increased from 1.5 to 6.1 billion. That is, in just 100 years the population increased three times more than it had during the entire history of human kind. The effects of this astounding increase in human beings on the environment is staggering. Increasing populations threaten the survival of plant and animal species around the world, reduce air quality, increase energy demands, effect groundwater and soil health, reduce forests, expand deserts, and increase waste. And these effects will only get worse, as the United Nations predicts that the world population will reach 9.6 billion people by 2050.

According to the report from the Bixby Center, family planning programs are dollar-for-dollar the most effective way to avoid some of the worst impacts from climate change. There are currently 222 million women in the world with an unmet need for modern family planning methods. To meet this demand for family planning it will take $9.4 billion a year, an increase from current family planning spending by about $5.3 billion a year. Despite this high dollar value, family planning spending is still a relatively cheap option. According to the report, “For every $7 spent of family planning, carbon emissions would be reduced more than [one metric ton]… the same emissions reductions from low-carbon energy production technologies would cost at least $32.”

MTI5NTI2Mzc5NzgyOTE2MTA2Despite the cost-effectiveness, family planning still remains a contentious issue. But things may be looking up. As part of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) countries must consider their population size and its potential growth in order to envision how per capita emissions may change in the future. The new UNFCCC synthesis report of INDCs takes into account different population growth scenarios for the next fifteen years, and suggests that some governments may not be using the best population data for calculating business as usual emissions scenarios. Additionally, in the report some governments state that population density and growth within their countries remains a constraint on their ability to adapt to climate change.

What this means is that family planning is necessary. Not only is it necessary on a human level (family planning is one of the best ways to improve education and quality of life for women around the globe), it remains one of the most effective tools at our disposal for combatting climate change.