What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Environmental Justice and India’s Stand on Climate Change

by Manish Gautam*

The last past weeks have observed a slew of activities on the front of climate change discussions. IPCC released the Synthesis Report AR5, that basically syntheses and integrates the findings and recommendations of the three working groups of the fifth assessment report, entailing a ripple of negations and affirmations on the findings, and the mitigation targets. Almost at the same time, the world witnessed the historic China-US deal to cut their carbon emissions, an immediate and necessary step, ending a long stand-off between the two leading and the biggest polluting economies.

The Indian government has been giving mixed signals to take action against this lurking threat. Indian government has recently reconstituted the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change that will inform and advise the government on domestic actions on climate change, indicating that it is determined to combat and take measures against Climate Change. Beginning 2008, the National Action Plan on Climate Change, a scheme well-informed with IPCC findings and recommendations, has been evolving; it paved ways for several State level Action Plans, and the Indian government claims to pursue voluntarily set targets with commitment and conviction. Moreover, there are plans to boost up solar power capacity five folds to 100 GW by 2030, highlighting significant step towards adopting renewable energy.

India has been asked, along with other countries, to announce its GHG emissions peaking year, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, by the month of June 2015. Interestingly at the same time, the government has been avoiding any involuntary commitment to set up a mitigation agenda. The ministers reiterate the growth mantra at the global fronts stating that the priority is to eradicate poverty, although the Indian government claims to pursue an alternative pathway for its growth that will curb greenhouse gases emissions and asserts that this growth will be equitable and fair. Continue reading

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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.


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Strengthen CTCN, Encourage Energy Efficiency & Renewables, Involve Communities

Indian Youth Climate Network Policy Brief on Technology Transfer under UNFCCC

Background & Current Status:The world economy at large is still dependent on carbon intensive sources of energy. There are significant steps undertaken by many developed countries to move from carbon intensive sources to renewable sources. But there is lot left to do. The development trajectory followed the west after the industrial revolution can no longer be a safe pathway for developing countries to move on. Poverty, low access to financial services and political instability have kept many developing countries in the fossil fuel based carbon trap. Thisformed the backdrop for the adoption of Article 4.5 in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that refers to commitment on the issue of transfer technology to help poor countries leapfrog to a less carbon intensive future. The article states

“The developed country Parties and other developed Parties included in Annex II shall take all practicable steps to promote, facilitate and finance, as appropriate, the transfer of, or access to, environmentally sound technologies and knowhow to other Parties, particularly developing country Parties, to enable them to implement the provisions of the Convention. In this process, the developed country Parties shall support the development and enhancement of endogenous capacities and technologies of developing country Parties. Other Parties and organizations in a position to do so may also assist in facilitating the transfer of such technologies.”

Technology Transfer in UNFCCC has been one of the most contested issues as it involves added financial costs for developed countries to help developing countries leapfrog. There are additional concerns over “Intellectual Property Rights” that are currently under the rubric of “World Trade Organization” and not the UNFCCC that impede work under article 4.5. Some of these obstacles were addressed in COP 7 in Marrakesh, resulting in an accord, which had Technology needs assessment, technology information, enabling environments and capacity building as its four pillars.  These are described below –

Technology needs assessment: “Technology Needs Assessments (TNAs) are a set of country-driven activities that identify and determine the mitigation and adaptation technology priorities of Parties other than developed country Parties, and other developed Parties not included in Annex II, particularly developing country Parties.”

Technology information: “The technology information component of the framework defines the means, including hardware, software and networking, to facilitate the flow of information between the different stakeholders to enhance the development and transfer of environmentally sound technologies.”

Enabling environments: “This component of the framework focuses on government actions, such as fair trade policies, removal of technical, legal and administrative barriers to technology transfer, sound economic policy, regulatory frameworks and transparency, all of which create an environment conducive to private and public sector technology transfer.”

Capacity Building: The capacity building component is a process which seeks to build, develop, strengthen, enhance and improve existing scientific and technical skills, capabilities and institutions in Parties other than developed country Parties, and other developed Parties not included in Annex II, particularly developing country Parties, to enable them to assess, adapt, manage and develop environmentally sound technologies.”

These components were expanded in the Cancun Agreement in COP 16 and termed Technology Mechanism, “fostering public-private partnerships; promoting innovation; catalyzing the use of technology road maps or action plans; responding to developing country party requests on matters related to technology transfer; and facilitating joint R&D activities.”

The Technology mechanism consists of Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN).  The Technology executive committee that worked on the technology mechanism, formulated a report based on the needs of 31 parties who submitted their application including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan from South Asia. In order to compile the report, the existing frameworks of the parties were studied, sectors were prioritized for adaptation and mitigation and barriers were identified. Following this recommendations for technology action plans were prepared and submitted for consideration to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice in 2013. This has been a good starting point with more parties sending their requests to become the beneficiaries of the technology mechanism in subsequent months.

Last year in Warsaw, COP 19, parties finalized the modalities of Climate Technology Center & Network and its advisory board resulting in streamlining of submissions from National Designated Entities on the issue.

The Road Ahead

Mandate to TEC to provide guidance on CTCN priorities:  The work of CTCN is seen as a developing country driven process, but fact remains that there is no adequate mechanism by which developing countries can voice their collective requests.  The TM needs to adopt and request prioritization procedures that are based on the ADP’s understanding of equity, and how it is measured, to create an “equitable distribution” of the resources of the CTCN.

Long term funding for TEC and CTCN: Long term financing of technologies is must for making Technology Mechanism work. There have been contributions from Indonesia, Netherlands, United States and others under Global Climate Finance that are most welcome. However,developed countries need to mobilize more resources to reach the specified targets. Voluntary commitments from developing countries for climate financing should be encouraged. Private funding can and should be mobilized as private enterprises have a large role to play in the TM. However, there is a note of caution with private funding. It will come with its own set of strings which may hamper the agenda of TEC & CTCN orienting it towards certain interests.Therefore, the core funding for the decision making part of the TM, the TEC and the Climate Technology Centre and its Advisory Board should be supported in the long term through public funding.

The framework of CTCN is sound but there has to be enhanced emphasis on including transfer of knowledge, technology and skills for energy efficiency and renewable energy. This will help developing countries to diversify their energy portfolio, thereby reducing their dependence on coal.  Many countries like India & China are already moving in that direction. Setting up CTCN at regional levels could then be the next step.

Application of Precautionary Principle: CTCN should also have a mandate to ensure that the socio-environment impact of all environmentally sound technologies is studied thoroughly. There are many technologies that may seem less carbon intensive but can have high ecological, economic and health costs. Funding to such technologies should be refrained.

Stakeholder identification and community participation in decision making on technology assessment and action plan should be made compulsory. The methodology for stakeholder identification and participants should be evolved and adapted to varying local conditions of countries. It is important to ensure the participation of youth, women, indigenous peoples and local communities and other marginalized groups as stakeholders in the process.  Inputs collected should be presented by the national designated entities while filing the request. Any opposition from the communities should also be recorded for consideration. Technology Transfer should be done in an inclusive way and the goals of poverty alleviation intertwined with it. More Green jobs for youth, skill building of the poor and marginalized groups on priority basis should be encouraged.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) norms should be revisited for ensuring that past mistakes of funding “efficient but still carbon intensive technologies” are not repeated. For technology transfer non-market based approaches should also be identified, which currently is considered as anti-thesis of innovation in technology.

Stronger engagement with other conventions and agreements: International and other national Patent Rights norms of developed countries can be a hurdle and obstacle in technology transfer. Parties should be encouraged to remove those barriers for accessing the resources. If possible, creating a common pool of technologies and best practices should be evolved for the benefit of the commons.

Youth has an important role to play. With their energies and risk taking abilities they can take charge of innovating and adapting shared technologies, marketing them at affordable prices thereby creating more green jobs and better growth model.

Prepared by Kabir Arora after consultation with Indian Youth Climate Network members.


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How The Last Week Turned Out To Be One Of The Saddest Weeks In The Environmental History Of India

Mr. Modi’s recent speech, which received a standing ovation from the Indian delegation in a largely empty United Nations General assembly, is a representation of our collective ignorance. The popularly elected Prime Minister hinted that yoga is a way to mitigate climate change. One is not sure whether he was ridiculing the threat of climate change or mocking the ancient science of Yoga. This is not the first time Mr. Modi has shown his ignorance about climate change. His past statements are well documented where he declared that climate is not changing, our lifestyle is.

A request out of utter humour was posted on the Indian Youth Climate Network Page – “Our sincere requests to our ‘popular’ Prime Minister- please don’t make unnecessary linkages. Yoga is good for health but definitely not a strategy of mitigating climate change. Changing in lifestyle as you stated is needed and should start from your own very self, maybe you should learn from your counterpart in Uruguay. Too much to ask for, is it?!” received absurd responses, which were later removed by the admin.

Many of them actually made connections between yoga and climate change mitigation. According to one of the commentator, yoga helps to still the mind, and that ways we can face climate change. Most people who read it were not able to make any sense of it. It shows our collective ignorance and failure of scientific understanding.

India was founded by its makers to promote scientific understanding. Constitution starts with the declaration of ‘we the people’ and not with invocation of God or Almighty, or any particular religious or spiritual tradition. It seems that as Indians, we have missed the point altogether. We have failed to inculcate scientific values and prefer giving copies of Bhagvad Gita to everyone. While we have low understanding of science, we have become over-obsessed with technology. Let me make myself clear here – technology doesn’t always translate into science, rationale or logic. There are differences which we will not get into now.

Let’s move back to environmental governance and ignorance of the political class in India. A day before the Prime Minister’s visit to New York UN Assembly, Mr. Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change sang the old raga of ‘historical responsibility’ of emissions and just made a fool of his very own self in the UN summit on Climate Change called by Ban Ki Moon. The variability in climate will not cause natural disasters in historically responsible developed nations alone. For the weather patterns, these artificial nation state boundaries mean nothing. We all need to take firm commitments, whatever we can afford. And India has a vast potential to take shared responsibility on her shoulders. We have an opportunity to take a leap from the dirty polluting model of development. A pragmatic view is what we are lacking in our leadership. This is something which we need to remind our Environment Minister of….

The piece is originally published in Youth Ki Awaaz and is continued here.-


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Agents of Change (IYCN) Helping Educate Students About Climate Change

by Manish Gautam*

Climate Change is a buzzword these days, although one can notice its absence in the English and other vernacular newspapers, education syllabuses and other general discourses, except in the scientific community in India (however due to its jargon language and closed room discussions it does not often grab the attention of the laymen). The question that might occur to anyone is what exactly is ‘this’ climate change and what we mean by climate change knowledge. It consists of definition of (human induced) climate change, the scientific findings supporting that the climate change occurring today is chiefly due to human activities, and it is important to take action timely otherwise the sustenance in this world would be difficult in near future. The main accused of this climate change are greenhouse gases that have been emitted mostly due to human activities (industries, agriculture, etc.), and the primary stress that every scientific study assessing the impact of climate change is to mitigate emission of these gases[1].

The UN summits and other global venues where climate change is being discussed, the developed and developing nations are often at the tug of war on who should be blamed for this 21st century scare. Montreal protocol, Kyoto protocol and other agreements, however, gave an optimistic picture that the future might be better; the agenda of economic growth being at the helm, lately, in developing countries such as India and China are rendering Climate Change issue as less important [2]. Despite the hesitation and seemingly inaction at the world stage, India, however, has keenly started its own set of programs to deal the Climate Change. It has already deployed a national action plan on Climate Change, and the (in)famous words also made their entry to the latest five year plan (12th FYP-Planning Commission). Some states also have followed suit and laid out state level action plans. The scientific communities, NGOs, and other citizen groups are also coming forward to set the action in the right course [3].

‘Agents of Change’, a flagship program of IYCN and into existence since 2008, is determined to disseminate knowledge and information on Climate Change and create awareness among the Indian youth about the issue. The Agents of Change have continuously made their presence at the past CoPs representing the Indian youth and appealing to the leaders of nation-states to adopt measures to curb the carbon emissions, and to combat the Climate Change problem [4].

On the onset of the next CoP in Lima, December 2014, the youth organizations worldwide once again are preparing themselves to mark their presence and let their voices heard. Indian youth are also not behind and they are, in the form of AoCs (IYCN) are doing their homework. The Climate Catalysts workshop, that took off in August 2014, and had its first workshop in Hyderabad city, has been empowering youth through these workshops. The two-day workshops have climate change science, global negotiations summary and policy reviews, interactive sessions with green entrepreneurs and sustainability practitioners, and group discussions among participants to understand the issue along with India’s role into climate change on its menu. The outcome so far – Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh – has been encouraging and the responses from the participating youth are making AoCs to achieve its goal of spreading knowledge on Climate Change.

While the ecological and environmental issues pertaining to India have been at the center of the discussions at the workshops, the youth have started to perceive the issue of Climate Change and to understand it as an imminent threat at national and regional level. The workshops are the groundwork for the Agents to present the youth’s opinion in the dialog of climate change at CoP. Amid the news of increasing levels of CO2 emissions, population growth, and action-inaction of the nation states to make the vulnerable future resilient, the information and knowledge can prove to be a powerful tool to fight for a livable, sustainable world.

*Manish Gautam is a researcher @Indian Institute for Human Settlements and member of Indian Youth Climate Network

1.https://unfccc.int/essential_background/the_science/items/6064.php

2.http://www.vox.com/2014/9/25/6843673/india-climate-change-stance-emissions-rise-30-years

3.http://www.c2es.org/international/key-country-policies/india/climate-plan-summary, http://envfor.nic.in/ccd-sapcc

  1. http://iycn.in/