Tuesday, January 2, 2018

MYD Training Series VI: Understanding the Language of Climate Change Policy

A long due post after procrastinating. 

Yoke Ling from Third World Network (TWN) was invited to share her insights on climate change policy. Apparently, all the action on climate change started back in the 1980s when it wasn't much about science but more about people's feeling. Back then there was a lot of unsustainable consumption, that's why there was political will to fight climate change.
*The Development part of the UN is more on cooperation and not punishment.

The argument back then was that "environmental problem was caused because poor people spoiled it, poor people spoiled it because they are corrupt". The concept sustainable development was only developed in the late 1980s. However, there are still many people don't want regulations. Although treaties and argument are not politically binding, it shapes how people see the issue.

Building a text:
(1) Composite text - what we want to see from different groups
(2) Give the chair
(3) Chair Compose
(4) Compilation - secretariat arrange and indicate to see the position of everyone (G77 & China)

During a negotiation:
(1) Decision on mandate
(2) Decide to meet
(3) Plenary (Statement, Agenda)
(4) Break into working groups
(5) Informal (Contact Groups) with chair appointed
(6) Informal-informal (Countries will have a spokesperson; some are open to non-spokesperson members, but these are closed for observers)
(7) If there is no agreement, can call for a “friends of the chair” (chair will moderate between those members who requested; then will bring back to the informal-informal)

However, due to the different ability to negotiate: how many people at the session (talent and money), many smaller countries have no choice but to disagree at the plenary and put in a reservation to deal with it later. In theory, you can object if you disagree with what that comes up from a lower level, however, this is often not the case.

On Climate Negotiation Documents
Politics is a central piece of climate negotiation. Principal 7 of the Paris Agreement gives the political context of the negotiation. The debate between the developing countries and developed countries is not on “capabilities”, but to establish the fact the developing countries want compensation, not charity.

Back during the Kyoto Protocol period, countries need to do inventory for reporting. But the US didn’t sign; Russia and Canada walked out but don’t want to admit so they say that the agreement was unfair. In the years leading to the Paris Agreement, more elements of the CBDR was taken away, responsibility was shifted to a few countries, and more elements were made voluntary with the “The World Has Changed” argument. And the most active questions from developed countries were directed towards China. In the end what happened in the Paris Agreement was that developed country agreed to mitigate, a lot of things became voluntary, and some of the obligation from the mother agreement was diluted.

Many of the outcomes of the negotiations were made possible with a lot of lobbying. For instance, the should/shall case in the Paris Agreement. The Paris presidency changed and announced it very swiftly. However, Secretary John Kerry has been lobbying minister back home to stop delegation from objection in order to keep a nice image of the US in front of the media.

Climate change is a complicated issue. To solve the whole thing, you will need to change the whole production and consumption system. We need to do our best, systematically.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Humans of COP: Nagisa Yoshioka

Q: Please tell me about yourself.

A: I am Nagisa, the former representative of Climate Youth Japan. In 2012, I attended in COP18 and it was my first time to be involved with world youth climate activities. Trough the experience of COP, I found that we have the great potential and plenty of chances to take action for our future. On the other hand, I also felt that the presence of Japanese youths was a little weaker compared to others, which is why I decided to be a part of climate activism. Now, I’m studying international studies at the University of Tokyo as a master student and working on some climate-related research projects such as climate-induced migration in Pacific islands and climate risk insurance in Southeast Asia. Due to climate change, the frequency and intensity of natural disaster are supposed to be increasing, which leads to serious impacts on vulnerable communities in developing regions. Keeping my eyes not only on the global context of climate change but also on people who are affected by climate change is my motto.

Q: What inspired you to be involved in the fight against climate change?

A: Youth is what exactly inspired me! We can collaborate beyond the border to achieve our ambitious goal, “climate justice”. I always imagine the future world where we are initiating our own countries. We can definitely make a difference in this world if we successfully keep our mind and ambition.

Q: Is there any projects you are currently undertaking that you would like to highlight?

A: Now, we Climate Youth Japan is committing to Olympics in 2020, which is supposed to be taken place in Tokyo. We’re going to make it “Susteinalympics”, which means incorporating the view of sustainability into the world biggest sports festival and build a youth legacy for the following future. Through getting inspiration from Japanese youth’s action and thinking of the future of youth from different backgrounds, we attempt to make it real in 2020.

Youths from Climate Youth Japan

Event organized by Climate Youth Japan
Q: How has your experience with previous COPs been?

A: What does your typical day tracking negotiation look like? (Survival tips in COP maybe? hahaha) What I want to advice is that you should make it clear what kind of topics you are interested, that is specifying your objective is a key tip. As you probably know, COP has so many formal/ informal meetings and side events as well. Your days will basically be filled with plans, and it’s still too hard to track negotiation because there are so many topics being dealt with in COP. In my case, I focused on Loss and Damage and attended all open meetings and side events associated with it. (I also recommend you to read some negotiation drafts before COP just to get used to technical terms…) However, keeping your interest broader to some extent and being open-minded is also important. COP is a great chance to get to know about various organizations tackling climate change, and you might discover your future career path.

Q: What are the key messages you would like to share with youths in general?

A: We have a great role in being the connection between our generation and the future generation. I believe that we youths can change our society and even our world if we can cooperate with each other and involve people by showing our passion. I really hope you guys are continuously working on climate change and broaden our network on the global scale, and approach people locally at the same time!

And here's a short message from Nagisa to all of you:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Political significance of the COP Presidency

COP has always been the buzzword of the international climate negotiation, especially during November, when COPs are usually held. Knowing that COP is the platform where all parties come together to discuss and negotiate matters pertaining to the UNFCCC, it is easy for us to gruel on the content of the debate and oversee the importance of the backbone of COP – the organizational side of it.