“Climate change is… hot” – An interview with Prattana Meesincharoen

“Climate change is… hot” – An interview with Prattana Meesincharoen

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Prattana. I work for the International Forestry Cooperation Office under the RFD (Royal Forest Department), under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. I have worked for the government for 21 years, but previously I was involved with the royal forestry department and I have dealt with climate change for exactly 5 years.

Prattana Meesincharoen at the United Nations ESCAP, Bangkok

What is your role here in Bangkok?

I follow topics on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries), but unfortunately here in Bangkok they don’t negotiate, it is not in the agenda. Therefore, I follow other topics like article 6 under Paris Agreement, non-market mechanism, something like that. I chose article 6 because we don’t know whether or not there will be a concrete idea. Non-market can be a mechanism for REDD+, therefore I am tracking it here in Bangkok.

What made you get involved with climate change?

I think that climate change is an interesting topic and it is very important for the place and time. It affects my daily life and also from my work, the forest sector, it is important to solve climate change. In Bangkok now, we have many episodes of heavy rains, and I think that it has never happened before. Also, there are more flood events in Thailand and also our neighbour countries like Laos and Myanmar. It is all due to heavy rains.

How will you explain climate change to someone who doesn’t understand it?

It’s hot (laughs). I think that for the general people, maybe it is difficult to think about what climate change is. The first thing they think is that it is hot, but it’s way more than that. If you follow the conferences (UNFCCC) or if you read a lot, it will make you understand more about climate change, understand what is it and how it will affect our daily lives.

What is the one thing that you would want people to know about climate change?

Climate change is caused by everyone. Everyone has the responsibility to solve it. I think that everyone here know what climate change is, and everyone come from a different sector, so they have their own policy and their own ways to solve climate problems.

Edited by Kitty

On the technology framework – will it be useful?

On the technology framework – will it be useful?

About the technology framework

Article 10, paragraph 4 of the Paris Agreement has established a technology framework to provide an overarching guidance to the work of the current Technology Mechanism.  The principles of this framework, which includes coherence, inclusiveness, result-oriented approach, transformational approach and transparency will provide guidance on the promotion and facilitation of technology development and transfer. This supports the implementation of the Paris Agreement, in the pursuit of its long-term vision of improving resilience to climate change as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Purpose of the technology framework

So will the technology framework help the Technology Mechanism? What do Parties think of the framework? Here in Bangkok, I attended informal consultations regarding technology framework as well as the Technology Mechanism to find the answers.

Informal consultations in SB48-2

The informal consultations, aka negotiations on technology development and transfer were discussed in two of the subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC, which are the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). In SB48-2, SBSTA covers matters regarding the technology framework (Agenda 5), while SBI covers matters regarding the Technology Mechanism (Agenda 14a).

In means to guide the flow of the negotiations, Parties were asked to comment on the following questions regarding the framework:-

  1. Is the technology framework a guidance for Technology Mechanism?
  2. Is the guidance clear enough? Does it align with the principles of the technology framework?
  3. Is the guidance in coherence with the provisions in the technology framework? Does it repeat or overlap with other provisions?

During the first informal consultations, one Party specifically commented that tremendous progress have been made since the last meeting in Bonn, and hopes that this session in Bangkok will be as efficient as before. But has it? Well, sort of.

What do Parties think of the Technology framework?

Generally, parties had shown their positive views towards the framework. Nevertheless, the framework itself have much room left for improvement, in terms of the small scope of the entire framework, taking into account the fact that this framework is supposed to guide the already existing Technology Mechanism.

One of the major issues that was brought up during the informal consultations by developing countries was that developing countries lack financial resources for the technology framework. Although developing country Parties have all agreed that more financial resources should come from developed countries, developed country Parties did not align themselves with the idea. “I will lose my job if I align my country with said proposal.” However, without compromising, the technology framework may not be able to meet its principles of being inclusive. Another issue that has been brought up by Parties were that the structure of the framework itself does not contain elements that specifies the guidance from the framework to the Technology Mechanism.

With some of the Parties browsing through Facebook and some of the observers snoring beside me, I wonder if the sessions of informal consultation for technology development and transfer are held important at all. From my point of view, at this stage of negotiations, the technology framework may not reach its full potential in facilitating the Technology Mechanism. It is, unless developed and developing country Parties cooperate and compromise in Katowice, the framework will just be rendered pointless. Also, considering the fact the scope of the technology framework is covers only this much, will the technology framework actually complement the existing Technology Mechanism and help in improving it? We’ll know very soon.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Jasmin

I gave an intervention on behalf of YOUNGO

I gave an intervention on behalf of YOUNGO

It all started when someone mentioned the word ‘intervention’ during our internal meeting with Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) prior to coming to Bangkok. “I want to do it” I thought to myself. All I have to do is help out with the draft text, that’s easy. That wasn’t quite the case, however.

It was a night before the closing plenary of SB48-2 when we all met up in the theatre room to draft the intervention for the children and youth constituency at the UNFCCC, YOUNGO. Everyone had their heads focused on their respective laptops and so did I. Based on what I had learnt from negotiations and working group meetings, I wrote about technology development and transfer and talked about how Parties should improve, in terms of the technology framework as well as the Technology Mechanism.

Halfway through drafting the text, the topic of who should deliver the intervention was brought up, and the only ones who had not given an intervention or delivered a speech from MYD was Nacha, Syahirah, Daniel and myself. We were told to settle this amongst ourselves and sort things out before the intervention the next day.

On the day of the closing plenary itself, I was busy editing the draft text as we were only given two minutes for the intervention, and the text was way more than a page in length. The finalised text for YOUNGO’s intervention covered topics regarding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report, article 6 of the Paris Agreement, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) registries and human rights.

Towards the end of the day, we decided that we will have someone draw lots to decide who should deliver the intervention. Daniel said that he wasn’t going to do it and gave the three of us the chance, so we wrote our names on pieces of scrap papers and asked someone to pick one. Mike did the honour and unfolded a piece of paper. It was my name, I get to deliver the intervention. My heart skipped a beat.

Minutes after, I was asking myself the same questions over and over again “Do I really want to do this? What if I stutter and screw up? Am I sure that I will be able to do this?” I had less than an hour to prepare for the intervention. Having rehearsed outside of the hall, I walked in, towards the seat allocated for YOUNGO. I convinced myself that I will do alright. And with all the support from MYD members, I was reassured, and I delivered the intervention.

Credits to Jasmin
Not to forget, the support from MYD team

So, was it as easy as I thought it would be? Yes, and no. The toughest part was preparing the text and getting myself ready for the intervention. With so many people contributing to the text, constant edits were being made, even within ten minutes before the intervention was to be delivered. Prior to delivering the intervention, I had to convince myself multiple times, that I would do alright. It was easy delivering the intervention, because it felt like giving a speech with notes provided. YOUNGO’s intervention marked the end of all the interventions for the closing ceremony, so that also marked the end of our journey in Bangkok. Was I happy? Definitely.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Syahirah Aron

#RiseForClimate

#RiseForClimate

The Earth’s climate has changed, and global warming has been affecting the lives of millions. In the case of the people in Thailand, it is the livelihoods of the fishermen and the coastal communities that are being threatened by climate change. Local communities have also suffered from episodes of heavy rain, which has caused unwanted flood events.

Crowd demonstrating outside of the UN building
Picture by Kiara Worth

On the 8th of September, people from all around the world took part in the Rise For Climate march held in their respective countries. Here in Bangkok, I witnessed the very first climate action in my life and had the privilege to take part in it. On my way to the United Nations building, demonstrators were seen crouching by the walkway, turning plain white sheets of paper into meaningful banners.

The banners and flags were held high by demonstrators from all over the world, demanding their respective governments to end the use of fossil fuels and transition to using clean energy, in which a Japanese demonstrator has called out “Heavy rain and typhoons had just happened a few days ago, and I can’t possibly go back to Japan because the airport is broken. We need a fossil-free society that will stop air pollution and catastrophic climate change.”

“In Bangkok now, we have many episodes of heavy rain, and it has never happened before. Even with our neighbouring countries, we can see floods due to heavy rains” a Thai lady said.

A fisherman demonstrating for #riseforclimate 

Along with crowds that were clutching onto banners, the people of Thailand had laid out coals on the road to demand for clean energy, while farmers presented their yield to demand for climate justice.

Holding on to her produce, a young fisherwoman explained “Climate change has increased soil salinity, and the farmers’ crop yield have been affected by it. We are also affected by climate change, there are often no fishes, and the prices of fishes have increased, burdening the local people.”

“Everything that has been done is all for the future. Who is there to inherit the future but us youth? We need people inside and outside the UN to make sure they fight for a future where all of us are equal” youth representative calls.

Whilst demonstrating outside of the UN building, it got me thinking, that while demonstrators were standing out under the scorching sun to demand for climate justice, negotiators were sitting in air-conditioned and comfy conference rooms, discussing on the grammatical errors on documents. Will the text on the Paris Agreement help at all? Maybe (not). At the end of the day, it is the action that counts.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Syahirah Aron

Getting the hang of SB48-2

Getting the hang of SB48-2

I left Malaysia to Bangkok without knowing what to expect. Prior to coming for this session here in Bangkok, I had zero idea on what negotiations in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would look like.  Sure, I had read pages upon pages of articles about the UNFCCC negotiation process as a whole and also topics discussed here in the UNFCCC, but that did not give me enough insights on how negotiations work.

Amongst all the topics discussed in the UNFCCC, technology development and transfer had interest me the most, and hence I have been following closely on negotiations regarding technology throughout my attendance here in SB48-2. Why technology? Why not other fancy topics like finance or adaptation and mitigation? Well, I don’t know. Something about the word ‘technology’ caught my eye when I was skimming through an article, and therefore I dived straight into reading articles and documents related to technology development and transfer.

During the strategy meeting with Climate Action Network (CAN) held just a day before the official opening of SB48-2, I finally made up my mind to join the CAN working group on technology. I had no idea what working groups in CAN are for. Based on my understanding, working groups are just teams that were formed within an organisation to work on particular matters. Nonetheless, it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be.

On the first meeting for the CAN technology working group, I introduced myself as a youth delegate of Malaysia and had specifically told everyone about how I am new to the entire process of UNFCCC. They too, introduced themselves and had made me feel welcome before getting to work. However, just minutes into the discussion, I found myself lost. I swear that I had read many articles about technology development and transfer, but whatever they were discussing about was alien to me.

SBI informal consultations on Technology Mechanism
Picture by Kiara Worth

Negotiations too, wasn’t how I had expected them to be. During the first three days, I went to all informal consultations related to technology development and transfer, expecting them to be interesting to observe. I did not see the point as to why a bunch of adults from all over the world huddle annually just to give comments on a document. But as usual, I took notes of everything (which I know that I will never read), from major changes of inclusion of new paragraphs to minor punctuation changes. I found the negotiations boring – it felt just like sitting in a lecture hall with a boring lecturer (or worse).

On the fourth day of negotiations however, it suddenly struck me that negotiations aren’t just about editing a long document. While I was taking notes during one of the informal consultations,  I started to think everything through, and I realised that Parties were all editing the text not just because they were unhappy about how a sentence was phrased, but rather how the words would put unwanted commitments on their respective countries.

Daily ECO news article by CAN

Also, everything that the members of the working group had discussed earlier started to make sense, and I now understand that working groups in CAN exist so that members of the group can discuss and analyse decisions that were made in negotiations. In every meeting for the working group, we decide if CAN’s position is aligned with the negotiation outcome. Our stance regarding issues related to technology development and transfer will then be published on ECO, the daily newsletter operated by CAN at the UNFCCC. This ensures that our position is heard by the general public as well as negotiators of SB48-2.

Aside from observing negotiations and contributing to my working group, my days in Bangkok were filled with networking. No, I did not walk up to random people outside negotiation rooms just to network (unlike most of the people). I networked because looking for an empty table in the UN building was almost impossible. Albeit being forced into conversing with people,  I have definitely enjoyed it as it allows me to understand the ordinary lives of people and listen to their stories.

Sure, it may be intimidating at times, but I definitely do not regret my decision of coming to Bangkok.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Jasmin Irisha

How I felt dumber at the CAN strategy session

How I felt dumber at the CAN strategy session

CAN strategy session at ibis Styles Khaosan Viengtai

It was two minutes to one when Syahirah and I rushed into Ibis hotel in the middle of Khao San Road. The setting of this session was rather daunting, as I didn’t expect it to be held in a ballroom (albeit a mini one). As the participants of the CAN strategy session finally settled down, Lina, the Head of Political Advocacy of CAN set the ball rolling by welcoming the participants. She then shared the State of Play of SB48 in Bangkok after a short round of introductions, highlighting the fact that with only 6 negotiating days, negotiations needed to be conducted in a timely fashion.

The session went on with discussions of the key elements and scenarios for COP24, which made me even more intimidated than I already was. There were times where I got lost completely and caught myself staring blankly at the projector, not knowing what was being discussed. I was surprised that I managed to answer a few of the pop quiz questions and actually understood the context of the quiz on CAN’s positions around the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement. I guess reading random articles did help a little?

Following a much-needed break, the session resumed with presentations on finance, NDCs as well as resilience and equity given by the coordinators of the respective working groups, followed by short stretches of discussions and intelligence sharing from the floor after each presentation. If you did not understand what the previous sentence is about, fret not, because I don’t too.

What captivated me the most was the presentation given by Harjeet Singh, a strong advocate of disaster resilience and Loss & Damage. After a long afternoon of rather dry presentations, Harjeet put forward his thoughts on how disaster resilience were not being communicated effectively. He stressed that clear actions needed to be taken in negotiations, for there still isn’t any standing agenda item on Loss & Damage at COP. He had also mentioned that it is necessary to put forward the fact that developing countries are not downright responsible for the crisis faced.


“The Paris Agreement is about people and planet, not solar panels”

Harjeet

Harjeet had also fired up a heated discussion when the status of countries in delivering their NDCs were presented in a colour code ranging from green to red, with India being the only country with a red status. He demanded explanation on the criteria used to evaluate each and every country’s status, and insisted on his stance even when other CAN members provided their thoughts on the colour coding system. Although the discussion went on for almost twenty minutes, I did not lose track and was left in awe. I wanted to be like Harjeet, to be able to speak up whenever I want to.

The six-hour session concluded with Andreas and Andres briefing us about the plans CAN had for the entire week, and it left myself feeling more intimidated than I already was.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Abirami Baskaran