Talanoa Dialogue at COP23

Tagalano Roa United Nations Climate change conference 2017 Bonn GermanyLast Year at COP22 in Marrakech, much of the media conversation was distracted by the US election results, and the instability of what would become of the Paris Agreement without the US’s commitment. Would it fall the way of the Kyoto Protocol? Would the economics work in its favor, as they did in the case of the Montreal Protocol? Countries weren’t sure, but they knew that inaction was too risky. They signed the Marrakech Action Protocol, indicating that they were all “Still In” regardless of what other countries decided. The decision was a powerful statement of unity for the environmental community worldwide, and a fierce posture against the new administration’s foreign policy stance. This effort was paired with a decision to include more non-state actors. Where states fail to act or where they are limited in their reach, their capacities can be expanded by including civil society in the implementation, tracking and policy making. This decision let to the organization of a Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.

The facilitative dialogue was called to address three questions:

              Where Are We?                            Where do we need to be?                             How do we get there?

These three questions were to be answered through a conversation between the stakeholders and the 196 nations that are part of the Paris Agreement.

COP23 Frank Bainimarama hosts an open dialogue with stakeholders from all constituency groups present. Talanoa session.

Stakeholders have long been fighting for a voice in the decision making of international climate change agreements, and this dialogue was especially important to youth.  Within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there are nine recognized constituency groups (a network of organizations that share a common purpose). They are: Business & Industry, Research & Investigation, Youth, Environmental, Local Government & Municipal Authorities, Indigenous Peoples, Farmers, Women & Gender, and Trade Unions. Each constituency has one or more policy position that they would like to see pushed through during the negotiations. Each of these constituency groups would now have a stronger voice through the Facilitative Dialogue.

 Fiji Prime Minister hosts the open dialogue
photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

During Week One, Fiji Prime Minister and COP23 President, Frank Bainimarama and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa held an Open Dialogue between party actors and constituency groups. This was the first time for many constituency groups to have a seat at the table with equal footing and an equal voice in the conversation. Statements made by constituencies were given freely, not limited or timed as they typically are. The Fiji presidency compared the dialogue to a process called talanoa, a storytelling style used in the Pacific that emphasizes participation, inclusion and transparency, on a basis of trust and empathy.

Patricia Espinosa listens to constituency groups during talanoa session at COP23
photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

Parties engaged as well, responding to concerns of different constituency groups. The UK mentioned locking business leaders in a room until they figured out how to transition to a green economy, while Mexico joked that their businesses went into the room willingly. Uganda talked about a national climate change forum they held with non-party stakeholders to engage youth and community organizations in climate change adaptation.

Youth asked for greater focus on climate empowerment, with financial and institutional support for their programs so that they can take action in their home countries. We also asked for climate empowerment, capacity building, and climate change education to be included in countries’ national climate action plans, especially for mitigation.

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photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

Moving into next year, there will be an online platform where we can contribute to the dialogue to try and answer some of these questions of where we’re at, where we’re going, and how to get there. The purpose of this dialogue is to create solutions, to drive innovation, and propose realistic means through which we limit global average temperature rise to 1.5⁰C.  Next year will be the big year to get these solutions together so that countries can start putting them in place worldwide before the 2023 Global Stocktake, when a count will be done of each country’s present and reduced emissions, carbon sinks, and mitigation efforts.

Youth around the world are already acting on the ground to create synergy for emissions reductions. Plant-for-the-Planet, Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network, and CliMates are just a couple examples of organizations that bring thousands of youth together for reforestation, less invasive farming, and campaign building. For capacity-building, Youth Climate Lab, China Youth Climate Action Network and Care About Climate have created tools for youth worldwide to connect on online platforms to discuss the issues, solutions, and strategies for youth activists to be most effective in their work to address climate change locally, regionally or nationally. In terms of policy action, on an international level, we have working groups within YOUNGO that address many policy issues such as

Kava- a traditional Pacific drink

Adaptation, Women & Gender, Capacity-Building, Oceans, etc. These work to consolidate our policy positions into a specific request of policy-makers.

Over the next year, the UNFCCC will be continuing the Talanoa Dialogue at intersessionals in May and at COP24 in Poland. We look forward to drinking kava and having many more talanoa sessions! In the meantime, we’ll be continuing with our capacity building work year-round and working to make it as inclusive and transparent as possible. As Mr. Bainimarama said, “We are all in the same canoe“, we must work together to find & implement solutions.

By Sarah Voska

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, and the director of the Online Youth Exchange. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at careaboutclimate@gmail.com with any questions!

Nepal’s role in COP and Issues of Climate Finance

COP 23 and Nepal’s Agenda?

This year becomes very challenging, because of natural disaster around a world. More than 1200 people lost their life because of flood in Nepal, Bangladesh and India. United States of America faced a devastating hurricane and incidence of fire. Many of the part of world faced the recorded hit of heat waves and storms. All this cost to loss of billions of property. Some day before, World Metrological Organization release a report with a warning sign of global average concentration of Carbon dioxide reached 403.3 parts of millions (ppm) in 2016. This reports also says that this concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase at record speed last year to hit a level not seen for more than three millions years.[1] With this all on the board, worlds leaders, academician, representatives from civil society, climate activists, media and youth are gathering at Bonn for UN Climate Change Conference.

What is COP 23?

This year, 23rd Meeting of Conference of Parties to UNFCCC will take place from 6 to 17 November at Bonn, Germany. The conference will be convened under the Presidency of Fiji. This meeting will focus on the development of guidance on how the Paris Agreement’s provisions will be implemented across a wide range of issues including transparency, adaptation, emission reductions, and provision of finance, capacity building and technology. There will also be the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 13), second part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1.2). There will also be the forty seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47), forty seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 47) and fourth part of the first session of the AD Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1.4). The COP, the CMP and the CMA are the supreme decision making bodies for the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement respectively[2]. This is a regular meeting of UNFCCC but will also be very important as this will be on of the very important steps for the effective implementation of Paris Agreement.

Being a party to the UNFCCC, Nepal has also participated in the COP meeting from the beginning. Nepal has participated with a strong voice raising the important agenda of Nepal. This year also, governmental delegation led by the Honorable Minister for Ministry of Population and Environment, Government of Nepal, representatives from Civil Society, Climate Activist, representatives from media house have already headed to Bonn to participate in meeting.

What are the main agenda of Nepal for COP 23?

Before moving to Bonn, Ministry of Population and Environment has prepared a Nepal’s Agenda paper with a series of consultation workshop in Nepal. Nepal has focused and call for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, financial support to undertake the adaptation and mitigation actions in the country. Nepal has also raised the issues related to financing of adaption, financing of loss and damage and consideration of agriculture within the formal negotiations process. Nepal has focused in the harnessing of international cooperation and support in technology development for the implementation of NAPA priority projects. Nepal has also focused for the international effort for the access of small holder farmers to adjust their farmers systems and move toward low carbon efficient practices and to increase the access of farmers to weather and climate information services and financial schemes. Nepal has priorities adaptation finance and technology transfer as a key to Nepal and LDCs. Nepal has also put forwarded to discuss on the modalities for accounting financial resources and clear clarity on the financial instruments, difference between the ODA and the climate finance. Nepal will also raise the issues for the easy and simplified access of international funds, capacity building of Least Developed Countries like Nepal. Nepal will raise all this issues during the different meetings, side events.

Being one of the most vulnerable countries because of the negative impact of climate change and Least Developed Countries, Conference of Parties to UNFCCC is very much important for Nepal, to raise the Nepal’s Agenda on the global arena. So, Nepal delegation team has not to miss any chance to grab the opportunity which is foremost to achieve the Nepal’s goal.

Written By Pradeep

Pradeep is a climate activist from Nepal and currently he is working with Prakriti Resources Centre (PRC) as a Programme Officer. He is also a part of Online Youth Exchange Program run by Care About Climate and China Youth Climate Action Network.

 

We’re Still In?

Tagalano Roa United Nations Climate change conference 2017 Bonn GermanyOn June 1st, President Donald Trump announced that the US would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement. But next week, he’ll be sending the Rex Tillerson’s third-ranking state department official and undersecretary for political affairs, Tom Shannon, to lead the US delegation at a United Nations conference in Germany to work with world leaders on the details of the Paris Agreement’s implementation.

Shannon will be on his way next week to join UN delegates, and representatives from industry, non-profits, universities, Indigenous groups and local governments to hash out the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. Written in 2015, it was signed by 196 countries and so far has been ratified by 169. The only county in the UN that has not signed the agreement is Syria.

It’s difficult to understand the US’s position on climate change. President Trump, during his campaign and while in office has called for our removal from the Paris Agreement. The United States cannot officially withdraw from the treaty until 2020, so the US delegation will be there to negotiate the rules for measuring & tracking emissions. Their delegation will be Huffington Post John Kerry UNFCCC Climate Change Conference Marrakechmuch smaller than last year’s 90 person delegation, led by John Kerry, and they will not host an official US pavilion, which traditionally has been a space to engage with civilians, share relevant NASA or EPA data, and host presentation on how US public and private sector are engaging to combat climate change.  The delegation will mostly be there to protect US interests by ensuring that other countries are being transparent in their reporting methods and actually meeting their commitments.

Many environmental leaders are stepping up to fill the void of a smaller US presence in the conference. We’re Still In is a collaboration of state governors, mayors, CEOs, university presidents and tribal leaders representing about 120 million people (more than a third of the US population) who are committing their governors, mayors, businesses investors and universities global leaders reducing carbon footpringstates, cities, businesses, schools and nations to the Paris Agreement.  They are hosting an unofficial US pavilion, and sponsoring educational seminars and workshops to show the world that at the local level, US citizens are doing something to combat climate change.

Because the Constitution reserves the power of signing international treaties for the Federal government, this commitment is unofficial, and symbolic. But leaders of these groups firmly believe that action on climate change is absolutely necessary from a public health, economic and social justice standpoint. If we don’t act now to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we’ll face rising sea levels, more ferocious extreme weather events- among the likes of Maria and Irma, droughts and heat waves that destroy cropland- and increased migration & conflict around the world.

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Former Mayer Michael Bloomberg (NYC), Gov. Jerry Brown (CA) and other prominent leaders from local governments will be leading the charge at this year’s conference. Both have mobilized private funds to support projects to reduce emissions worldwide. The Paris Agreement calls for $100 billion USD to be raised each year for 5 years, in order to help developing countries pay for the costs of sustainable development investments and rebuild after climate change related flooding or other disasters. Their presence at the conference will be part of a larger conversation going on there, a conversation to better engage those who don’t work in the government: to hear their concerns and use them as a resource to better enforce the Paris Agreement. Through this Facilitative Dialogue, countries will be able discuss what progress has been made since Paris, and ramp up efforts to meet their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

What makes the Paris Agreement unique from past UN climate change treaties is that each country is only hold to what they commit to contributing. So the US isn’t being told they have to pay anyone, our negotiators determined what would be a realistic amount that would fit our budget. The US has also committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% below 2005 levels. This sense of personal responsibility is part of what has inspired cities across the nation to prioritize renewable energy, promote LEED certification or green roofs, and take an audit of their energy consumption and emissions to see where they can become more efficient. Companies are seeing the returns of engaging in corporate social responsibility, not to mention the economic benefits of corporate sustainability policies. It has become clear to open minded leaders in government and industry that movement towards sustainability is not just economically and socially viable, but absolutely necessary for the United States. So let’s stand together and let the rest of the world know that We’re Still In.

By Sarah Voska

 

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, representing Care About Climate. Care About Climate is a 501-C non-profit that works in climate change education and communication. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at careaboutclimate@gmail.com with any questions!

This Earth Day, the World Will be “Signing” On for Climate Action

This Earth Day, world leaders will gather in New York to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement that was negotiated last December in France. However, world leaders will not be the only ones signing on. People from around the world will raise the Climate Sign to unite for climate action, and show that they are holding their world leaders accountable.

ClimateSignonTowerDuring the two weeks leading up to Earth Day, April 22nd, a group of organizations including Care About Climate, Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Central, and others, will be asking people around the world to metaphorically “sign” the Paris Agreement by raising Climate Sign.

“By uniting together as individuals, we are committing ourselves to finding climate solutions, but we are also showing our neighbors, friends, family, community, and world leaders that we want climate action now, and we need to work together to make the change we need to see,” states Natalie Lucas, the Executive Director of Care About Climate.

Individuals and organizations can go to SignTheAgreement.org to post a photo raising the climate sign, or post directly to their social media with the #climatesign. These photos will collectively show the diversity of support for climate action.

“With tens of thousands of submissions from individuals around the world, we can demonstrate that there is international momenParisAgreement_#1tum for climate action, and that climate change is a challenge that takes collaboration and expertise from all sectors of our global community,” reports Hadley Greswold, the founder of ClimateSign.org. She continues, “As the effects of climate change are felt around the world, we want leaders in New York to feel the necessity and pressure for action.”

To participate, individuals and groups can submit their Climate Sign photos at SignTheAgreement.org, or use the #climatesign to tag their photo.

 

Expanding the Tools for the Movement

Care About Climate was created to unite people around climate action with a climate symbol, similar to the peace sign for the nuclear disarmament movement in the seventies, and it has been working. People around the world have been using the climate symbol to show they want climate action now!

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During the UN Climate Conference in Paris, France we met another group, ClimateSign.org, that was working on a similar initiative, except they had a hand sign. It became clear to us that we could work together to give tools to the movement that would enable individuals around the world to unite for climate action.

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As of March 2016 ClimateSign.org has officially joined forces with Care About Climate to help connect communities around climate action with the climate symbol and hand sign. Information about these tools as well as a photo gallery will be hosted on www.climatesign.org, and on www.careaboutclimate.org you will be able to find information about the specific projects and initiatives we are working on as an organization.

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Similarly, photos and media about the Climate Sign tools (image and hand sign) can be found on the ClimateSign.org Facebook Page, on Twitter @ClimateSign, and on Instagram. Organizational information, initiatives, and photos will also be shared on Care About Climate’s Facebook Page, on Twitter @CareAboutClimate, and on Instagram. The majority of changes will occur behind-the-scenes, though you may notice some additions to our online presence and changes in our image in the coming weeks.

Our mission and goals will remain focused on empowering communities to take action to mitigate greenhouse gases and adapt in the face of climate change. Lucky for us, we now have a bigger, more diverse team to find success in these goals.
That is about it! Watch out for changes listed above on both CareAboutClimate.org and ClimateSign.org as we roll out a unified visual message. If you are interested in joining our team and have not already, sign up to receive updates and merchandise to spread #climatesign around the world. If you want to bring Care About Climate materials and efforts to your community, sign up to receive information about being a Climate Ambassador. Together we can inspire communities and countries to Act On Climate. Raise the #climatesign and become a part of the team!

We Have A Climate Agreement…. Now What?

On December 12, 2015 nations came together to sign the Paris Agreement. This is a new climate agreement that was designed to get nations to reduce their greenhouse gases and prevent further global warming. This agreement is revolutionary because all countries within the United Nations have to participate, and it outlines a process to attempt to keep global warming on average well below 1.5 degrees celsius.

So, what is this process? Essentially, nations agreed that they would submit pledges every five years to reduce emissions, and it is up to individual countries to fulfill those commitments through domestic policy with the help of international finance and aid, if needed. This allows individual nations to make policy decisions that make sense for them, while trying to collectively prevent a big problem. The catch is that they either need to keep their current pledges, or they need to up the ante and pledge more each time they submit their commitments.

Although this is a great first step, it is not going to get us to where we need to be without domestic action, organizing, and voting. The agreement is only as good as the pledges and policies that the countries make individually, and the pledges that the countries made in 2015 will still lead to a 3 degree celsius world.

We need to do more, much more, and it will be up to us to make that happen. We need to work locally to develop projects that mitigate greenhouse gas production, we need to elect politicians that care about climate change, and we need to advocate and vote for policies that help support a just transition to a clean energy economy. It will take all of us together to get this done.

This year is a particularly important year because we have the opportunity to take this agreement and demand action now. In the United States there will be an election that will determine the amount of resources, time, and effort that is given to address climate change by the US government. It will be critical to elect a president that cares about climate change, and will uphold what we promised to do in the Paris Agreement. It is up to you to get involved, vote for climate, and encourage others to do the same.

To start, you can show that you care about climate and that you want others to care about climate with the climate symbol. Help get the conversation about climate change started in your neighborhood, on your campus, and in your community. We need to show that we want action on climate change now! Get your free climate symbol stickers here.

If you would like to help in our Vote for Climate campaign email careaboutclimate@gmail.com.

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The End is Just the Beginning

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The past week has felt like the longest waiting game that has ever been played. As high level ministers talked behind closed doors, we were diligently working to influence the process in whatever way that we could from social media, to press conferences, to direct discussions with negotiating staff about the agreement. We even participated in a few actions within the conference space to let negotiators, and the world, know what we wanted in the agreement. Finally, on Saturday representatives from 196 countries came together in the plenary halls to declare that they had come to an agreement.

This is a historic moment. This is the first time that the global community has come together to create a process to address global climate change that does not just fall on developed nations (although they must do more because they are historically more responsible for emission production), but falls upon everyone everywhere to act on climate, and that is an exciting prospect. All nations agreed that they need to keep global warming on average well below 2℃, in fact they want to aim for 1.5℃ or below in order to protect low-lying islands and desert regions. This means that they will have to phase out of fossil fuels, and keep current reserves in the ground if they want to stay below these targets according to science, which was mentioned in the agreement to happen by the end of the century at the latest.

They also agreed that they would submit pledges every five years that will be monitored, reported, and verified to make sure that countries are complying with what they say they will do. This will be accompanied with finance and support for projects that help with mitigation and adaptation to climate change as well as reparations that are associated with the losses and damages to climate change. Finally, for the first time in international environmental law there are references to equity language such as human rights, gender, and intergenerational equity (future generations), indigenous rights, health, migrants, and persons in vulnerable situations, which links this environmental concern directly to individuals that will be impacted. Many of these ideas are innovative, and it is incredible that we have moved so fast and so far in international climate policy in a few short years, and a lot of it had to do with the global movement that we have created.

In the past couple years the world has demanded that countries take action on climate change from the People’s Climate March, to major religions expressing direct requests for action, to local movements that are getting campuses, cities, and churches to divest. The tides are changing, and people are demanding that the threat of climate change is addressed immediately in just ways.

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Now more than ever it will be important to keep up this momentum, and hold our governments accountable to taking significant steps to addressing climate change as is outlined in this agreement. We need to go home and push our governments to develop plans to uphold their end of the bargain, and push them to do more than they think they can by creating the political will to do so from the grassroots. This is an exciting time for all of us, and it is amazing what we can accomplish when we decide that we need to address something. It is clear now that this is not the end of our work, but only the beginning to decarbonize our future, create just transitions, and prevent warming in order to protect the most vulnerable among us. This is a matter of protecting lives and livelihoods so take this moment, and build momentum from it for our communities, our countries, and our planet.

Week 2: The World Is Ready For Action

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Photo taken by Greenpeace and was a collaboration of groups that put the action together.

The second week of the UN Climate Negotiations is underway. The hallways are bustling, small group meetings are happening throughout the space mumbling about the policy and climate justice, and ministers from all over the world are gathering together to look at the first draft of the Paris Agreement that is to be finalized at the end of the week. You may be wondering what happened the first week and where we are now, well I will tell you.

Last week negotiators were hard at work getting a 54 page text down to 38 pages. That does not sound like much, but they also worked through many of the brackets. Brackets are words that are literally in brackets in the policy, which means they are still being negotiated. The text went from 1700 brackets to 900 brackets this week, and started filtering through some of the options for the policy. Things still up for discussion include the temperature goal (staying below 1.5°C or 2°C global warming on average), the long-term goal (decarbonizing by 2060-2080), finance, frequency of review of country pledges (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) and process for that review, equity language, adaption and capacity building support, and loss and damage as a stand alone policy point. So there is still a lot to get through in the next week, and ministers will have to work through many of these issues to get a deal by Friday.

Civil society, or citizens and non-governmental groups, will be there along the way. Throughout the week, and today, they will be making a lot of noise through media, lobbying, direct action, and civil disobedience. People from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and many organizations are concerned about the outcome of these talks and will have their voice be heard.

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This year civil society even has their own space, which has never happened at a COP before, due to the demand for space within the conference. This civil society area is called the climate generations area, and it is open to the public. Several sessions and the plenaries are broadcasted on monitors throughout the space. It is not a replacement for being able to go into the actual negotiating space, but it does give a place where people can meet and talk about how they can collaborate and show support for climate action in the UN climate talks.

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Finally, there are many more conferences, actions, and events happening throughout Paris where big names like Bill McKibben, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall, Helen Clark and others are raising the importance of the issue of climate change. The topics vary significantly within these side events. For example, the World Health Organization held a summit this weekend on health and climate change, CGIAR held the Global Landscapes Forum to talk about the connection between landscapes and climate, mayors came together to make commitments for climate action locally, and there have been training sessions for young organizers so they can learn how they can get involved with the climate movement.

The energy and excitement is high around this conference, and no matter what the outcome is for the Paris agreement, the tide has shifted and the world wants to face this issue head on.

As for me, I have been writing articles, working on social media, and trying to build support for climate action around the world by collaborating with various groups. I specifically focus on protecting equity language in the agreement, which includes human rights, gender and women, indigenous rights, labor, future generations, and food security, in addition to generally putting pressure on countries to put us down the right path to less than a 1.5°C global warming on average world. This morning I did a press conference, representing the Sierra Student Coalition, with the Chinese Youth Climate Action Network to demand ambitious action within the Paris Agreement from the two largest greenhouse gas contributors (shown below). There is too much to do with so little time, but it is exciting that there is so much going on. The next week will be interesting, and it will determine many aspects of our future.

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Sierra Student Coalition demands 100% renewable energy. Photo credit: Ashley Wineland

 

 

What is COP 21, and why will it define #OurFuture?

12316315_10153770674129169_3947117815950444653_nToday is the first day of COP21, which is the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or the UNFCCC. This meeting is being held in Paris, France, and over the course of the next two weeks negotiators from over 190 countries will work together to come up with the first universal international climate agreement. Climate agreements have been made in the past, like the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, but there has never been an agreement where all the countries, developed and developing, have to commit to reducing emissions in one way or another. At the end of these next two weeks that will no longer be the case.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 1.00.19 PMThe whole point of these negotiations is to come up with an agreement that will keep the global average temperature below 2 degrees celsius, which is a global tipping point. As President Obama said in his opening speech today, “our progress will be measured by the suffering that is averted and the planet that is preserved.” No truer words have been said.

So how are we going to do that? Negotiators have been working on the Paris Agreement for four years since COP 17 in Durban, South Africa in 2011. After those long and strenuous years we are now racing towards the finish line, and it is time to work out the final details.

The agreement is expected to revisit whether or not we want to have a below 2 degrees celsius on average warming goal or to put the goal at 1.5 degrees celsius so that we have a buffer as a planet; support a long term goal for decarbonization by a certain year (to be determined); suggest methods countries can take for climate action such as mitigation and adaptation projects and policies; deliver means to support implementing those projects and policies such as technology transfer, finance, and capacity building for developing nations; and contain equity language that allows for space for climate justice for many communities that have been unfairly impacted by climate change, which they did not contribute to. Finally, this agreement has been developed in a bottom up approach where all countries have submitted pledges, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that outline how they will reduce their carbon emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change, and financially support other countries as they work to combat climate change. This has been good because countries can submit what they believe to be politically feasible. However, even with the pledges that we have right now, the planet is expected to warm well over 2 degrees, and so it will be imperative that countries submit more ambitious quickly, and they are not allowed to backslide below what they have already pledged. Therefore, a review process for these INDCs will be in the agreement as well, but the specifics of that process are still up for debate.12289592_10153770674169169_9155730547084079485_n

Clearly there is still a lot to talk about in a short amount of time. Regardless of the outcome of the agreement, this will only be the beginning. It will take local work and domestic action to make the INDCs become a reality, and it will be up to us, global citizens, to go above and beyond to demand action on climate everywhere for our future.

 

The Last Stretch and On To Paris

The past two weeks of the Road Trip to Paris have flown by. I am now sitting in Chicago, Illinois, about to take off to Paris. I have personally been working on this for the past four years starting with my first UN Climate Conference in Doha, Qatar in 2012, and the time has finally come for the world to make the first universal climate agreement.

IMG_2506The last stretch of the road trip went through Arizona, and a hop, skip, and a jump to Missouri, and Illinois. In Arizona, we participated in an Act On Climate Arizona event. At this event, we tabled to tell people about the UN Climate Negotiations and the climate symbol as well as helped unveil the “Our Moral Obligation” statement, which connects climate organizations in Arizona to demand leadership from our elected officials to act on climate based on our moral responsibility. Care About Climate is a signatory to this statement. In addition to this event, we presented at the Green Planet Festival at the Phoenix convention center.

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The next stop was Illinois. We partnered with the Chicago Sierra Club chapter as well as the Champaign (Prairie) group to give several presentations around the state to those groups. It was great to learn about the wonderful coalitions they are building to support green jobs while transitioning to clean energy. These passionate folks had meetings all day, and continued to listen to me Saturday and Sunday evening because they care about the issue of climate change so much, and that is dedication.

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We ended in St. Louis, Missouri. I was able to meet with students from Washington University in St. Louis, to learn about the research around capacity building that can be found within the climate negotiations. Capacity building is about trying to support those that need assistance with technology, knowledge, or economic development so that they can ultimately support themselves in mitigating and adapting to climate change. These students are working on monitoring this section of the negotiations, and looking at how the discussion around this issue has transformed over the past several years.

A few days later, the environmental science department at St. Louis University hosted us to talk with students in an informal lunch setting as well as in a seminar later that evening. At the seminar we had climate scientists, students, and social scientists talking about what next week is going to look like and what a successful agreement looks like. I have to say I am optimistic, and I can tell that people want this to work and are excited to see change. So many people all over the planet really care about this, and this year we have seen people from all walks of life and all backgrounds come together and demand action! I can also tell that this is important because I talked to a room full of undergrads on Friday evening, and they were not getting extra credit.

As I board this plane all I can feel is hope. I know that we are no where near the end of this battle, and we have a lot of work to do, but change is in the air and I think we are truly coming together as a global community to tackle many of these issues.