The Quarterly Newsletter from CAN
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Welcome to the CAN Newsletter...

In the July edition:


CAN members and nodes helped organise mobilisations around the world for the May/June moment - including this, Senegal's first ever climate march. Check out more photos here.

Upcoming Events

  • July 13-16 - Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa
  • August 31-September 4 - UNFCCC Climate Conference in Bonn
  • September 25-27 - UNGA Summit to Adopt Post-2015 Development Agenda in New York

The strength of the network

What a year 2015 is proving to be! We have experienced encyclical fever, the G7 have pledged to decarbonise, people around the world are mobilising for action, businesses are hosting climate summits, we are driving historic fossil fuel divestment, and the list goes on.

With all the excitement and focus on the climate arena, debates intensify and a key task for me as the director of a network at times like this is addressing the fault-lines between members. Some want to oversell the G7 pledge and equally there are those who take the opposite approach. There are members who think business leadership on climate change is necessary and those who see corporations as the crux of the problem.

Nevertheless, what is beautiful about CAN is the healthy dialogue that is taking place. Despite all the challenges everyone is trying to prevent a Copenhagen situation. We are learning from each moment, working together beyond our differences, to ensure we stay united. This has been the situation so far across the CAN membership and we should work to stay strong together through Paris and beyond.

I see everyone realises that if we do not manage to achieve this unison we will all lose, and this gives me great confidence that we can succeed. Everyone is acting very responsibly. The CAN Secretariat continues to work hard to ensure we have the needed discussions to be as effective as possible together. We are looking forward to continue engaging with all of you this year, and into the future.

Bonn progress report: Now is the summer of our (dis)content

Many of us recently returned from a two-week stretch of UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn’s new World Conference Center where we experienced slow progress on paper but achievements in trust-building between parties, laying the foundations for more concrete results as we enter a new phase of negotiations.

The June session was largely focussed on technical undertaking - streamlining the hefty text and eliminating duplications. Governments did not engage in real negotiations during these two weeks but did indulge in many conversations to build a better understanding of one another. Parties endeavoured to maintain an environment of mutual trust which will be needed on the road to Paris, just ten more official days of negotiation.

The Geneva draft negotiating text continues to be the ‘official document’ containing views from all parties and will continue to form the basis of negotiations, until a final text is forwarded to the COP in Paris. The June session produced two additional non-papers, capturing the progress made and including suggestions for ways to move forward on a range of issues.

The ADP chairs have announced they will be developing what is essentially a non-paper for the next session that will slot options from the draft negotiating text into a core legal agreement and the COP decisions. This ‘tool’ will be released in the last week of July, along with the scenario note for the next session.

The period leading up to the the next UNFCCC negotiating session at the end of August will be action-packed. We have already had the President of the UN General Assembly host a special event on climate change, now there are a number of key informal meetings including the Major Economies Forum and French ministerial, that will be used to discuss the shape of the new international climate agreement.

The time is now ripe to draw on the reservoir of trust built by the parties throughout recent sessions. Ministers need to start engaging with options in the negotiating text, and the negotiations need to shift gears, from a consolidation exercise to building convergences and negotiating divergences on key issues.

Unresolved, key issues that need a political steer include: crafting political consensus around issues like an ambitious long-term goal; tackling differentiation under various sections to clearly articulate the responsibility of action; and developing safeguards against locking-in low ambition through regular revision of government action based on scientific requirements.

The foundation of the 2015 agreement rests on the agreed way forward, towards increasing pre-2020 ambition on mitigation, and achieving the goal of $100 billion by 2020. If governments can develop a better understanding amongst themselves on these two issues, it will go a long way in building mutual confidence that will help to shape the 2015 Paris agreement.

During the August negotiations the haze around the landing zone for ADP negotiations will clear as trade-offs among key elements take centre stage.

We stand together

As we enter July and look ahead, towards 6 months of intense campaigning and mobilisation leading into the Paris climate negotiations in December, we can do so knowing we stand strong and united. Gender, youth, faith, development, unions, poverty, environment, indigenous and social rights movements have never been more united than we are now. Despite our incredible diversity, we can still come together for one common goal - to support the phase-out of fossil fuels and the just transition to a cleaner, safer, fairer world powered by 100% renewable energy.

In May and June we saw thousands of people around the world rising up, sending a message to world governments and business leaders, telling them that it is time for them to take urgent climate action to safeguard the planet for present and future generations. We saw climate camps, marches, concerts, rallies, debates, vigils, bike rides, running and more. There were actions covering nearly every continent and we even got support from space - as Italian ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti sent her call for climate action from the International Space Station.

May 30th was the biggest single day for activities as people around the world took part in a global #powernap only to #getupand rattle the political cage for urgent action to tackle climate change and support for impacted communities. A few short days later German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the other G7 leaders were put under pressure to demonstrate leadership on climate change. Unions in particular highlighted the links between sustainable economies and climate action, rallying in capitals around the world under the banner “no jobs on a dead planet”.

The relentless efforts pushing political leaders to take responsibility for climate action did not let the major corporations of the hook – quite the contrary. Cultural institutions like the Smithsonian Museum (USA) were targeted by protesters for receiving finance from the notorious climate change deniers, the Koch Brothers. At the same time the Royal Opera House and Tate Modern (UK) were hit by protests calling out financial links to BP. Shell was spectacularly confronted in Seattle, USA where hundreds of ‘kayaktavists’ blockaded their Arctic-bound oil rig and city refinery.

Possibly even more impressive were the activities which unfolded in places or contexts that never had seen climate action before. This was the case in Senegal, where 1000 people rallied together for the country’s first ever climate march, calling for an end to dirty energy. In countries across Africa people gathered at concerts and rallies to demand stronger support for women food producers so they can be the positive force for change, making their communities more resilient to climate change.

We have more major mobilisation moments to look forward to this year, particularly around the UNGA Summit for the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals in September and, of course, when we kick off the Paris climate negotiations with a show of global strength and solidarity on November 29th.

We have a united movement backed by leading scientists, business leaders and political figures - not to mention the Pope. Together we can make enough noise to push things in the right direction in Paris and show governments that the people will continue to do so, far into the future. We have lots of hard work ahead of us, but the diversity and strength of the movement will prevail.

On avance!

(For an overview of the activities click here)

Pope joins call for climate action

In an unprecedented move from the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has urged all people of goodwill - not only Catholics or people of faith - to protect and care for our common home in his encyclical “Laudato Si”. The Encyclical is a rare letter outlining Pope Francis’ thinking on the urgent need to tackle the inequalities driving the interlinked issues of climate change and poverty, it will now form a key part of the Catholic Church’s theological teachings.

After much speculation on the content and timing of this encyclical its release, highly anticipated by faith-based and secular groups alike, created a lot of buzz. When have you ever seen the Pope feature as a super-hero in an action movie trailer, or see the international media going crazy about a leaked draft catholic letter written in Italian?

Responding to the frenzy of expectations and widespread interest, the CAN Secretariat facilitated information-sharing and coordination of actions and messaging ahead of the encyclical release. Creating spaces for members and partner organisations to share thoughts and strategy, to disseminate their resources, and to plan activities.

As a result Catholic CAN member organisations were able to lead on the theological interpretations of the Encyclical while a broader array of members were able to respond to the Pope’s rallying cry to tackle the growing “ecological crisis”. Rob Elsworth from CAFOD points out in his blog on the topic that Pope Francis emphasises the need to urgently shifting away from the polluting fossil fuels to cleaner and more socially sustainable forms of renewable energy.

The Pope has 3 key messages on this:

1. There is an urgent need to substitute fossil fuels with sustainable, renewable energy sources and this must be available to everyone, including the poorest (paras 26, 165 & 179).

2. Richer countries must help poorer countries to make the shift away from fossil fuels or leapfrog to cleaner, renewable sources of energy through financing, technology transfer and technical assistance (paras 52, 165 & 172).

3. Boosting energy efficiency is a key step in the just transition to a sustainable, renewable energy system (para 180).

A striking feature of this Encyclical is the timing of its release. It is no coincidence that it was published just ahead of the summer break and more importantly, at a critical time in the lead-up to several crucial international summits - the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, the SDG summit in New York in September and COP21 in Paris. The intent is clearly to add to the momentum and for this call to generate more political pressure for meaningful outcomes for climate action and social justice. And this call seems to echo well beyond the Catholic or climate groups already. On 28th June, thousands of people have rallied in Rome to thank Pope Francis for his encyclical.

And other efforts bloom across different faith-based communities and their leaders to speak up and amplify the messages which many faiths have and are increasingly spreading in terms of climate action, so that we together can continue to build a wider multi-faceted climate movement while showing that change is already happening on the ground. As the Pope states: “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (para. 14).

The new Sustainable Development Goals: Time to be visionary

The United Nations General Assembly is almost ready to adopt a new set of development criteria - the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs - that will guide and measure global progress on a common development agenda. At this moment hundreds of UN employees, diplomats and civil society are busy fine-tuning the emerging text of the SDGs, that are set to replace the existing Millennium Development Goals.

Over the past four years diplomats, with the help of civil society and experts from all walks of life, have been trying to answer the big question: how do we eradicate poverty in the next 15 years? The consensus is that we can only achieve poverty eradication through a pathway of sustainable development. Poverty is a sprawling, myriad issue, interlinked with numerous problems of inequality and injustice, so that the SDG’s design of 17 goals composed of 169 targets could be considered modest.

We need to add vision to these goals and targets. We need to work to make sure that they are bold, uncompromising and deep-seated, showing the people that common aims can be achieved and that governments are willing to truly embrace sustainable development in the years to come. What we have to focus on now, as civil society, is to communicate to the world is that there is hope.

Countries still have 10 days of negotiations to step forward from business-as-usual and demonstrate that they are prepared to tackle the true and deepest problems undermining our global systems.

In terms of climate change specifically, we demand a visionary declaration that drives inspiration. This means clear references to phasing out emissions and phasing in renewable energy. This could be a vital moment for governments to demonstrate a determination to decisively address the threat posed by climate change and to ensure climate resilient development.

From Oslo to Bonn on the Leadership Development Programme study trip

The CAN Leadership Development Programme (LDP) has four Fellows working alongside CAN nodes in the Pacific, South Africa and Southeast Asia. They are working to help strengthen the nodes and are building experience as young professionals in the climate movement.

Recently two of our Fellows, Neoka Naidoo (South Africa CAN) and Adrian Yeo (CAN Southeast Asia), attended a study trip in Oslo and Bonn to learn about climate issues from expert perspectives and to build new relationships, strengthening the international aspect of their network capacity.

Neoka reflected on her highlights of the Oslo trip: “We met with lots of different organisations: Zero, WWF Norway, Friends of the Earth Norway, Naturvernforbundet, Youth and Environment and ETC-group. The variation of the groups was great and what I found interesting was the fact we are engaging in some of the same fights.”

A key element of their Oslo experience was delivering presentations at a seminar on emissions reduction technologies and perceptions, hosted by ForUM for Utvikling og Miljo. Adrian recollects, “Bård Lahn from Rainforest Foundation Norway reminded us that one thing often missed out from discussion is the technology to keep the trees in the forest standing. We fill our mind with the efforts to solve the impending climate crisis, yet we often forget that prevention is the best solution.”

From Oslo the fellows travelled to the June UNFCCC Session in Bonn and dived into the multi-faceted aspects and intense pace of CAN’s work there. Neoka has blogged about her perception of disparity between political will and action at the UNFCCC process.

Both agreed that working within CAN community affords one a sense of hope, and seeing CAN work first hand, from the strategic writing that goes into ECO (see Adrian’s blog on the magic of ECO here), coordinating interventions, or sharing updates at CAN daily, provided a useful learning experience for them. See Adrian’s ‘4 things that I learnt from the June 2015 Bonn Session’ here to find out more about their experience.

Neoka and Adrian return to their home countries knowing far more about how others are undertaking the fight against fossil fuels, and will share their enhanced understanding and analysis of the international process with members of their CAN networks.

Showcasing and supporting the just transition to 100% renewable energy

Last year at the CAN Solutions Workshop in Istanbul members requested that CAN provide a range of tools and a database of existing campaigns to support people campaigning for the just transition away from fossil fuels to a world powered by 100% renewable energy - we recently launched the Transition in Action website to do just this.

The platform is designed to map out fights against fossil fuel plants and mines, renewable energy campaigns and energy efficiency drives, and to demonstrate the breadth of the people-powered, global movement for climate action in 2015 and beyond. If you want to add a campaign or organisational resources to the site you can, you are also free to take the map and embed it in your own website.

The site is in its first stage, we are in the process of building a guide for renewable energy campaigners, and we are researching regional renewable energy myths to develop regional mythbusters (submit your RE myths here). We also hope to present the stories of people in frontline communities who are harnessing the benefits of renewable energy solutions for themselves. So watch this space, and follow us on twitter!
Copyright © 2015 Climate Action Network - International, All rights reserved.

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