Category Archives: COP21

Join us on the 27 May

For the last two weeks,  climate change negotiators from around the world and other stakeholders from national governments and civil society gathered in Bonn for the intersessional climate change meeting.

Every year, all countries represented at the United Nations, come together at the UNFCCC headquarters for the intersessional meeting, which bridges the time gap between the annual international climate change negotiations (known as the Conference of the Parties or COP) that take place in November/December each year. The aim of this year’s intersessional meeting in Bonn is to solidify the gains made last year in Paris at COP21, and to turn them into actions that could keep post-industrial global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

One of the many commitments made during the COP21 climate change negotiations in Paris, was for all participating countries to enhance education, training, public participation and awareness around climate change, and to guarantee access to information in their respective countries. This commitment, known as the “Action for Climate Empowerment” builds on Article 6 of the UN Climate Change Convention and is a fundamental part of the Paris Agreement signed on 22nd April this year.

The successful integration of Article 6 into national strategies and activities is critical for transparent and decisive climate action in each country and ensures participation and capacity development of different stakeholders.

One way of informing and involving citizens in the climate debate is to through multi-stakeholder workshops at national, regional or local levels that involve policy-makers from relevant ministries, private sector as well as civil society representatives. In South Africa, the consultation workshops on the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) organised by the provinces and the national Department of Environmental Affairs in 2015 were good examples of stakeholder discussions in the climate change debate.

Project 90 by 2030 is working towards transparent climate action in South Africa. Together with the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO), we are making concerted efforts towards climate change empowerment of South Africans. We will jointly be hosting two roundtable discussions on the “Domestication of the Paris Agreement”. Representatives from provincial and local government, private sector and civil society will be meeting in Cape Town on the 27th May, and in Johannesburg on the 19th July 2016.

If you are interested in joining us at our roundtable discussion on the 27th May in Cape Town, please email Neoka – neoka@90by2030.org.za We look forward to your input.

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Realising Africa’s true potential

Renewable energy is one of the most tangible ways of making a fundamental shift from our current climate trajectory. Weening off from fossil fuels for energy will decrease our dependence on these limited and climate altering resources and allow us to move towards creating a low-carbon generation. The African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) was created with the intention of kick starting this process on continental scale.

The AREI was initiated at the end of 2014 and officially launched during COP21, (Twenty-first Session of the Conference of the Parties) in Paris, at the end of 2015 by the African Group of Negotiators (AGN). The initiative aims to implement 10 GW of renewable energy by 2020 and 300 GW of renewable energy by 2030 on the African continent. The initiative proposes the use of smart grid systems that utilise a mix of restored current grid systems and decentralised energy of various forms of energy production coupled with energy efficiency.

The first meeting of African civil society representatives to discuss the AREI was held in February 2016 in Berlin, Germany. At the meeting a unanimous decision was made to host a second and more representative meeting (with more African civil society delegates) ahead of the African Ministerial Conference of Environment (AMCEN) in Cairo, Egypt, which took place in mid-April.

At the conference, a joint statement compiled by African civil society was presented to the AMCEN secretariat to then share with the Ministers of the AMCEN member states. The statement detailed how we – as African civil society – see the AREI become operationalised, with specific elements which were highlighted as non-negotiables.

Our main message was to highlight the importance of the foundation of the AREI and its ambitions/intentions, and the sustainable provision and access to energy across the continent, which are the cornerstones to the initiative’s success.

Attempting to plan and implement a plan of action on a continental scale is by no means an easy feat, with many intricacies to be ironed-out, negotiated and in some cases re-negotiated. There is also the consideration of the fact that certain African states such as Morocco, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa currently possess more advanced infrastructure. By concentrating the AREI’s developments in those states would allow the initiative to reach its 2020 goal of implementing 10GW of renewable energy with relative ease, but potentially at the expense of the ultimate 300 GW goal by 2030 given the lack of investment towards the other less developed states.

Further questions have surfaced around the AREI – including around the allocation of the pledged funds of the initiative as well as the institutional structure, operations and responsibilities of the initiative.

The Titanic was deemed ‘too big to fail’ and in the instance of the AREI – the story of the Titanic should serve as a cautionary tale. From every perspective, the AREI is ambitious. In order for the initiative to succeed – it is imperative that frequent critical analyses take place, by both government and civil society, to ensure that the AREI’s implementation does not fall back into the practiced, business as usual approach.

The AREI can realise its true potential, but only if a realistic implementation and accountability plan is put into action.

Written by Neoka Naidoo – Project 90 by 2030’s Policy Communicator

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The risk of misaligning strong words with weak actions

If the opening session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) session on the 29 November was anything to go by, COP21 was off to an inspiring start. But the question still remains how will this Conference of Parties pan out? If we are committed to avert creating an unliveable Earth, we must understand that we are all in this together. We have one planet with huge diversity, but the effects of climate change are not separated by our ever-changing invisible political boundaries – they affect all of us.

With soundbites like ”our very future as humankind, hinges on this”, “ambition is key” and “everyone is responsible but respective capabilities are imperative” – what does this all mean when it comes to down to the implementation of any climate deals? Personally I think that as much as economics and politics play a huge role in trying to solidify a fair and ambition climate deal, it is time to put aside our differences, and begin to collaborate..

With the spin-off groups closed and less than 24 hours left for the contact group to meet before the draft streamlined text goes to the COP assembly – we need speed, but more importantly, precise and ambitious interventions. The commencement of the High-Level Segment on the 7 December will see ministers arrive to make final decisions in the COP negotiations.

For the sake of the millions of people, most of whom are in developing countries, already fighting the worsening climate crisis, COP21 can’t be a cop out. We need ambition on all fronts and mechanisms that allow for frequent reviews of the emissions cuts and financing pledged by countries if we are to have any hope of holding future temperature increases to a ceiling of 1.5 degrees, and therefore allowing us to continue to inhabit this planet for years to come.

As the Venezuelan delegation was quoted as saying “If we aren’t ambitious, we will clap in December (when the climate deal is signed) and cry in 2020 (when we feel the effects of our non-action)”. I sincerely hope, we will be crying happy tears with an ambitious global climate agreement in hand.

Neoka Naidoo (Project 90 by 2030 Policy & Research Intern) writes from COP21 in Paris. 

 

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