What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Which way will we walk?

Source: DTMMS

 A Story from Mother’s Tales and Imaginary Hot Air Balloons

by Nimesh Ved, Tobias Dorr, Daniela Boos

 
During school days, of which I have endearing memories, my mother used to teach me mathematics during evenings. This primarily dealt with basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This ‘rough-work’ as it was then referred to, used to take place, on most occasions, on envelopes. Reverse of envelopes that had brought in letters, news-papers and magazines; after scraping them open with foot-rulers. White and colourful, large and small, it used to be fun to tear and get them ready for use.

Mother’s point was (and still is), to use a thing – big or small, expensive or otherwise – optimally and explore alternate use after the article was rendered unfit for its primary usage. Added to this was the dictum of only buying items that one needed.

These values I somehow imbibed. Years later when I was part of teams in Saiha (Mizoram) and Baghmara (Meghalaya), we used to regularly get Sanctuary Asia, Down to Earth, Seminar India and other engrossing reading companions to these endearing places. Envelopes that brought in these were put to use as ‘sorters’ in the office files.

Mother’s reasoning, then, was guided more from the point of saving money (a scarce resource itself!) than others. This could be, without much difficulty, today shrugged off as a miserly approach to life. But is not this facet the same as espousing a lifestyle that is low on ecological foot-print and climate friendly?

Evidence of climate change and its impact can be already observed today in daily life, at a time when we are still able to make a change. Most farmers in multiple states across the country observe changes in rainfall patterns, a decrease in duration of the winter season, uncertainty of arrival of seasons and other issues that impact farming. They may have never heard of terms like climate change or global warming, but they understand the associated phenomena well.

For instance, a researcher working on the impacts of climate change on agriculture shared that farmers lamented that their festivals have lost their bearings during recent years due to changes in climate. These changes lead to alteration in cultivation cycles and most of their festivals revolved around these cultivation cycles. It is heartening, she said, that farmers, in different regions, have designed and implemented strategies to adapt to climate change. Many farmers in Odisha, in areas affected by soil salinity owing to the Super Cyclone in 1999, had switched from paddy to crab cultivation and betel leaf plantation. Apple cultivators of Himachal Pradesh had shifted to higher altitudes owing to the rise in temperatures; apple requires a cooler climate for a certain period.

After dwelling in my childhood memories and recognizing the challenges of climate change the earth faces these days, I moved to imagining the world 50 years down the line. How would India look like some time in 2065? Where and how would people live? I closed my eyes and I flew over the country in an imaginary hot air balloon – and I was surprised: Continue reading

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Climate Finance Missing from the Agenda: How do We Achieve Equitable Deal?

by Ram Kishan

Many UNFCCC stakeholders see climate finance as one of the linchpins holding together the entire climate negotiation process, and for good reasons. First, climate finance is key to closing gaps: delivering funds to implement mitigation and adaptation activities is required in order to ensure the highest possible efforts. For mitigation, this means keeping the planet on a pathway that limits global warming to 2°C or less; for adaptation, this means enabling climate-resilient development. Second, the provision of climate finance fulfils developed countries’ financial commitments to developing countries under UNFCCC obligations. Third, some stakeholders maintain that developed countries, which provide the means to implement climate change projects (finance, technology and capacity building) will determine developing countries’ level of commitment and buy-in to a new climate deal in 2015.

There is only one year left before the COP in Paris, where the Parties are expected to adopt a protocol – another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC – that is applicable to all Parties. There are few political openings left to reassure developing countries that their domestic climate actions will receive commensurate international support. In this context, the COP in Lima is a critical opportunity to provide the necessary predictability, which is currently missing in the negotiations.

Now that we are 3 days away from the end of negotiations at COP 20 in Lima, lets reflect on the past few days…

An [In]equitable Climate Treaty in Paris 2015?

World leaders have been touting COP 20 as the conference to pave the road to a legally binding treaty in Paris in 2015. By Day 9, however, divisions between the Global North and Global South are making themselves known, particularly around the ADP (Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform) also known as the fundamental base for negotiations to get to Paris. With many of us pushing for equity to be at the heart of next year’s climate deal, it is disheartening to see the degree of division among member states. Particularly upsetting is that it is the so-called “developed” countries that seem to be actively working against equity thus far.

We are already seeing problematic comments from the EU, U.S., Australia and Switzerland — supported by Canada and New Zealand — on climate financing. Likewise there has been strong pushback on linking climate finance through the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund to international law. This is deeply troubling as it essentially opens the door for countries to set their own terms for funding adaptation and mitigation efforts in the Global South. Continue reading


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Developing Countries Unsatisfied with New ADP Text @Climate Talks

The men of paper are still negotiating the future of life in Lima. Clarity has started evolving on number of issues including watering down of the language of old draft decision text. The new text has been drafted by the co-chairs Artur Runge- Metzger and Kishan Kumar Singh of Ad- hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhance Action (ADP) with the help of UNFCCC Secretariat. It was done after the agreement in an informal conversation termed as “Friends of Chair” meeting. The idea was to propose synthesized version with consolidated inputs of all parties. For developing countries, the given text in no manner looks like consolidation and reflect the views of few parties and not all.  Developing countries are raising red flags as according to them, most of their suggestions have not been included where- as the interventions of certain parties (in all probabilities referred to developed countries) have been added to it.

China is not happy with the procedure of not including its core ideas and questioned the rationale of the co-chairs in proposing the new text. It’s important to note that many of China’s inputs are there including those on “annexure-1” i.e. complementary information on Intended Determined Contributions of parties (iNDCs) which is now “annexure -2” in the new document. China’s interventions are covered in Option -3 & Option- 5 of annexure and more to do with detailing of actions taken by parties to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  Ecuador and Bolivia, chair of G-77 + China, raised questions about fairness of the process.

Venezuela was too loud in expressing its lack of clarity as the new draft makes reference to number of texts which are yet to be prepared. This makes the process very confusing. India sided by all of them. I’m sure while reading this you must also be left perplexed. But what can I do, the whole process is complex, leave aside lay men like you and me, the negotiators are also clueless of the happenings. Continue reading


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India Struggling Between the Juggernaut of International Image & Equity @Climate Talks

Dispatches from COP 20, Lima. 

Indian government delegation is warming up for a test match like scenario at COP 20 in Lima. Last blog-post looked at couple of expectations shared by the delegation members. Those were elaborated further today at an informal chit-chat with civil society. It seems that India in coordination with other developing countries will push for Adaptation, Adaptation, and Adaptation at par with mitigation in Paris, 2015 climate deal. The equal parity between mitigation, and adaption in the mandate of Global Climate Fund was appreciated in the interaction.

While the need for inclusion of adaptation is understood well, there is no visible clarity on the nuts and bolts of framework for adaptation. According to Mr. Sushil Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), there is a benchmark limit like 2 Degree Centigrade for mitigation purposes, similar yardstick is yet to be devised for adaptation. To initiate an identical framework for adaptation, scale or some sort of index quantifying vulnerability is necessary, and the talks for the same are yet to take place. Informally Inter-governmental panel on climate change like body is being proposed to do the job quantification of vulnerability and adaptation.

There are more questions than answers about it.

India has been a champion of ‘equity’ in the convention. There is growing fatigue around the equity argument. There are apprehensions of it blocking or derailing the prospective deal. For new government in Delhi, international image is very important and also they don’t want to lose their flagpole of ‘equity’. The juggernauts of equity, international image and other pertaining questions have forced the government to open its floor for wider participation of civil society. And this has brought in new players like the think tank of prominent journalists and former bureaucrats in the game. In the interaction, it was very visible that the Indian delegation is heavily dependent on their opinions and understanding, and is waiting for their final verdict on the same.

The lack of clarity on government’s part has opened many doors for civil society to intervene and liaison. But it also leaves us in dismay as many in the delegation are not as prepared as we were made to believe.  We hope that Indian delegation, with little understanding and preparation is not going to make a fool of itself in the negotiations. Whatever said and done, one thing is very clear that Lima has inflamed desires for stronger agreement and it is not going to be a pass over as many were making us believe.


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India’s expectation from UNFCCC COP 20

COP 20, Lima is very important and will prepare roadmap for a potential agreement in Paris, 2015. This was reiterated by Ravi Shankar Prasad lead negotiator from India, in an informal conversation with Indian Youth Delegation. Setting India’s expectation he said, India, like all other developing countries, wants to know what goes in “intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (iNDCs). Intended Nationally Determined Contributions is a mechanism put in place for voluntary commitments which parties can undertake for enhancing actions in pre-2020 period. Apart from mitigation measures like emission reduction, developing countries also want adaptation and capacity building strategies in the iNDCs. For iNDCs to be effective adequate financial resources need to be mobilized. These two are critical issues which hopefully will be looked into in the coming days and later months. India on its part is having internal evaluation for iNDCs, the report will be out this month. Between March- June, 2015 formal submission of Indian iNDC will be made to UNFCCC Secretariat.

Indian Youth Delegation with Indian NegotiatorAccording to Mr. Prasad US- China climate deal is a minor announcement. They have agreed only on two issues i.e. China peaking its green house gas emissions by 2030 and US reducing its emission by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. It’s not as amazing an announcement, but is a good starting point. He denied the fact that it will have major implications on India and also rejected the suggestion that India is going to announce its Green House Gas peaking anytime soon.

Apart from iNDCs and adequate resource mobilization, he also reflected on technology mechanism. According to him, India is pushing for relaxation of global Intellectual Patent Rights Norms so as to access efficient technologies. Conducive global IPR regime will provide enabling environment for developing countries to move towards greener economy.

Rest as they say, the charm of negotiator is determined by the way he hides his thoughts and not the revelation of it. It’s just the first day, and nothing is final till the deal is sealed.

With inputs from N. S. Prasad.


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Need for Resilient Agricultural Systems in the face of Climate Variability

Indian Youth Climate Network Policy Brief on Agriculture under UNFCCC

Background & Current Status: Agriculture contributes to and is threatened by climate change, thus jeopardizing global food security. Increasing variability in weather patterns makes agriculture one of the sectors this is most vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Smallholders, comprising approximately 500 million small farms globally, are particularly vulnerable to climate change, potentially making nearly two billion people food insecure worldwide.

Agriculture is recognized as integral part for both adaption and mitigation on climate change. Article 2 of the UNFCCC outlines as ultimate objective the need to stabilize concentration of green house gases to ‘ensure that food production is not threatened’ by climate change. Article 4.1 (c) of UNFCCC detailing the commitments of parties provides for ‘promotion and cooperation in the development of technologies, practices and processes that can mitigate emissions from the relevant sectors’, including agriculture. It also states that parties need to cooperate in preparing to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and develop and elaborate appropriate and integrated plans for agriculture amongst other things Art 4.1 (e).

At COP 13 in Bali, parties had agreed to ‘develop and elaborate cooperative and sectoral approaches and sector specific actions to implement Art. 4.1(c)’, under the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA).

The text from LWG-LCA in COP 15 in 2009 at Copenhagen was agreed to be protected. The text mentioned the need to improve the efficiency and productivity of agricultural production systems in a sustainable manner. Interests of farmers, rights of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge practices were also recognized along with the link between agriculture and food security, adaptation and mitigation. It was also argued that agriculture sector should not become a reason for imposing trade barriers. A Work Programme on Agriculture under Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA- a technical body that advises parties to UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol on scientific, technological and methodological questions) was sought to be established.

At COP 17 in Durban (2011), parties agreed to include Agriculture as an agenda item in SBSTA, thereby, moving it from the LCA discussions. At Doha in COP 18, no agreement was reached on the work programme on agriculture and the discussions on agriculture continued under SBSTA. As SBSTA mandate is to look at scientific and technological aspects and not policy matters, it also invites reports from the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) including the report by the High-Level Panel of Experts on food security and nutrition to feed into its own working and at the workshops it organizes.

Some key areas and interventions on Agriculture:

  • Developing countries have argued for emphasis on adaptation to climate change given that it will impact a majority of their population that are directly dependent on agriculture as an important source of livelihood.
  • EU is in support of a Work Programme on Agriculture that addresses mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation within one umbrella.
  • Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) argue for inclusion of agriculture in Adaptation Committee and discussions in Ad Hoc Durban Platform (ADP).
  • Coalition for Rainforest Nations have stressed on agriculture as a source of food security and livelihoods, and therefore need for greater adaptation.
  • Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean(AILAC) underlined the potential of adaptation efforts and associated co-benefits on agriculture.
  • Farmers’s NGO’s have repeatedly asked for work programme on agriculture under SBSTA.

At Bonn in June 2014, SBSTA agreed to consider the development of early warning systems and contingency plans in relation to extreme weather events; assessment of vulnerability and risk of agricultural systems in relation to different climate change scenarios; identification of adaptation measures; and identification and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner, food security and resilience (FCCC/SBSTA/2014/L.14) at the SBSTA 42 /44 inter-sessional discussions. [1]

Developed countries continue to stress on the need to develop the work programme which addresses adaptation and mitigation together,it is still under discussion.

Some key areas that need added focus:

  • As UNFCCC seeks experts reports and feedback from FAO and CFS on its discussions on agriculture, SBSTA needs to analyse how it can ensure greater coherence on agricultural policies while at the same time avoid high transaction costs that are associated with duplication of efforts.
  • SBSTA’s workshops can be used as a forum to foster greater dialogue on contentious issues with an aim to arrive at policies that are necessary for an equitable, food secure, sustainable, and humane farming future in the face of climate change.
  • As the scientific and technical body, SBSTA should identify research and exchanges that are necessary to fulfill these goals.

The Way Forward: For the deal between and after Paris, it has become important to ensure that climate policies encompassing agriculture include considerations and safeguards that protect and promote food security, biodiversity, equitable access to resources, the right to food, animal welfare, and the rights of indigenous peoples and local populations, while promoting poverty reduction and climate adaptation. Given the extreme vulnerability of small farmers and producers, policies need to promote biodiverse, resilient agricultural systems that achieve social and gender equity and are led by small producers. Depending on the contextual requirement, systems should be developed, demonstrated, tested, and implemented, so as to transform farming which is environmentally, economically, or socially unsustainable into farming that improves ecosystem health, communities, and cultures – even in the face of a changing climate.

Prepared by Supriya Singh after consultation with Indian Youth Climate Network members.

[1]Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 598, pp 15.


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Importance of Education & Involvement of Youth in Climate Dialogue

Indian Youth Climate Network Policy Brief on Article 6 of UNFCCC

Climate change and its impacts would severely test the capacities of nations to curb the instances of loss and damage, and also of communities to continue to adapt to unpredictable and rapidly changing weather patterns. Thus, to prepare for a world that is dealing with climate change, capacities of the nations, vulnerable communities, youth, and individuals need to be enhanced. Role of education and training for developing both mitigation and adaptation action will become significant as the world tries to develop resilient, equitable and just systems.

Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change address this need and stipulates the promotion of education, training and public awareness on climate change. It defines activities under two sections in six priority areas, and lays emphasis on the participation at all levels and of all stakeholders in the climate change process.

Firstly it instructs the parties at national and regional levels to, ‘Promote and facilitate at the national and, as appropriate, sub-regional and regional levels, and in accordance with national laws and regulations, and within their respective capacities:

  • The development and implementation of educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects;
  • Public access to information on climate change and its effects;
  • Public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate responses; and
  • Training of scientific, technical and managerial personnel.

Secondly, it emphasizes the need for international cooperation and promotion to:

  • The development and exchange of educational and public awareness material on climate change and its effects; and
  • The development and implementation of education and training programmes, including the strengthening of national institutions and the exchange of personnel to train experts in this field, in particular for developing countries.’

Article 6 delineates in detail the commitment of the Parties to UNFCCC as outlined in Article 4,  which, on the basis of CBDR (Common but Differentiated Responsibilities) underlines, ‘the need for promotion and cooperation on matter related to climate change education, training and public awareness.’ Article 4 also explicitly states that Parties ensure wide participation of the people including that of non-governmental organizations.

Article 6 can provide necessary impetus to the countries to develop and implement programmes that will educate their populations about climate change and how it will affect various sectors and constituencies. It, along with Article 5  (research and systematic observation), provides the blueprint for developing adequate responses on dealing with climate change, its prevention, along with disaster management and relief in the event of loss and damage.

Important Landmarks

New Delhi Work Programme: At the COP-8 in New Delhi, the New Delhi Work Programme (NDWP) was launched as an elaboration of Article 6 for better understanding and implementation of the different provisions of the Article in Decision 11/CP.8. NDWP was a five-year country-driven programme aimed at engaging all stakeholders in the implementation of Article 6 as well as in seeking recommendation on the activities that could be undertaken to meet the commitments under the Article.  NDWP’s mandate came to an end in 2007 with participation being its primary focus.

Amended New Delhi Work Programme (ANDWP): In 2007 at COP 13 in Bali, parties recognized NWDP was a good framework for action on Article 6 and a decision was reached to adopt amended New Delhi Work Programme (ANDWP) for another five years. (decision 9/CP.13). It was recognized that implementation of Article 6 was a long term process where national efforts need to be supported. In this regard, actions towards strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation became important elements of the programme. It was extended for another five years with a scheduled review in 2012. The focus of the programme was public awareness, public participation and public access to information. Implementation of the stipulations was to be considered by the National Focal Points (NFP’s) with consideration for each country’s specific conditions and characteristics.

In 2010 at COP 16 in Cancun, an intermediate review on Article 6 was undertaken by parties to identify gaps in implementation and outline best practices and recommendations on improving the actions that need to taken. Parties to the UNFCCC and civil society organisations submitted their recommendations at Cancun. The Cancun mandate was thus to assess the, “progress in, and ways to enhance, the implementation of the amended New Delhi work programme on Article 6 of the Convention”.  Decision at Cancun recognized women, youth, indigenous and civil society groups as vital stakeholders, non-formal education and informal education as important part of educational training and public awareness. It also urged the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to increase access to funding for Article 6 related activities. Inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations were also encouraged to enhance efforts and share information on their respective activities on the information network clearing house CC:iNet of UNFCCC.

Doha Work Programme: At COP 18 in Doha in 2012, the COP adopted decision 15/CP.18 on eight-year Doha Work Programme. It was also decided to undertake a review of DWP in 2020 and an intermediate review of progress in 2016.  GEF was requested to provide continued financial resources to non-Annex I parties i.e. developing countries and least-developed countries for implementation of the article. All parties were asked to communicate actions taken and experiences on work programme for the 2016 and 2020 reviews. An annual in-session dialogue on Article 6 implementation was agreed to be organized under Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI).

Youth Intervention and participation: Article 6 provides youth along with women, indigenous group with an opportunity to intervene directly in policy and implementation process. The Youth Non-Government Organisations (YOUNGO), acting as the hub of the youth constituency, have a YOUNGO Article 6 Working Group that came out with ‘Enhanced Youth Participation and Education in Climate Change- The Article 6 Implementation Toolkit’ during COP 17 in 2011, Durban. The toolkit was made available at the CC:iNET and is an important contribution towards understanding the implications and stakes for youth in the process by way of the Article 6.

As observers and parts of the movements connected with grassroots, youth have been important agents in strengthening and democratizing the process under article 6. Their reflection on the representation of different groups and constituencies reflect a deeper understanding of the politics of climate negotiations. At the inter-sessional in Bonn, June 2014 at SBSTA-40 meeting, the youth highlighted the need for continued discussion and focus on Article 6 of the Convention, in particular on public participation. Thereby, they asked to enhance participation of the observers[1] and noted the under-representation of the youth from the global south at the negotiations.[2]

Significance and the Way Forward: The scope of interpretation of Article 6 is very large can help mainstream climate concerns as well as its complex inter-linkages with other environmental issues – like water availability, droughts, floods, food availability, livelihood questions- into national curriculum to prepare climate-resilient societies with necessary skills and capabilities to augment disaster preparedness and adaptation strategies.

It has the potential to create a more informed national and global community that better appreciates the challenges related to climate change. Education, training and public awareness create a much informed citizenry that can critically assess and feed into the developmental policy-making and implementation of actions on adaptation and mitigation.

Education and training can enable youth as agents to become empowered and assess governmental planning and implementation of actions (mitigation, adaptation, developmental) on youth and other vulnerable and marginalised groups. Through this, developmental and growth policy across the world can be subjected to greater scrutiny and decision makers reminded of precautionary principle when proceeding on important issues. Transformation to a world weaned off from fossil-fuels will need leadership and action by youth on matters of science, ecology and environment. Mainstreaming of environmental concerns into developmental policy will need trained and skilled people. Article 6 and youth involvement together can address this emerging urgent need.

Prepared by Reva Prakash after consultation with Indian Youth Climate Network members.

[1] Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 598: pp6.

[2] Ibid, pp12.