January 25, 2014

BCPH (Cecoedecon) Submission to the OWG on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

Climate Change and Disaster; Need for a Human Rights Based Approach to Disaster Reduction and Sustainable Development

Submission to OWG by CECOEDECON (NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC), PAIRVI, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jathha and Beyond Copenhagen


In May 2013 carbon concentration reached 400 parts per million (ppm) at observatory in Hawaii. Global carbon concentration is supposed to reach 400 ppm soon. It was 315 ppm in 1958, 375 ppm in 2000 (UNEP, 2012). While it increased by 60 ppm in 42 years till 2000, in the last decade it rose by 25 ppm. The reasons are easy to understand. The global emission was 40 gigatonnes(GT) of carbon dioxide (CO2) e in 2000, which rose to 50 GT of CO2 in 2011, rising by 25 percent in ten years! The current emission levels need to be brought down to 44 GT of CO2 by 2020, to contain a rise in temperature below 2 degrees.[1]

Against this rapid increase in climate change, global efforts have been lackluster. In the business as usual scenario, the total emissions in 2020 will be 58 GT. Based on the pledges that have been made by the countries in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)[2], and the Kyoto Protocol[3] in the best case scenario the emissions in 2020 will be 52 GT, in the worst case scenario (low ambition levels) it will be 57 GT. This is only 1 GT less than business as usual (BAU) scenario and far above the threshold limit of 44 GT. Obviously, this is not enough to keep the rise in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. This calls for wartime efforts to reduce the emissions.

Climate change and disaster

One of the manifested impacts of runaway climate change has been the increasing frequency of disasters. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in a report released in June, 2013 year declared the decade (2001-2010) “a decade of climate extremes,” being the warmest decade for both land and ocean temperatures, and the rate of increase in global warming has been unprecedented. Every year of the decade, except 2008, was among the ten warmest years. It reported significant loss of Arctic sea ice, decline in the Green land and Antarctic ice sheets and global average sea level over the decade was 20 cm higher than that in 1880. The decade was second wettest since 1901 and eastern USA, northern and eastern Canada including many parts of Europe and central Asia were particularly wet. Floods were the most frequent climate extreme events with big floods in Eastern Europe, India, Africa, Asia (more than 2000 people died in floods in Pakistan in 2010) and Australia. At the same time, many countries in East Africa and the Amazon basin and Australia were also visited by droughts. The decade saw 511 tropical cyclones, which killed more than 100,000 people and 250 million peoplewere reported to be affected. More than 138,000 people were believed to be killed or missing due to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar alone in 2008. The decade recorded an astounding 2000 percent increase in deaths from the heat waves (mainly in Europe in 2003 and Russia in 2010) from less than 6000 in 1991-2000 to 136,000 in 2001-2010. According to the data of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology, a total of more than 370,000 people died due to extreme climate events.[4] In June 2013 itself Uttarakhand in India witnessed unprecedented damage, by far the worst in the year where flashfloods and landslides killed more than 10,000 people. Haiyan also killed an equal number of people in Philippines in November, and affected almost one million people. It is not only the people in poor countries who are dying; but the decade has the signature of climate extremes and deaths in all parts of the world.

Global response to disaster and disaster risk reduction

Over the past 70 years world’s population has risen by 87%. The population living in flood prone river basins has increased by 114% and population living in cyclone-exposed coastlines has increased by 192%. More than half of the world’s population are located in cities lying in huge seismic activities. 

The economic losses from disasters now stand at $125 billion per year and are rising at the rate of $30 billion per decade (ODI, 2013).[5]Hydrometerological disasters (disasters induced due to climate change impacts) now compose 80% of all disasters and if climate change is not halted disasters are likely to increase in near future. It has the potential of reversing the developmental gains achieved over time. The disasters have a tendency to create a class of marginalized communities; worst affected are poor people is the developing and poor countries and especially marginalized groups (Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes for instance in India), women, children, aged and disabled and migrants. The experience of disasters in India have revealed discrimination against the indigenous populations and dalits, no records of migrants killed, women compelled to engage in survival sex and selling children to survive.[6]

Global response to disasters have been limited to adoption of Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) in World Conference on Disasters (2005), which was adopted as a response to Asian Tsunami and with the commitment to reduce risk from disasters. HFA has been adopted by more than 168 countries since its adoption in 2005. The first phase comes to an end in 2015, and a lot of discussions on successor of the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA 2) have already taken place. While the achievements during the period has been significant in terms of adoption of policies, legislations and institutions by the countries, and increase in the coverage of people by fiscal instruments/ insurance; the challenges have been equally significant. 

Experience and Lessons learned from implementation of Hyogo Framework of Action

The implementation of the HFA has showed that despite increasing number of countries adopting HFA and creating national frameworks to disaster reduction, disaster reduction is yet to be recognized as a core development policy and it often ends up at a losing end in competition of larger development goals such as poverty reduction, economic growth, health and food security concerns. Some of the lessons learned are listed as below:
  1. Challenges of translation of priority areas of HFA into targets internationally and into national programmes
  2. Focus on ex post responses, rather than ex ante measures
  3. Lack of capacity for assessment, preparedness and responses and lack of data
  4. Lack of role for communities in preparedness and responses and lack of community based institutions, which are generally the first to come to the rescue of affected populations 
Some of the overarching concerns arising from the experience of almost a decade of HFA are as below;

  1. It’s only the disaster communities who own HFA, it’s not owned by countries or international community, and therefore, actions have been limited to creating a national platform for disaster reduction, without essential priorities of HFA being woven into DRR framework. It must address power imbalances and political dynamics within the communities and countries, and have to be seen in the context of stronger accountability framework.
  2. HFA looks only into the environmental/ hazard impact while social, economic, and psychosocial aspects remain unaddressed. Experiences show that 90% of the losses in disasters arise out of low intensity high frequency events, which underline that social, economic and psychosocial aspect, need to be addressed in an adequate manner.
  3. Disasters have been mainly approached to reduce development/economic losses, while the current paradigm of development continues to create unacceptable levels of risk and exposure. 
Opportunity that lies ahead

In the last few years there has been increasing discussion on climate change and disasters in the context of increased risk from climate change impacts. It has been significant part of the discussion in the climate change negotiations since Conference of Parties in Cancun (2010), which adopted a Cancun Adaptation Framework (composed of a adaptation committee, adaptation fund, and a Work Programme on loss and damage from climate change induced disasters). Recent Conference of Parties in Warsaw, Poland (Dec, 2013) reiterated that Loss and damage is an integral part of climate change adaptation and resolved to set up a mechanism to look into loss and damage. The developing countries are increasingly asking for a prominent place for disaster and loss and damage in the future global agreement, which is supposed to be ready by 2015.

There has been significant discussion on successor of HFA in the World Conference of Disasters, Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (2009) as well as in reports like Commission on Climate Change and Development (CCD, 2009) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Managing the risk of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation (IPCC 2009). 

However, the biggest opportunity lies in the series of discussion and responses in the post 2015 development agenda of the United Nations and the follow up of the Rio+20 Conference and formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The report of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons[7] which was entrusted by the United Nations Secretary General to look into post 2015 development agenda of the United Nations, recognized “Sustainable Development at Core” as one of the major transformational shifts desired, and also recognized climate change as one of the global challenges and reiterated the link between climate change and sustainability and poverty and inclusion. The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals[8] (OWG) set up to follow up on the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference looks at climate change and disaster as one of the important areas of discussion in the context of sustainable development goals. The OWG is exploring to include goals, targets and indicators to address and climate change and disaster within sustainable development goals. These current proposals on the table include having a stand alone goal on climate change and disaster, or having specific targets related to climate change and disaster woven in larger development goals such as economic growth, poverty reduction, gender empowerment, education etc. yet another proposal is an integration of climate change, energy and disaster and have double goals on energy and climate change, climate change and disasters and so on. 

Recommendations on fundamental principles in addressing climate change and disaster in the SDGs

While the proposals are still being vetted, it is important that the OWG goes beyond having climate change and disaster in the narrative. Formulated in any manner, it is extremely important that some important principles arising from the overarching concerns in the implementation of the HFA are woven into the proposed framework. These include:

  1. Recognition of goal of keeping rise in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and to progressively reduce this target to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  2. Recognition of Common but Differentiated Responsibility based on Respective Capability (CBDR-RC) and equity as foundational principles in climate change responses.
  3. Reduce risk and exposure (besides economic losses) and significantly increase resilience of communities through strategies integrating poverty reduction, employment and livelihoods, education, health, urban development, transport and human security with climate change adaptation and disaster.
  4. Recognition of disaster reduction as a development policy, removing conflict between development policies and disaster reduction.
  5. Incorporation of human rights based approach in disaster reduction, and focus on marginalized populations, IDPs, physically disabled, women and children, poor and migrants.
  6. Recognition of the fact that people in disaster have same rights as citizens and human beings and measures to remove discrimination in disaster responses, and state having the primary responsibility of protect, promote and respect rights of affected people and assist them in rehabilitation and reconstruction, affected people must be able to access information related to disaster risk, improving early warning systems, and improving coverage of people with insurance. Rebuilding should be looked as an opportunity to remove discrimination and promote rights and equity.
  7. Focus on preparedness and ex ante measures.
  8. Convergence of climate change adaptation and disaster reduction strategies as sustainable development practices.
  9. Strengthening community based disaster reduction approaches, with involvement of communities and vulnerable populations in all phases of disasters including preparedness, response, prolonged displacement and relocation and recovery and reconstruction.
  10. Increased policy and budgetary support to facilitate rights based disaster risk reduction frameworks.
Incorporation of these principles in the SDGs will create a mutually reinforcing agenda and integration of human rights dimensions in climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development. However, this would not be achieved without a robust global cooperation framework on climate change and disaster.

Ajay K Jha (Director, CECOEDECON & Coordinator, Beyond Copenhagen Coalition, India)
Email: k.ajay.j@gmail.com
Handphone: +91-9717771255

[1] All data based on the UNEP’s “Emission Gap Report 2012” available at http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/emissionsgap2012/, last accessed on 13th November, 2013
[2] UNFCCC is the only global treaty to stabilize climate and has membership of 193 countries.
[3] Kyoto Protocol obliges developed and industrial countries to reduce their emissions, however, top emitters like US and Australia have renounced KP, and China by virtue of being a developing country is exempted from compulsory emission reduction.
[4] All data are based on the WMO report released on July, 2013 titled “2001-1020; A Decade of Climate Extremes” available athttp://www.wmo.int/pages /mediacentre/press_releases/pr_976_en.html, last accessed on 13th November, 2013.
[5] http://www.odi.org.uk/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/8358.pdf
[6] The organization making the submission has worked extensively in Kosi Floods in Bihar (2008) and flashfloods and landslide in Uttarakhand (2013), and have come across many stories cited in the experiences.
[7] In July 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the 27 members of a High-level Panel to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Panel was co-chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, and it includes leaders from civil society, private sector and government. The Panel submitted its report on 30th May 2013.
[8] The Open Working Group was established on 22nd of January 2013 by decision 67/555 (see A/67/L.48/rev.1) of the General Assembly. The 30-member (OWG) of the General Assembly is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs and will submit its report by the end of the 68th session (September 2014) of the United Nations General Assembly.

January 15, 2014

Brief Report on the Beyond Copenhagen Side Event during 7th Session of OWG in New York

Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction; Missing Link Between UNFCCC and OWG Processes

7th Session of the OWG Side Event
7th Jan, 2014, Conference Room A, Secretariat Building, UNHQ, New York

Brief report

CECOEDECON along with BJVJ, PAIRVI, SADED, Beyond Copenhagen in collaboration with Oxfam India and MISEREOR organized a side event during the 7th session of the OWG. The central concern of the event was to explore convergence and subsidiarity between Rio Conventions (and especially UNFCCC) and the open working group processes. It is assumed that SDGs will result in aspirational goals and might not have the desired impact, unless the OWG process also influences the UNFCCC, which is the main operational and decision making body. However, the side event also took the opportunity to discuss some important aspects of climate change and disaster reduction. More than 30 participants attended this side event and engaged in the discussion.

Opening the discussion, the moderator, Ajay Jha from CECOEDECON/PAIRVI alluded to the various parallel processes including building up on the MDGs, High Level Panel on the post MDGs, High level Political Forum, UNSG SE4All, OWG on the SDGs, Financing for Development, and emphasized that though climate change (and disaster) is a major component in all of these discussions, there have been little efforts in creating their convergence with the UNFCCC processes so that both of them benefit from each other. He also emphasized that links between various Rio Conventions like UNCBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC also remains weak. He reiterated that remaining in the lowest range of mitigation ambitions that the world is, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep the warming in temperature below 2 degrees, and therefore, more urgent, genuine and expedited efforts are required.

SoumyaDutta, from BJVJ in his presentation said that all the discussions are trapped within the only one aspect of development, that is “ gain maximization.” However, another dimension of development, which is “risk minimization” is completely being overlooked. He emphasized that it is a flawed perception of think that economic growth can be maintained infinitely, without actually reducing the consumption and
emissions, and exploitation of nature. Talking about sustainable urban settlements, he said that urban centres are based on sustenance of rural systems including food and natural resources preservation, and there is an urgent need to enhance opportunities in rural areas and make cities sustainable, for which reduction in consumption and emission is absolutely essential.

VanitaSuneja, from Oxfam India, delved in sustainable agriculture and food justice in the context of the SDGs. She said that the goal on food justice should be framed in terms of “all men and women having sustained access to food produced by sustainable systems of food production.” She added that it is important to emphasize that food production is sustainable, as recent times show decreasing access to food and nutrition in many parts of the world, primarily as a result of agrarian crisis and inability of the peasants and small farmers to continue food production due to market imposed challenges. She emphasized that the challenge that lies before the OWG is to ensure that agro ecological approaches are supported by policy and budgetary provisions. Addressing basic energy needs and respecting ecological boundaries are equally important and we must have input based as well as outcome based indicators, to be able to track the progress, she emphasized.

N Paul Diwakar, Wada NaTodoAbhiyan, talked about disaster and marginalized populations, what is expected from the OWG and SDGs in this regard. He said there are two myths about disaster, (i) disaster affect everybody uniformly, and (ii) all will be treated equally post disaster. However, these myths need to be addressed by ensuring non discrimination and substantive equality in disaster reduction. He emphasized that its not only in India or but almost entire South Asia, and even in other continents, a lot of marginalization and discrimination takes place in disaster response. Old and aged people and physically disabled people too face discrimination. National frameworks have not been able to address these discrimination. He emphasized that disaster reduction must have a focus on intergenerationally poor and discriminated communities.

Marcus Oxley, Global CSOs network on disaster reduction, talked about the disaster reduction and the Hyogo Framework of Action and what could be done by the SDGs to remove inconsistencies in disaster reduction approaches. He said that the HFA focuses only on environmental aspects of disaster while social, economic, and psychosocial aspects remain unaddressed. He added that 90% of the losses in disasters arise out of low intensity high frequency events, which underlines that social, economic and psychosocial aspects need to be addressed in an adequate manner. He emphasized that the OWG/SDGs should not use DRR to protect development and development itself is creating unacceptable levels of risk. He underlined that currently HFA is owned by none other than disaster community, and needs to be integrated in development approaches in a manner, which ensures wider acceptance and ownership. It must address power imbalances, and dynamics and have to be seen in the context of political ownership and have stronger accountability framework, he added.

Graham Gordon, from CAFOD, spoke on how climate change can be integrated in post 2015 development agenda. He said that climate change had a very low acceptability in the post 2015 debate, however, acceptability is increasing, as it is being increasingly realized that if climate change is not addressed, all developmental gains may be reversed soon, and it must not be dealt with as a secondary issue. Talking about what are the current approaches being discussed to integrate climate change in the SDGs, he said that proposals on the table include, (i) stand alone goal on climate change, (ii) mainstreaming climate change targets in larger goals, like poverty reduction, economic growth etc. and (iii) plus climate change option, that is to have double goals (viz. energy and climate change, and DRR and climate change). He explained that though stand-alone goals could be most ambitious however, they are least likely.

Gabriel, from UNDP, talked on the convergence agenda. He said that there is a lot of discussion on the climate change, member states having been agreed in September, 2013 that the future agenda is sustainable development agenda, and climate change forms an important part of the sustainable development. However, he added that political atmosphere is not very conducive to having stand-alone goals on climate change. He explained that most likely climate change will be bundled along with energy and DRR besides having a discussion in the narrative.On convergence between UNFCCC and OWG/SDG processes, he said that UNFCCC is binding, while SDGs have more flexibility and might encourage positive action by member states. He added that importing UNFCCC complexities in the SDG process might not be desirable. He emphasized that the possible way of integration should be framing climate change as a development issues (rather than an environmental issues) and bringing in climate smart indicators (phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, emission reduction, access to energy for all etc.). he concluded by saying that by now what looks probable is indicators on energy, DRR and climate change together.

The presentations were followed by engaging discussion, questions and answer session.

In the wrap up, the speakers consolidated on their presentations and emphasized the “most important message” for the OWG. Vanita emphasized that SDGs must not miss this sustainability aspect in food production and agricultural systems. Marcus, highlighted that for long what is happening is to respond to the symptoms, and what is required now to have mutually reinforcing agendas, which has sustainability and risk reduction as core principles underpinning the agendas. Soumya reiterated that the issues must be considered in the light of inevitability vs. sustainability, and economic growth oriented development vs. equitable distribution oriented development, though these are not contrary to each other. Gabriel underlined that, it is important that climate change and disaster are framed in developmental context in the SDGs, and go beyond the UNFCCC trajectory. All the speakers highlighted that it is imperative that the OWG places adequate emphasis on climate change and disaster, in the goals, targets and indicators, in a manner, which reflects the urgency and demands of science in responses. They also highlighted that the process must also explore how parallel processes and especially UNFCCC and OWG can benefit from each other bringing in and weighing multiple perspective and dimensions on climate change, disaster and development. The organizers will be sending a written submission to the OWG as an outcome of the side event.

January 10, 2014

Global Forum Shares Lessons on Climate Finance Effectiveness

Global Forum Shares Lessons on Climate Finance Effectiveness

The Global Forum on Using Country Systems to Manage Climate Change Finance gathered over 170 participants from ministries of finance, planning and environment to share climate finance effectiveness lessons.

Development partners, civil society organizations (CSOs), and representatives from the UNFCCC and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) were also in attendance. During the Forum, which took place in Incheon, Republic of Korea, on 2-3 December 2013, country systems were defined broadly to include national and local systems for planning, policy coordination and implementation, budgeting and financial management, procurement, and monitoring and evaluation. Climate finance was defined based on a country-led definition of climate expenditures from both domestic and international sources. Participants identified the following benefits of country systems for climate finance: greater ownership; reduced duplication; domestic transparency and accountability; and more opportunities for transformation and mainstreaming. They added that political, institutional and fiduciary issues pose challenges for using country systems.

The Forum reviewed country experiences in using such systems, including opportunities, innovations and challenges. Participants underscored the importance of, inter alia: tracking climate spending through the budget and other extra-budgetary systems; building capacity to support the new institutional frameworks; strengthening mechanisms for measuring climate policy impact and results; involving local government to channel climate finance; and strengthening transparency and accountability mechanisms.

Forum participants agreed that the GCF business model should: build upon existing country systems to manage finance; provide support for country readiness to absorb climate finance through country systems; promote a programmatic approach covering both adaptation and mitigation; ensure transparency and accountability of its operations; and create an enabling environment for the private sector. Addressing the Forum, GCF Executive Director Hela Cheikhrouhou encouraged countries to view the GCF as a fund that could drive transformational change through providing additional catalytic finance.

Forum participants reviewed a framework for learning lessons on the use of country systems to manage climate finance that will be useful to the UNFCCC and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. The suggestion was also made that the Forum consider developing a concrete work plan and an active strategy to engage all relevant stakeholders.

The Forum was co-organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Republic of Korea, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness, and co-financed by the Governments of the Republic of Korea, Sweden and Germany, and the EU's Global Climate Change Alliance.

UN Development Group's People’s Voices Brief Released for OWG 7

People’s Voices Brief Released for OWG 7

The UN Development Group (UNDG) has issued a 'People's Voices Issue Brief' conveying views on topics for the seventh session of the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including consumption and production patterns, urbanization, climate change, and disaster risk reduction.

The brief summarizes the views of people who contributed to consultations on the post-2015 development agenda at global, regional and national levels as well as through the MY World survey.

On consumption and production, the brief details that people believe unsustainable patterns must be transformed by decoupling economic productivity from natural resource use. Survey participants looked towards government policies, private sector responsibilities, and personal actions to inspire such a transformation. Especially emphasized is the need for sustainable food production and consumption systems, integrating efficient energy, water, resource, labor, and ecosystem use. Also important to survey respondents was the need to go "beyond GDP" in measurements of progress, and to incorporate environmental measurements with economic indicators.

On urbanization and local communities, the brief highlights the importance of social transformations that are taking place in rapidly growing cities. It calls attention to growing disparities between rural and urban communities, and the experience of migrants, the working poor and slum dwellers. Participants in national consultations highlighted growing urban crime rates as particularly important to them, including rising violence against women and children. The important role of cities in promoting sustainable development is stressed, and the empowerment of urban populations through education, health care and economic growth.

Climate change and disasters ranked as high priorities to participants, who emphasized their impact on health, water and food systems. Perceptions of climate change as contributing to a deteriorating environment are strong, especially in countries that are particularly vulnerable to changes. Proposals for the post-2015 development agenda include mainstreaming climate change throughout the agenda, with "climate-smart targets" for each goal, as well as a stand-alone goal on the issue. Survey participants also highlighted inequalities of disasters, which affect the poor most adversely, and the need for disaster-sensitive development. Consultations called for a goal that could integrate the issues of disaster risk reduction, climate change, conflict and sustainable development.

The consultations led by UNDG have reached over 1.6 million people around the world, with a particular goal of including the voices of the poor and marginalized.

January 09, 2014

Beyond Copenhagen Side Event in the 7th Session of the OWG, 7 January 2014, UN HQ (New York)

Side event in the 7th session of the OWG
7th January, 06.15 PM, venue CR-A, UNHQ, New York

Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction; Missing Link Between the UNFCCC and OWG Processes

Organizers: CECOEDECON, Beyond Copenhagen, PAIRVI, BJVJ in collaboration with Oxfam

Brief introduction of the event:
The objective of the side event is to explore the interlinkages between climate change discussions in the UNFCCC and the OWG. It is understood that there is very little interaction between these two processes. While post 2015 development agenda, emphasizes climate change as a major concern and seeks integration of development policies with climate change and disaster consideration, and climate change and disaster forms a major component of discussions of the OWG, there is hardly any convergence of the two process. Besides, a third very important stream, Financing for Development also moves along a separate line without any convergence with the broader discussion on climate change. There have been significant achievements in the climate change negotiations, however, a lot of ground in terms of mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation needs to be covered. 

Climate change is far more encompassing (in terms of its impact and efforts required for stabilization), than what is presently being discussed or under the mandate of the UNFCCC, and needs convergence with all three Rio Conventions viz. UNFCCC, UNCBD and UNCCD. The discussion would like to see and explore, how these discussion or at least OWG and UNFCCC discussions could support each other, and benefit from each other.However, the panelists would also like to use this opportunity to look into specific issues under consideration of the OWG and the UNFCCC viz. energy, sustainable agriculture and food/food justice, and disasters.

Sustainable Cities, Human Settlements and Transport: Soumya Dutta, Convener, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jathha, India
Marginalized Populations and Disaster; Challenges of Inclusion: N Paul Divakar, Convener, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, India
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Justice: Vanita Suneja, Oxfam India
What should follow HFA: Marcus Oxley, Global Network of the CSOs on Disaster Reduction
Convergence between UNFCCC and OWG processes: Gabriel Normand, UNDP

Second Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing, 2-6 December 2013, UN HQ (New York)

Second Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts
 on Sustainable Development Financing
2-6 December 2013, UN HQ (New York)

The Second Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF) was held at the UN Headquarters (New York) from 2-6 December 2013.

This intergovernmental Committee comprising 30 experts was established (effective 21 June 2013) by the General Assembly as a follow-up to the outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to prepare “a report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy to facilitate the mobilization of resources and their effective use in achieving sustainable development objectives”. The Committee will assess financing needs, scrutinize and analyze existing frameworks, tools and initiatives. It had its first session from 28-30 August, 2013 at UN HQ (New York) and will conclude its work and submit a report to the General Assembly by September 2014.

The recently concluded Second Session was a restricted only to the Committee. A multi-stakeholder dialogue was organized on 5th December as a space for stakeholders such as NGOs, business sector and Major Groups to participate.

Report on the Outcomes of UNFCCC CoP19, Warsaw

Report on the Outcomes of UNFCCC COP-19, Warsaw, Poland.

By: Soumya Dutta

A COP with low expectations – The world seems to have learnt a bitter lesson from the experiences of Copenhagen COP-15 in 2009 (and the subsequent ones in Cancun-Mexico, Durban-South Africa and Doha-Qatar), where high expectations from the government negotiators and the country-party negotiating process, lead to frustrations amongst all those expecting a positive & progressive deal. This particular COP in Warsaw, the capital city of Poland, was not expected to deliver much. This was also for a few reasons. The COP-21 scheduled in Paris in 2015 is supposed to finalize the new, all-nations-included climate treaty, and 2014 COP-20 in Lima, Peru will – in all likelihood – workout the framework for that. The other reason was Poland’s known regressive political posturing about a possible shift to clean energy, the right-wing upsurge in these parts of Europe etc.

The most corporate dominated COP ever – The COP19 in Warsaw was preceded by a high-level summit where the corporate heavy-weights had been invited, but not the other ‘stake-holders’ in this negotiations. They had the high table with the politicians and UN representatives. In understanding the absurdity of this - it is good to connect to a thoroughly researched report, released while the COP-19 was on – “The Carbon Majors” report, authored by Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute, Colorado, USA. This shows that roughly two-thirds of global cumulative emissions from the time of the “Industrial Revolution”, have been caused by the production and sale by only about 90 major corporate entities of the world. If GHG emission is the major problem supposed to be tackled by the COP 19 (and UNFCCC puts this as the major objective), this red-carpet welcome to the same corporates in the climate summit – was nothing less than an affront to the impacted people all across the world. To make matters more ridiculous, the Polish government (through its Ministry of Economic Affairs) co-hosted a “Coal & Climate Summit” on 18th-19th of November, parallel to the high-level segment of COP-19 !! As if it is still to be discovered that coal & oil are the two biggest contributors of GHG emissions – all over the world.

The hype about the so-called “clean-coal” was heard all over Warsaw during the COP. It is also known that Poland is the most coal-dependent economy in Europe, producing about 85% of its electricity from coal burning (figures vary from 83 to 93% for Poland; in comparison, a much poorer & developing country like India gets about 67% of its electricity from coal), and planning to keep its coal-dependence at about 50% till 2050. We faced the same hypocritical situation last year, when Qatar (which has the dubious honour of having the highest per capita GHG emissions in the world) was hosting COP18, but Qatar is a small economy and not particularly central in global politics (though its oil & gas money is helping it establish itself as a rising political player). In contrast, it is being discussed in the climate debates that Poland is the major road-block in the European Union not being able to raise its mitigation ambition to 30% or more below the 1990 levels by the year 2020, in place of the presently accepted (and nearly achieved) modest target of 20% reduction in its GHG emissions from the 1990 baseline.

Minimum Expectations from COP-19 – With this backdrop, the limited achievements of the first ever ‘Coal-COP’ (as many climate justice activists are calling it) was not a surprise, particularly since the expectations were minimal to begin with. Still, this climate conference was supposed to achieve a few things, the prominent amongst these being –
  1. Come out with a road map for the new, all-nation-included climate treaty to be sealed in the Paris COP in 2015, with raised levels of mitigation ambition, though based on the limited ambition and scope of the ADP (the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, worked out in the COP17 in Durban, South Africa in 2011).
  2. The now established Green Climate Fund (GCF), the would-be big daddy of all climate funds – which is scheduled to deliver USD 100 billion per year starting in 2020, for mitigation, adaptation and the climate related loss & damage – was to report to the COP about its progress, work out the relationship to the UNFCCC, establish its mechanisms of operation, and most important, the rich nations were to outline a plan for GCF funds sources and disbursement, for the intervening period (from the end of fast start finance in 2012 to the beginning of 2020).
  3. The poorer nations most impacted by climate change have been clamouring for acceptance of climate change induced ‘Loss & Damage’, as a ‘third pillar’ of action and support – in addition to ‘mitigation’ and ‘adaptation’, and establish assessment frameworks and mechanisms to address this loss & damage issues.
At the end of two weeks of lengthy backtracking, what this COP ‘achieved’
  1. A loosely formed ‘decision’ about preparing for a new treaty was given in the form of “nationally determined contributions” to mitigation, while the urgent need was for each nations “concrete commitments” to this critical aspect, which is the driver of global warming & climate change. Being “nationally determined”, each country will weigh in all its internal political compulsions & pressure from the now-all-pervading corporate world, and thus any meaningful ‘contribution’ that any progressive nation might think of – will be nipped in the bud. Reportedly, China and India took strong positions to block binding “commitments”. The Alliance Of Small Island States (AOSIS) put pressure for a clear road map of emissions cuts from now till 2020 and increasing the paltry pledges made earlier, but except the European Union to some extent (that too, conditional), no other developed country or block has put forward any clear road maps for emissions cuts leading up to 2020.
  2. The GCF has started its office in Songdo, South Korea, hired essential staff and received seed funding for these, but neither its operational funding nor the mechanism of operation is ready yet. Hopefully, the GCF will be ready by May 2014, getting ‘fit for purpose’ and receiving some funds to address the urgent climate finance needs. During the negotiations here in Warsaw, the US has constantly blocked any concrete language that will show commitment to funding – with amounts, sources and mechanisms. It is now putting conditions that the developing countries have to show that they have created “enabling conditions”, meaning essentially de-regulation of their economies, for it (the US) to agree to GCF funding specifics (the same old trick it played in forcing market mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol, and then backing out). Both the US and other developed countries have made the text even more porous to count private funding on a lot of related areas, as ‘Climate Finance’. The GCF itself has digressed from the earlier understanding of climate finance being largely public funds and given as grants, to part-grant part-soft-loan position, and counting private finance as part of the “promised” USD 100 billion per year from 2020.
  3. The betrayal by developed countries continued in this COP. Following in the footsteps of Canada earlier, Japan announced that it will not abide by its earlier commitment of mitigation. This was apparently a result of its forced shut-down of 54 nuclear power reactors after the Fukushima disaster, and its consequent decision to shift to more oil, gas and – now, Coal power to meet its shortfall. Noteworthy – though Germany has closed eight of its nuclear power plants and decided to shut all of these by the year 2022, it has not wavered like this – having invested heavily in renewable energy capacity, with the full support of its “energeiwende” program. Australia, another on-again-off-again renegade, also followed suit. Russia has indicated its intention of not committing to any targets repeatedly. And the great USA keeps determining its policy all on its own, while requiring other nations to follow its dictates.
  4. On the issue of “Loss & Damage” due to climate change, the dithering continued. Though by the end of 23rd Nov. Saturday, an international mechanism on Loss & Damage (“Warsaw International Mechanism’) was agreed upon, and this is some gain many developing country parties were asking for – but this fell well short of the needed action. The developing country demand of treating Loss & damage at par with Mitigation & Adaptation, in other words - as a Third Pillar of climate action, was being blocked, mostly by the US (again !), which wanted L&D to be considered ‘under’ the Adaptation Framework, diluting its importance and (financial & other) action.
  5. There were some other developments too –
    • India and some other countries successfully blocked the push for including agriculture in the mitigation framework. If adopted, this would have been harmful for the small farmers in developing countries.
    • The demand for ‘equity’ in the deal has been blocked again, as a result of the requisite means to implement this. This will defer the question of global carbon budget agreement to the next COP in Lima in Peru.
    • The big push for creating a new global carbon market – in spite of the present ones failing miserably and not delivering on mitigation promises – was given by the EU and Switzerland, but was resisted and put off for the time being.
    • The REDD+ proposal was ‘improved’, with adoption of a governance framework, and strict insistence on social & environmental safeguards. In addition, the benefits have to be shown to be beyond mitigation. All these patch-work is not likely to address the genuine concerns of forest dwelling & forest fringe communities, especially the indigenous peoples.
Some other actions outside – 
    • The extremely tardy progress and the constant blocking of any positive proposal – mostly by the developing countries – but also occasionally by ‘emerging economy parties’ – crossed the limits of tolerance of the assembled civil society groups and the parties from the AOSIS, LDC etc. On the penultimate day of negotiations – on 21st Nov, they staged a walkout in protest, after surrendering their UNFCCC accreditation badges (the NGO representatives). This was with the promise of returning to the COP-20 in Lima, where the host nation /COP presidency is expected to be much more progressive.
    • On the 16th of Nov, over 5000 activists – from both civil society and some poor country parties – took to the foggy and cold Warsaw streets, to march in front of the venue of the Corporate-controlled Cop-19, and demand that the world’s governments act decisively, positively and swiftly – to tackle climate change.
    • In protest against the Polish government co-hosting the Coal and Climate Summit in parallel to the high level segment of the COP, a large number of civil society organisations together organized a daring protest action in front of the ministry of finance building, the venue of the coal summit. GreenPeace activists climbed onto the ministry building and erected huge banners. several people were detained by police.
    • Regular planning meetings and discussions took place in the Climate Justice space.
    • The ‘official’ presence of the Indian delegation (from the government of India) was very small, and very low-key as well. While many smaller nations like Bangladesh, Kenya, even tiny ones like Mauritania etc. – had visible stalls displaying their positions & programs, and multiple side events and exhibitions etc. - we could not locate any such activity by the official Indian delegation. The Indian delegation press conference on 20th – possibly the only outreach effort by Indian govt there - we missed, as we had to leave Warsaw on that morning. 

What we, as ‘Beyond Copenhagen’, did at the COP 19 - 

In the end, it will not be totally out of place to put in a few activities that we were involved in.
  1. On the 12th of November, two of us spoke on various issues of the increasing threats of climate change driven livelihood losses and the forced climate migrants, in a well attended side event organized by Bangladesh groups, in the meeting hall ‘krakow’ in the COP 19 venue, Warsaw national stadium.
  2. On Nov.13th, we organized an equally well attended side event on the issue of – “Climate change in the post 2015 development agenda : implications for agriculture and livelihoods”. Apart from three members from our collective, we had representation from Pan African Climate Justice Alliance as a speaker.
  3. From the 13th to 18th, we had detailed interviews and exchanges with six different university research groups from many countries including USA, Belgium, Italy, Germany etc., on a variety of related issues. This was an attempt to reach out to multiple groups from across the world – to communicate, establish parallel channels of common understanding and influence.
  4. Following our Delhi pre-cop meeting with the Polish deputy environment minister and several embassy representatives on Nov.05, we had another meeting with the Deputy minister, as the full minister was too busy, being the President of the COP. Several partner organisations from outside India were also invited to this interaction on 16th.
  5. BCPH produced a book on climate issues, titled “Engaging With Climate Change : Perspectives on Some Critical Aspects of Climate Change” – for the COP19, and this was officially released on the 13th of November at room Krakow in the COP-19 venue. We also produced some attractive climate message carrying bookmarks and cloth bags – which were taken up by many delegates.
  6. Some BCPH members interacted with some members of India’s official delegation. Though they were generally welcoming, they were unwilling to talk substance.
  7. A few of us took part in the Climate Justice march on 16th, and interacted with a large number of activists from other countries.
  8. On the large public meeting in Warsaw – protesting against Coal being promoted as a climate solution (!), one of us was invited to speak as the representative of southern country CSOs. The following press conference was also addressed by the same BCPH representative – both on the 18th of November.
  9. We made some efforts to document the impacts of climate change in some other countries, how their CSOs and governments are responding to these, what the people are experiencing etc. – through short interviews. We hope to continue this, and come out with a short documentary. Equipment problems hampered this to some extent.
  10. Several members of our delegation attended a number of other side events, and raised relevant questions and observations, to enrich the discussions, and also to raise awareness of Indian situations in the global scene.
  11. We also had a few meetings and interactions with both international NGOs active in the area, and multi-country discussions to share experiences.