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

In the November edition:


CAN members and allies gathered in New York City for the historic Peoples Climate March in September. Check out some video highlights of the Peoples Climate Mobilisation here

Photo credit: John Minchillo

Upcoming Events

Director's Note - the Winning Narrative

Am I the only one who feels the big win in the climate fight is just around the corner? In a previous newsletter I said that victory comes unexpectedly, but I believe we should be expecting it to come soon. Let me explain why:

First, more and more influential individuals are taking climate change as seriously as they should. The list of politicians, intergovernmental institutions, corporate CEOs, religious leaders, etc. supporting bold climate action keeps growing.

Second, the economics are on our side. The amazing drop in the cost of solar energy in the past 5 years can only be described as groundbreaking - now RE is cheaper than any other form of energy in the majority of the world. On the other hand, divestment from fossil fuel industries is on the rise and the costs of climate change are slowly being factored into corporate risk assessments.

Third, the climate movement is back and it is stronger than ever. Starting with the climate walkout last year and culminating with New York People’s Climate March in September we have seen the climate movement step forwards together. Now, more and more communities are joining the fight for climate action and diversifying the movement - the pressure for change is growing.

It seems that the only thing keeping the RE flood gates closed is the lobbying of vested interest groups. As civil society groups and their donors come under increasingly strong attack by these vested interests we can see a certain desperation in their tactics.

If we consider the experience of Mahatma Ghandi then these attacks mean we are closer to winning than we may think. Ghandi made a famous observation about non-violent resistance, he said, ‘first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win’. If we apply this to our present situation, then I would say that the climate movement is reaching the end of the fight stage.

Why is it important to realize that we are winning? Because we need to start acting as if we have already won. Our rhetoric should shift, from demanding change to demonstrating that change that is already happening, and calling on more people to become a part of it. After all, if we ourselves don’t believe in this change, no one else will.

Wael Hmaidan, director, CAN International.

Update from the Solutions Workshop in Istanbul

In October more than 60 representatives of organisations working for the clean energy transition gathered in Istanbul to attend a “solutions” orientated workshop hosted by CAN. The aim of the workshop was to identify barriers, campaign opportunities and a range of strategies to boost the just transition to a world powered by 100% renewable energy. Participants keenly set about this task amidst the hustle, tear-gas and gastric temptations of the city.

It was a diverse and global gathering of minds. The participants came from more than 30 different countries and represented organisations working at grassroots, national and international levels. The workshop also benefitted from the input of renewable energy industry experts from REN21 and IRENA, who provided some fresh perspectives.

Two groups in a breakout strategy session

Over 3 days participants shared vital information about the present renewable energy reality, barriers and opportunities to renewable energy expansion, and campaign success stories. The success stories were shared through a campaign marketplace, in which 8 campaigners showcased their respective renewable energy campaigns.

The marketplace allowed everyone to discuss the goals, strategy, critical pathway, and lessons learned behind a variety of successful campaigns. There was a lot of energy and support for identifying areas for collaboration and coordination around renewable energy campaigning in the future.

Participants identified many ideas for collaboration ranging from renewable energy campaign capacity building (in the form of a toolkit or an academy for policy-makers), an interactive map of renewable energy initiatives, as well as information and knowledge sharing (through databases or a one stop shop website).

It was decided that CAN should spearhead the development of a platform for collaboration on 100% renewable energy campaigning. This will include some of the components described above - such as a toolkit. So keep a look-out for more information and tools for solutions campaigning.

Oyku Senlen

Coming together for climate action in Argentina

It is a exciting to observe how different civil society groups in Argentina, especially Buenos Aires, are now working together to take environmental and climate demands into the public arena. Following the first national climate meeting for CSOs in Argentina we are pushing the government to bolster climate action and harnessing people power to drive our message home.

Our diverse coalition is comprised of youth groups, environmental NGOs, CBOs, engineering and legal associations, research institutions, environmental bloggers, and journalists. The national meeting and the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit this September really helped to galvanise our efforts to push climate action up the political agenda.

Our first concrete step as a revitalised coalition was the decision to present a petition to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, national parliamentarians and other key government stakeholders. This petition focussed on improving Argentina’s plans to tackle climate change at both national and international levels.

At the national level we are demanding that the government acknowledge the immediate need to cut-off fossil fuel subsidies, increase public investment in renewables, and the comply with established environmental laws such as those protecting our glaciers and forests.

At the international level we are calling for the government to demonstrate more ambition and climate leadership. We called on President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to attend the UN Climate Summit and now we want to see showing real commitment toward keeping global warming below the 1.5°C mark at the upcoming climate negotiations in Lima.

As a coalition we have helped to support the public climate movement. The Peoples Climate Mobilisation was a key moment when we invited local communities to join us in our call for 100% renewable energy by 2050. Hundreds of people gathered at the Planetarium in Buenos Aires.

Forming a heart for the PCM, Buenos Aires

Sustainability and urban farming workshops were offered to the
public and there were also a number of cultural performances - including local choirs and actors. A large green heart was formed that could be seen from the sky. The atmosphere was very positive and the support for 100% renewable energy ubiquitous.

By continuing to harness the support of the Argentinian people we can help to ensure that the government hears our climate demands loud and clear.

Mercedes Esperon

Inside view - a CSO representative in New York

As CAN China’s coordinator I was one of the lucky few selected from hundreds of applicants to be an official civil society representatives at the UN Climate Summit in September. I was able to attend both the Summit and the C40 Cities Climate leadership awards.

At the Summit I had a birds-eye view of the grand opening ceremony and the following announcements made by Heads of States and their Ministers. This privilege came at the small cost of copious note-taking. I used WeChat to swiftly disseminate live information about leaders’ announcements far and wide.

Next up were the C40 Cities Climate leadership awards. Launched by C40 and Siemens the awards honour cities all over the world for excellence in urban sustainability and leadership in the fight against climate change. There were more than 400 delegates from cities, businesses, civil society leaders invited to present the award ceremony.

I was pleased to see representatives from Shenzhen - one of the Chinese mega cities - championing low carbon economy and vitality.  Shenzhen won an award for sustainable transportation through its promotion of electric vehicles, beating off stiff competition from other candidate cities including Johannesburg, Milan, and Oslo.

C40 also facilitated the Compact of Mayors during the summit. This is an agreement by city networks to undertake a transparent and supportive approach to reduce city-level emissions, to reduce vulnerability and to enhance resilience to climate change. This is all done in a consistent and complementary manner to national level climate protection efforts.

Xinxin Bi

Marching on an empty stomach

For two dedicated climate activists hunger and tiredness combined on the 1st November as two exceptional awareness raising initiatives collided. Yeb Sano, Filipino Climate Commissioner, and fellow climate walker 68-year-old Alan Burns are taking part in both “Fast For The Climate” and the “Climate Walk”.

On the 1st of every month people around the around the world choose to abstain from eating in a fast of solidarity with the many people whose lives are affected adversely by climate change - some of whom suffer hunger as a direct result of increasing climate impacts.

Yeb and Alan’s monthly fast was made more challenging this November by the physical toll of their ongoing 1000km climate march. They are are trekking from Manila to Tacloban city with 12 other intrepid walkers to mark the one-year anniversary of the Typhoon Haiyan - which devastated the region last year.

Walkers arrive in Motiong, Samar

Along their mammoth journey, the walking team have been visiting villages devastated by the typhoon, delivering Disaster Resilience kits and holding forums to discuss ways communities can adapt to a changing climate. The semi-official death toll is now 15,000, but many people are still unaccounted for even a year later. 

If you happen to read this before the group finally reach their destination on the 8th of November, we encourage you to support the walkers by sending a tweet or a Facebook post to show solidarity with Yeb, Alan and the others using the #climatewalk hashtag.

There is no similar end in sight for Fast for the Climate. The movement is getting stronger and louder. This 1st December we are asking negotiators and supporters to fast together to set the right tone for the start of Peru COP. Empty plates will be erected all around the world as a symbol of solidarity, asking negotiators to stand on the right side of history and take climate action.

Fast For the Climate working group

To be continued in Lima...

The energy generated by the climate march seemed to be evident during at the start of the October Bonn climate talks. Expectations were high and many were hoping to untie the political knots and deliver a much stronger mandate from capitals to negotiators at the session.

But this energy waned as negotiations were once again stuck in bifurcated discussions of developed and developing country demands. Though there was a small flicker of hope from certain countries to try and compromise, the results of Bonn left us feeling disappointed.

The task in Bonn had three main elements: 1) Finalize the draft decision text on WS2, 2) agree on the components of INDC information requirement decision text in order to be adopted in Lima and 3) work towards fleshing out elements of the draft negotiating text to be finalized in Lima.

Draft decisions were not finalized in Bonn and were punted to Lima, but the bigger concern is that the texts are interlinked in sequencing and with respect to ambition. In order to have a successful outcome in Lima the ADP co-chairs need to switch into higher gears.

The debates within the negotiations ranged from how to ensure WS2 looks beyond the technical expert meetings (TEMs) and focusses on the primary task of closing the gigaton gap. TEMs have been useful, they have played a handy informational role but now this needs to evolve into a role that supports real world implementation and action.  

In this pre-2020 phase, countries must improve their existing mitigation and financial commitments, as these commitments provide the platform on which post-2020 ambition rests. Lower ambition in pre-2020 will aggravate trust issues between developed and developing countries and also add additional mitigation responsibility on countries for their post-2020 mitigation ‘contributions’.

During Bonn the Parties fiercely debated the draft information requirement text on INDCs - an element considered by some to be at the heart of the new agreement. There is no clarity from Parties as to what elements should be dealt with within the INDCs versus the broader 2015 agreement. 

A mitigation component within INDCs is essential but other components, including adaptation and finance are equally important to some Parties. Debate over how initial contributions will be reviewed, assessed and increased should they fall short of the requisite ambition was heated. If the contributions are not sufficiently ambitious - rather than going the route of WS2 where we have to deal with closing the gap - we would preempt the gap and ensure overall ambition is in line with well below 2-degree pathway.

While some progress was made on the draft elements of the negotiating text the remaining areas still requires Parties to do a great deal of work on compromise, ambition and boosting current institutional structures. Although countries did work on various elements there was no conclusive convergence on key issues such as mitigation, finance and technology.

The ADP Co-Chairs did produce new texts for WS2 as well as for INDC information requirements, but the text for the draft decision on elements of the 2015 agreement was not revised. A few countries in the closing plenary commented on the lack of progress and called for the need to move on from discussion to negotiation mode.  

The talks will continue in Lima.. The results of these discussions are unknown, although it is expected in Lima that Parties will kick it into high gear to hopefully adopt these decisions texts and not waste time. All eyes will be on the Lima COP to lay the foundation of the 2015 agreement..

Negotiators will have to agree on the contours of this agreement during the first week in order for ministers to agree in the 2nd week. No pressure, Lima!

Siddarth Pathak

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