The first week of negotiations was marked with national leaders and actors cheering, a draft text,  the launch of a Solar Alliance and a $500million fund for developing countries.


Modi Announces Solar Alliance (Bijli= Electricity) Credits- www.thelotpot.com 

Amidst all the negotiations onsite, cities,  local governments and famous actors met at Paris’ City Hall to discuss climate initiatives during the Climate Summit for Local Leaders on 4-6 December.


Celebrity, meet Mayor-  Celebrities endorse city-based climate action (credits- Getty Images)

Mayors discussed heating cooling, reliance on fossil fuels and released a report on finance at the meeting.

This report on the State of the City Climate Finance, which urges cities to invest in resilient and low-emission infrastructure, put a price on carbon, leverage existing financial institutions and innovate new funding models.

If cities outsource climate action to private actors, they reduce their financial and administrative burdens, but action is often mismatched.

One of the main problems with local action so far was the disconnect between local governments and funding for implementation (largely from non-state actors, particularly businesses). Now that Michael Bloomberg is envoy for cities, and also in the head of the Global Climate Taskforce, which will show companies what they risk to lose with climate change, it will become seemingly easier to match proposed action with funding.



Bloomberg doubles up as special envoy for cities and head of Global Climate Taskforce (Credits- Forbes.com)


The Text

Mentions of subnational action in the text is still in the same context- in the preamble, in recognition of capacity building, adaptation and mitigation, and to promote cooperation. The text uses “local” and “subnational” synonymously and each word appears 11 times in the 5 December text, in the same context. The word “cities” appears only twice, in the section on non-party actors and cooperation; local and subnational governments are also referred to in these clauses. Though the word cities appears only twice in the text, subnational actions in cities are more prominently publicized, and may be the focus of subnational action in collaboration with the UNFCCC.

What remains

The three main challenges to climate action are institutional, financial and capacity building. By piggybacking on local financial institutions as recommended by the State of the City Climate Finance, institutional and financial problems will be greatly reduced. Capacity building is recognized and called for in the Paris text, and cooperation amongst cities laterally, and vertically with nations, regions and international organization will increase capacity building. Now what remains is ironing out how to execute this, and then executing it.

And finally…

It seems that the UN and national governments are becoming more and more receptive to the stance  that…


and finally...
“To change everything, you need everyone.”

(Credits- WWF)

On 8 December, cities and regions will discuss the role of  cities and subnationals at a side event. For a schedule of events on local/ city/ subnational action, follow this link

Duke @ COP21: Day 2

We joined the RINGO (Research and independent NGOs) group meeting in the morning. It is great to meet with students and faculty from different disciplinary from all over the world. Today substantive negotiations really started picking up. While spinoff group meetings are completely closed to observers, we were able to sit in on the contact group overflow rooms as well as plenary rooms to watch the sessions. Jess, who is working for her client International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development at Climate Generation Zone this week, shook hands with French President Hollande! Let’s hear from our crew about their observations and thoughts!

We took the advantage of the free electric vehicle shuttle provided by COP21.  It was a smooth and fun ride!
Kait: I got a late start to day 2 due to my search for a cell phone SIM card, so I missed the first ADP contact group. In the afternoon I sat in on 2 side events; one concerning mitigation in developing countries and one about renewable projects in developing countries. The most interesting part of the day was hearing about all of the amazing projects developed countries are undertaking in developing ones. For example, Finland is paying for clean energy projects in Africa, including an 8 MW solar farm in Rwanda (which is built in the shape of Africa!). Another group ECN has been helping Latin America strengthen its modeling skills so the countries can start helping to inform important policy decisions regarding energy and mitigation.

Join a virtual COP tour with Kait by reading her latest blog post!

Will:  Theo and I listened in on an ADP group tackle several sections of the agreement. Well, the original plan was to tackle several sections, but the delegates got stuck on the very first line. In discussing how the UN would later adopt the Paris agreement, a delegate from Tuvalu asked to insert the phrase “under the context of Article 17,” harkening back to a two-sentence article outlining how countries should notify the UN that their national legislatures have agreed to the yet-unborn Paris agreement.

The United States cautioned that they would need time to consider this move, and Saudi Arabia objected outright. This led to a testy exchange involving Russia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Tuvalu. An hour later, no one was exactly satisfied, and Saudi Arabia moved to bracket the entire section.

The co-chair was visibly annoyed, and delegates made no discernible progress toward an agreement, but watching the personalities and conflicting agendas unfold on this global stage was fascinating. Later in the day I caught a great session about technology transfer and the business community and will follow up with more thoughts from that presentation.

Theo and Will concluded their day 2 by discussing the issues in ADP negotiations on the way back.
Theo and Will concluded their day by discussing the issues in ADP negotiations on the way back.

Theo: ADP, ADP, and more ADP. The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) finally opened its doors to observers yesterday, and my afternoon was largely spent watching the negotiations unfold. The two main topics discussed? 1) Adoption and implementation measures for whatever new agreement emerges next week and 2) the new structure for Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs). It was an eye-opening experience to see just how slow negotiations can move. Consensus is a hard thing to come by, and countries sure did not hesitate to block paragraphs and clauses they disagreed with. Once can only hope the pace picks up this week if the draft text is to be finalized by Saturday. More ADP sessions tomorrow!

Jess: On day 2 I witnessed the grand opening of the climate generations area where there are over 120 stands, 400 conferences, more than 60 film screenings, and several exhibits. Its located right next to the COP21 venue and the highlight of my day was when I was in the right place at the right time and shook hands with French President Francois Hollande when he visited the new site. During the rest of the day I visited the various booths and kept an eye on the progress, or lack thereof, of the negotiations.




INDIA’s INDC- “Working towards Climate Justice”

India’s INDC (Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution) was released just before the 1 October deadline for COP21. This article voices some preliminary observations.

India’s INDC[1] is ambitious and relies largely on external funding. While targeting an increase of 3.5-5 billion tons of tree-based carbon sequestration by 2030, the INDC supports “Make in India” and invites investments for low carbon growth– as the per dollar emissions reduction is greater in India than in developed countries.

With current emissions less GDP-intensive than developed countries historical emissions, India believes in the common but differentiated responsibility but agrees to reduce its emissions sharply, subject to funding. India also speaks of increased vulnerability, loss and damage due to extreme and creeping weather events to livestock, coasts, crops and health- particularly increased malaria and dengue; leaving the door open to negotiate funding at Paris.

India aspires to increase its Human Development Index (HDI) and access to infrastructure while preserving and improving the environment. As “a large forest cover provides huge ecological benefits, but there is also an opportunity cost in terms of area not available for other economic activities and this also serves as an important indicator of fiscal disability”[2], 7.5% of the state’s grant (approx. 7 Billion USD) from the federal tax pool will be based on the forest cover. This incentive to preserve and increase forest cover does not seem to prevent old growth forests from being replaced with younger trees. In fact, the current government is a strong advocate of a compensatory afforestation scheme that does not prohibit this.

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