With the intention to upskill #MYD members and the public, this training series was conducted by the Third World Network (TWN) to share their experiences and knowledge on comprehending and translating climate policy language. The session also aimed to educate on international agreement drafting.
Briefly, TWN is a non-profit organisation that tracks climate negotiations and lobbies climate change issues, with an ambition to render climate justice to the developing nations.
It was a sensational Saturday, the 19th of August 2017, at the Sala vegan restaurant in Galeria Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. The trainers for the day were Ms. Chee Yoke Ling, an International Lawyer and director of TWN, and Mr. Indrajit Bose from Delhi, who was part of TWN as well.
The event commenced with first session of Mr. Indrajit delivering the basics in climate science and change (mainly directed towards the rest of the audience). He explained on our organisation in short and spoke on concepts such as climate adaptation and mitigation.
An interesting point for the current day, Indrajit mentioned on the global average Carbon dioxide level to be at 405 ppm, where 400 ppm is considered to be the threshold for reversible damage, beyond which is considered to be ‘Uncharted territory’. He also implied that historical figures of Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would have been stable if not for human interference.
Moving on to Ms. Yoke Ling’s address, she had directly started with the imbalanced consumption of energy and resources in the world and stated the importance of historical emissions. The idea is that industrialised nations of today have accumulated more GHG’s in the past and hence require more efforts from their side to rectify the fastening of the warming.
Having worked in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) and with her incredibly experienced policy negotiations, Yoke Ling felt that science find itself hard to catch up with the reality. Adding on to that, Bose also broached that the science wasn’t strong enough in developing countries and for the developed nations take advantage.
The speakers were critical of the inaction shown by the developed parties, some arguments from them were these countries wouldn’t consider the year 1850’s mark and rather focus on the 2005 emission standard. That ultimately led to less effective climate goals as GHG concentrations were, obviously, higher in the latter year. Yoke Ling informed on the clash of interests, which goes at every climate negotiations. The developed parties seemed dubious to act on mitigation whereas the developing nations were generally void of the capacity to have climate technologies for adaptation.
The second half of the event focused more on UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)and its history, pacts, protocols, agreements including the challenges faced. The Rio Environmental Summit in 1992 was one of the most important meeting and the forum to accept the ongoing problem and take respective action. In the summit, countries were obliged to push towards “self-regulation” and CBDR (Common but Differentiated Responsibilities). CBDR was the first legal instrument for tackling climate change. It’s worth noting that CBDR doesn’t apply on for climate change but to other environmental issues as well.
The emergence of COP (Conference of Parties) arose from this summit and was the supreme decision making body for climate policy. Despite the general criticism faced by the United Nations for being ineffective and unsystematic, Yoke Ling indicated this not to be the case and instead, insisted that the system was well-organised.
The speakers for the day also agree on the notion that recent climate negotiations and agreements deliberately “forgets” the historical emissions, pretty much due to the pressure given by the developing parties. “Protocols” are turning to “agreements” and these agreements are turning voluntary. They also discern that the Paris Agreement dilutes the initial mother convention document from the UNFCCC, where the convention text is unbiased.
If you had paid attention to your English classes back at school, you’d know the importance of modal verbs, or at least, they matter plentiful in climate change negotiations. It was covert but clearly observed during the Paris Agreement that the developed countries had amended all words starting with “shall” to “should”. This meant that these developed countries could exercise a certain degree of freedom in refraining to curtail emissions.
Nevertheless, the issue of Climate Change has gotten global attention with many consecutive negotiations to come up, for persevering with the existing ambitions to relieve the stress on the ecosystem. We as MYD are extremely grateful for the TWN speakers who made the event possible.
By concluding and within this time, one should have unequivocally known that climate change does not only deal with climate change but other factors especially the political, economic, psychological and social aspects remain crucial – the training series was an epitome for this. Climate policy may not be the most ‘catchy’ things to be doing but it sure does make an immense impact, pretty much like catchphrases.
Written by Varunkanth Muralikanth
Malaysian Youth Delegation