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 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.

Meeting inspiring youths in COP21 (Part 2) – by Emily

Meeting inspiring youths in COP21 (Part 2) – by Emily

Throughout COP21, I bumped into many amazing youth figures from all around the globe and found their stories really inspiring! Now, sit back, relax, and read their stories that I have personally picked for you all 🙂

jacquiJacqui Fetchet, Australia- Global Voices

This is Jacqui who won a scholarship from Global Voices, Australia to come to COP21. Global Voices is a youth leadership platform to provide Australian youth opportunities to attend local and international policy related forums. Jacqui aims to understand how UNFCCC negotiation systems and processes work, as well as to learn more about climate change and the people working on it around the world.

Prior to COP21, she was researching and studying the draft text of the Paris Agreement and understanding the history of the convention as it has evolved. She is particularly looking at the level of each parties’, or countries’, nationally determined contributions (NDC) and how they may be enforceable, if at all, through the ambition and compliance mechanism in the Paris Agreement. Jacqui is also interested in gender issues in climate change where she strongly believes that women have the capacity to be significant change-makers in addressing climate change challenges.

She shared that in Australia climate politics is complicated and is looking to see how her government will apply the Agreement back home. She is hoping to see the government improve their current NDC to set a higher and more ambitious target, as well as financing more climate change projects and initiatives.  She also reflected that climate change is highly politicised in Australia, where many people, including the youth are aware of some issues but don’t really know what or how to act in response, despite the severe impacts Australia will face. She emphasised the importance of increasing education and communication to the youth and the broader community by focusing on the values and human stories of climate change.

Talking about her COP21 experience, Jacqui thinks that being bold and open minded as well as inquisitive and critical is a useful approach to participating in COP. In response to some of the ideas put forward at COP she said, “sometimes it seems that we have solutions but in fact, we might be creating more problems within the solutions.” She also thought that people need to keep looking beyond the COPs because the UNFCCC is not the universal solution for climate change and action needs to happen on the ground in our own communities.

11899971_912863332105920_249793860394396724_nChris Hsiao, Taiwan- Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition (TWYCC)

Chris from Taiwan started to involved in climate change by joining TWYCC back in 2013. He is keen to join COP21 because that is the highest international decision-making body to combat global climate change issue; and he was hoping to leave an impact  to the negotiation and make this a better agreement. Talking about his goal in COP21, Chris explained that he is particularly interested to understand how business sector is reacting towards climate change and how they involved their distinct stakeholder in this.

In addition, Chris is working on an interviewing project that aims to bring back stories of international youth as a source of inspiration to encourage more actions in Taiwan.

He have shared his new discovery in COP21 on how corporates showed concern on the formation of carbon pricing mechanism as well as their initiative on aggressively persuading their stakeholders to be part of the green commitment- which was not seen in Taiwan.

Also, Chris opinion after attending several actions in COP21 lead him to a realisation that actions is neither a form of protesting nor going against the government or the existing system. He sees this as a call from the people to ask for more solid and fundamental goals and that we all have to approach it by gaining collective ideas from around the world. That is why, actions always emphasized on solidarity.

Chris expressed his view on the Paris Agreement where he thinks this agreement is never expected to save the planet. In fact, it is just a guide. Thus, it is always touched to see how the climate movement is urging people to take action from different levels, because at the end of the day- we have to save ourselves, not by solely relying on the agreement.

lisaLisa McLaren, New Zealand- New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD)

Say Hi to Lisa from New Zealand Youth Delegation! Lisa is a Emergency Management Advisor back home. She had been to COP19 in Warsaw with the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute.

This year, she was chosen as one of the co-convenors of the NZYD to guide and help the current delegates navigate around the COP21. Lisa explained that NZYD is a campaign team where their main goal was to engage people in NZ on climate change through both traditional and social media.

Prior to COP21, they did a nationally centred campaign for 4 months with a focus on asking the government to aim for carbon zero by 2050 as well as to create a plan to do this and develop a cross party working group for these issues to avoid the plans being interrupted by the political cycle. In COP21, NZYD campaigned heavily to get media back home showing the government’s’ misleading stance on climate change.

Lisa highlighted her experience at a side event about Fracking, where she learnt that many of the  farmers were being affected by this form of extraction and it inspired her to learn more. She also valued hearing the first hand voice from the direct victims, like the farmers in this case. Lisa also shared about her biggest achievement in COP21 was NZYD getting New Zealand the first fossil of the day (tied with Belgium) because it managed to grab a lot of media attention and highlighted the government’s fossil fuel production subsidies.

cuifenPui Cuifen, Singapore- Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA)

Cuifen is an environmental scientist with a not-for-profit (DHI) back in Singapore, and does a lot of ground-up community work focusing on earth-focused sustainable living and growing your own food movements. She and her team mates created Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA) just before heading to COP21. The opportunity to attend COP21 came up 2 months before, when Cuifen was contacted by Lastrina who knew she carried out a climate perception survey in July as a ASEAN Power Shift policy delegate.

The COP21 journey was an experiential journey for Cuifen on what is being done at the policy level, and what the countries bring to the table. She followed the negotiations as best as she could, and felt thankful that other more experienced participants, such as Mel Low (from Singapore), were always ready to share their insights. She took the opportunity to reach out to the Singapore negotiators team, and managed to secure half hour of their time to have a honest dialogue with interested Singapore Observers at COP21.

Cuifen followed her passion in choosing side events, and focused on agroecology, protected areas, forests, REDD and indigenous people. She was thankful to see farmers being their own voice for the very first time, and the indigenous people given air time when they have something to say. She also got her team to start #PeopleofCOP21, an idea that came up on the bus after talking to a COP21 technician, who shared how his homeland is already affected by sea level rise.

Cuifen felt that at every stage of COP, there was a very real possibility that an agreement would not be reached. She is proud that her country ministers played a key role in differentiation, which was a sticking factor in the negotiations. Overall, the experience gave Cuifen hope, that no matter what happens, people will come together to make sure we get back on the right track. The only thing is time is not on our side, especially for vulnerable areas that already face impacts in their everyday lives.

_MG_8370Saffran Mihnar, Sri Lanka- Earth Lanka

Meet Saffran, a climate activist from Sri Lanka! He came to COP21 under Earth Lanka, a Sri Lankan environmental NGO that work on both journalism and community projects on local level to raise awareness. On a personal level, Saffran focused on the journalism part where he writes back to share his experience in COP21.

Among the events that he have attended, he was inspired by the collective efforts being done by the countries in Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) as showed in their pavilion event where he witnessed how different island countries are working hard to take measures and to come out with solutions. Saffran explained that more countries should learn from AOSIS on their collective spirit; by giving example of his concern on how Sri Lanka is facing a lot of difficulties especially their position in G77 & China grouping- where big countries were deemed to protect themselves more than the small countries like Sri Lanka which is more vulnerable.

Saffran was proud to mentioned that his article was being published on well known blog which he thinks is his biggest achievement in COP21. Regarding youth participation, he pointed out that the current youth involvement in Sri Lanka has to be improved a lot; and that the government should engage with youth more so that they understand about issues that government is facing. From his organisation level, Earth Lanka is planning to revive the youth parliament which is not functioning well after the new government took over.

Lastly, Saffran shared his own saying to end his interview with-

“Three things you need for the success of your life and to reach higher in the society:

  1. Follow your religion;
  2. The knowledge that you gain every single day; and
  3. Good Friends and Family in your life”

View Part 1 of the interview here

Interview done by: Emily Oi

p.s. I have wrote a tribute to my beloved interviewees too on how I got inspired by them and what I learnt from them. Check it out here!

Meeting inspiring youths in COP21 (Part 1) – by Emily

Meeting inspiring youths in COP21 (Part 1) – by Emily

Throughout COP21, I bumped into many amazing youth from all around the globe and found their stories really inspiring!

emmaEmma Lewins, United Kingdom- United Kingdom Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC)

Emma is currently working for her local council back in the United Kingdom. She joined UKYCC since February 2015 and work under the team that focuses on understanding and following national climate related policies. This COP21 opportunity came at a surprise when there was a last minute vacancy from UKYCC and thus she decided to grab the chance. As Emma didn’t have access to the COP21 Blue Zone, she thus decided to help her teammates who were on the inside (of COP21) to connect with other people out there and be part of the climate movement. For instance, she had recently attended the ‘Red Lines’ protest in Paris where she was so touched and cried (happy tears) because she felt incredible to be with so many different people all united for the same cause!

She shared that this year, UKYCC asked hundreds of young people to complete postcards before they left for Paris to show the negotiators what the youth of the UK were most concerned about climate change. In this initiative, Emma thinks her involvement in getting 30 students to draw postcards was her biggest achievement in COP21. Besides, she also attended talks at the Climate Action Zone, including a great talk from Indigenous Women from around the world; where she found the connection between gender and climate fascinating.

Aside from COP21, Emma explained how climate change affects her country- where flooding is happening more frequently. Unfortunately, the UK government cut a lot of funding for flood defences in the past few years, and not much was seemed being done. Emma also raised the issue of historic responsibility in climate change is explained poorly in the UK. In addition, the local media framed Paris Agreement as a total success which to her, was frustrating. She also believes that UK youth are engaged in climate change, but not in the COP process and that more should be done on this.

received_10153290552373865Renee Juliene M. Karunungan, The Philippines- Dakila

Renee is a communications director and climate campaigner for an organization in the Philippines called Dakila. Dakila is a group of artists and young people that uses creative platforms for its advocacies. Renee also have been writing as a freelance journalist on climate issues and the negotiations in local and international media, feel free to follow her This year, she joined the climate tracker program in COP21 to track the negotiations and to interact with the Philippines national delegation.

She learnt that one can be effective in influencing public and policy by writing; and she was able to write two articles a day- which she think is a milestone for her. With the climate tracker program team, they also managed to do a lot of text analysis and info graphics every time a new text came out.

Renee thinks that the overall youth participation in COP needs to be improved by more engagement in the negotiations than just via actions outside of the negotiations. She also added on that Filipino youths involvement in COP is quite limited. She thinks that more Filipino youths should be engaged and it should be started from the national level. Nevertheless, Renee is proud of her country’s performance in COP21 where The Phillipines led the Climate Vulnerable Forum which pushed for 1.5 degree celcius and fought hard for human rights.

b83279d1-04d9-4c46-81c3-ca93a6beb85cBindu Bhandari, Nepal- CLIMATES

Meet Bindu from Nepal! She is a youth eco- campaigner under CLIMATES and Tunza Eco- generation, specifically working for youth sensitization in climate change. This is her first time in COP21 and she is here to learn about how negotiation works and to understand what exactly an observer does in COP. She have chosen to track negotiations focusing on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Loss and Damage (L&D) which is more applicable to Nepal as an agricultural country.

She pointed out Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries in climate change, where the people depend on rain-fed agriculture system, thus intense drought and unpredictable high rainfall has serious effect in overall economy of the country. Moreover, as Nepal is a land of several high range mountains including highest Mount Everest; glacier melting has become a serious concern. Of all these, she appreciates the Nepal government initiatives by supporting REDD+ and is a member of UN REDD program. This approach aims to empower local communities with funding and capacity building for conserving existing forests and fostering community forests.

Regarding youth participation in Nepal, Bindu explains that although there is an appreciative attitude in participation among the urban youth in Nepal; however, participation is still lacking when it comes to climate change movements in villages and sub-urban areas. Bindu feels that the Nepalese government should include youth in the national delegation so that the youth can feel that they are part of it as well as enhance exposure to really understand the happenings in COP. She also thinks that it is more effective for the youth to engage and lobby their respective national negotiators or ministers compare to meeting up them back in respective countries.

IMG_3693Kristina Yasuda, Japan- Climate Youth Japan (CYJ)

Kristina Yasuda from Climate Youth Japan (CYJ) shared that COP21 was her first COP and she felt very lucky to be here as Japan is very strict on giving out accreditations. As the only representative from CYJ in COP21 for the first week, she fully utilised this opportunity to attend different types of side events, workshops and of course observing the negotiations.

Among the side events, Kristina found the initiatives done by private sectors to combat climate change very inspiring. As an example, there was an event that talked about hundreds of banks from around the world form alliance not to fund companies with high carbon footprint. She also raised her concern on gender equity in climate change where she saw that women are still marginalised. Thus, she hope to see more equal representation of both gender in the future, especially in Japan itself.

Through following the negotiations, she was very surprised to find out at how similar the negotiations actually are as compared to the debates in colleges. It was however a bit saddening to see Japan being not influential enough in the negotiations. She also thinks that youth involvement and participation in Japan is not sufficient which definitely need more work on it- to mobilise the government as well as to engage with universities who provide accreditations.

Kristina thinks that her biggest achievement in COP21 was to be able of positioning herself in an active international youth network. She explained that previously she stopped volunteering in environmental activities due to the lack of activeness in volunteering culture in Japan. However, meeting youth from different parts of world inspired her to return and she thinks COP21 further enhanced her motivation. She was also happy to see how her social updates being recognised and acknowledged by people and she feel that was essential because  not everyone can go to blue zone!

Qin Yuanyuan, China- China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN)


Yuan Yuan is a member of China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN)- COP Youth Delegation. CYCAN have been working on the “low-carbon campus” project back in China for years which conducts carbon accounting investigations on campus and coming up with effective solutions to reduce carbon emission. In COP21, Yuan Yuan aims to stretch out for more people and knowledge relevant to tackling climate change in various fields. She is keen to learn and witness the negotiation process, as well as to interact with people inside COP to understand their concerns’ on this issue.

In COP21, she had the chance to be part of the presenter in a press conference to issue ‘Sino-U.S. Youth Declaration on Climate Change’ with members from Sierra Student Coalition and it was recorded by UN press! Besides that, she managed to attend side events organised by Climate Strike or Climates that were held to unite young people around the world to articulate their concerns and demonstrate their efforts. She found these events were very encouraging and promising.

When it comes to youth participation in COP21, Yuan Yuan had her say on it- she personally believe that the overall youth participation has to be enhanced and enlarged, including youth participation back in China. In COP21, youths don’t get enough discourse rights in the conference, especially in the decision-making area; where she self-experienced it and it struck her hard. She thinks that the current existing platforms such as YOUNGO could be regarded as informational channels, yet still need space for improvement. To mobilise on this, she thinks that joint project is a way to engage more youths and exerting youth power in the process.

**View Part 2 of the interview here 🙂

Interview done by: Emily

p.s. I have wrote a tribute to my beloved interviewees too on how I got inspired by them and what I learnt from them. Check it out here!