Sunrise/ Sunset: 7:04 am / 4:12 pm
Foo Song: My Hero (my kids are my heroes, and the negotiators in Paris pulled off a great feat today)
Success in Paris (more on that below). Success at home. Kids’ wrapped up another season of singing. Caro and I took a rare walk together in unseasonably warm weather, hand in hand, to head home and take Nira for a walk, genuinely enjoying JP. Another reason this dog thing is working out for us so well 🙂 After playing jacketless in the church playground next to the winter concert, we drove over to JP center and chowed down on Dunkin Donuts (Mateo’s favorite) and then at JP’s Purple Cactus ($150 per month there?) Need a single line item in our family budget – if we really used one!! – for that restaurant alone…
Regarding Paris and global climate change, I’m stealing something I wrote (draft form) for EcoLogic a few days after Dec 12 (the wonders of back-dating a blog post ;). Here it is (plus photos of beers I drank tonight, related to the Audacity of Hope, which I think is related to political courage on climate):
At the end of another year that went by much too fast, EcoLogic reflects here on the recent Paris agreement for climate change action at 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)— more commonly known by its abbreviation, COP21. Our aim in this post is to provide a bit of background and overview of our own experience in Paris and dish up a curated list of what we see as some of the best articles, blog posts, and op-ed’s that have been published in the couple of weeks since the agreement was reached. Undoubtedly we have missed many, and we would love your suggestions and comments on this post. No matter what, we end the year on a hopeful note and wish you happy end-of-2015 reading. We hope this motivates you to commit to a greener 2016 and provokes some critical thinking and/or new ideas about how we may all take action to solve the interrelated challenges facing us in the years to come.
The setting of COP21 itself was historic, coming on the heels of horrific terrorist acts just weeks before. We were fortunate to be there, with staff member Dave Kramer and Board members Robin Chazdon and Lance Pierce in attendance. The energy of the many events and campaigns was palpable, bringing color to the gray fall, illuminating the City of Light. It was a Paris that seemed full of people focused on the potential and need for change. During our brief time in Paris, we attended the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), COP21’s largest officially sanctioned side event. And Dave spent his final day at two inspiring events: a working group meeting for the Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature Initiative (LPFN) and the UNDP Equator Prize Awards Ceremony in a historic theater in downtown Paris, a few days before the final Paris climate agreement was signed.
After twenty previous COPs, forests emerged victorious. In the past, forests were given short shrift. Earlier negotiators couldn’t even see the trees, much less the whole forest. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol notoriously left out forests from the mix, and the struggle to figure out REDD+ and other mechanisms was never backed up by the weight of an international agreement. At the GLF, there was a sense of optimism, with many of the speakers and attendees noting how much the tide had shifted over just the past few years (this was GLF3) and how much more cross-sector integration has become the norm, where efforts like that of the LPFN are a driving force for change. For example, agriculture and forestry are considered more closely linked and interdependent than ever before. Frances Seymour tossed out this statistic to fire up the crowd (as much as it’s possible to fire up a crowded room of jet-lagged conference goers!): “If deforestation were a country, it would rank third amongst all nations in carbon emissions.” So, it’s always seemed ludicrous not to include forests and land use in climate change agreements. The importance of restoration, not just preservation of land, was, as we say in Boston, wicked clear to everyone. And it’s true that, to solve the wicked problem of climate change, we need to restore massive areas of degraded land – absorbing (sinking) carbon emissions, reconnecting forests, and rehabilitating nature’s own capacity to provide services we depend on, such as water. We’re particularly proud of the role that Central America played at COP21. Various Central American nations joined forces with the Small Island States to push for more stringent temperature increase targets (1.5 degrees C instead of 2 degrees C) deemed vital for countries most vulnerable to climate change-related events. And one Central American nation, Panama (the homeland of EcoLogic’s Director), led the Coalition of Rainforest Nations. The Coalition came into the negotiations with a bold strategy to pepper the text with references to forests and worked feverishly to keep forests and land use in the final, binding text.
However, we share one major concern that many have voiced, and one criticism that many have lobbied at the Coalition of Rainforest Nations. Land tenure and indigenous peoples’ rights were highlighted at the GLF and fiercely defended at the Equator Prize ceremony. Because the Paris Agreement includes a strong focus on forest conservation and restoration, it’s possible, even likely, that countries will respond to international pressure and commitments to lower their carbon footprint at much too high a cost to indigenous peoples. As one article below points out, scientists estimate that 20% of tropical forest carbon is stored on indigenous land. This is land that, despite being the historical home of its people often has no formal land tenure in the eyes of the relevant national government. With no safeguards built into the binding sections of the Paris Agreement text (only mentioned in the non-binding preamble) it’s now up to groups like EcoLogic’s local partners to find ways to advocate for themselves and fend off land grabs and other ill-advised uses of their land that don’t properly consult and consider the needs, interests, and rights to self-determination of local communities and indigenous peoples. While we feel disappointed about this shortcoming of the Paris Agreement, we’re counting on efforts underway from groups like the Rights and Resources Initiative to protect land rights through mechanisms like the International Land Tenure Facility, announced at COP21.
More than anything, we are still hopeful overall, as a blog post listed below makes the case, that Paris is just the beginning of an awakening in which we all, as global citizens learn to act with our collective interests in mind. Perhaps that’s too much too ask, but one thing we know for sure is that we are inspired by the dozens, if not hundreds, of fantastic organizations studying and writing about the “what next?” post-Paris landscape (and landscapes!). Together, we can all inform one another, debate constructively, and keep applying the necessary pressure to make even the most aspirational language of the Paris Agreement a reality in the years to come. We’re all going to need to do our best to stop climate change in its tracks while helping one another adapt to the challenges and changes inherent in the warmer planet we’ve already created. Not to despair in paralysis but to rally in conviction that yes we can. So, on that note, we leave you with the following list of links to articles to dig into:
General posts about COP21 Paris Agreement:
Forests and Landscapes:
Rights and Indigenous Land:
Central America in the Hurricane’s Eye of Climate Change:
Next steps post-Paris:
A Tipping Point for Humanity? https://medium.com/local-voices-global-change/a-tipping-point-for-humanity-32aa784323ca#.r5hoxn1ig
At Packard Fdn, look her up on GLF website to get official title. She moderated the session with GFW called “Pixel Perfection,” if that helps find her … Please also double check this by watching first few minutes of this (to make sure I attributed the quote correctly, now can’t recall whether it was WRI/GFW presenter or the moderator (Frances Seymour): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhmJPQmur-g “Pixel perfection for carbon detection: How technologies and communities can curb global emissions from land-use change” http://www.landscapes.org/glf-2015/agenda-item/2015-glf-day-2-sunday-6-december-2/thematic-high-level-sessions/thematic-high-level-the-role-of-independent-monitoring-tools-in-tracking-progress-towards-international-climate-and-development-goals-wri-2/