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Day 1: Climate Action Network: Latest Developments of COP21

November 30, 2015

Every day at 11am (CET), the Climate Action Network will deliver a press conference that outlines what has happened and what to expect in the coming days at COP21. Watch the webcast of related plenaries and press briefings from anywhere in the wired world here.

can 30 nov 11am

Facilitator: Ria Voorhaar (CAN International)

Speakers: Keya Chatterjea (Executive director of USCAN), Mohamed Adow (Senior climate advisor of Christian Aid), Tim Gore (Head of policy, advocacy and research for the Grow campaign of Oxfam), Pierre Cannet (Head of climate and energy of WWF France)

The CAN press briefing started off with speakers sharing their thoughts on COP21 developments thus far.

Keya Chatterjea identified three points that would make for a successful Paris agreement – (1) an activist base, (2) a permissive majority and (3) political leadership. In her opinion, the first two points have already been checked, while the support of political leadership will be unveiled during the conference.

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Mohamed Adow urged the developed world to create a solidarity package, which focuses on adaptation, loss and damage mechanisms and climate finance, so as to enhance the efforts that the developing world has already taken against climate change.

“It’s like when a lizard is caught by a predator. (The tail) will break off (for the lizard) to escape.”

– Mohamed Adow, on the problem of how vulnerable nations could be left behind in the process of saving other nations

Tim Gore identified key political flashpoints to watch out for. First, he questioned the developed world’s commitment to providing $100 billion dollars per year of climate financing by 2020, and the proportion allocated for adaptation. He also mentioned that it would be worthy to pay attention to EU and US responses to Africa’s call for $32 billion per year for adaptation. Second, he highlighted a division in text on loss and damage – countries are split between creating a text with provisions for loss and damage due to climate change, and one without. The key question would then be whether US and other developed countries will budge to create such provisions, particularly if new countries like Singapore, South Korea and Brazil contribute. Third, he brought up the issue of the feasibility of raising emission reduction targets especially for developing countries that need greater climate finance.

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Pierre Cannet stated that the French President needs to keep COP21 inclusive and transparent.  He noted that France must engage all countries along four main cardinal points – (1) a clear, fair and science-based trajectory; (2) a guarantee of actions to prevent climate change acceleration; (3) a safety and rescue plan to protect the most vulnerable; and (4) a provision of solid resourcing foundation. He also felt that negotiators should base discussions on the grounds of science and equity.

The speeches were followed by a Q&A session by media representatives.

What will the final draft of text include? Is it possible to bridge the link between divergences in mitigation, loss and damage and finance?

Mohamed was confident that a short and clearer solid text will be produced, which would include a few options for ministers to choose from. Tim urged to set collective post-2020 targets which are owned by the entire body of agreement, with separate adaptation and mitigation clauses and an end date. He acknowledged that the problem lies with negotiators not having developed text options sufficiently yet.

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Regarding the loss and damage gap, what is being sought from developing nations? What could be done here?

Mohamed emphasised that all countries agree to the need for a loss and damage mechanism, but not how and if it would be placed within the agreement. He held optimism that this gap will be addressed. Keya added that suffering is not an acceptable paradigm, and that there is a large constituency in the US that is very supportive of a loss and damage outcome in Paris.

Can the US position against a legally binding agreement be a problem?

Tim noted that targets under the Paris agreement cannot be legally binding unlike the Kyoto Protocol. He stressed that citizens should hold the government accountable, rather than having accountability pressured from top-down. Keya clarified that the massive society in the US will hold the government accountable. However, she pointed out that countries may interpret the term “legally-binding” differently. In the US, it could mean having executive agreements like the Clean Air Act.

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