The Quarterly Newsletter from CAN
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Welcome to the new-look CAN Newsletter...

In the May edition:


CAN members and allies conduct a banner action at the IPCC AR5 WGII negotiations in Yokohama in March. Copyright ©Greenpeace/Jeremie Souteyrat

Upcoming Events

Director's Note

ExxonMobil’s reaction to the IPCC report reminded me a bit of the reactions of the dictators Mubarak and Gaddafi when the revolutions started in their countries. I think when you are drunk on your own power for such a long time it is hard for you to read the signs. The dictators had began to feel they were invincible. That same false sense of invincibility has settled over fossil fuel corporations - and you can understand why: profits from fossil fuel extraction are still on the rise and the climate negotiations have in recent years failed to make necessary breakthroughs. The urgency of the need to address climate change is still not felt by the majority of the population.

Nevertheless, let us not forget that five minutes before the Arab Spring, there were no clear signs that it would indeed happen, and the idea of dethroning Housni Mubarak, and the like, was considered an impossibility. Even the small movement against Mubarak’s rule in Egypt was campaigning against the automatic succession of Housni’s son, Jamal, having given up completely on removing Mubarak. 

So we can learn from the Arab Spring that change often happens unexpectedly. And at present, we have more positive signs that a climate revolution is coming than were discernible just before the Arab Spring. There has never been as much support for climate action as there is now. So change is coming. No question. There are just two questions that we need to answer: which will come first - a climate tipping point, where we reach irreversible runaway climate change, or a political tipping point, when we kick-start to transformational transition towards low-carbon development. The second question is when the revolution happens, will civil society be able to drive the change in the right direction, or fail like the Arab Spring?

Wael Hmaidan, director, CAN International.

State of play in the UNFCCC

With just 18 months to go before governments of the world are supposed to sign a global climate action plan, there remain more questions than answers on the way to achieve that goal through the UNFCCC. 

Based on decisions made at COP 19 in Warsaw, the ADP session in March was meant to provide clarity on that stream’s work program, to start tweezing out various elements of the 2015 agreement, and build on the ‘progress’ made in Poland’s national football stadium. 

The March session focused on which format the formal negotiations would take and what elements would be discussed therein. There were also some informal discussions around the meaning of the amorphous phrase ‘nationally determined contributions’.

Many questions were raised, including: Should there be one or multiple contact groups based on various elements? Should the ADP Chairs have the liberty to bring a text forward? How would various submissions be reflected within the Chair’s text? And, will countries actually give the chairs a mandate  to come out with a draft text of the 2015 agreement by COP 20?  

All of these questions are a result of an underlying struggle between two different visions for the 2015 agreement. For some, the new agreement should reflect the new political and economic reality of a world which is breaking away from an old understanding of rich and poor countries, reflected in the Annex 1 and Non-Annex 1 groupings. For others, the new agreement should address all the issues that have fallen through the cracks, as well as build on the promises and commitments made in previous decisions within the UNFCCC.  For CAN, these two approaches are not mutually exclusive. The 2015 Agreement should create the right condition for all countries to take climate action swiftly. 

The ADP Chairs are trying to do exactly this by merging these two visions. It is a difficult task and it does not help that there is a lack of trust between countries. Even though the final decision from the March session was to establish a contact group, the Chairs put off deciding how the group will function. The chairs need to create a platform from which to begin negotiations on the new agreement which gives both sides enough confidence that their vision will be realized. 

Aside from the 2015 Agreement discussions, many presentations on two key thematic areas, renewable energy and energy efficiency, were given to address the more pressing issue of increasing pre-2020 mitigation ambition. Countries outlined what they could do and what they would need to do it. The main question that emerged from these discussions was how the UNFCCC and its institutions can support these potential actions. There were no ready answers, but it is clear that this question should be addressed by decisions under WS 2. The next workshops in June will be on forests, subnational initiatives and transport. 

The June session will the first key political moment of 2014 with two simultaneous ministerials. This is the time for political will to be exhibited by countries on mitigation ambition in the Kyoto Protocol and ADP. The June session and the ministerials need to set the stage for positive political intervention within the UNFCCC before other subsequent key moments throughout the year such as the Climate Summit organized by the UNSG for September 23. This  must be the time for an upward positive spiral of political will to provide the right momentum towards COP 20 which will be the final dress rehearsal before the curtain is raised on the 2015 agreement in COP 21.  

IPCC work reaps a media bonanza for nodes

The release last month third installment of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report (AR5) reinforced that acting on climate change is a no-brainer in economic terms. The report outlines how the cost of mitigating climate change to 2C threshold agreed by many world governments would merely slow consumption growth by 0.06 percentage points a year while resulting in co-benefits, such as healthier people and cleaner air, as well as preventing future impacts. But the second installment of the AR5 warned that communities around the world were vastly underprepared to deal with climate impacts anticipated to hit even at the 2C threshold. It detailed a massive “adaptation deficit” in poor and rich countries alike, though warned that climate change would hit the vulnerable hardest, threatening to overturn hard-won development gains.

With both reports potentially providing important campaigning and advocacy content for the movement, CAN members, nodes and partners worked hard across their respective launches - whether tracking the negotiations in Yokohama and Berlin, coordinating efforts of civil society actors throughout and of course communicating the reports to local media after they were released. 

The effort around this assessment report was characterized by mutually beneficial coordination between members and partners. In Yokohama, members including Greenpeace, Kiko Network, WWF and Oxfam, braved typhoon-like conditions to stage a banner action reminding world leaders that acting on climate change now saved lives. The action was picked up by media around the world from Japan to Finland and was even carried by the major German television current affairs program, Tageschau. 

Supported by resources produced by CAN and partner GCCA, many nodes waded into the world of media relations for the first time and were able to make this global story resonate locally via targeted traditional and social media efforts and events. Specifically, CAN Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia rolled out its first communications effort around this report generating media coverage in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Central Asia. CAN South Asia focused on targeted media work featuring both members and local IPCC report authors in countries mentioned in the impacts report - namely Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, becoming a regional hub for information and media queries on the report.  CAN Latin America took a similar approach, netting television coverage in Columbia and further afield. Media outreach, events and national workshops were also held in  West Africa, Tanzania and China. 

Overall, the efforts of members in coordinating work around these reports and by CAN nodes in translating, creating and distributing locally relevant material led to a boost in coverage of the issue in non-Anglophone media around the world. Working on this report has boosted relationships between nodes and the media on regional and local levels which will no doubt be a valuable asset over the next 18 months.

However, it is clear that our work around the IPCC AR5 is not done. Apart from the synthesis of the report which is due for release in Copenhagen in October, all three existing installments of the report are hugely useful campaigning and communications tools for our movement. What’s more, we will need to keep reminding governments that they signed off on the these reports which are meant to inform their negotiations on the global climate treaty to be signed in Paris in 2015. 

Mobilizing in 2014 - what are you doing in your country? 

In Warsaw during COP19, a big chunk of civil society walked out of the negotiations, including many CAN national/regional chapters and members. Many criticized this event and many loved it. No matter how good or bad the walkout was, there is one truth, which is that we are fed up, and it is time to raise the stakes. Nevertheless, one action is not enough, and as we promised in Warsaw, we will hit the ground even harder in 2014, especially on the national level.

The UNSG's Climate Summit in September provides a unique opportunity to bring civil society together to fulfill that promise. The Summit is an international moment around which national climate coalitions can mobilize as it is about Heads of Government delivered new national action, rather than international negotiations. As agreed by members, CAN will be coordinating mobilization in different countries in the lead-up to the summit. So far CAN and GCCA have organized three planning meetings in NY and Warsaw. In the last NY meeting in January, it was agreed to organize the biggest climate march ever in NY city. Then at a full-day CAN workshop held in Bonn on March 17, participants agreed to support this NY mobilization by conducting national activities in the lead up to the summit, as well as parallel to the march.

Now is the time to focus on the national preparations. Members are invited to organize national meetings to prepare an action plan for national mobilization in coordination with the international secretariat. The aim of the national mobilization is to push for new and ambitious action on climate change that could be brought to the Climate Summit by their heads of state. To influence the commitments that Heads of Government will bring with them to the Summit, activities need to be conducted as early as possible, and before September.

Let us know what you, your colleagues and partners are planning to do in your country.

CAN is turning 25 - and you are invited... 

To Climate Action Network’s (CAN) 25th Anniversary Gathering. CAN is the world’s largest network of civil society organizations working together to promote government action to address the climate crisis with more than 900 members in over 100 countries.

On Monday, June 16, 2014 in Bonn, Germany, CAN will host a symposium to discuss the state of the climate movement, followed by an evening reception celebrating 25 years of cooperation as Climate Action Network. 

We’re asking you to join us and contribute your expertise to the climate movement in order to achieve a global deal, a low-carbon future and engagement with the citizens of the world calling for climate action.

Register to participate:

Registration closes May 31. Confirmations will be issued on a rolling basis.


2015 - Bringing together the development and environment movements 

The next two years are busy ones for international fora related to climate change. In December 2015, the UNFCCC is to come up with a global climate plan to save the climate in Paris, while just a few months before, at the UNGA .the Sustainable Development Goals, part of the post-2015 framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals, will be decided. 

Given the high importance of both processes to both the environment and development movements, the CAN Rio Process working group is aiming to bring interested members and allies together to ensure our work across the fora is harmonized and aligned so that both institutions deliver the best possible outcome for the planet and its people.  In doing so, the group has generated many partnerships in both the environment and development movements with other CSO campaigns and networks, including Beyond 2015 and CIVICUS and continues to work very closely with them. 

In partnership with several development and environment networks, CAN organized a workshop in March 2013, titled “Advancing the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda”, where more than 400 NGO representatives came together in Bonn, Germany to discuss the different issues that should be brought into the process. Also, CAN and Beyond2015 supported the development of several roundtables and a full day workshop to produce discussion papers on how climate change should be reflected in the post-2015 process.  To further this discussion, these papers were presented to many government delegates during a post-2015 Open Working Group session in New York, in November 2013, and this January. Through these events. CAN has helped to develop all stakeholders’ thinking in relation to how climate change can be reflected in the post-2015 process, and has become a reference on this issue to the wider community.

Currently, the working group is developing a new position which will get more into the nitty gritty of how climate change can be integrated into the Post-2015 framework including the SDGs.  This entails climate change being integrated throughout all SDGs, in addition to exploring the option of a standalone climate change goal.  
This will be a busy year for this work but thankfully, you’ll be seeing a new (but not so new) face in this realm, as Lina Dabbagh will be joining the Secretariat team as a Policy Officer on the Post-2015 agenda. A big CAN family welcome! 

The Group is currently led by Wael Hmaidan and Samantha Harris of the CAN-I Secretariat.

2014 - a year of opportunities for Latin America

Latin America is under the international climate spotlight. COP 20 - to be held in Lima, Peru this December - will give the region the opportunity to showcase its progressive nature, including climate action that countries there are already taking. But hosting a COP is also an opportunity to increase ambition - local civil society will have the chance to leverage its domestic work and raise climate on the Latin American political agenda. 

CANLA is already taking advantage of this opportunity, by working closely with  both Peruvian civil society and the Peruvian government itself. CANLA has helped to  build the capacities of local civil society organizations by hosting workshops, on Low Carbon Development and on preparing for COP 20.

CANLA was very involved in highlighting the findings of the IPCC reports. The communications team in CANLA has reached out to a range of media in the region, which has helped to position CANLA as a relevant source  of information on climate-related issues in general and the IPCC reports in particular.

In the last week of March, CANLA held its General Assembly in Bogota, where many members convened to move the network forward to a safer and more sustainable structure, approving the process for a legal entity in Uruguay and key steps for a stronger administration and ways forward. 

Many challenges remain in the region, such as continuing heavy foreign investment in fossil fuels and other extractive industries which threaten some of the positive steps forward in some countries. 

This is definitely a year of opportunities for the region. CANLA looks forward to welcoming you to Latin America for a successful COP in December.

CAN is growing in the Pacific Islands

Civil society organizations from the Pacific, one of the most vulnerable regions in the world, met in Fiji in March where they agreed to establish a formal regional node, Climate Action Network Pacific Islands.

CAN has been present in the Pacific for several years with national nodes in Tuvalu, Kiribati, Cook Islands and Niue.  Vanuatu is expected to form its own national node in the very near future. Ben Namakin, a former Southern Voices participant, had been voluntarily helping pull together CAN initiatives in the Pacific in recent years. But members felt a regional structure could boost the effectiveness of their efforts.

The March meeting looked at how to strengthen regional cooperation in the Pacific and formalize a more structured regional CAN node.  The members nominated Shirley Laban, Oxfam’s National Program Manager Climate Change Adaptation Program and Coordinator  of Vanuatu Climate Adaptation Network, as coordinator of the new node. 

Once the node has formalized its governance structure, the PI CAN team plans to work on adaptation policy positions with particular focus on loss and damage. Another focus for the new node will be capacity building and ensuring representation from local CSO’s to various regional and international climate related forums. 

Welcome PI CAN!

CANSA and CAN-E in collaboration on Climate Action

Climate Action Network South Asia in partnership with Climate Action Network Europe conducted a two-day summit, Strengthening Linkages between EU-South Asia Networks on Addressing Climate Impacts, on March 24-25 in Orchha, India.

The summit had two aims. First, to gather and share information from the EU, a key player in international climate policy whose countries - belonging to Annex 1 - need to deliver ambitious mitigation targets. Furthermore, the summit aimed to encourage further support from the EU for developing countries’ adaptation efforts, and sought to . 

CAN Europe Senior Policy Officer and summit participant Ulriikka Aarnio said it was helpful to see adaptation in practice. 

“We look forward to constructive discussion on finance, mitigation, equity and so on to develop an understanding and find common conversions to move forward at the international level as well as enhance our co-operation regionally,” Aarnio said.

CANSA Co-Chair Amb. Shafqat Kakakhel said co-operation between Europe and South Asia has existed since Rio and signing of the Convention. 

“Climate Action Network has always taken interest in the strategies of developing countries and that is why they see CAN as an alliance of partners. This Summit will help strengthen these relationships,” he said 

CANSA Director Sanjay Vashist said South Asia was highly vulnerable to climate impacts and home to 43% of the world’s poor. 

“Our key goals should aim to minimise dependence on fossil fuel subsidies and work towards providing basic necessities for dignified life that would result in inclusive equitable growth,” he said.

The Summit also advocated the requirement for sustainable development to improve capacity of Non-State Actors in decision-making processes related to climate change policies, promote partnership and facilitate interactions and exchanges between the stakeholders.

Building the movement one Skype call at a time 

How can we make more of the work we are already doing? How can we build the movement at the national, regional and international level?  How can we build momentum and build the movement in the run-up to 2015?

Those are just some of the questions driving CAN's Network Development department recently as it works on creating more vibrant and dynamic climate movement at national, regional and global levels.

CAN has engaged in joint initiatives for possible collaboration across civil society and has worked with a number of nodes over the recent months, helping them to develop project proposals, to strengthening accountability and promoting knowledge-exchange.

Some of the highlights of recent months include a range of events at the regional level which have highlighted the link between the work of nodes and members and the overall strategic directions selected by the network. This included a low carbon development workshop which took place in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in January. The workshop looked at how the existing work of members could link to a coordinated push for low carbon development in the country. The event also provided a boost to the node itself, by bringing together members and encouraging them to work together.   New resources were successfully mobilized to support the node and a strategy is being developed aiming at further improving the structures and capacities of the node.  

A range of activities took place in Latin America, where the Secretariat is working with CANLA on improving it's structures and sustainability, as well as in its efforts to support Peruvian CSOs in their preparations for COP20.

On 10-13 April, the third Secretariat and Coordinators Annual Meeting took place in Lima, Peru. This year’s meeting focused on taking key areas of cooperation forward, such as the implementation of the ONE CAN joint strategic planning process, the coordination around CAN’s new roles in campaigning and movement-building and the opportunities and challenges presented by those roles in the different countries and regions. It also looked at how to build upon the communications work rolled out during the past year and addressed crucial questions such as how to drive member engagement in policy forming processes and broader activities.

To scale up support to nodes, the department is currently recruiting a Network Development Officer. 
Copyright © 2014 Climate Action Network - International, All rights reserved.

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