BLANTYRE, Malawi (PAMACC News) - Prolonged dry spell experienced across Southern Africa and the invasion of crop- eating worm are said to sharply affect harvests across the region, driving millions of people – most of them children – into severe hunger, warns the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
The warning follows an alert by the regional food security experts that “erratic rainfall, high temperatures and persistent Fall Army Worm infestation, are likely to have far-reaching consequences on access to adequate food and nutrition” over the next 12-15 months.
The alert, by officials from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), listed Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Zambia and South Africa as the worst-affected countries.
The dry spell, which started in October, has caused crops to wilt. Pasture has also suffered, threatening the survival of livestock herds.
In Malawi, it is estimated that about 140,000 farming families have been affected by the twin scourges of dry spell and Fall armyworms and in terms of hectares, 375,580 hectares of maize have been damaged across the country.
Lonjezo Chiguduli, a farmer in Malawi’s Eastern Region district of Zomba expressed sadness at loss of crops and predicted tough months ahead. Chiguduli said his maize farm was severally attacked by Fall Armyworms and the prolonged drought made things worse.
“I managed to contain the worms but I was hopeless and helpless with the dry spell. I don’t think my crops will recover even if the rains come today. It’s done,” said Chiguduli a father of three whose ageing mother also depends on him.
Solomon Makondetsa, a rice farmer also from Zomba said out of four of his rice plots, two of the plots have completely wilted that he had to uproot the crop.
Makondetsa said he invested about K450,000 (about US$623) which he said he will not be able to recover due to the prolonged dry spell.
A ray of hope though shown last week with most parts of the country experiencing rains for days, however, the rains have come with another problem, flooding. So far, there has been flooding in Salima District in the central region and Karonga district in the northern region of Malawi.
In December 2017, Malawi President, Peter Mutharika, declared 20 of the country’s 28 districts as disaster areas following the dry spell and invasion of the worms.
According to the statement released by World Food Programme (WFP), even if there is above-average rainfall over coming months, much of the damage to crops is irreversible.
“Given that the region has barely emerged from three years of very damaging El Niño -induced drought, this is a particularly cruel blow”, says Brian Bogart, WFP’s Regional Programme Advisor. “But it shows how important it is to address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition in the face of changing climatic conditions”.
There are now fears for another rise in the number of people in the region needing emergency food and nutrition assistance—this fell from a peak of 40 million during the 2014-2016 ElNiño crisis to 26 million last year.
The humanitarian community is now working with governments, SADC and other partners to assess the extent of the damage and its likely impact on those most at risk in the region.
Governments from over 41 African countries alongside private sector, civil society and development partners, are in Nairobi this week to explore ways of achieving cleaner mobility across the region.
The week-long meeting which is dubbed “the Africa clean mobility week” seeks to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in Africa by leveraging on technological advancements driving low-carbon mobility within and outside the region.
The Africa clean mobility week, according to the conveners, represents Africa’s quest to transit to cleaner mobility, building on the outcomes of the 2014 Africa Sustainable Transport Forum.
It would be recalled that African ministers, at this forum held in Nairobi in 2014, adopted 13 action points aimed at boosting Africa’s capacity to harness the impact of cleaner mobility on health, environment and economic growth in the region
Transportation and climate change
Transportation remains at the very core of development. The sector, considered as an essential enabler of business, comprises movement of persons, products or services using the road, air, rail or water.
As important as this sector is, it is not insulated from the impacts of climate change such as heavy rains, sea level rise and pollution. It is also a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions which lead to climate change.
According to a new briefing published by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and the Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS), physical impacts of climate change on primary industries are likely to include damage to infrastructure and industrial capital assets, and could reduce availability of renewable natural resources including water.
The briefing which distilled the key findings from the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report for the transport sector indicates that most sector scenarios project that global demand for industrial products will increase by 45–60% by 2050 relative to 2010 production levels.
Rising demand for products used to reduce GHG emissions and to adapt to climate impacts could, perversely, create pressures to increase industrial emissions, the briefing asserts.
Also, a 2016 World Bank report says that transport was the largest energy consuming sector in 40 percent of countries worldwide in 2012. It was the second-largest consumer in the remaining countries. According to the report, carbon dioxide gas emissions from energy are expected to grow by 40 percent between 2013 and 2040.
Combating climate change through clean mobility initiatives, therefore, becomes a right step in the right direction.
Imperatives of cleaner mobility in Africa
Across the world, the challenge of curbing or decreasing the sector’s contribution to climate change particularly in urban centers remains ever present.
In Africa, urban transport and the transition to low-carbon mobility have remained strange bedfellows owing largely to commuters’ willingness to leave their cars at home and turn to greener modes such as public transit, cycling, or walking.
Getting Africans to make the switch appears an uphill task as decades of car-centric development, combined with the car culture which projects the private car as a status symbol, have made it hard for African governments to take people out of their vehicles.
With unprecedented motorization rate spurred by high rates of urbanization and economic growth, most countries in the region are not able to plan and provide adequate transport infrastructure and services.
In addition to this, the Stockholm Environment Institute in 2012 reported that only a few sub-Saharan countries operate routine monitoring systems for air quality monitoring standards (Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe).
Out of the countries investigated, the report discovered that 27 have environment protection acts which were poorly implemented or not implemented at all despite the specifications about air quality in them. This is despite evidence that poor air quality could lead to around 50,000 deaths a year in the region.
A platform for clean mobility solutions
Despite these challenges, all hope appears not lost as the clean mobility week aspires to develop strategies that promote the importation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles; how tools to assess fuel economy policy impacts will be disseminated; and opportunities to leapfrogging to electric motorcycles, electric vehicles, and electric buses.
Already, the Africa clean mobility week has recorded a milestone with the signing of an e-mobility partnership agreement between TAILG and the UN Environment on Tuesday.
The agreement targets the introduction of electric vehicles in Africa and other areas of the world by TAILG, a Chinese firm that manufactures electric vehicles.
Speaking on the sidelines of the clean mobility week, Xu Rong, TAILG Marketing Director, said the agreement will help governments of Africa and other areas of the world start phasing out defective vehicles, thus curbing air pollution.
"We intend to show the benefits of driving electric vehicles in accelerating clean environment that is free of pollution," Xu added.
Access to financing opportunities for cleaner mobility initiatives such as this will take center stage during the week just as case studies of inclusive transport programmes mainly through investment in non-motorized transport and public transport infrastructure will be shared.
The Africa clean mobility week is expected to draw to a close on the 16th of March 2018 after spotlighting the role of media and the relevance of South-South cooperation on sustainable transport management.
MIDRAND, South Africa (PAMACC News) - Legislators at the Pan African Parliament are eager to pursue industrialised countries, whose activities have resulted in excess emission of greenhouse gasses that have led to global warming, but the African civil society on climate change has a different message.
Latest research findings in Kenya for example, show that temperatures have risen in all the country’s 21 semi-arid counties with five of them surpassing the 1.5 °C mark in the past 50 years. This, according to the study, has led to a sharp reduction in livestock population, impacting heavily on livelihoods.
Paris Agreement on climate change calls for international interventions to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.
“The changing climatic conditions is a problem all over Africa, and the first thing we must do is accept that there is a problem that must be tackled immediately before pursuing those who caused it,” said Augustine Njamnshi, a board member of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), which brings together over 1000 African climate-related civil society organisations.
“If a man puts your house on fire, will you start by pursuing the man, or will you try and put out the fire, then follow up with the arsonist thereafter?” asked Njamnshi during a training workshop for African Members of Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.
The Kenyan study, which was conducted by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT), commissioned by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) – through a project known as Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE) reveals that cattle population has reduced by over 26% between 1977 and 2016.
“Our projections show that the temperatures are going to increase even further in the coming years, and the impact is likely going to be more devastating,” said Dr Mohammed Said, one of the PRISE researchers.
During the MPs training in Midrand, the lead trainer, Stephen Mutimba pointed out that African continent, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, is exposed to climate variability and extremes at frequencies which exceed normal thresholds, and that such events could significantly erode gains already made in poverty reduction.
There is, therefore, need for different countries to devise coping mechanisms so as to save livelihoods.
Mutimba said that governments can only prepare for disasters that may result from the extreme weather events only if they have access to adequate climate information.
“Climate information and services are key resources for governments and communities to prepare for these changes and when well integrated into policy and practice, they can help reverse this trend and enhance cross-sectoral climate resilient development,” he told the legislators.
According to Mithika Mwenda, the PACJA Secretary General, there is an urgent need for legislators to work hand in hand with the civil society and researchers for climate adaptation and in advancing the climate discourse at the global level.
“We all need to embrace the Talanoa dialogue,” said Mithika. ‘Talanoa’ is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills, and experience through storytelling.
Amongin Jacqueline, the Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural resources and Environment agreed with Mithika, saying that the Talanoa dialogue will help in stock-taking of the achievements so far, as well as the challenges, which should inform the way Africa should engage in global climate negotiations.
Studies have shown that Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change, especially in water, agriculture, forestry, and coastal development sectors.
World Food Programme estimates that about 650 million people live in arid or semi-arid areas where floods and droughts impact lives and productivity.
In the arable land areas within the Sub-Saharan Africa region, scientists say that there will be a decrease of 19% in maize yields and 68% for bean yields. As a result, severe child stunting (leading to higher mortality risk) could increase by 31%–55% across the region by 2050 due to climate change.
“The earlier we start tackling the challenge of climate change, the better for our continent,” said Njamnshi.
The one-day training was organised by the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) in collaboration with PACJA to enhance MPs' knowledge and understanding of the potential application of Climate Information Service policies in development planning with the aim of catalyzing the uptake and use of climate services by vulnerable communities.
Midrand, South Africa, 10 March 2018 – Legislators at the Pan African Parliament (PAP) are eager to seek accountability by industrialised countries, whose activities have resulted in excess emission of greenhouse gasses that are causing global warming, but the African civil society on climate change has a different message.
These were some of the ideas at a training for Pan-African Parliamentarians conducted by the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) in collaboration with the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and the African Climate Legislative Initiative (ACLI) on uptake and use of climate information services (CIS)by vulnerable communities. The event convened at the PAP in Midrand, South Africa on the 10th March 2018 was attended by 31 members of parliament drawn from across the continent.
The training event was organized under the Pan-African component of the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme, which is implemented by ACPC. Mr. Frank Rutabingwa, the WISER coordinator at ACPC, informed participants that the objective of WISER is to contribute to the enhancement of the policy and enabling an environment for increased application of CIS in development planning.
Speaking at the event, participants recalled that the Paris Agreement on climate change calls for international interventions to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.
According to Mithika Mwenda, the PACJA Secretary General, there is an urgent need for legislators to work hand in hand with the civil society and researchers for climate adaptation and in advancing the climate discourse at the global level.
“We all need to embrace the Talanoa dialogue introduced in the UN Climate negotiation process,” said Mithika. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, ideas, skills, experiences, build empathy and to facilitate wiser decisions for the collective good.
Amongin Jacquiline, the Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural resources and Environment agreed with Mithika, saying that the Talanoa dialogue will help in stock-taking of the achievements so far, as well as the challenges, which should inform the way Africa should engage in global climate negotiations.
In addition, Augustine Njamnshi, a board member of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) noted that “The changing climatic conditions is a problem all over Africa, and the first thing we must do, accepts that there is a problem that must be tackled immediately before pursuing those who caused it”.
A Kenyan study commissioned by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and conducted by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) through a project known as Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE), reveals that cattle population in the country has reduced by over 26% between 1977 and 2016.
“Our projections show that temperature is going to increase even further in the coming years, and the impact is likely going to be more devastating,” said Dr Mohammed Said, one of the PRISE researchers.
During the training, the lead trainer, Stephen Mutimba pointed out that the African continent, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, is exposed to climate variability and extremes at frequencies which exceed normal thresholds, and that such events could significantly erode gains already made in poverty reduction. There is, therefore, need for different countries to devise coping mechanisms so as to save livelihoods.
The trainer also underscored that governments can only prepare for disasters that may result from the extreme weather events only if they have access to adequate climate information.“Climate information and services are key resources for governments and communities to prepare for these changes and when well integrated into policy and practice, they can help reverse this trend and enhance cross-sectoral climate resilient development,” he told the legislators.
Studies have shown that Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change, especially in water, agriculture, forestry, and coastal development sectors, while the World Food Programme estimates that about 650 million people live in arid or semi-arid areas where floods and droughts impact lives and productivity.
In the arable land areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, scientists say that there will be a decrease of 19% in maize yields and 68% for bean yields. As a result, severe child stunting (leading to higher mortality risk) could increase by 31%–55% across the region by 2050 due to climate change.“The earlier we start tackling the challenge of climate change, therefore, the better for our continent,” said Njamnshi.
The ACPC and PACJA committed to continuing the engagement with both PAP and ACLI in order to further strengthen awareness and catalyse action on CIS application in development through robust policies and plans.
BLANTYRE, Malawi (PAMACC News) - Prolonged dry spell experienced across Southern Africa and the invasion of crop- eating worm are said to sharply affect harvests across the region, driving millions of people – most of them children – into severe hunger, warns the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
By Jacob Munoru
Traditional African cultural practices, previously regarded as inferior or incompetent, are increasingly gaining recognition as an important component of existing conservation strategies.
Local communities attach great value to traditional cultural practices, it is therefore apparent that official recognition of these practices will be an important factor complementing the current conservation knowledge.
Cultural factors can influence and regulate people’s behaviour towards forests or tree species and their habitats for instance among the Mt Kenya communities the Mugumo tree is considered sacred and traditional dwelling places for the Gods in some Kenyan communities are on the steep slopes of hills and mountains which are considered sacred, such beliefs and practices result in the preservation of these areas and act as important drivers of environmental change.
Traditional cultural practices among other strategies have promising potential to enhance sustainable resource use and conservation, therefore, realizing the desire for ecological and social sustainability.
Despite concerted conservation efforts, a considerable number of species is threatened with extinction mainly because of anthropogenic impacts such as deforestation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, the introduction of new exotic species and pollution.
Promotion of the use of cultural management knowledge coincides well with the philosophy of co-management approach that advocates sharing of power, rights, and responsibilities between the state and local resource users.
This argument is centred on the management capabilities of local communities and possible dangers of disregarding them. The fact that the communities have regular interactions and are more familiar with the resources in their environment than other potential actors makes them one of the best managers of the resource, who could contribute effectively to current conservation efforts.
Local communities understand the source of the water and for how long this resource can last if properly and efficiently utilized, and how to avoid acute shortages as is the case in our country now.
Traditional African cultural practices oversee and enforce community rules/regulations or taboos that when enforced, they act as a supreme court with the final say on all forest conservation matters. Their conservation role is still evident in some areas for example in Meru, the council of elders Njuri Ncheke shrine bushes, forests or woodlots and streams are well preserved, they act as carbon sinks in the areas where they are found therefore checking on pollution and global warming.
This has remained true despite cultural practices being marginalized by modern management systems and cultural dilution caused by immigration, formal education, and adaptation of modern religions.
Both colonial and post-colonial conservation policies ignored the potential role of traditional African cultural practices in contributing to conservation goals. Factors such as rapid population increase, inadequate local support for conservation policies, limited strategies for survival among the local communities and inadequate capacity of the government to fund law enforcement operations against illegal activities subject our forests to unsustainable use.
Our policymakers should, therefore, accord greater attention to traditional institutions so that local people’s conservation role is fairly acknowledged and potential synergies with conservation objectives realized.
The national and county governments should reward traditional people for sustainable conservation practices observed through their institutions and sensitize policy makers to include traditional conservation practices in conservation Agenda.
The practices both modern Silvicultural forest Management principles and the African traditional cultural practices in conservation are one of multiple strategies for complementing rather than replacing existing central management systems.
GAZI BAY, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Putting on gumboots and armed with clubs and machetes, Hassam Bakari, 44, a forest guard in Makongeni mangrove fishing village at Gazi Bay along Kenya’s coastline slashes through a thick canopy, making his way along a trail of mixed shrub trees in swamps.
Hassam is among over 400 community members of the Mikoko Pamoja (in Swahili meaning Mangroves Together) project driving the expansion of Kenya’s first blue carbon credit scheme, providing multiple income generating activities and fighting climate change in the region.
“We now protect this area day and night because the livelihood and future of our children depends on these mangroves,” Hassam said during a visit of researchers and environment experts to the mangrove restoration project in the run up to the UN Environment General Assembly on December 2, 2017.
Like Hassam, the people of this coastal community say they are giving their all to make the mangrove restoration project a global reference, but for lack of financial means the impetus for expansion and protection is coming from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), via the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP.
According to Anne Wanjoru, Social impact officer of Mikoko Pamoja, the expansion of the mangrove restoration project had become necessary following increasing acceptance of the population to engage fully in the project.
“The population are now willing to voluntarily participate and this is driving the expansion and protection scheme of the project, “Anne said.
The expansion phase of the project that started in 2015 with funding of 100.000 dollars from GEF via
UNEP has seen the acres of the mangrove forest of Mikoko Pamoja increase by 117 bringing the total size of mangroves in Makonzeni, Gazi and Chale to 615 acres.
For the local population this means more income not only from a surging carbon credit sales, but also a multiplication of income generating activities.
“We are getting more and more tourists, scientists, researchers visiting and this means big markets for our fish, handicraft, restaurant business and improved income for the population,” says Jesphat Mmtwan the project coordinator.
The new community plan of action is not only limited to expansion. Efforts at protection have more than double. Every household in the community sends representatives to act as forest guards.
“We are one family here and need to protect what we have toiled to put together,” said Mohamed Ardi, another fisher man and trader in Gazi bay.
A tower of over 40 meters high has been constructed to permit community forest guards have an overview of the area against invaders while a 450 meters broad walk also set up not only to permit tourists and other visitors get a better appreciation of the rich mangrove forest but also to reinforce security, the project officials say.
The expansion of Gazi bay mangrove has made the project the biggest in Africa according to UNEP programme management officer, Gabriel Grimsditch.
On a global scale, the restoration expansion will serve as a push to ongoing drive towards including mangroves in the national Redd+ action plan and strategies.
Mangroves, scientists say has a higher capacity of capturing carbon than biomass (terrestrial rianforest trees).
According James Kairo, chief scientist with the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, KMFRI , pitlands in mangroves store three times more carbon than terrestrial rainforest.
The biggest storage on carbon is in the soil and in mangrove areas, tidal movement make sediments get trapped by mangroves and there is build up of carbon storage, he explains.
“Mangroves are unique tropical forest with an exceptional ability to capture and store carbon,” Kairo says.
The Gazi Mangrove project for example stores over 3000 tonnes of carbon per year which is sold at over 12,000 US dollars annually according to statistics from KMFRI. The carbons are bought mostly by Earth Watch and the money obtained is ploughed back into development projects in the community, the villagers benefiting from the projects admit.
Money obtained from sale of carbon credits is used to buy books for children and equip schools, making it easier and encouraging for parents to send their children to school, a complete break from a long standing tradition where children were initiated into fishing and many abandoned school because their parents could not afford.
“Schools in Gazi and Makongeni have been reconstructed with more classrooms, textbooks distributed to pupils for free and this has encouraged many more parents to send their children to school,” says Anne Wanjiru.
The Mangrove forest in the area had in the past suffered from serious degradation by activities of, commercial loggers, and industries dealing with wood from mangroves as well as local fishing community members smoking fish. The community members say illegal and abusive mangrove cutting use to scare fish away making life perilous for the fishing communities of Makongeni, Chale and Gazi villages.
“We could hardly get fish even to eat, talk less of selling to earn income to support our families and send our children to school,” says Josephat Mnwarima, fisherman and coordinator of the Mikoko Pamoja mangroves restoration and protection project.
But now things have changed for the better according to members of the fishing community.
“I now catch three times more fish than I used to before 2010,” says Wanga Ahmed a fisherman from Wasini Island one of the villages in the area.
He expresses hope that with the ongoing expansion scheme, their community will in the future by a haven for varied species of fish bringing more income and better living condition to the population
UNEP says the mangrove forest expansion scheme is a global project also happening in other countries in the continent like Madagascar, Mozambique.
“UNEP is supporting similar initiatives in other countries in the continent,” Gabriel says.
However the scheme is not without challenges.
“We have had a series of challenges driving the expansion scheme,” he admits.
These include difficulties in carrying out scientific assessment of carbon stocks, getting the mostly illiterate village communities understand the importance of the project and also getting more buyers of carbon stocks.
“We also have problems of leakages. In the course of protecting one area we sometimes discover the mangrove cutters have relocated to other areas,” Gabriel says.
As solution, he says UNEP is supporting the planting of casuarina trees, a specie that grows quickly for wood used by locals thus preventing the cutting of mangroves.
African authorities have saluted the support by development stakeholders to the Kenyan local community mangrove conservation initiative to fight climate change, calling on the project to be replicated in other coastal regions in the continent.
“We have to be proud of our continent and support good practices that serves as world model like the local community-led mangrove conservation efforts in Kenya. In the next African environment ministers meeting in South Africa 2018 efforts at replicating such initiative will be put on the table,” announced Pacome Moubelet Boubeya, President of African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, at the ongoing UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.
“The future of food – if the biosphere and her humanity are to be sustained – is local, organic, permaculture exchanged without intermediaries.” – Dr. Glen Barry
The global environment is collapsing and dying. For too long we have lived our lives as if nature doesn’t matter and have failed to embrace an ecology ethic. We have treated water, air, land, and oceans as resources to be plundered and as waste dumps. Nothing grows forever – certainly not economies on the back of finite ecological systems – and mass psychosis pretending infinite growth is possible is a death wish.
Such ecological imprudence is now catching up with us, threatening our very daily bread.
Climate change is having profound impacts upon agricultural systems including a lack of regular seasonality. That is, the boundaries between cold and warm, and dry and wet, periods have become highly variable. In much of the world this makes it difficult to know when to grow your food. Knowing when to plant and when to harvest is becoming extremely problematic and this aseasonality is decreasing yields. This climate weirding is the direct result of our haphazard changing of atmospheric chemistry.
Climate change is making it more difficult to grow food the way we have been. Huge swathes of farmland are faced by droughts and floods. Temperate region’s lack of cold weather and snow has meant an increase in agricultural pests. Similarly, factory animal agriculture and fisheries are being hammered from disease, parasites, and decreased feed stocks brought on by abrupt climate change.
Shifting seasonality, and at times even a lack of seasonality, simply exacerbate problems associated with industrial farming. Modern agriculture consumes massive amounts of fossil fuels which cause both warming and are finite. Factory animal farming’s prodigious amounts of fecal waste become even more toxic in the heat. Increasingly toxic GMO Frankenseeds are being peddled in conjunction with a soup of dangerous chemicals as a means to keep production high.
Our increased dependence upon limited genotypes mean that one crop or animal disease could swiftly kill vast amounts of agricultural products ushering in massive price increases and widespread hunger. Soils are eroding and becoming less fertile due to increased industrial intensification.
Any increase in plant growth from increased temperatures and/or carbon dioxide is quickly eliminated as another limiting factor such as water and nutrient availability goes unmet. In many cases rising temperatures simply kill plants. And the food that is grown is often stressed and thus contains fewer nutrients. The end result of climate-stressed industrial agriculture is low-quality junk foods that are killing our bodies and our planet. Much of the over-developed world is addicted to the sugar and additives found in this industrially produced crap.
As the global food supply becomes more precarious and subject to unexpected extreme weather events, the global population continues to soar and has now reached approximately 7.5 billion people.
Already nearly one billion people experience chronic hunger, sapping their soul and energy, and providing limited opportunity for a healthy and fulfilling life. Billions of emerging consumers now view steaks and hamburgers as their birthright, with all the attendant medical and ecological costs. In much of the world the cost of food is by far the greatest expenditure, and quality food is increasingly expensive in over-developed nations as well.
The world’s agricultural system is weak and vulnerable to major disruption that will soon result in an international famine of the sort that already ravages numerous nations such as Haiti and Somalia. Abrupt climate change may well be the final straw that ushers in global mass hunger and collapse into the bad sort of anarchy.
It is difficult to communicate the horrors that await us if the globe faces widespread failure of food systems. Suffice it to say that post-modern collapse will utterly strip cosmopolitan consumers of technological vestiges of comfort including variety of high-quality and nutritious food. Rural areas will face a shortage of open-pollinating seed due to seed monopolies, and lack of traditional farming know how. Everyday life will be a struggle to avoid murder, find food, and otherwise meet basic needs. Sadly this is already the reality for a billion people who live in abject poverty, and soon it will be all our fates if we don’t change.
It is increasingly probable that climate change will precipitate a massive crop failure on a global scale. Perhaps America’s wheat and corn crops fail. Or globally a drought persists for years that wrecks the majority of Earth’s foodstocks. Or a super pathogen takes out genetically modified corn. One can expect in our lifetime for periods where the supermarkets are mostly empty and each of us left to persist from what we can raise, exchange, or gather locally.
Imagine the coming horror of starvation in the heartland as formerly petite bourgeoisie experience the depredations of the street people they once ignored.
The solutions are difficult yet known. We must re-localize our agriculture systems. More of our food must be grown in our own bioregion, and exchanged and consumed locally. Much more of our population is going to have to find employment in growing food. Every human being will be called upon to grow an increasing percentage of their own food, and bartering and otherwise exchanging their surplus with those nearby.
The use of fossil fuels must be eliminated from the global food chain. Factory animal feedlots must be eliminated and whatever meat is produced come from time-tested small scale animal husbandry practices (or when desired eliminated).
Monocultures protected with synthetic toxic pesticides and herbicides are literally death traps. We must return to inter-cropping and no-till agriculture that focuses upon maintaining the soil’s structure and fertility. The emphasis must be upon organic food production and permaculture from natural seed stocks, whereby the boundaries between natural ecosystems, tree crops, and food crops are not strictly delineated.
Permaculture is committed to realizing the full potential of righteous land and soil management to benefit the community’s well-being including both high-quality food and ecosystems. Increasingly our forest tree crops and traditional garden vegetables will be intermingled, to the extent feasible given a bioregion’s flora, as forests and gardens merge.
In general, an agro-ecology ethic requires a profound shift in global consciousness to re-embrace our oneness with nature. Industrial agriculture has viewed natural ecosystems as decadent wastelands that should be destroyed, rather than embracing them as the ecosystem engines that make the biosphere habitable. And which provide the genetic seed stocks and inspiration for constructing semi-natural productive ecosystems.
Continued exponential growth in human populations, particularly as some have so much as many have so little, can only result in global ecological collapse. Human population growth must be limited with urgency through incentives, and educating all girls and boys, including in the use of contraception; or the global environmental system will seek balance far more harshly. And there is no path to food sustainability that does not include reducing military expenditures, a basic income, and more sharing. Fairness is not communism.
In sum, much more work must be done to achieve the balance between natural and semi-natural productive ecosystems necessary to sustain Earth, her humanity, and all creatures. My peer-reviewed science “Terrestrial Ecosystem Loss and Biosphere Collapse” suggests that 2/3 of Earth’s land mass must remain as ecosystems, 2/3 of which must be natural ecosystems (44%), and 1/3 semi-natural permaculture and other productive ecosystems (22%).
Or we face biosphere collapse and the end of being.
The future of food – if the biosphere and her humanity are to be sustained – is local, organic, permaculture exchanged without intermediaries.
EcoInternet is committed to re-localizing, detoxifying, and making global food systems ecologically sustainable. We are in the process of creating Internet resources which will help fulfill this vision. And we could use your help. More soon on these exciting initiatives.
This article first appeared on www.pamacc.org
The Arctic is melting with no turning back. Climate change increased rainfall during Hurricane Harvey by at least 15%. And several extreme weather events that occurred in 2016 would not have been possible without man-made global warming.
These are among the findings being discussed this week at this fall’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans, the largest gathering of Earth scientists in the world. Taken together, the findings show the deepening urgency of the fight against climate change.
“Climate change is hurting us without a doubt,” said James Byrne, a professor at the University of Lethbridge who studies climate change, at a press conference. “Houston, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, British Columbia — worst fire season ever. California, I think they declared it the worst fire season.”
Scientists have explored the link between climate change and extreme weather events for years, but many of the conclusions have relied on forecasts of potential future damage. This year, scientists say, the findings are no longer theoretical. Man-made global warming is causing problems here and now.
Take the American Meteorological Society’s report on extreme weather events in 2016, the sixth annual iteration of the report. In the past, the group found that likelihood had increased the chances of certain extreme weather events. But this year scientists found that 2016’s record global temperatures and historic warm waters in the Bering Sea “would not have been possible” in a world without human-caused climate change.
“These events were not just influenced by human-caused climate change,” said Jeff Rosenfeld of the American Meteorological Society at a press conference. “Some of the events in 2016 could not have happened without climate change.”
The report also highlighted global heat waves, an extreme occurrence of El Niño and bleaching of coral reefs. These extreme events are all closely tied to climate change, though they remain theoretically possible in a world without the phenomenon.
Another report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the state of continued ice melt, loss of snow cover and warm temperatures will be the “new normal” in the Arctic. The signs of climate change in the region have been pronounced for years as air temperatures have risen there at twice the rate as they have globally.
The effects of a melting Arctic — and the strong likelihood that it will not return to a normal state anytime soon — has significant implications far beyond its boundaries. Arctic sea ice plays an important role moderating global temperatures as it reflects sunlight back into space. And scientists say that the swift warming in the Arctic is a concerning sign of what’s to come globally. “Unlike Vegas what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” said Tim Gallaudet, acting NOAA administrator, at a press conference. “It affects the rest of the planet.”
Two separate studies presented at the conference showed that climate change worsened rainfall when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston earlier by somewhere between 15% and 38%. That storm brought nearly 50 inches of rain to some areas and caused billions in damages. The research comes as scientists increasingly try to draw explicit conclusions about the effect of climate change and individual storms, a practice unthinkable just a decade ago.
The warning from scientists comes as policymakers across the globe continue to grapple how to stem temperature rise. Countries have committed to trying to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, but recent research shows leaders remain far from meeting that goal.
This article was published in http://time.com/
UNEA-3's Opening plenary UNEA-3's Opening plenary Over 4,000 stakeholders today (December 4) converged on the green terrains of the UN office in Nairobi, Kenya to witness the opening ceremony of the 3rd United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA3).
This year’s edition of the assembly, which is the highest –level decision-making body on the environment, aspires to consider new policies, innovations and financing capable of steering the world “Towards a Pollution-Free Planet.”
The UNEA-3 brings together governments, entrepreneurs, and activists who will share ideas and commit to taking positive action against the menace of pollution. UNEA-3 aims to deliver a number of tangible commitments to end the pollution of air, land, waterways, and oceans, and to safely manage chemicals and waste, including a negotiated long-term programme of action against pollution that is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The High-Level Segment of UNEA-3, which will take place from 5-6 December, is also expected to endorse a political declaration on pollution, aimed at outlining policy measures for, inter alia: addressing pollution to protect human health while protecting the developmental aspirations of current and future generations.
The ministerial segment will debut the interactive ‘Leadership Dialogues,’ aimed at providing participants with an opportunity for high-level engagement and discussion on how to achieve a pollution-free planet. Other UNEA-3 outcomes will include voluntary commitments by governments, private sector entities and civil society organizations to address pollution, and the ‘#BeatPollution Pledge,’ a collection of individual commitments to clean up the planet.
Discussions at UNEA-3 will draw on a background report by the UNEP Executive Director, titled ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet.’ The Report explores the latest evidence, as well as responses and gaps in addressing pollution challenges, and outlines opportunities that the 2030 Agenda presents to accelerate action on tackling pollution.
Welcoming delegates to the assembly, Prof. Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, declared that the assembly’s focus on beating pollution is very timely as pollution increases with every effort to provide services to our citizens.
“It is time, the world addressed this challenge without delay and agree on a common goal as a pollution-free planet cannot be achieved without working together,” she said. The environment is our responsibility; it is the source of our well-being. The fate of our world depends on the quality of the care we give it,” Prof Wakhungu added.
“Our collective goal must be to embrace ways to reduce pollution drastically,” said Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and the President of the 2017 assembly. “Only through stronger collective action, beginning in Nairobi this week, can we start cleaning up the planet globally and save countless lives.”
New report on the environment
According to a new UN Environment report, everyone on earth is affected by pollution. The report entitled “Executive Director’s Report: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet” is the meeting’s basis for defining the problems and laying out new action areas.
The report’s recommendations – political leadership and partnerships at all levels, action on the worst pollution, lifestyle changes, low-carbon tech investments, and advocacy – are based on analysis of pollution in all its forms, including air, land, freshwater, marine, chemical and waste pollution.
Overall, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million people a year, and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems. Over a dozen resolutions are on the table at the assembly, including new approaches to tackle air pollution, which is the single biggest environmental killer, claiming 6.5 million lives each year.
Over 80% of cities operate below UN health standards on air quality. The report reveals that exposure to lead in paint, which causes brain damage to 600,000 children annually, and water and soil pollution are also key focus areas.
Also, over 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is released into the environment without treatment, poisoning the fields where we grow our food and the lakes and rivers that provide drinking water to 300 million people. According to the recently published report by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, welfare losses due to pollution are estimated at over US$4.6 trillion each year, equivalent to 6.2 percent of global economic output.
“Given the grim statistics on how we are poisoning ourselves and our planet, bold decisions from the UN Environment Assembly are critical,” said head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim. “That is as true for threats like pollution as it is for climate change and the many other environmental threats we face.”
Corroborating the report, Ibrahim Jibril, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment in his statement at the plenary averred that “pollution affects the air, soil, rivers, seas, and health of Nigerians in an adverse way even though the actual cost has not been determined. Trans-boundary pollution, according to Jibril, “accounts for 28% of disease burdens in Africa.” The UNEA-3 will run from 4-6 December.
By Jocelyn Timperley for Carbon Brief
Climate change was again placed at the centre of global diplomacy over the past two weeks as diplomats and ministers gathered in Bonn, Germany, for the latest annual round of United Nations climate talks.
COP23, the second “conference of the parties” since the Paris Agreement was struck in 2015, promised to be a somewhat technical affair as countries continued to negotiate the finer details of how the agreement will work from 2020 onwards.
However, it was also the first set of negotiations since the US, under the presidency of Donald Trump, announced its intention earlier this year to withdraw from the Paris deal. And it was the first COP to be hosted by a small-island developing state with Fiji taking up the presidency, even though it was being held in Bonn.
Carbon Brief covers all the summit’s key outcomes and talking points.
- Two US delegations
- Stronger China?
- Coal phase-out
- Pre-2020 action
- Fiji’s COP
- Talanoa dialogue
- Paris ‘rulebook’
- Fights over finance
- Loss and damage
- The ‘gateway’
- Road ahead in 2018
Two US delegations
After Trump’s decision in June that he wanted to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, all eyes were on the US official delegation to see how they would navigate the negotiations.
During the first week of the talks, a civil society group known as the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance called for the US delegation to be barred from attending the negotiations, due to its decision to leave the Paris deal.
Meanwhile, a seemingly pointed message was sent on day two of the COP, when Syria announced it would sign the Paris Agreement. This now leaves the US as the only country in the world stating it doesn’t intend to honour the landmark deal.
However, the delegation itself kept a relatively low profile – bar a now infamous“cleaner fossil fuels” side event which anti-Trump protesters disrupted for seven minutes, singing: “We proudly stand up until you keep it in the ground…”).
— Leo Hickman (@LeoHickman) November 13, 2017
The US delegation co-chaired a working group with China on Nationally Determined Contributions (country pledges, often known by the acronym NDCs) with reportedly high success. It’s worth noting, though, that many of the US negotiators are the same officials who have been representing the US at COPs for years. They seemingly continued their negotiations with little change in attitude, albeit possibly taking harder stances on issues such as “loss and damage” and finance.
There was a further chaotic appearance in the media centre by Trump adviser George David Banks, who vowed that his priority at COP23 was to fight “differentiation” (sometimes called “bifurcation”), namely, the division of countries into industrialised “annex one” countries and the rest in the UN climate arena. However, beyond this, the behaviour of the US delegation did not differ significantly from previous years.
— Ed King (@edking_I) November 15, 2017
Importantly, though, the official US delegation were not the only group from the US drawing attention at the COP.
An alternative “We Are Still In” delegation set up a large pavilion at their US Climate Action Centre just outside the main venue for the talks.
This group included major sub-national actors, such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California governor Jerry Brown, keen to prove there are many US voices against Trump’s anti-climate policies.
Their “America’s Pledge” report outlined how their coalition of cities, states and businesses represented over half the US economy. At the report’s packed launch event, Bloomberg even argued the group should should be given a seat at the climate negotiating table.
COP23 video: Does Donald Trump make limiting global warming to 1.5C impossible? Dr James Hansen, Dr Bill Hare, Rachel Cleetus, Catherine McKenna, Bill Peduto and Rachel Kyte respond.
One concrete way China has begun to play such a role is in the Ministerial on Climate Action (MOCA) coalition, a joint group consisting of the EU, China and Canada, conceived during last year’s COP after the US election result came in.
Li Shuo, senior global policy advisor at Greenpeace East Asia, tells Carbon Brief:
It is worth noting that this is one of the only high-level climate processes that is a collaboration between developed and developing countries. It is also a very concrete case in point that China is lending support to the international climate process as part of collective/shared leadership.
The days when you looked to one country to be able to actually lead the transition are gone. We’re now in a new era, where we are actually seeing more shared distributed leadership emerging, where 200 countries have collectively contributed to the global effort.
A second major event at the COP was the launch of the “Powering Past Coal Alliance”, led by the UK and Canada.
More than 20 countries and other sub-national actors joined the alliance, including Denmark, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Mexico and the Marshall Islands; as well as the US states of Washington and Oregon. It aims to top 50 members by this time next year.
While the alliance notes in its declaration that “analysis shows that coal phase-out is needed no later than by 2030 in the OECD and EU28, and no later than by 2050 in the rest of the world” to meet the Paris Agreement, it does not commit signatories to any particular phase-out date. It also does not commit the signatories to ending the financing of unabated coal power stations, rather just “restricting” it.
Claire Perry, the UK’s climate minister, travelled to Bonn to launch the initiative alongside Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna. The UK has previously pledged to phase out unabated coal by 2025, while Canada has a 2030 deadline.
— Leo Hickman (@LeoHickman) November 16, 2017
The US did not sign onto the pledge and several other big coal countries were notable by their absence, including Germany, Poland, Australia, China and India.
Meanwhile, German chancellor Angela Merkel manoeuvred a delicate balancing act at the talks between trying to maintain her climate leadership on the world stage and wrangling with ongoing coalition talks between her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the Green party and Free Democrats (FDP).
Separately, Michael Bloomberg used a side-event to pledge $50m to expand his anti-coal US campaign into Europe.
The official talks themselves finished during the early hours of Saturday morning, following some last-minute wrangling over the ever-fraught issue of climate finance. (See Carbon Brief’s “map” of finance from multilateral climate funds published on the day the COP started.)
One key conflict to emerge in the early days of the conference, however, was pre-2020 climate action.
This centred on a developing country concern that rich countries had not done enough to meet their commitments made for the period up to 2020. These commitments are separate to the Paris Agreement, which applies only post-2020.
There were two main concerns: first, developed countries had not yet delivered the promised $100bn per year in climate finance by 2020 agreed in 2009 at Copenhagen; second, the Doha Amendment, a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol for the years leading up to 2020, had still not been ratified by enough countries to bring it into force.
Developing countries, including China and India, were particularly irked that pre-2020 action did not have a formal space on the COP23 negotiation agenda. They insisted space must be made to discuss it, arguing that the meeting of pre-2020 commitments was a key part of building trust in the rest of negotiations.
Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace international, says the pre-2020 ambition issue is really about whether developed countries who committed to take the lead in the original United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) back in 1992 have been doing so, and whether they’ve also taken specific measures to reduce their own emissions before 2020. She tells Carbon Brief:
I think many developed countries wanted to just kind of ignore that and focus on post-2020, but developing countries said “no”, we actually need to peak global emissions by 2020, so we want that to be a big topic here.
At first, many developed countries dismissed these demands. However, in the end they conceded, and pre-2020 ambition and implementation formed a major part of the COP23 decision text agreed and published early on Saturday morning.
— Mohamed Adow (@mohadow) November 15, 2017
This included an agreement to form additional stocktaking sessions in 2018 and 2019 to review progress on reducing emissions, as well as two assessments of climate finance to be published in 2018 and 2020. These submissions will then be pulled together in a synthesis report on pre-2020 ambition ahead of COP24, which takes place in December next year in Katowice, Poland.
Letters will also be sent to countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol who have not yet ratified the Doha Amendment urging them to deposit their instruments of acceptance as soon as possible. Several European countries even ratified the Doha Amendment during the COP, including Germany and the UK.
Poland, the country which has so far held the EU back from ratifying as a whole, also announced its plans to ratify the amendment this year. The EU, which is treated as a party under the UNFCCC, has also suggested it may ratify the deal without Poland.
With Fiji being the first small-island state to host the climate talks, hopes were high that it would give added impetus to the negotiations.
High-level speakers on Wednesday were preceded by a speech from a 12-year old Fijian schoolboy called Timoci Naulusala, who reminded delegates that “it’s not about how, or who, but it’s about what you can do as an individual”.
— United Nations (@UN) November 18, 2017
Opinions were mixed on Fiji’s effectiveness as the talk’s president, but two outcomes it pushed for were touted as significant achievements.
These were the Gender Action Plan, which highlights the role of women in climate action and promotes gender equality in the process, and the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, which aims to support the exchange of experience and sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation.
Fiji also launched the Ocean Pathway Partnership, which aims to strengthen the inclusion of oceans within the UNFCCC process.
Countries agreed two years ago in Paris that there should be a one-off moment in 2018 to “take stock” of how climate action was progressing. This information will be used to inform the next round of NDCs, due in 2020.
This way of recognising “enhanced ambition” – a term heard a lot at COPs – was seen as an important precursor of the Paris Agreement’s longer-term “ratchet mechanism”, which aims to increase ambition on a five-year incremental cycle.
Originally called the “facilitative dialogue”, the name of this one-off process in 2018 was changed to “Talanoa dialogue” this year under the Fijian COP presidency. This was to reflect a traditional approach to discussions used in Fiji for an “inclusive, participatory and transparent” process.
COP23 video: What needs to happen by COP24 to keep the Paris Agreement on track? Rachel Cleetus, Li Shuo, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal and Carlos Rittl are among those who respond.
The final “approach” of the Talanoa dialogue was included as a four-page Annex to the main COP23 outcome decision.
It will be structured around three questions – “Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?” – but also includes new details, such as a decision to accept inputs from non-party stakeholders as well as parties, a decision to set up an online platform to receive inputs, and a new emphasis on efforts being made in the pre-2020 period.
It also pointedly says the dialogue “should not lead to discussions of a confrontational nature” with individual parties being singled out. Naoyuki Yamagishi, head of climate and energy at WWF Japan, tells Carbon Brief:
Talanoa dialogue was supposed to be a kind of opportunity-oriented, constructive and solution-oriented conversation. These kind of conversations, raising ambition conversations, tend to be very hard conversations in the UNFCCC context. Talanoa dialogue is one attempt to overcome that and create a space to try to be positive about it.
The Talanoa dialogue was also referred to in the main COP23 outcome:
According to Yamagishi, “a careful balance” seems to have been struck between parties. He notes, however, that the final text makes it difficult for signatories to challenge the way the dialogue is organised, since they “welcome” it “with appreciation” and have also officially “launched” it. It’s worth noting that last-minute changes also saw that it “started” in January 2018 rather than at COP23 itself, as per earlier drafts.
The preparatory phase of the Talanoa dialogue will now begin over the coming year, ahead of the political phase conducted by ministers at COP24 in Poland. A key moment for the Talanoa dialogue will also be the publication of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 1.5C special report in September 2018.
COP24 will see the conclusion of the Talanoa dialogue with a “political phase”, as illustrated with this UNFCCC diagram.
As was the case at COP22 in Marrakesh last year, negotiations in this session centred around attempts to make significant progress on developing the Paris “rulebook”. This will establish the more technical rules and processes needed to fulfill the Paris Agreement’s ambition.
These discussions are overseen by the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement, or APA. Its work covers several areas, including setting the framework of country pledges (known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs), reporting of adaptation efforts, the transparent reporting of action taken at a “global stocktake” in 2023, and how to monitor compliance with the Paris Agreement.
The deadline for this work is next year’s COP in Poland, set to be held in December 2018. But the goal in Bonn was to create a draft of these implementation guidelines, with options and disagreements outlined as clearly as possible to show what still needs resolving.
The final COP23 text recognises that an additional negotiating session may be needed in 2018 between the May intersessional and COP24 in December to ensure the Paris rulebook is finished on time. This will be decided during May’s scheduled intersessional meeting, although early drafts of the text suggested “August/September 2018” as being the preferred time for such an additional session.
NDCs; Agenda item 3
Deep breath, everyone… #COP23 co-chairs have just released “preliminary material in preparation for the first iteration of the informal note” for Agenda item 3. It summarises parties’ views on contents/accounting of NDCs. And it runs to 179 pages…. https://t.co/SLtpshfWBY
— Leo Hickman (@LeoHickman) November 13, 2017
The size of the text indicated significant differences still remained on how NDCs should be organised, delivered and updated. This led to some disappointment.
Yamide Dagnet, project director on international climate action at the World Resources Institute, says NDC communication was the area of the Paris rulebook with least progress so far. She tells Carbon Brief:
Countries got stuck because there was no agreement on how to tackle the issue of scope and differentiation, as well as flexibility. So this is how we landed with a 180-page document that includes all countries’ views. There needs to be a streamlining. We need to translate those views into some sort of options for each issue.
Global stocktake (Agenda item 6)
More progress was made on the global stocktaking exercise – a more formal version of the 2018 Talanoa dialogue – which is embedded in the Paris Agreement and set to take place in 2023 and every five years thereafter. Discussions centred on equity, as well as the scope of the stocktake – for example, whether it will include loss and damage.
Transparency (Agenda item 5)
Transparency negotiations under the Paris rulebook cover how compliance will be monitored, in line with the “enhanced transparency framework” set out by the Paris Agreement.
Dagnet says these talks made significant progress, resulting in one set of text, albeit 46-page long. She tells Carbon Brief:
Obviously, the format and the final format will probably be a political conversation. We need to maintain that balance next year, but at least we can really witness some really good progress on transparency.
(Note that Carbon Brief’s article about the Bonn intersessional in May 2017 explained what all the different “agenda items” refer to.)
Fights over finance
Resolution of several issues during the final day of COP23 left many hoping the meeting would (uniquely) end on time. However, disputes over two finance issues prevented this from happening, with the conference finally wrapping up at 5.30am on Saturday morning.
Last-minute tensions unfolded over the Paris Agreement’s Article 9.5, which asks developed countries to report on their flows of climate finance to developing countries.
However, as with the tensions over “pre-2020” discussed above, there was no formal space on COP23’s agenda to discuss how to develop the guidelines for it, with developed countries arguing that demands were beyond what was originally agreed.
In the end, negotiators settled on allowing extra time to discuss this issue at the intersessional meetings between now and COP24 in December.
A second sticking point on finance was the Adaptation Fund, a relatively small but politically significant multilateral fund for small-scale projects. Parties had previously agreed that it “should” serve under the Paris Agreement, but the specifics of this had not been decided.
Late into the night on the final day of COP23, member countries of the Kyoto Protocol, which the fund currently serves, at last formally agreed that the fund “shall” serve the Paris Agreement.
Separately, French president Emmanuel Macron told COP23 delegates during his speech that Europe will cover any shortfall in funding for the IPCC. This follows the US decision to pull its funding of the science body. “It will not miss a single euro,” said Macron. The UK also announced it was pledging to double its contribution.
Loss and damage
The Paris Agreement includes a section recognising the importance of averting – and addressing – the loss and damage caused by climate change. It also says parties should enhance “understanding, action and support” on this key topic, which has become somewhat of a bugbear at negotiations in recent years.
To some, it has now become the “third pillar” of the climate action, alongside mitigation and adaptation. But unlike mitigation and adaptation – with their promised $100bn-a-year in climate finance – there are currently no sources of finance for loss and damage.
The workstream to create the Paris rulebook currently doesn’t include loss and damage as an agenda point, meaning loss and damage is not given a major space in the political UNFCCC process. This is despite demands from developing countries that new additional finance will be needed for it.
COP23 did include discussions on loss and damage as part of a separate, more low-level technical process called the Warsaw International Mechanism (or “WIM”). Originally agreed in 2013 at COP19 in Poland, this is a separate UNFCCC workstream to the Paris Agreement, with its own executive committee.
The WIM agreed on a new “five-year rolling workplan” for the mechanism, finalising a proposal from October. However, the WIM has yet to bring forward any concrete plan on finance – the key difficulty in loss-and-damage discussions. A one-off “expert dialogue” was also agreed for the May intersessional in 2018, which will inform the next review of the WIM in 2019.
Sven Harmeling, climate change advocacy coordinator at CARE international, tells Carbon Brief that shifting the finance discussion to 2019 is “wholly inadequate” in light of the increasing impacts facing so many people.
A stronger emphasis on enhancing action and support, as well as identifying new sources for additional finance, is urgently needed on loss and damage, he says, alongside initiatives such as the new InsuResilience Global Partnership launched at the talks this year.
One notable, yet low-profile outcome from the conference this year was the end of a deadlock on agriculture which had lasted for years.
Parties agreed to work over the next few years on a series of issues linking climate change and agriculture. They agreed to streamline two separate technical discussions on this topic into one process.
Countries have now been asked to submit their views on what should be included in the work by 31 March 2018, with options including how to improve soil carbon and fertility, how to assess adaptation and resilience and the creation of better livestock management systems.
I’ve watched the parties deliberate and negotiate over agriculture issues since 2011 and they have been close many times. But this is the first time they have reached consensus about how to work on agriculture. The stakes are very high and I have witnessed the deep divides among the parties on issues that connect agriculture and climate change. As I see it, this decision signals that they have reached a level of trust and common understanding about each others’ views, and that trust and understanding will pave the way for them to work successfully together from here forward.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) welcomed the outcome on agriculture, calling it a “major step” to address the need to adapt agriculture to climate change and meet a growing global demand for food.
Meanwhile, earlier on in the week during the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) discussions at COP23, a skirmish broke out over the best way to account for the warming impact of sources and sinks of greenhouse ages.
However, no clear resolution was reached and the discussion has now been pushed to June 2019. Observers say this is something to watch at future meetings.
A proposal submitted by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and six others asked for a new agenda item to consider a new “gateway”. This would create a UN-sanctioned emissions trading platform designed to “to encourage, measure, report, verify and account for greater ambition from corporate entities, investors, regions, states/provinces, cities and civil society organizations”. But this led to concern among some that this could increase corporate influence over the UN talks.
Similar concerns emerged during the first week at COP23 with a proposal from Ukraine to bring energy corporates closer into the UN climate process by slotting energy multinationals into an “intermediate layer” between the UNFCCC and national governments.
Road ahead in 2018
With the conclusion of COP23, the clock really begins to tick for the major deadlines and events in 2018. With the process for the Talanoa dialogue now essentially agreed, with it taking place throughout next year, there still remains much work to do before the Paris rulebook is agreed upon at COP24 in Poland.
Finally, Brazil has put in an official bid to host COP25 in 2019, which is scheduled to be hosted in Latin America and the Caribbean (Argentina and Jamaica were also said to be in the running). Brazil’s offer was initially “accepted with appreciation”, suggesting it is a frontrunner. However, a last-minute intervention meant it has now been put out to consultation.
Meanwhile, Turkey and Italy have both signalled their interest to host COP26 in 2020 – another key year with the next round of NDCs due to be submitted.
This article was produced by Carbon Brief and shared under a Creative Commons licence