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Day 3: Climate Action Network: Latest Developments at COP21

December 1, 2015

By Day 3 of COP21, spin-off events have been underway in the hope of drafting a decent text by Saturday. Have the negotiations moved forward? What concerns have been raised? Watch the webcast here to find out.

can 2 dec

Facilitator: Ria Voorhaar (CAN International)

Speakers: Alden Myer (Union of Concerned Scientists), Lies Craeynest (Oxfam), Harjeet Singh (Action Aid)

Alden stressed the importance of the text in addressing the gap between the current INDC submissions and the long-term 1.5°C goal before 2020. He warned that if the gap is not reconciled, actions against climate change could become increasingly difficult to enforce. He also emphasised on providing clarity and predictability in post-2020 climate finance, a concern that has been the stumbling block of negotiations. Nonetheless, he mentioned that President Loeak of the Marshall Islands had become more confident than ever in securing an agreement given President Obama’s support.

Lies talked about the role that the EU will play at COP21. She felt that the EU could do more in three areas: (1) recognise the right of vulnerable countries’ existence and speak up for the 1.5°C goal by increasing their own INDC; (2) guarantee financial support from public finance post-2020 through a financial transaction text or EU’s carbon market revenues; (3) make meaningful proposals on loss and damage. While acknowledging that the EU and the vulnerable countries have shown signs of solidarity, she cautioned that good initiatives put forth by the EU should not be used as bargaining chips against stronger commitments.

“Coal is not an obsession. It is a compulsion in India.”

– Harjeet Singh

Harjeet stated that negotiators need to understand India’s context to successfully engage it. He pointed out that India is in a “trichotomy” – (1) it is the third largest emitter; (2) it has massive and growing energy needs; (3) it has a climate-sensitive economy. Hence, India seeks equity by taking into account historical responsibility of emissions. He also cited the need to anchor loss and damage to help vulnerable nations. While there has been meaningful engagement by G77 nations, the proposal has not adequately considered compensation.


Q&A session:

Can we expect greater mention of loss and damage in the text? Would reference to the Warsaw framework be helpful in addressing loss and damage?

Alden: There has been discussion that loss and damage should feature as a permanent part of the Paris agreement. A process is also underway to define the Warsaw mechanism more clearly in 2016.

Harjeet: In the first place, permanent loss and damage is not a controversial option. G77 nations are not demanding permanent loss and damage. They are just discussing strategies to deal with it.

How did the US congress vote on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan?

Alden: There were insufficient votes to veto the decision. Hence, the progress of the plan will not be affected.

Is it accurate to say that India will agree to ratchet and the long-term goal if they see sufficient funding?

Harjeet: While the long-term goal is the same for all countries, these countries have very different starting points. Finance is the accelerator to take a country to the finish line faster. If finance is equally factored in, India will come on board.


Besides loss and damage, what are other areas of compromise? Will developed countries’ voluntary contributions help to bridge the gap in finance?

Alden: There should be some convergence towards a common MRV regime by mid-2020s, with support and some of exemptions given to developing countries. But there needs to be transparency and clarity in how well countries are meeting their obligations. Finance pledges are crucial, but bilateral ones like China-US are separate from the US$100 billion commitment by developed nations.

How is progress made within negotiations without the ocean being taken into account? 

Harjeet: The ocean is important because sea level rise will affect land productivity. That is why we need a new institution. With new challenges, we need to think of new solutions.

India has been experiencing the impact of climate change for the last decade. How do we react to the apathy of the developed world towards these impacts? 

Alden: We have recently held a conference with US mayors to discuss the impacts of sea level rise, coastal flooding and storm damage. The US understands the need to protect vulnerable communities. Therefore, we are working with businesses, faith and security groups to educate the Congress and voters on the realities of climate change. We want them to know that it is in our national interest to support developing nations.

“When the water comes through your door, it doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. It just comes through your door.”

– Mayor Bobby Bright of the state of Alabama in the US

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