Today, as we celebrate the Earth Day, 2016, World Leaders will gather at the United Nations headquarters in New York to sign the Paris Agreement that was adopted on 12th of December, 2015 at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of Parties ( COP21).
It is an epoch making event which not only prepares the ground for other formal processes as required by international law for the agreement to enter into force but it significantly, reminds us that It is our collective responsibility to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C for the people and planet to have a chance at survival.
It is a wake up call to #keepFossilFuelsInTheGround, #BreakFreeFromFalseSolutions, #MoveAwayFromDirtyEnergy, embrace clean and 100% renewable energy and set the world on the pathway to climate resilience and sustainability. It is time to strive harder to deliver Climate justice to those who are on the frontlines of climate change, majority of whom are women and children.
World leaders should remember that signing, ratifying is one of the first steps to set the tone for implementation of the agreement. Implementation is key to averting the dangerous consequences of climate change. Bearing in mind that the submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which is now part of the Paris agreement is not sufficient to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C. We need ambitious policies and actions beyond what is in the NDCs to keep the world safe.
Celebrating the” feat” of reaching the Paris agreement is good but genuine and effective actions are better. Genuine leaders act and stand on the side of the people and the planet.
Happy Earth Day, 2016
Gbemisola Titilope Akosa
Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st)
The opposing reactions of party delegates and civil society to the new Paris climate Agreement reveals a deep divide in their aspirations and visions for the agreement.
It is ironic that while parties are congratulating themselves for a job well done the civil society is greatly disappointed and condemns the agreement
The civil society’s grouse with the agreement is that it is lacking in ambition, weak and unable to protect the most vulnerable from the catastrophic impacts of climate change. A climate agreement that exempt developed countries from liability for loss and damage and set the world on a pathway to 3 degrees warming has little or nothing to do with protecting the people and planet.
Earlier in the day, there were various actions throughout Paris by the civil society and other stakeholders to demand climate justice in anticipation of the new agreement but this did not stop the adoption of the agreement. Though some parties admit that the agreement is not perfect but they believe that it is a step forward in the fight to combat climate change.
Beyond the excitement of leaders here tonight, a lot will depend on the actions that will follow the adoption of this agreement in the following years. Whether this less perfect agreement will lead us to a resilient, sustainable and renewable future remains doubtful.
On October 5th 2015, the co-Chairs of the ADP process released a new “Non-Paper” document including a draft of the Paris agreement and a draft of the COP decision, to be both adopted at COP21 in December 2015 in Paris.
The WGC, one of the nine official constituencies accredited to the UNFCCC, comprised of women’s rights, feminist organizations and networks representing thousands of groups and individuals, wants to express its profound concern about this new ‘non-paper’ which aims to act as a basis for negotiations on the new climate agreement.
Having followed the ADP negotiations very closely, this document does not reflect the discussions in a balanced way. Many crucial issues voiced by Parties under the ADP have been glaringly left out. This undermines the promises of the co-Chairs for a Party-driven process, and threatens the collective will to actively engage towards an ambitious and fair agreement. The WGC has highlighted several key issues which must be brought back into the agreement in this upcoming week of negotiations.
1. Deletion of gender equality and human rights in the draft agreement
Since the first session of the ADP, and throughout this year, Parties have made strong calls for human rights and gender equality to act as guiding principles to all actions under the new agreement. In particular, in the last session where the co-Chairs had identified these issues in ‘Part 3’ of their negotiations tool, Parties made clear that they wanted these issues brought back into the agreement. Several Parties raised this in the discussions on the Preamble and in discussions on the General / Objective section. More than 40 Parties expressed their support in having human rights and gender equality expressly mentioned in the Paris agreement. Specifically on gender, three groups of Parties (AILAC, the Environmental Integrity Group and the African Group) alongside 12 individual countries raised their flags to make clear to the co-Facilitators that gender equality must be included under the operative part of the agreement and not just in the preamble or in a decision. Fundamentally, no Party expressed objection to this.
The WGC and many colleagues and allies are therefore concerned and surprised to see that these issues have been completely left out of the co-Chairs non-paper. Gender equality, which had been referenced across all areas of the new agreement, including prominently also in technology and finance sections, is now solely reflected in relation to adaptation. This is neither reflective of Parties views nor the progress/ current mandates which already exist on these issues under the UNFCCC.
2. Does not address the causes of the climate crisis
The unique mention of fossil fuels that was contained in the previous non-paper of the co-Chairs has disappeared in this updated version. With 80% of GHG emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels and public subsidies to this sector accounting for 700 Billion USD — a multitude of the long-term finance promise of 100 Billion USD per year by 2020 from Copenhagen –, this is a glaring gap that obfuscates one of the systemic causes of the global climate crisis.
Additionally, accountability for mitigation commitments is wholly insufficient, instead prioritizing language on voluntary promises and flexible targets. Commitments made by Parties under the currently submitted INDCs are nowhere near the cuts needed to prevent an increase in the temperatures below 2C. The Geneva text contained an option that referred to a carbon budget, to be divided among countries according to their “historical responsibilities, ecological footprint, capabilities and state of development”. But this too has been omitted from the current non-paper.
The mitigation section doesn’t at all challenge the structural causes of global warming. Wide ranging structural and lifestyle changes, reduction in current consumption and production patterns, and maintenance of ecological sustainability should be at the core of solutions to the climate crisis. Instead, the mitigation section includes false solutions, including the possibility of opting for a long term objective of “net zero” that promotes offsetting mechanisms such as forest plantations for carbon storage at the detriment of the rights of local people and indigenous communities and their livelihoods.
3. Inadequate reflection of CBDR
CBDR is one of the core principles of the UNFCCC. The mandate of the ADP is “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties”. According to the very mandate of the Paris agreement, the Paris agreement should fully respect the Convention principles. Yet, the language proposed in this new text clearly waters down this core legal principle, allowing developed countries to avoid their responsibilities of providing support to developing countries to both mitigate and adapt to climate change as well as to take the lead globally in ambitious emissions reductions .
CBDR is a critical pillar of multilateralism, framing the nature of the responsibilities of developed and developing countries in the pursuit of sustainable development. It underscores the universality of the Paris agreement as well as the need, on principled and practical grounds, for differentiation of responsibilities between historical and ‘new’ emitters. Universality of the Paris agreement ensures that all states —rich and poor alike—commit to taking concrete actions to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention. CBDR ensures that the share of the responsibilities to take these actions be just and equitable, based on varying and diverse degrees of historical responsibility, national capacity, resources, levels of development and effective influence. Based on this differentiation, developed countries have far greater responsibility to deliver actionable means of implementation across the relevant areas of financial resources, technology and capacity development. The principle of CBDR is therefore not an excuse for inaction on the part of developing countries; it merely contextualizes their responsibilities.
According to this legal principle, the WGC has been advocating for developed countries to provide the means of implementation needed by developing countries to achieve their mitigation emissions reduction target. The new co-Chairs non-paper shifts away the legal responsibility of developed countries and does not mention even once CBRD in relation to mitigation action. Additionally, the only mention of support to developing countries in their shift towards low-emission pathways is now in Article 3 (12) that simply states: ”Developing country Parties are eligible for support in the implementation of this Article”, without addressing whom this support will come from nor any accountability or obligation for these provisions.
4. Insufficient attention to rights-based adaptation
To be relevant, adaptation action must take into account differences between people through a right-based approach, especially in terms of differential risk, adaptation ability, exposure and vulnerability. This includes adopting a gender approach, and we deplore the weakening of the language proposed which now only “acknowledge[s]” this crucial adaptation component, instead of requiring adaptation actions to be “country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent, take into account vulnerable groups and ecosystems, be based on science and traditional and indigenous knowledge, and promote the engagement of subnational and local authorities and other stakeholders”.
5. Imbalanced reflection on key issues
The current proposal is clearly imbalanced towards the views and perspectives of developed countries, including the critical issue of Loss and Damage. Irreversible loss and damage caused by climate change goes beyond adaptation and is already a reality for many Parties resulting in forced displacement, loss of land and territorial integrity and resulting in breaches of social and economic rights. This is a long-standing developing countries’ priority, and especially for small island states and LDCs, and in the face of the gigaton gap left unreduced by the INDC approach it is even more urgently needed, meanwhile, it is currently only reflected in one paragraph. We reiterate the necessity for loss and damage to be anchored as a standalone element that is separate and distinct from adaptation, and for a special provision to fast-track urgent action required to assist the most affected and vulnerable people that are already experiencing existential threats and human rights violations from climate change.
6. Finance must be new and additional
Climate finance should help developing countries to face the impacts of climate change and to curb their GHG emissions. There is no mention of the fact that climate finance should be new and additional to pre-existing commitments, including ODA and that it has to be delivered in a gender-responsive way (as several Geneva text options had suggested).
Developed countries have committed to disburse $100 billion to developing countries by 2020. Yet the draft text contains no elements that would allow clarity and certainty on a time-table for scaling up from current disbursement levels to the full amount of the money pledged. Nor does it contain any reference to mechanisms to re-evaluate and review fulfilled finance commitments in regular intervals with a view to a significant scaling up of funding beyond 2020 whereas the needs of developing countries are evaluated to be far greater. Instead of clarifying the key role of public finance provision as the core of previous climate finance pledges, the new draft elevates private finance contributions to be counted as part of climate finance, stating “the desirability of a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources, noting the need for a diversity of sources and instruments to fit recipients’ changing economic circumstances”. The main goal of private finance is fundamentally to profit private corporations interests – some of them, the “carbon majors”, collectively responsible for worst contributions to the climate crisis -, not to genuinely support affected communities to cope with climate change. However, the issue of innovative finance sources, such as a carbon levy of corporate polluters, is not further developed. The new draft also allows climate finance to be disbursed in the forms of debt-creating mechanisms, adding further burden to the already highly indebted developing country economies.
7. Technology must be safe, appropriate and environmentally, economically and socially sound
The current co-Chairs non-paper is missing several critical elements which had been raised in the Geneva discussions under the ADP. For the WGC, this particularly includes mandates in the new agreement on the quality of the technologies which will be implemented to advance climate action, calling for “safe, appropriate and environmentally, economically and socially sound adaptation and mitigation technologies.” This language from the Geneva text needs to be brought back into the language of the agreement as well as language in regard to gender-differentiated technology needs and traditional technologies already used by local communities, including women.
We are also missing progressive language on assessment of appropriate technologies, such as language proposed in Geneva: “Technology assessment to ensure civil society participation with a gender perspective, and integrate a multilateral, independent and participatory evaluation of technologies for their social, economic and environmental impacts.”
The WGC has been actively monitoring the ADP and we have heard a number of countries – most of them developing countries – supporting the points raised here.
We have heard countries that refuse to give up as our civilization is facing one of the biggest challenges ever. We have heard countries that are asking for the ones that created the damage to repair it. We have heard countries that value enough human rights and gender equality to strive for them in every future climate actions designed and implemented.
When will the process hear and reflect these view?
-The Women and Gender Constituency
June 1 2015
A just and gender-responsive climate agreement can take different forms, but fundamentally it will; respect and promote human rights and gender equality: ensure sustainable development and environmental integrity; require fair, equitable, ambitious and binding mitigation commitments in line with the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR); call for urgent and prioritized adaptation action and resources that respond to the most vulnerable countries, communities and populations; demand a sustainable energy paradigm that prioritizes safe, decentralized renewable energy systems that benefit people and communities; ensure adequate, new, additional and predictable climate finance for developing countries; provide resources to reconcile loss and damage already incurred from climate inaction; and, ensure full, inclusive and gender-equitable public participation in decision-making, with increased mandatory ex-ante and periodic human rights and gender equality impact assessments. It must ensure that gender equality, equal access to decision making, and benefit sharing are integrated into all its provisions, including through gender-responsive means of implementation. Sex and gender disaggregated data and analysis of the underlying causes of any gender disparities must be mainstreamed in all information, communication and reporting systems.
We, the representatives of African Civil Society Organizations and Networks under the auspices of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance met in Gaborone, Botswana, on October 12-14, 2013 for the Pre-AMCEN African Civil Society Consultative Workshop, ahead of the 5th Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). The Workshop also served as the UNEP Regional Consultative Meeting with Major Groups and Stakeholders in the Africa Region (MGSF) in preparation for the Global Ministerial Environment Forum and 15th Session of the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum scheduled to take place in 2014.
Aware that the IPCC-WG I released in Stockholm, Sweden in September 2013 raised red flag on the rapidly heating earth and the certainty of man’s contribution to the growing concentration of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere;
Further aware that the adverse effects of climate change manifested by prolonged droughts, shifting seasons, rising sea water levels, tropical cyclones, land slides, newly emerging environmental refugees, and diseases have compromised Africa’s right to development and attainment of national sustainable development and poverty reduction aspirations;
Concerned that the last two decades have been characterised by unfulfilled promises and commitments by developed countries to Africa in particular hence breeding an atmosphere of ever-diminishing trust and confidence in international negotiations processes;
Further concerned of the cruel irony that a people who have lived for so long in harmony with Mother Earth, imprinting the lightest of footprints, now suffer a crisis they contributed the least towards it cause;
Inspired by the need to strengthen our voices as civil society and community groups to contribute to our Governments’ Positions on various global standpoints.
Acknowledging the efforts by Africa to speak with one voice during the UNFCCC-COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland
Acknowledging the fact that non-state actors contribution to the UNFCCC process and its outcome is essential for informed policy formulation and monitoring of its implementation at all levels.
Desirous that the One Voice should be that of and be informed by realities of the local communities in the affirmation of the authority of the Civil Society and communities as the expression of the sovereign will of the people;
Appreciating, as a positive step, the COP18 outcome on decision made on promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and related processes;
Recognizing the progress made so far by the Africa Group, African Ministerial Conference on the Environment and African Union through CAHOSOCC to harmonise African climate change response efforts;
Declares as follows;
1. Keep Africa safe:
We support the acceptance of “loss and damage” as a key area of discussion for the new climate agreement. Africa should also continue calling for the blanket of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere to be returned to well below 300ppm CO2eq and warming to be limited to well below 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with the objective of returning to pre-industrial levels in the longer term.
Based on the accounts we have heard form the local communities, women, youth, indigenous groups of the intolerable conditions caused by climate change including a case of a pastoralist who took his life after loosing all his cattle to a prolonged drought, and based on the report of IPCC Working Group I 5th assessment, even warming of this level globally risks warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius in Africa, dangerous interference with our climate, and loss and damage requiring compensation. A goal of “less than 2 degrees Celsius” is no longer ambitious as accepting it would be condemning Africa to incineration and to no modern development.
> 2. Ensure poverty eradication and food Security:
> Climate change poses grave risk to Africa’s food security, and to the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and rural poor communities. African leaders should thus ensure the decisions they support at global level leads to atmospheric concentrations stabilized in a time frame that safeguards food production and ecological systems to adapt naturally, and safeguards jobs and economic development. Agriculture remains one of the crucial sectors affected by climate change and which supports food and livelihoods security of millions around the world especially in developing countries. African governments should therefore put pressure to Parties and SBSTA to conclude the agriculture negotiations under UNFCCC with focus on adaptation and expand the remit to cover sustainable livestock production systems as part of solution to climate change.
3. Share the atmosphere fairly:
African people have the inalienable right to achieve sustainable development by making use of a fair share of the Earth’s global commons and resources. The carbon budget required to return to well below 300ppm CO2eq should be shared fairly with Africa taking into account the accumulative historical use of these resources by developed countries and the finance and technology transfers made available to developing countries.
4. Industrialized countries to cut excessive consumption and pollution:
Comprehensive action to address climate change should constitute drastic emissions cut by industrialized countries at domestic level. The withdrawal of Canada, New Zealand, Russia and Japan from the KP2 and the continued refusal of United States to ratify the Kyoto Protocol are not good signals to the rest of the global community. These countries should accept their historical responsibilities, reconsider their position and recommit without further delay and conditions.
Though science points to the current emissions of some emerging economies exceeding the industrialized countries, we should recognize that current atmospheric concentrations are principally the result of historical emissions of greenhouse gases, the largest share of which originated in developed country Parties. There is an urgent need for emission cuts by having specific target for all Annex I parties to reduce emissions by at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 100% by 2050 below 1990 levels.
> 5. Protect and compensate affected communities:
> African leaders should not compromise on their demand that ensures that industrialised countries compensate affected communities and countries for the full costs of avoiding harms, actual harms and damage, and lost opportunities for development resulting from climate change. Any effort to establish adaptation as an obligation and not a right, or to use adaptation as a means to divide or differentiate between developing countries should be resisted. An international mechanism for compensation on the loss and damage caused by extreme weather events related to climate change should thus be established. Though the Green Climate Fund has been established, many observers fear that it may follow the direction of other Climate Funds before it, which remain empty shells after they were shunned by industrialized countries, that favor undemocratic multilateral institutions the can control.
> 6. Polluter not poor pays:
> Developed countries have prospered through “cheap carbon” growth while externalizing their costs to the atmosphere and to developing countries through what has been christened “offsetting”. The costs are now born by Africa, as we mitigate and adapt to a crisis we played little role in causing. To avert a climate catastrophe and enable mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer to developing countries, developed countries must make available financing of more than 1.5% of their GDP. Efforts to shift the burden of financing away from developed countries and towards developing countries or the markets that have not worked should be avoided. Creation of “unsupported” or “market” NAMAs (actions) are inconsistent with the Convention and thus experiments that are not worth investing.
> 7. Transfer the tools to adapt and develop.
> A “Marshall Plan for Africa and for the Earth” is an emergency that should awaken all stakeholders. Curbing global emissions within a decade requires technology transfers on a scale never before considered. African leaders should compel developed countries to remove intellectual property rights, pay full incremental costs of technology transfer to protect developing countries and contribute for peaking and declining of global emissions. Efforts to sell rather than transfer appropriate technologies, or to strengthen rather than relax intellectual property rights should not be allowed. Developed and developing countries should support the adoption and development of indigenous and locally innovated technology as well as ensuring efficiency in technology transfer and deployment.
> 8. Fair not false solutions:
> Industrialized countries must not shift burdens to address climate change to developing countries, or seek to “divide and rule” the countries of the South, or to penalize developing countries through trade or other measures. Creation of global carbon markets or sectoral trading mechanisms, by which the developed countries will take more of Africa’s rightful share of atmospheric space should be discouraged.
9. Systems change not climate change:
We should acknowledge the structural causes of the present crisis, and that the climate crisis will not be solved with the same level of thinking that created it. A new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings should be the only sustainable way to comprehensively deal with climate change impacts. To balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings. There is need for fundamental change to the current system of social and economic organization. A new order building on the wisdom of our civilizations to live well and to live in harmony with Mother Earth should be the common clarion call for our leaders.
10. Keep to the commitments made:
More pressure from African leaders to ensure developed countries honour and deliver on their commitment of providing US$100 Billion by the year 2020 should be exerted. Industrialised countries must scale up their Commitments to fulfill their obligation to provide adequate, new and additional funds as this amount is far from all estimates of climate finance needed by developing countries. In COP19, Africa should ask Parties to the Convention to establish a clear and transparent mechanism for monitoring, verification, and evaluation of delivery of climate funds.
Our leaders should call for immediate establishment of an independent process to conduct transparent and consultative verification on developed countries’ claim that they have successfully delivered all FSF of over USD 30 billion to developing countries during 2010-2012 in accordance with controversial Copenhagen Accord, which metamorphosed into Cancun Agreement.
In light of the past failures and lessons learned from past and existing climate funds, the Green Climate Fund must ensure transparency, openness, local communities’ easy access, country ownership and respond primarily to the needs of vulnerable communities. The Fund must respect such principles as sovereignty, self-determination the fulfillment of State obligations; “Do no harm”, Financial integrity and anti-corruption, Public consultations, “Equity, non-discrimination and inclusion”, “Compliance with International Law and Upward Harmonization with the Highest National and International Standards”.
GCF must recognize that human and environmental rights obligations have primacy over financial obligations
> 11. Gender equity and enhanced stakeholder participation:
> Though COP18 made some progress in recognizing gender in negotiating text, still much need to be done. Participation of women, youth, indigenous people and marginalized groups in UNFCCC negotiations and representation of Parties in bodies should be balanced between North and South, taking into account the respective differences.
> 12. Defend democracy:
> The Since the UNFCCC constitutes the fundamental legal framework on climate change African leaders should demand for establishment of effective and accountable institutions under the Conference of Parties. Any response to the climate crisis that is of the people, by the people and for the people should be the guiding principle of future efforts.
Governments across the world should end years of delay and meet their moral, historical and legal obligations. Movements, people’s organizations, civil society groups and citizens from all walks of life are gradually coming together in a global campaign on climate and environmental justice. African civil society’s desire is to stand in solidarity with the leaders of any nation who seek a solution to climate change that is founded on justice, builds on the best available science, and ensures the well-being of Africans and other peoples and countries.
13. Effective participation in Post 2015 and SDG process
Africa should promote a Single framework with poverty alleviation at the centre and the three dimensions of sustainable development (environment, economic and social). A comprehensive mechanism to deal with the environment should be developed at the level of African Union Commission and the relevant institutional framework for sustainable development should be strengthened and the collaboration and sharing of information between the African missions in New York and the Capitals should be enhanced.
14. United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA):
As the strengthened and upgraded UNEP is poised to play an effective role as a follow-up to Rio+20 in integrating three dimensions of sustainable development, the Committee of Permanent Representatives allow full participation of Major Groups. Major Groups already accredited under UN ECOSSOCC should be recognized by UNEA, while elected MGSF Regional Representatives should be accorded speaking rights at the Committee of Permanent Representatives and UNEA. Broader partnerships between UNEP and other organizations in efforts to fulfill its mandate should always be promoted, with UNEP not limiting itself policy formulation but also implementation