Across Latin America, and the world, communities are facing the severe effects of a changing climate. As floods destroy ancestral homes, and droughts threaten livelihoods, the urgency with which world leaders must act is becoming increasingly apparent.
It is in this critical global climate that world leaders will meet this December in Paris for a pivotal meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as COP21. The conference is expected to produce a new global agreement on climate change, which we hope will set the stage for the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient economy.
AIDA’s lead Climate Change attorney Andrea Rodríguez has been monitoring key elements of the ongoing climate negotiations and bringing information and analysis to policy makers and NGOs throughout the Americas.
To prepare you for the barrage of news that will come out of COP21, we’ve asked Rodríguez some questions we thought you’d like to know the answers to:
The meeting in Paris will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of Parties to the global climate change convention, also known as the UNFCCC. World leaders will convene in Paris with the goal of signing a new global agreement on climate change. The primary goal of the agreement will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature increase to 2° C above pre-industrial levels, so we can adapt to the new changes in climate.
Climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions. No matter what governments do, if they don’t work together and take collaborative actions, we are never going to succeed at providing an effective solution. That’s why a global space that coordinates what countries do to tackle the problem is crucial for finding a way forward.
The global treaty on climate change has been established for more than 20 years. What we need from COP21 is further guidance to ensure its effective implementation. If we don’t provide clarity on exactly how we’re going to achieve reduced emissions in a timely manner, we’re putting at risk the future of the planet.
AIDA is following two key components in the development of the new climate accord: climate finance and the protection of human rights in climate related activities.
Climate finance entails providing money for developing countries—which are generally the least responsible for and the most impacted by climate change—to implement climate related actions effectively. COP21 needs to provide clarity on the specifics of that support—when and how will it arrive, and where will the money come from? A baseline of $100 billion per year by 2020 has already been agreed upon. But how do we make sure that goal is reached, and that is continues to grow? And, once resources are distributed, there must be mechanisms in place to ensure those resources are used properly and effectively.
AIDA is pushing governments to incorporate human rights protections into the agreement, because climate change directly affects human rights. We need to create a broad consciousness of the human rights dimensions of climate change. That includes incorporating specific language to ensure the protection of human rights in all climate actions. When governments or institutions are planning climate-focused projects, programs, plans and strategies, they must also think about how those projects will affect people and the realization of their human rights.
Governments of the world need to start looking within. They must do an internal analysis to see what they have, and what they need, to ensure they can strategically implement the agreement. In order for a nation to commit to taking action, it must first make sure it has the institutional capacity and the means to succeed.
The climate agreement is a political commitment, but it will certainly have repercussions at the local level. It will influence national policies. If leaders create an effective agreement, you will see your government shifting to low-emission, climate-resilient development. There will be better local regulations, and you will begin to see policy improvements, and eventually more climate resilient actions taken in your own communities. You will be less vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
You can begin by demanding more of your government. Climate change is a political fight, and your voice can help influence outcomes. Learn what your government wants and what their expectations are—you can start now by familiarizing yourself with their INDC. Then get organized and push your government to take a more proactive stance.
Familiarize yourself with climate finance, follow the negotiations, and help inform others by sharing our work. It is our duty as citizens to hold our governments responsible, and to do our part to protect and defend this beautiful planet as best we can.