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CCS students at the COP21 climate summit, 1-12 December

CCS students Boaventura Monjane, Mithika Mwenda, Tabitha Spence and Celia Alario at the COP21 climate summit, Paris, 1-12 December

This COP will determine how Africa will be colonized again through climate change

Boaventura Monjane, CCS Masters/Research candidate

“This COP will determine how Africa will be In this interview by WST TV Boaventura Monjane, a journalist and activist from Mozambique speaks about the outcomes of the Paris Climate Talks, COP21 and argues that most of the solutions proposed by Conference Of the Parties and Corporations are marketed oriented and that mechanisms like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) are a new form of colonialism for Africa

Global geopolitics should not be allowed to crash the crucial Paris Climate Change Conference
Mithika Mwenda CCS Masters/Research candidate 30 November 2015

Almost 150 Heads of State and Government across the world are going to Paris, France, where a global Pact on climate change is expected to be hammered after years of negotiations characterized by walk-outs, threats, behind-the-scene maneuvres, and widening North-South divide.

This is the largest meeting bringing key leaders, among them President Barack Obama of the US, President Xi Jinping of China and India’s Narendra Modi, and happening at the UN Headquarters in New York, all accounting for largest share of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

And despite the France seat of Government suffering the terrorist attack a couple of days ago that threatened to dampen the spirit of the global community as delegates gathered their bags to embark on a journey to the conference seen as a last-ditch effort to conclude the elusive Post-Kyoto Climate agreement, consensus is growing that all obstacles against such a Pact should be dealt with in the spirit of give-and-take.

The Charles De Gaulle International Airport is a beehive of activities as delegates arrive from all corners of the world. Hotels have registered full capacity bookings and no sign of cancellation. The venue of the COP21, Le Bourget Stadium, is a packed place as delegates arrive to register. In other words, we have defied the terrorists and demonstrating to them that if they thought their cowardly act was meant to scare us away, then let them know that not even threat of death will stop us from writing an Agreement that will save humanity and preserve the health of the Planet. Indeed, the terrorist attack in Paris has emboldened the world leaders in forging their unities against all threats, including climate change, reminding them that they will be called upon to provide direction when citizens are faced by such dilemmas.

Climate change is such a monumental challenge to the survival of humanity, preservation of the health of the planet, attainment of all ambitious strategies to defeat the pangs of hunger and poverty, as well as meeting the newly-agreed sustainable development goals. It is no longer debatable that all challenges we face – shrinking food reserves, water stress, energy inaccessibility – have their roots from the changing climate.

Smallholder peasant farmers, pastoralists, and forest-dependent, hunter-gatherer indigenous communities which rely on rainfall and natural ecosystem for their survival have seen their livelihoods turned upside down by the frighteningly expanding climate change impacts manifested by shifting seasons, erratic rainfall, droughts and unmitigated floods. As I write this piece, Zimbabwe is almost issuing an international alert due to prevailing famine due to rain shortages. Malawi is reeling in hunger, while El Nino floods have caused havoc in Kenya, resulting in deaths and destruction of infrastructure.

This week, expectations are high that COP-21 will not be another Copenhagen debacle six years ago, when leaders trooped in the Danish Capital during COP15 only to end up with a disastrous outcome christened “Copenhagen Accord” which ended up exposing their failure in diplomacy.

Perhaps we laid substantial hope to individual leaders like Obama, who ended up disappointing us as climate change is such a complex issue to be solved by an individual. We assumed that by Obama’s captivatingly fascinating image was good enough to convince EU and BRIC leaders bury their hatchet and agree to an agreement to address climate change. If we have learnt a lesson, then we should agree that all nations, small and big, rich and poor, should have a role to play in the universal climate change agreement.

Thus, Obama’s speech once he takes a podium in his 3-minute address should be weighed on US fair share on climate action, just as the speech to be delivered by President Baron Waqa of Nauru, a Central Pacific Country of around 10,000 people. This is also the judgment to be passed to African countries, who have contributed marginally to the problem of global warming, but whose citizens continue to suffer due to the impact of climate change.

African countries, and Kenya in particular, have done what is in their ability as contribution to defeat the challenge of climate change, both in mitigation and adaptation. The Government of Kenya, for instance, has developed an economy-wide national climate change action plan, followed by a comprehensive Policy whose implementation framework, the National Climate Change Bill, is at an advanced Stage of completion. Communities at various levels are taking necessary action to build their own resilience in agriculture, livestock, water, forest, etc.

The only challenge is that the pressure exerted by climate change is such a monumental one that they require support – in terms of finance, technology and capacity – to be able to overcome. But those who are supposed to provide such support have declined, or worse, shifted goalposts. They want to transfer the burden of action to the already-oppressed poor and vulnerable people.

Over years, African Civil Society and their governments have expressed concern that once under pressure, rich countries focus only on setting up institutions and committees rather than on provision of finance, technology and capacity building which would assist developing countries in dealing with climate change. We now have a multilateral climate-financing framework, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which should be sufficiently capitalized to provide much-needed resources to enable developing countries and Africa to adapt, mitigate and enhance resilience in the face of climate change.

We are in a take-off mood. A lot has been achieved since 2009, and the failure is not an option in Paris. By agreeing to converge in COP21, the world leaders have signed a covenant with nature that they want to be counted in this historic moment in writing a global pact on climate change, which should resonate with African aspirations – it should fair, equitable, ecologically just and effectively efficient.

Mithika Mwenda is the Secretary General, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance PACJA
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Civil society decry exclusion from climate talks
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) 22 October 2015

Bonn, Germany — Representatives of civil society and developing countries have expressed concern over the lack of transparency in UN climate change talks.

At the UN talks in Bonn, Germany, senior representatives of developing countries and civil society organisations joined together to demand greater openness, inclusiveness and transparency.

They were responding to a decision by the US and Algerian Co-Chairs of the negotiations to close the discussions to civil society, effectively excluding representatives of citizens’ organisations, women, youth, academics, local government and other constituencies.

The decision by the Co-Chairs responded to opposition by Japan to the usual practice of allowing civil society to attend the negotiations.

The five-day session from 19–23 October is crucial for improving the draft negotiating text recently released by the co-Chairs of the negotiations. While the new text is concise and readable, the Commission considers that substantial work is needed to make it clear and balanced.

As the last round of meetings before Paris, the Bonn gathering can help get the world on track for a strong outcome in less than two months.

The decision to exclude citizens comes alongside the release of a text by the Co-Chairs that was widely seen as biased to the interests of the rich industrialised countries, leading to controversy when the negotiations commenced on Monday.

It also comes in the wake of a new report by civil society demonstrating that developed countries are planning to do less than their fair share to tackle global warming.

“This decision by the Co-Chairs is part of a pattern” said Mithika Mwenda of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance. "Developed countries, led by the United States and its allies, don’t intend to do their fair share to tackle climate change. The American and Algerian Co-Chairs are proposing a highly biased text. To get this text through in Paris, they are now seeking to avoid the scrutiny and suppress the voice of civil society”, he said. "To justify an unfair effort, they need an unfair outcome, from an unfair process."

Mithika further added, "We call on the French and Peruvian Presidencies of the Conference, the Co-Chairs and all Parties to ensure an open and transparent process here and in Paris. A successful climate deal must include all if it is to be effective.”

At a press conference, Mr. Seyni Nafo, representative of the government of Mali, underlined the importance of an open, transparent and democratic process that includes civil society. He said that he would approach other African and G77 countries to take this matter to the Co-Chairs and ensure it is resolved immediately.

Drawing on an analogy by a Malaysian delegate, Titi Akosa from the Centre for 21st Century in Nigeria said “We had a bicycle with two wheels, the Co-Chairs removed one wheel by presenting a biased text, and then asked why we’re not moving forward." “Well the bike was fixed by repairing the text earlier in the week to include developing countries’ positions, and now the Japanese are breaking it again removing the wheel a second time and excluding civil society. We need a vehicle that takes all of us to Paris, not just some. Civil society must be back in the room,” she said.

PACJA called on African delegates to stand firm and ensure that civil society are in the room in Bonn and Paris. “The voice of the African people and the people of the world must not be excluded or silenced in these talks,” said Mithika.

Building a global climate movement: COP21 and beyond

Tabitha Spence (CCS PhD candidate) 22 October 2015

Over twenty years of UN climate talks have failed, writes Tabitha Spence. The global demonstrations today are signs of a building movement that is unprepared to accept further betrayals. But we’re going to need a whole new level of struggle to break the current deadlock.

Nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was tasked with “stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. Oops…

Over two decades of negotiating at annual Conferences of the Parties (COPs) have yielded little more than an alphabet soup explosion of new acronyms and a staggering 63% rise in greenhouse gas emissions. This epic failure of the ‘international community’ to act has already warmed the planet a full degree, and many small island nations will likely be under water when the global temperature increases by another half a degree. The warming has set off a series of irreversible changes to Earth’s biophysical systems. These are combining with existing economic and political tensions to produce ever more terrible symptoms, from famine to war to mass migrations.

What has become abundantly clear is that, to quote Gramsci, the crisis consists in the fact that the old is dying, but the new cannot yet be born. We are seeing death and destruction on a massive scale as a direct and indirect consequence of climate change, but remain stuck within a logic that insists on putting profits above humanity and the very conditions of our existence.

As we have witnessed in all past failed attempts to reduce emissions, breaking the deadlock cannot occur without recognising the roots of the fundamentally oppressive and exploitative system, and then taking a clear position against it. Breaking the deadlock can only move into the realm of possible if we join forces across scales, institutions and parochial boundaries to posit a clear alternative and develop a strategy for getting there fast.

Much of the global climate justice movement has been working on ways to revolutionise the energy system within 2-3 decades, and the fact is the only fair way capable of doing what is required (keeping more than 80 percent of known fossil fuels in the ground) would entail eliminating the profit motive and putting power into the hands of the public to manage transport infrastructure and energy systems. A rising tide of public pressure is building, but we must keep joining forces and exerting our power at every point possible to deepen the fight for a liveable and just planet. We’ve got to amplify the struggle, now and into next year.

The immediate plan is to put the pressure on through escalating actions over the 2 weeks of the COP21, in London, Paris or wherever you can. Then we must support struggles and campaigns continuously that aim to develop and build the alternatives now, intervene in the fossil processes that need to die, and offer solidarity and support to those most affected.

Join the People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs in London today.

A Reality Check on the Paris Agreement: Women Demand Climate Justice
Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) FP 12 December 2015

As the Women and Gender Constituency we came to this process asking one question: what is the purpose of a global climate agreement if not to save people and the planet?

We see that the world wants hope, that we want to congratulate ourselves for moving forward with this process, but leaders, we are here for a reality check. This agreement fundamentally does not address the needs of the most vulnerable countries, communities and people of the world. It fails to address the structures of injustice and inequality which have caused the climate crisis and hold the historical polluters sufficiently to account.

We know that climate change is the greatest threat to rights in our time, and we know that women often bear the brunt of these impacts.

We have made progress under this Convention in understanding and responding to the gendered impacts of climate change in the last few years. We believe that operational language on gender equality, alongside other fundamental rights, in Article 2, defining the purpose of the agreement, would have gone far to ensure that all forthcoming climate actions take into account the rights, needs and perspectives of women and men and encourage women’s full and equal participation in decision-making. This was the moment to set the right path, the just path for climate action.

Critical issues like clear emission reductions without offsetting and misleading market approaches; ensuring the quality of technologies which should be safe and socially and environmentally sound; the quality of and a goal for scaling up adequate and predictable, largely public finance; the responsibilities of developed countries to take the lead, the responsibility to protect people’s rights and our ecosystems, have been either surgically removed throughout the text or lack specificity.

That we are not protecting food security but instead are protecting food production – and the business interests that have lobbied hard in our home countries – is a clear indication that only certain segments of our population are meant to be served by this agreement.

Governments maintained their commitment to corporations over people and signaled opportunities for profit to be made from crisis.

We know we need to stay below 1.5 degrees for a chance at survival, and we recognize the importance of seeing this goal in the final Paris Agreement. But seeing this goal on paper is not enough. We demand it in actions as the proof of the full commitment to that goal, not a vague aspiration. If not significantly ramped up, countries’ collective emissions plans lead us to the prospect of a 3.2 – 3.7 degree rise.

Furthermore, the Paris Agreement served to undermine the concept of international solidarity – a founding principle of the UN that requires differentiation amongst states in a way that should lead to redistribution and shared prosperity.

It is clear that in Paris we have not found the political will to make the Paris Agreement the platform the world truly needs to tackle this urgent challenge.

We will not be silenced from telling the truth to power, to highlight the lack of ambition and injustice in this agreement.

We will never give up on our beautiful planet. We will never give up on our demand for climate justice.

This agreement has failed to embrace and respond to this moment for urgent and just transitions, but we have not. We have used this space of international policy-making to raise our voices and embolden our movements.

Together, we will continue to challenge injustice for the protection of the people and the planet: Another world is possible!

Celia Alario, press liason for the COP21 Women and Gender Constitutency

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