My Passion For Climate Change Negotiation Process

My Passion For Climate Change Negotiation Process

The best times are usually unplanned, random and spontaneous!

I would need to agree on this for the time when we (Emily, Jasmine and I) were heading to Singapore to attend a training session organised by Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA). The trip was planned last minute (to be specific, one night before), but the outcome is truly fruitful and #YOLO.

Climate Change never sleep, so do we!

Climate Change never sleep, so do we!

I will start with the #YOLO first. The training session fall on Saturday morning. As all of us need to work on the Friday, we decided it is a good idea to take bus to Singapore during the midnight. Indeed, it is a good idea due to lesser carbon footprint and cheaper … until we reached Singapore.

We missed the bus station we suppose to arrive at and heading straight into the heart of Singapore. Well, this is not that bad after all. At least we get the chance to go sightseeing. Walking around the street of Singapore make me realise that street lights are almost everywhere. I am wondering how much energy did they consume per day just to light up the every corner of the streets. Thanks to the MRT that start operating as early as 5.30 am, we were able to reach our accommodation before sunrise. Not forgetting to mention that we only manage to sleep for 3 hours, thus the YOLO-ness enhanced.

By taking their public transportation, I realised it is much more cheaper if go cashless which roughly can saved up to 30%. In Malaysia, going cashless only saved us a few cents. I think Prasarana Malaysia should learn from them.

This Red Box is totally different with the RED BOX in Malaysia #ifyouknowwhatimean

This Red Box is totally different with the RED BOX in Malaysia #ifyouknowwhatimean

The training session held at Red Box. Red Box is run by Youth Corps Singapore which is part of government initiatives with the objective to provides volunteering opportunities for youths through ad-hoc, regular and project-based service projects.

Two trainers were invited for the training, who are Sandeep Chamling Rai, Senior Advisor, Global Climate and Energy Initiative, WWF and Melissa Low of Energy Studies Institute, NUS.

Still remember I said that the outcome is fruitful and #YOLO at the beginning? This is where the fruitful part comes in.

Mr. Sandeep started the training by giving us an overview of the history timeline of COP from the very first Earth Summit to the infamous COP15 until the recent COP21. He raised his concern on the misconception from both the public as well as the media thinking that Paris Agreement is the first climate agreement. In fact, even before the Paris Agreement, we already has Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding agreement which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.

Sandeep

Sandeep Chamling Rai, Senior Advisor, Global Climate and Energy Initiative, WWF

He then pinpointed the key feature of the Paris Agreement. He also mentioned about the limitation of Paris Agreement i.e no finance figure in the text after 2020. Ultimately, he told us on the expectation on COP22.

To reiterate, Paris Agreement requires all countries to prepare nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to outline the climate action plans and report on progress. Countries must submit updated NDCs every five years and must be more ambitious than previous NDC. As of now, 162 out of 190 countries already submitted their NDC. Based on the current submitted NDC, the temperature would still increase 2.7°C above pre-industrial level. Thus, starting from COP22, huge efforts will be needed to overcome the gap between the ambition of the agreement and the emission reductions pledged by the Countries.

Personally I felt this session is refreshing as he helped me to recall what I had studied since I joined MYD last year.

Melissa session focused on Singapore position and role in UNFCCC process. Albeit the points are not directly related to Malaysia, they are still some good to know facts. Singapore contribute only around 0.11% of global emission while Malaysia contribute approximately 0.6% of global emission (based on NDC).

During her session, one of the audience raised up an interesting point about the global emission contribution. Countries need to submit their national GHG inventories. The GHG data reported by the countries are estimated from direct GHG only. In other words, the data only calculate from point source emission and indirect GHG is not taken into calculation.

Singaporeans have high purchasing power which leads to higher consumerism. Most of the products are imported from other countries like China but the carbon footprint that produced before reaching Singapore are not included in the calculation. One of the solution suggested is to urge the corporates and organisations to adopt and implement Greenhouse Gas Protocol in managing and reporting their GHG emission. 3 different categories of emission (Scope 1,2,3) were established to avoid ‘double-counting’ of emissions, and is also intended to help organizations categorize GHG into those that they control (e.g. Scope 1) versus those that they can influence (e.g. Scope 3). For more info, please click HERE

Melissa Low of Energy Research Institute, NUS

Melissa Low of Energy Research Institute, NUS

When comes to UNFCCC climate conference, the plenary is not just about negotiating the what and how of climate change but instead it is an international battleground for the diplomats. Countries such as Singapore sending out national delegates who are representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affair. Most of the time, the representative from Ministry of Foreign Affair are well trained in communicating with foreign governments and international organisations as well as coordinating and carried out policy. In regardless of this conference, these are also part of their job scope.

Since Paris Agreement had been adopted last year, the major “talking” part consider over. Starting from COP22 onward, the focus will be more on the implementation of the agreement itself. Due to these, the national delegates of Singapore for this coming year will be coming from Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. *geddit?*

Mandatory Climate Sign in front of Marina Bay Sands

Mandatory Climate Sign in front of Marina Bay Sands

In a nutshell, this short getaway rekindles my passion for climate change negotiation process. It’s also really feel great to reconnect with my like-minded friends. Aside from these, it is also a pleasure to meet Miss Lastrina again. She recently won the EcoFriend Award 2016 (Youth and Student Category) for her dedication towards environmental conservation. #proudofher

p/s: I interviewed here right after we get back from COP21. Wanted to know more? Click HERE.

Reflection on Youth Forum in Indonesia Pavilion, COP21

Reflection on Youth Forum in Indonesia Pavilion, COP21

Spot me at Youth Forum in Indonesia Pavilion, COP21

Spot me at Youth Forum in Indonesia Pavilion, COP21

While I was still in Malaysia preparing for COP21, I received a short email from Adrian and Lastrina asking if I am keen to share my climate initiatives and experiences for the coming Youth Forum event organized by Indonesian Pavilion in COP21.

Well, the moment I say “Yes” is the day I am glad I did it.

(more…)

Climate Innovators: Empowering a Global Generation of Young People

Climate Innovators: Empowering a Global Generation of Young People

Young people like me and you. What can we do and how can we be empowered to get ourselves more involved in climate-related initiatives and to bring forth such empowerment to intergenerational scale?

Today, I have decided to attend this dialogue known as “Empowering a Global Generation of Young People”, a side event in COP21.

Side Event at COP21: Empower Global Younger Generation of Young People

Empowering a Global Generation of Young People

 

Highlights from Guy Ryder, a director-general of International Labour Organization

According to Ryder, in today’s world, there are ⅓ unemployment in the world are youth and parts of them lose their jobs due to the impacts of climate change. Yet, the climate impacts of today are not their responsibility but they are the ones bear most of the problems.

So, how can we improve this?

Ryder highlighted if we want to achieve low carbon societies, closing the gap with the skills we have and we need are priority for policy makers. He then maintained governments, employers and workers should come together to find ways to empower and enable the youth to use their spirit of innovation and creativity to produce the responses they need.

“It is imperative for us to look to the future, to empower youth to build areas of education that promotes creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.” said Ryder.

For instance, enterprises are encouraged to provide trainings to young people to become a solar technician and thus to increase skilled forces that promote clean energy. Also, he emphasized the importance of promoting, enhancing and endorsing climate education and trainings to young people as they are the people that need to adapt to uncertainties of climate in the future.

Highlights from Kabiito Denis, an agronomist/farmer in Uganda

Moderator: You are a young farmer yourself. What keeps you farming? A lot of people leaving farming for “greener pastures”

Dennis: In African context, many people leave agriculture because it stems from our family. My mom was a housewife and a poultry farmer. She always tell me to “go get a better job. Farming is tedious. Farming is for uneducated people like us.”

After coming from school as a young agronomist. I have that passion of farming. You can’t give advice to people unless you get your hands here. From doing it now, I can experience, if the season is unpredictable. I can get tailor made solutions because I can interact with nature and connect with the rural communities and bring them into one society all along the agricultural chains. I want to inspire. In most of Africa, we have young people who likes agriculture. It interest people from cities to head back to rural areas. We can help to develop rural areas via climate smart production. If we have good industry in production. We can attract back the youth.

Moderator: What is holding youth back? What would young people to claim that space?

Dennis: They are facing problem and they are not in the decision making process. They can’t move on. Youth have not been involved in other activities where elders are doing and this make them shy away. Making lesser income shy them away. The youth will shy away if income is low. Unless we increase the productivity. Having a decent life and agricultural product in the changing climate will attract youth.

Traditional system and lack of quality education. We are not part of the decision making process which will hinder us to become the agent of the change. We need this part and the system need to include us so we can fully be able to extend our capabilities, skill to get in.

Highlights from Vincent Bryant, Founder of Deepki

Moderator: Vincent, you are in the arena of startups, entrepreneurship, technologies. Can you share with us your opinion on empowering the young people?

Vincent: Let’s imagine you are living in 19th century in USA. You go to Pennsylvania to get decent amount of oil and earn dollars. Some of you will find, some of you would not. Two engineers will let you know where to find the oil based on geological analysis.

Today, story is not about oil but clean energies and “Big Data”. The First ingredient is “Data”. I believe you have all the data to promote energy efficiency.

Second ingredient is Predictive models. We built predictive model to resolve research on how much energy can be saved via a building and imply it to similar buildings. As a student, I am proud of using big data to put constriction of carbon footprint on campus and people. The government are not fast in doing so. Five most consumption measures can be measured from the existing datas.

Today, we have 17 employees (Average age: 29) in this 15 months old company. It is the value you create that is valuable will attracts the youth today. You create value to improve their comfort and save their expenses. It is easier to spread the word to other organization. I spend a lot of time meeting young people who has desire to work on meaningful topic. Not to work for regular industry who does not understand where the money go. If there is a desires, it is powerful to change people’s behavior and speed up the energy transition.

Highlights from Rogie Nichole Aquino, Sole4Souls Philippines

On the other hand, Rogie Nichole Aquino, a 20 years old youth from The Philippines is one of the youth who managed to put words into action. Rogie believes in taking action NOW than later. He made a recommendation in UNESCO to initiate his own projects (e.g. Sole4Souls initiative) in his home country as he hopes to inspire his fellow Filipinos.

Moderator: As a youth, What drives you to take action?

Rogie: Guilt. Youths are reckless. We do not know the affects that we do until the result is in front of us. Then, we will think “why didn’t I pursue this path?” After the guilt stage, I feel motivated to take the action as we need to start now. If not now, when? We all are the agent of change. We all have this responsibilities to make this happen.

Hence, we need to be Open-Minded: Do not stick to what we have done before. We need to be innovative, unity, work with all stakeholders and not to be stuck in the old way like how Governments in The Philippines – where they are stuck with their old political system with big main ideas that disregard others. We also need to stay committed in what we do. We all have the responsibility. We should all act now.

Closing of the event:-

The closing of this event is the most inspiring one when Veteran Negotiator – Former Minister at Republic of Congo arrived later to share his opinion on empowering young people.

H.E. Henri Djombo, Republic of Congo:

“Age does not define the keen sense of responsibility. Some kids mature later. You have old people stay young in their mind. Notions of young and old are subtle. This is the result of their education. They will always committed to causes. Educate the young. We have to support and empower them. It is not about the environment but also education. Give  them the tools they need.”

Written by: Jolene Journe T.

A Skype session with Leonardo da Vinci High School, Potsdam, Germany

A Skype session with Leonardo da Vinci High School, Potsdam, Germany

German

Students from Leonardo da Vinci High School, Potsdam, Germany.

We “scuttle” our way to YOUNGO room to have a skype session with a group of high school youths from Germany!

I panicked and became anxious as I stared at my brightly lit laptop screen. I did not know what to share. Thoughts that were running in my head.

My experiences at COP21? I think everything happened in the blink of an eye. My first week was somewhat confusing owing to many negotiations and side events were occurring concurrently, there were just too many things to focus on at one time. I was excited but was quickly drained out as well.

Nonetheless, I am glad that we were able to have a quick conversation with the high school youths. They inspired me with their enthusiasm and curiosity; a strong desire to learn something. For me, it is the curious mind that inspires humanity; to transcribe dreams into reality. With curious mind, born the vision to build sustainable dreams on this ever so realistic earth.

Sharing some of my COP21 experiences here:-

  • COP21 – encompasses of UN team, negotiators, civil society organizations and youth! Youth are the catalyst. They are the one that can help to fill the gap and build a network that connects and holds stakeholders together. These actions can be direct, i.e. MYD member recent participation in giving interventions on behalf of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) during SBSTA Closing Plenary or subtle i.e. MYD members direct engagement with some of our Malaysian negotiators throughout the whole COP21. Throughout the COP21, MYD has organized several impromptu meetups with our negotiators and Malaysian CSOs to strengthen the bond and to understand the UNFCCC process.
  • Climate mobilizations do make an impact! At COP21, YOUNGO is an official youth constituency under UNFCCC. Youth from various organizations including MYD members are given the opportunity to participate their daily meetings and action working groups to coordinate mobilizations actions in COP21. Thanks to their consistent lobbies along with other CSOs in COP21, strong scientific evidences and pressures from the vulnerable countries throughout negotiation processes; the world manage to set new REAL temperature targets in the latest adopted Paris Agreement – to limit the global warming by 2 degree Celsius and aiming for 1.5 degree Celsius.
  • Active Climate Actions all year round! If you want to make a change, it requires persistence. You need to keep pursuing what you believe with sensibility. Every great work sparks from your own desire to explore. Then, your choices to search for like-minded people or projects within your community

MYD team was formed in June 2015 and we were given 6 months of preparatory journey to COP21. Throughout the 6 months, MYD has successfully organized a training series with various experts from various backgrounds (e.g. climate scientists, Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, climate journalists, CSOs, policymakers, etc) at Malaysia. We also proudly produced and submitted our Youth Statement on Climate Change towards COP21 to our Prime Minister. As a team, we are able to establish our presence at local, regional and international climate events such as Power Shift Malaysia, Asean Power Shift at Singapore and Conference of Youth (COY11) at Paris.

These are just several experiences we have thus far. For post-COP21, MYD members are ready to engage and share their COP21 experiences with their people back home in hope to educate the public and raise another team of youth to understand climate science and policy as well as the infamous UNFCCC process.

In my opinion, effective teamwork and continuous engagement with all stakeholders intergenerationally are essential in order to make bigger impacts on combating climate change.

Hence, thank you students of Leonardo da Vinci High School for giving us this opportunity to share our experiences with you via Skype and vice versa. I hope we can hear more from our readers too! If you have any climate initiatives’ experiences / collaborations you want to share with us. Email to us powershiftmsia@gmail.com and we are happy to engage!

Written by: Jolene Journe Tan.

Developed vs Developing Countries on CBDR

Developed vs Developing Countries on CBDR

Prof. Gurdial on CBDR

Prof. Gurdial on CBDR

Prof. Gurdial, Malaysian negotiator spoke on behalf of Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs), has grabbed attention and applause for defending the rights of developing countries (mainly CBDR-RC). In 1992, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) establishes a principled basis for differential treatment of countries in the global climate regime with its core principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (CBDR-RC). The UNFCCC explicitly notes, immediately following its statement of the CBDR-RC principle, that “Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.”

LMDCs emphasized on the importance of having developed countries to fulfil their obligations, historical responsibilities, and accept countries’ differentiation and equity in global climate regime.

“On behalf of LMDC, we know you will not be persuaded by our speech. World changed, but historical emission does not change. Developed countries become prosperous because of historical carbon burning. The division of rich and poor has not change. Half of the world population are represented by LMDCs. Two-third of poverty is also our situation. We need convention that impose these realities. Acknowledge historical realities and differentiation” – Prof. Gurdial

The world has always been changing but developed countries have failed to fulfil the obligations imposed themselves especially in reference to Kyoto Protocol and contributions to Green Climate Fund that has been agreed to jointly mobilize USD 100 billion per year by 2020.  As of November 2015, the Green Climate Fund has only successfully raised USD 10.2 billion equivalent in pledges from 38 countries.

Part 2: Post-COP21 Reflection on CBDR-RC

After the two weeks of intense negotiations and strong advocacy from various party groups like LMDCs, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), G77 and China, African Groups, Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) and other vulnerable and developing countries; the adopted Paris Agreement has showed the inclusion of CBDR-RC in finance and capacity building.

For instance,

Article 9.1 states developed country Parties “shall” provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.

Article 9.2 Other Parties are “encouraged” to provide or continue to provide such support “voluntarily.”

Article 13.9 Developed country Parties “shall”, and other Parties that provide support “should”, provide information on financial, technology transfer and capacity-building support provided to developing country Parties under Article 9, 10 and 11.

However when it comes to “mitigation”, CBDR-RC is not clearly defined.

Article 4.4 Developed country Parties “should” continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets. Developing country Parties should” continue enhancing their mitigation efforts, and are encouraged to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances.

It seems like rich and developed countries are not obligated to be responsible for economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets and there are no mentions in the text on responsibility of “historical emissions” or to “Annex I and non-Annex countries” – which is quite a victory for them as they insist everyone should be responsible on combating climate change. However, these issues I believe will be resurface again probably when the agreement take its effect in 2020.

Nonetheless, there is victory for developing countries as well in successfully maintaining CBDR-RC in some areas of the agreement such as finance and capacity building but not mitigation.

Written by: Jolene Journe T.