Climate Change Conference events
Summarised from a report by Monica Maghami
Based on her virtual participation
30 November – 12 December 2023
Monica Maghami offered to follow COP28 at a distance and report what she learned to the Bahá’í International Community and the International Environment Forum. The following captures the highlights of her report.
Governing Our Planetary Emergency
In anticipation of COP28, the Climate Governance Commission launched its report “Governing Our Planetary Emergency” on 28 November.
At the heart of the report are proposals for international governance innovations. This includes a "Top 10" list of working proposals that could be implemented immediately:
1. Urgent improvement of climate COPs to focus on Delivery, Action, and Accountability.
2. Declaration of Planetary Emergency, Planetary Emergency Platform, and Broadening International Security.
3. Responsible action of powerful actors: “Servant Leadership”.
4. Enhance international scientific capacity for earth system governance.
5. Elevate environmental governance within the multilateral system and strengthen accountability for international obligations.
6. Implement near-term international economic and financial measures.
7. Augment innovative international law, international legal institutions, and citizen participation in global governance.
8. Connect trade and international investment law with climate and broader ecological priorities.
9. Facilitate business as a force for good through effective multistakeholder commitment.
10. Boost “Next-Generation” city and regional alliances.
These are followed by five next-generation working proposals to build out planetary governance over the next 5-10 years:
1. Establish a Global Environment Agency (GEA).
2. Establish an International Court for the Environment (ICE).
3. Adapt environmental law to the Anthropocene.
4. Reform Bretton Woods institutions and enhance multilateral development bank/ national development agency collaboration.
5. Launch other key medium-term international institutional reforms.
30 November – Day 1
At the Opening Ceremony on 30 November, the President of the COP, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, announced the opportunity for state and non-state actors to scale up action to deliver on the Paris Agreement. As made clear by the IPCC, the “choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts for thousands of years.”
Informal conversations had already taken place amongst states on Day 1 which resulted in the operationalisation of the loss and damage fund, emphasis on the Global Stocktake and a window of opportunity with political outcomes expected in the areas of: I) fossil fuels, ii) role of nature, climate and biodiversity, and iii) clearer Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for each country including but not limited to: human rights, finance and youth.
The conference promised to close the historical gaps of insufficient tangible actions between the NDCs and what is actually being delivered through current policies to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Mounting impacts of climate change through floods and droughts, hurricanes, and heatwaves have been causing devastating effects on human and biodiversity lives and economies globally. Expectation was set that to transition to economies that are net zero and climate resilient, strong public and private sector collaboration, requirements and support are needed.
30 November – Day 1
Talanoa Interfaith Gathering COP28
Faith groups held a Talanoa Interfaith Gathering COP28 with a panel partly in person and partly virtual, composed of individuals from different faiths from Quakers to Christians. The panel followed the creation of the Talanoa Interfaith gathering from COP26, hosted in Glasgow.
The panel addressed topics such as:
-Concept of Global Stocktake in the view of faiths;
-Pre-2023 commitments which are required to be honoured;
-Technical dialogue with youth, by utilising human-rights based approaches;
-Profit and power to be shifted away from the centre towards sustainable finance;
-Debt reduction of poorer countries;
-Shift from wars to larger contributions to the loss and damage fund; and
-Breach of human rights leading to rationally unfounded imprisonment and killing of those that are protecting the well-being of the planet.
Rights of the Indigenous people
Although the Baha’i Faith was not represented in the panel of faiths, one of the virtual break-out rooms was facilitated by a Baha’i from Glasgow, Maureen Sier, Director of Interfaith Scotland (who was also part of the same Talanoa Interfaith Gathering at COP26), and included Monica Maghami.
Beth Blissman, who was representing the Committee for Religious Head Groups, based in NY, knew Dan Perell and was joyful to note the participation of some Baha’is in that breakout room. At least two questions were raised:
1) Where are we now on the rights of the indigenous populations?
Populations are unaware of the contents discussed at COPs, in general, and barely participate in the discourse of climate change. Indigenous people are visible in negotiations, but as noted in COP27, they were not being heard and their voices were not taken into account. Where else can their voices be heard?
Humanity is living at a moment where the climate justice movement has yet to take shape and form. Concrete progress has been noted from the UNFCCC: parties have been able to apply indigenous policies to different NDC funds; there is more policy cohesion in the UN Declaration; indigenous people’s participation has increased in the last 3 years, in relation to the UN, including protection of their rights. There have been incremental changes from art. 6 of the Paris Agreement.
2) Where do we go from here?
The UN declaration brings forth and protects indigenous rights. However, a much stronger mechanism is required for appeals and grievances. The history of colonisation has brought conversations on reparations from the Global North to the Global South, which are timely to be addressed. A deeper understanding of decolonisation is required, given there are values crises present in the planet for centuries. Humanity’s understanding of how young it is can assist it in attaining a deeper connection to spirituality. What is the timeline comparison with former generations?
Other breakout rooms discussed the following topics: human rights and food, youth (how can they be supported by the older population?), women (they have been the main responders to climate change; however, how can they benefit from fair funding?) and climate finance (is there a possibility of spiritual-value capital to be created as a source of measurement?).
30 November - Day 1
United Kingdom Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs climate change hub meeting
See PowerPoint presentation at: Empathy and Hope: Climate Change and Baha'i writings
Presentation by Sandra B. of the UK climate change hub on the theme of Empathy and Hope: climate change and Baha’i writings
1 December – Day 2
Strengthening Climate Governance: Tightening the Screws on Existing Architecture
Speakers and recording can be found here (YouTube)
2 December – Day 3
Advancing Climate Adaptation with Digital Technologies
2 December – Day 3
Road to COP30 and Brazil's Ecological Transition, COP 28
2 December – Day 3
Pathways to a Sustainable Earth: Unlocking Solutions through Transformational Science
2 December – Day 3
Bridging the growing climate finance gap with digital innovations
2 December – Day 3
The Critical Role of Carbon Dioxide Removal Technologies, COP 28
2 December – Day 3
Global Forest Coalition
2 December – Day 3
WECAN: Indigenous Women from the Amazon: Calls for Urgent Action
Watch at: UNFCCC WECAN (azureedge.net)
2 December – Day 3
The choices we make today in education will shape our tomorrow: this cannot be an afterthought
The panel discussed education, work and social values in science and arts. Panellists were: Adel Trambetta (Cisco), Matt Petersen (president and CEO cleantech incubator), Daniel Kamamura (urgent voices of working ambassador), and Gary Jacobs (World Academy of Arts and Sciences).
Gary Jacobs in particular discussed values-based education, including technical hard skills for the future, building resilience in times of tests: i) technical (collaboration, which is critical), ii) soft skills (each human being has a role to play: not only youth, academia, government, industries making changes but we in ourselves, through daily reflection, need to make changes) and iii) specific skills e.g. being at COP28 and addressing the global challenges, in particular the intricate and multifaceted issues of climate change, is a way to create such skills.
These specific skills, referred to as hidden gems, are:
i) Systems Thinking involves understanding the interconnectedness of various factors from social to environmental and enabling a more holistic approach to problem solving. It is a transformative aspect which encourages comprehensive solutions rather than isolated fixes. The value of Systems Thinking lies in its ability to reveal hidden connections and unintended consequences.
ii) Avoiding silos in education (our heritage today). The integration of two worlds is needed: a) the skills of today complemented by Art and Science, and b) influence on the skills of the future.
It is not the planet that needs to change. It is “we that need to change”. The most powerful system we have for affecting change is the evolution of society, which is rooted in our educational system. We are in an unprecedented time in human history where after thousands of years of evolution, we are threatening to outgrow the planet and undermine the place we have been born in.
The issues we see humanity has today are a product of an educational system developed two hundred years ago, education that ignores the environment. In Economics, we have divided reality into many compartments and consider anything outside is not our responsibility. The UNFCCC met to discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI) 5 years ago. A question was raised: “How much are your engineers learning on the impact of technology on: i) society; and ii) how society works? The response was: that’s not part of education”. Something was critically missing.
The World Academy of Arts and Science was established in 1960 by very distinguished intellectuals: Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Robert Oppenheimer (father of the Manhattan project that led to the atomic bomb) who wished to understand that, after developing new innovations, they may have a dilemma by unleashing a Pandora’s box that could destroy humanity. Without values, they realised nothing in their education and training prepared them for the social consequences and policy implications of what they had developed. Today it is the leaders of AI that are presently speaking out and warning the world that we have to do something about the progress of AI technology.
The same issue faced with AI is attributable to Climate Change today, addressing the question: Who is responsible for climate change? Is there any educational discipline that should not be concerned with climate change and should we not be educating populations and looking from an economic point of view whether it adversely effects business, economics, technology, arts and/or communications?
We have to educate people to live in this complex world and be global citizens. There is a need for each person to become more knowledgeable than the specialised knowledge that comes from disciplinary perspectives. One of the WAAS founders, Buckminster Fuller, stated 40 years ago that “disciplinary silos are the source of all the problems that humanity faces, therefore, without the fundamental change in the way we think, educate and raise the next generations, we are not going to solve these problems.” Jacobs seemed to make a reference to education and its interconnectivity with each discipline, but most importantly centred in personal reflection leading to transformation in values and spirituality. Sustainability is at the centre of all disciplines taught through education.
Should sustainability be the common aspect underpinning each and every one of the educational elements of our curriculum? If it is our future, this means we also need to look after each other, concentrating on the theory and practicality of interconnectedness. Gary adds that cooperation, mutual assistance and reciprocity are needed between each discipline in the world of education, to build our united future together (i.e. each element is woven together to form the fabric that dresses humanity).
Technical and soft skills assist in the choice of a field in the vast area of sustainability. They take into account a person's capacities such as their technical and soft skills. How can the two skills help humanity to collaborate at a greater scale? Sustainability is a too wide and vast topic. No one can tackle that alone. Therefore, if we do not come together to collaborate, we are set for failure.
Suggested solutions include refusing to focus on negative news and being optimistic with science. The scientific output is not coupled with utopian fantasy. Humanity already has solutions and can accelerate. Sustainability when accelerated brings better outcomes for social progress, economics, security, health and peace, essentially any parameters that are valued.
Use the principle of patience, rather than to be optimistic at all times. For example, putting a global price on carbon somewhere between $100 to $300 means decarbonisation can be turned around in 5 years and implemented faster than expected. The same applies to the car industry: companies will lose market share if they don’t accelerate the transformation and transition to electric cars. There is no excuse as science brings all the proofs.
View the role of science and the paths to be taken to achieve balance. Should science be:
-an anomaly that will go away?
-an issue that serves as a continuation of backlashes that we have had against science in the past, not only climate denialism? There are claims that whatever comes from science is false and not factual, especially if it does not reflect one’s own theories. This notion supports conspiracy theories.
-one of the multidisciplinary sciences that prove climate change is upon us - that we have to massively reduce and remove carbon emissions, especially in the fossil fuel industry. This is the responsibility of the producers who must take into account all the impacts of the extraction of minerals, gases and oils. Humanity is enabling profiteering without stopping their use.
Regarding the importance of science in today’s age, this is the greatest existential risk that we have ever faced and therefore humanity, via COPs, must claim back rights for science and also the scientific impact on human rights.
3 December – Day 4
10-New Insights in Climate Science
These are yearly reviews, vetted by the scientific community, which lead to reports produced and distributed by Future Earth, the Earth League and The World Climate Research Programme.
The prioritized set of 10 key research insights with high policy relevance are: (1) looming overshoot of the 1.5°C warming limit, (2) urgency of phasing-out fossil fuels, (3) challenges for scaling carbon dioxide removal, (4) uncertainties regarding the future of natural carbon sinks, (5) need for joint governance of biodiversity loss and climate change, (6) advances in the science of compound events, (7) mountain glacier loss, (8) human immobility in the face of climate risks, (9) adaptation justice, and (10) just transitions in food systems.
COPs need to be reformed to take science into consideration. Only 0.5% of the COP is composed of scientists, who don’t have access to the negotiations. There is more optimism that humanity is becoming responsible actors to communicate science through scientists. Science shows us the recognition of the diverse types of knowledge systems, social sciences, biophysical sciences, helping to see how economies work. Diverse types of science and research shift to multidisciplinary science, including how people work and what drives profit. The role of scientists is to present learning and showcase what’s working and not working well. We can use System Dynamic modelling to explain the key social tipping points the planet is facing today. We are learning how to communicate better and use language to bring people on a journey together, pairing up to accompany each other. That is something that the Commission has tried to do through Earth for All – A Survival Guide for Humanity. For future generations, there needs to be more action and accountability.
Humanity is living a crisis of leadership and support. This is demonstrated as we are witnessing poverty around the world with deep suffering. The value-system is enough. The transformation needed is to have more balance, equity and justice. Transformative change is needed to service adaptation. There is a need for governments, industries and civil society to learn that transformation is feasible to avert further crisis: reading reality and building from a sense of hope that humanity can work together, that humanity can be wise, think together and through crisis, governments will step-in to assist. The transformation proposal from the Climate Governance Commission raises the question: How to put in place the Governance Framework needed at the international, national and local levels?
Community investment is an investment in people. It provides individuals with access to resources that they may not have otherwise had. For example, investing in education can provide individuals with the tools and skills they need to succeed in the workforce.
However, instead of community investments adapting to tackle the issues of climate change, some investors are resorting back to their old habits, investing in sectors such as gas and oil, and systems that continue to push over-financialised economies that enable shareholder value to dictate how our markets function. This is one of the major issues. The fact is that we are continuously shifting capital to where the profit is rather than thinking about the planetary boundaries. When funds are redirected to supporting climate adaptation, this will indicate that we are starting to change old habits and consider the importance of the world and in particular social values such as generosity, compassion and social justice.
Another issue is migration and communication with migrants. The migration crisis is not just internally within a country. Humanity needs to look at the impact of these migrations and their relationships with these migrants and their inter-relations, such as their cultures. These are also part of the narrative which has to be communicated using culture, mixed media, and the way in which we feel emotions, whether it is through sound, music, theatre, dance or expression in a variety of ways.
3 December – Day 4
Sustainable Trade Forum: Strengthening sustainable supply chain resilience, navigating Global Disruption
Global trade contributes to the global economy and has been a driver of financial growth and new ideas for emerging economies: $25 trillion has been used for commodities and $7 trillion for services. Transport accounts for 7% of all global emissions. It is predicted that in 2050, transport will rise to 28% of global emissions according to the International Transport Forum.
On transport, it is only by gathering global stakeholders, policy makers and private sector actors that we have achieved the following through united discussions: i) Global, national and local trading systems becoming more inclusive; ii) Supply chains giving ampler protection to end users, reducing waste; iii) Conserving resources and improving processes, e.g. electric transport, smart tracking systems, integrating cargo shipping with hydrogen fuel, cold storage systems, solar panels and solar facilities.
On AI, further collaboration is required between the public and private sectors. The WTO ministerial conference will be in Dubai in 2024.
The Climate crisis is an injustice: The Global North is causing the impacts on the Global South – deeper discussion and reflections are required, such as:
Fossil Fuels: e.g. Scotland is transitioning from gas and oil to net zero. However, this is not enough of a transition if only at a state/national level. The work needs to involve communities so a just transition can take place.
Renewable energy: In Vietnam, to develop EV models and electrical buses, there weren’t enough batteries during COVID and the whole world was in lockdown. Much learning was generated with the R&D of vehicles, such as: i) localise as much as possible semi-conductor production, as there were shortages, to get access to the supply chain quickly and to bring down costs; ii) Diversify the supply chain and have different plans for a resilient supply chain; and iii) Sustainable sourcing.
Food security and farming: We need more resilient supplies today, from farming to more resilient food supply chains, to guarantee there is always food on everyone’s plate every day and in every country of the planet.
Data usage: Data are important but what to do with that data collected is more important. Accurate data and information lead to more science-based decisions.
Engaging with green start-ups: Some start-ups that have gained attention are focused on: i) carbon capture: for grid infrastructure, which is a promising tech; ii) Digital technology; and iii) Software development. Climate tech as global investors impact: i) carbonisation; ii) Energy transition; iii) Industrial decarbonisation; iv) Advanced mobility; v) Built environment; vi) Circular Economy; and vii) Food systems.
5 December – Day 6
Brazil: Press briefing by the chief negotiator of Brazil, Amb. André Aranha Corrêa do Lago
Watch at: UNFCCC Brazil (azureedge.net)
The Minister for the Indigenous people, Sonia Guajajara, said this is the largest COP with indigenous population representation of Brazil and the world. It is important to understand that the indigenous territory and population, which only comprises 5% of the global population, protects 82% of the biodiversity of the planet. The main cause of CO2 emissions in Brazil is deforestation (48%), together with land use.
5 Dec: COP28 – Day 6
10 Must-haves Initiative
Climate Governance Commission
The Climate Governance Commission is building unity of vision with the participation of different stakeholders, from governmental and non-governmental to academic and non-academic backgrounds. Plans outside of the conventional structure have been made and are being tested. All stakeholders agree that humanity cannot continue digging out of a hole. Humanity needs to move out of that hole and decide to stop digging, which will require a change in mindset. This is not believed to be a utopia, according to science and facts, and must be central to mainstream conversations. Evidence of how to deal with the crises requires the transition into a new plan, a new pathway unseen throughout history.
To reach these 10-Must-Haves, the Commission formed a coalition with intellectuals, renowned by the public for taking action, to create a movement which generates capacity for the integration of elements, strengthening capacity, to move faster in the UNFCCC text and be part of the conceptual framework. [See the 10-Must-Haves at the top of this report 28 November]
Sustainable economies are needed to operate within safe and just boundaries. There are two forces operating simultaneously: a) destructive forces which provide subsidies for destruction, disrupting and hurting the goal of an ethical world that provides for humanity’s safety, security, equity, education, biodiversity and conservation; and b) innovative forces. As a result of COP28, global investments and nature-based solutions must triple by 2030.
Sustainability is not just a “nice to have” for companies, private and public, and for our global economy. It is necessary for these companies to grow and succeed in the future. It is not enough to have the title of “ESG” associated with a company. The global economy must learn how to accommodate business strategies that protect the planet.
A key item for reflection is how to build economies based on regeneration: this means getting away from the lowest price of soy per hectare and cattle farming per hectare in order to create new pathways based on regeneration and new economies.
Conservation means to find solutions-based and crises-based disciplines. As much as humanity has created these problems, it has the means to solve them too by creating new economies of the future.
Adding the names of people associated with ethical businesses may assist the community to find those people so they can offer their availability which results in further transparency.
Regulator’s goals must give companies the pathway to protect climate and biodiversity.
The Amazon is the world’s biggest asset and is considered essential to the planetary economy. Unless careful consideration is given of how to positively transform that region and its economy, humanity will not be successful in its climate change objectives.
Companies mainly need assistance with technology and integration of biodiversity science, using monitoring to assist themselves with the monitoring reporting verification so they can understand the impact of their business on nature.
Problems have grown exponentially and our solutions continue to be linear. How do we increase the rate of innovation and of solutions? Important considerations include: How can the rate of innovation and solutions be enhanced if people who are closest to the problem bear the greatest cost of conservation? How can companies be more accountable for impacts on the wider population?
This work led by the Climate Governance Commission, convened by Maja Groff, has drawn on improvements in defining planetary boundaries, currently moving to planetary governance. Our present findings originate from the national level. Humanity is still looking inward, and not taking into account the planetary level, looking at the whole of the planet, which is its responsibility in the Anthropocene.
In International Law, humanity has the capacity to move forward with governance but is still not using that capacity yet in terms of planetary climate governance and planetary boundaries.
There are 3 functions which belong to the local communities and indigenous platforms:
1) knowledge promoting exchanges of experience and good practices for addressing climate change in a holistic way.
2) capacity for engagement.
3) climate change policies and actions bringing together diverse ways of learning in designing and implementing climate policies and actions.
5 December – Day 6
Small Island Developing States (SIDS): A Just and Equitable Energy Transition towards a Climate-Resilient Future
Watch at: Small Island Developing States: A Just and Equitable Energy Transition towards a Climate-Resilient Future | UNFCCC (Presidency Events)
5 December – Day 6
Global Climate Action Through Fostering Sustainable Finance
Panellists were: International Agencies, global leaders of key financial institutions such as IMF, Monetary authority in Singapore and UN Special Envoy for climate action and finance
5 December – Day 6
Accelerating and Scaling up Investor Climate Actions to Achieve the Paris Agreement
Panellists were: David Neal (CFO IMF), Hiroshi Ozeki (CEO – Nissan Asset Management), Erik Decker (Group investments and ALM – Responsible investment AXA)
One of the highest aims of the Paris Agreement is to accelerate global investments and tackle deforestation. Policy makers and financial regulators need to consider a transition from a science-based approach to monitoring and scaling greater involvement from the private sector. The concept of implementing climate solutions is clear. However, the challenge is getting capital for the transition. It is not as simple as taking emissions out of investment portfolios. There is a need for substantial amounts of capital to identify where the emissions are being generated from and adding further capital for the transition of that emission to Net zero.
When looking at corporate polluters, there are 3 sectors that consistently emerge: oil and gas, utilities and the cement industry. Banks and financial organisations account for 40% of asset management investments. These firms are now starting to review the environmental data they receive from banks and reassess whether their investments will have an adverse impact on their own businesses including upstream and downstream financing activity.
6 December - Day 7
Key topic: AI/Technology - Intersection between Green and Digital Transformation
Digital Readiness of developing countries: how it can accelerate climate action
Speaker: John Sakim Gigler (works at the digital transformation cluster of the GIS)
Local conditions of developing regions need to be improved while adopting changes in technology, including governance issues within the country, infrastructure, and regulatory work. The main barriers to the above points need to be identified up front. Capacity needs to be built up in developing countries so they can accept the importance of digital technologies and scale up their systems.
The panel asked how to bring green technology to the mainstream corporate environment, such as in the work done through the UN Climate Tech Centre and Network (CTCN). What is changing through Open AI, artificial intelligence, digital Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain? How is the intersection between Green and Digital Transformations happening and what does it bring? Should innovators come out of labs and how can green technology projects be financed on a local, national and international scale?
The digital transformation and climate transition can be achieved when combining green IT (green data), climate impact adaptation and climate impact mitigation. The ICT sector, which combines manufacturing and services industries, creates products that primarily fulfil or enable the function of information processing and communication by electronic means. Its greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to increase 3.7% if this sector does not come together to address climate change impacts. The ICT itself has the potential to reduce 20% of greenhouse gases by 2030. This can be generated with understanding of the importance of clean data to minimise climate impact. 40% of the global population still does not have access to the Internet. Usage and training of how to use the Internet is another important topic to be addressed.
There is a significant gap in usage and affordability of the Internet in countries such as in Africa. This means 55% of Africans that have access to the Internet do not have skills to use it efficiently. If training of these skills is not in place, how can these populations connect to digital technology for entrepreneurship or innovation? The picture portrayed above does not relate only to computer education, but also poses the question of what to do with the information that is being generated online? How are industries processing that information to make decisions?
To close this gap, National Determined Contributions (NDC) should be better monitored, which can be achieved by analysing greenhouse gas inventories. Climate financing to improve visibility and credibility can only be achieved with international cooperation. There is a need to improve measurement, verification and reporting of CO2 emissions across sectors. The enhanced data should drive decision making, ensuring policy makers, consumers and investors prioritise digital to green transitions, raising awareness of the importance of technology for the benefit of the planet.
It is necessary to enable environmental and policy advice to:
i) governments to develop Twin Transition Policies; and to support the development of national strategies creating the vision and enabling conditions for digital climate action and sustainability;
ii) provide capacity building and technical assistance to policy makers to support partner countries by raising awareness about the opportunities of the green transition and the risks of the digital transition;
iii) support the development of national and local innovation ecosystems through a network of Digital Innovation hubs that link digital innovative start-ups with research institutions, corporates, governments and investors; and
iv) supply innovation finance and sustainable digital infrastructure to provide technical assistance to public and private partners to prepare portfolios of bankable investment programmes in green and secure infrastructure.
6 December – Day 7
Key topic: SIDS and AI/technology
Incorporating Drought Risk Modelling as a Planning Tool for Climate Change Adaptation Measures
Speaker: Cheryl Jeffers. Ministry of Environment, St Kitts and Nevis
A Risk Modelling project in St Kitts and Nevis (Caribbean Islands) created a planning tool for Climate Change Adaptation Measures with 4 main outputs: i) Map stakeholders and establish a stakeholder working group, ii) Assess drought risk (general assessment to understand how far the project can go) and water resources, iii) benchmark design and implementation of a drought prediction model – for this capacity building was needed, and iv) train administrators and users of the island to the Drought Prediction Model. It was funded through AFCIA in Jan 2022 and ended in Jan 2023.
The objective of the programme was adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change in order to respond to the changes already occurring on the islands and to prepare for future potential impacts. The island has 50,000 people with tourism the main economic driver. The first real drought was in 2015. Technical assistance was supposed to have been received in terms of the base water requirement. However, there was an allocation of water resources issue. Competition for fresh water between tourism and the needs of the indigenous population resulted in tourist facilities receiving fresh water which was scarce. The programme could only be effective if the island was really ready for a digital transformation.
The main output was the Drought Prediction Model, requiring understanding how a comprehensive drought early warning system operates and what it normally incorporates: e.g. weather station observations, satellite imagery, land surface model simulations and weather and climate model forecasts.
A Web-based Water Information System was created to enable the Ministry of Agriculture to make better informed decisions of what and when to harvest based on the water requirement. But each ministry collects data differently, so data collection needs to have some sort of homogeneity. Historically, water services and agriculture were independently functioning. However, it became clear that there was a need for a much more coordinated synergetic approach. This created opportunities such as: i) enhancement in remote sensing capabilities, ii) improvement in data collection, and iii) support with greater coordination and collaboration.
Transformation to a SIDS context required consideration of social protection, circular economy, sustainable settlements, water security, energy transition, food security, and sustainable industry. If the island wishes to shift towards an operational drought forecasting system, it is necessary to have continuation of the ground-based data. Participation and collaboration intra-ministerially as well as across agencies and organisations are critical. Continued capacity building support is essential for digital transformation. Sustainability is resolved by addressing a problem in a way which is relevant to the local community and end-users.
6 December – Day 7
Key topic: Food policies
Food system emissions: Food policies and metrics to reduce animal consumption
Speaker: Leah Garcés (president of Mercy For Animals)
Global food systems contribute to more than 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions. Animal food emissions are responsible for at least half of these emissions. The IPCC has confirmed that even if fossil fuels were eliminated immediately, food gas emissions alone would jeopardise the achievement of reaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius target and threaten to escalate temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius. 18% of existing food systems contribute to our calories. 37% of our food system is made of protein. 30% of global freshwater use will increase by 2050 while it is a driving force of biodiversity loss.
The Global Stocktake does not include food and agriculture in its text. Governments are trying to intervene to ratify this, hoping by the end of COP28 that provisions for food and agriculture are included. Global consumption of food animals is a key driver of the planetary crisis that we find ourselves in and very little has been done to mitigate this issue. There is an opportunity to close this gap and begin rectifying the problem. Given an increase in the world’s population, rising incomes and GDP, it is expected that global meat consumption will increase by 12% within the next decade alone.
By 2040, to increase global consumption of plant based cultivated alternatives by 50% does not mean every country will need to decrease meat consumption at the same amount. Drops in EU consumption (currently declining), North America and other parts of the world will meet the target. Meat consumption is not distributed evenly around the world. The decrease of meat is needed in countries that are consuming more meat than is recommended for health and environmental reasons, as well as in those countries with an upward trend of consumption. 92% of the world population does not consume the World Health Organisation’s recommended amount of fruit, vegetables and cereals.
The planet needs to continue feeding the world population in the future. There is a shift in dietary behaviour including in Germany and the UK, where consumption of meat has been the lowest in decades due to awareness amongst policy makers. The German government recently allocated 40 million Euros to promote precision fermentation, plant based and cultivated meat alternatives. The Danish government has just published a world’s first national action plan outlining how the country can transition toward a more plant-based food system. In Brazil in 2020, public health spending reached 150 billion Reals with the main cause of deaths related to: heart problems, diabetes, cancer and all directly related to food consumption patterns.
6 December – Day 7
Cleaning-up as part of the solution: Crafting Paris +10
Climate Governance Commission
Panel speakers: Joshua Lincoln, Tiago Perter Cunha, Jorge Cristino, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Maja Groff and Paulo Magalhaes.
This Climate Governance Commission session discussed its new report in some detail. Ten reasons were given for cleaning-up:
1) urgent need to clean up the atmosphere and ocean;
2) cleaning-up results in removing CO2, not creating more emissions;
3) not cleaning-up is more expensive and dangerous;
4) cleaning-up is creating wealth;
5) cleaning-up is an asset that belongs to everyone;
6) cleaning-up is an opportunity for justice;
7) cleaning-up leads to collective action;
8) cleaning-up creates new financial instruments possible;
9) cleaning-up builds peace;
10) cleaning-up gives humanity hope.
From a Legal perspective, the climate is intangible, making it difficult to consider as a common heritage of humankind. This was first proposed from a legal point of view in September 1988. In the 1988 proposal, the climate was not legally recognised as an object of international law belonging to all humanity. The decision was not to consider the climate as a common good, but rather to consider climate change as a common concern. The main challenge regarding the climate in Law is that it cannot be divided from a legal perspective.
This raises a number of issues.
1) How can it be translated in terms of rights and duties? Otherwise, this may always be a vague political formula. The climate as a common good of mankind was not accepted in the 1988 proposal but climate as a common concern of mankind has been accepted in the present draft. The issue is that no-one knows what this is in terms of rights and duties.
2) How can the climate receive rights and duties if it is not recognised by the law? In the Convention of 1992, the goal was not to control the total emissions of CO2 but to have in mind to control “the totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere”.
3) Who does this planet belong to? How can something that belongs to no-one be the subject of a legal regime? If someone acts for the good of the climate, since there is no legal owner, no individual or body has the duty to compensate and no rights can be compensated by others. Hence how can the Global Stocktake work if “stock” does not belong to an entity? This entire reservoir must belong to someone.
4) How can we define the reservoir if there is no owner? We need systems of accountability both on stocks and flows. A legal solution is required for rapid decarbonisation efforts, starting today. 2025 is Paris +10 (10 years to clean the planet until 2035). Reforming of the International Court of Justice was introduced 10 years ago at Rio +20 in 2012. Smart coalitions for improving Global Environmental Governance have been created such as the Mobilising Earth Governance Alliance (MEGA). There will be an official launch in January 2024, and this alliance will advocate for the proposals in the Climate Governance Commission to form a Global Environmental Agency.
Ecocide is proposed to be accepted as a crime at the International Criminal Court, with support from some States. However, the amendment procedures under the Rome statute are difficult to implement. It may be easier to establish a new agency than to amend the statute. The Climate Governance Commission is working with partners including former heads of State, but mobilisation is required with civil society and business for proper global environmental management.
To restore nature is not enough. There will be greater risks of climate change through use of technology to make it transgenic. If the point is to plant trees but simultaneously restore nature, what is the central motive of this? The phenomenon emerging in the USA with carbon capture technology is only to give rights to new emissions. If we start using capital technology to clean the environment, what are the political consequences of this in terms of negotiations? The main point is to think beyond our borders. This will then change the narrative and revitalise nature in the Global South.
This system needs regulation. What are the ethically acceptable and unacceptable technologies? Every alternative has its own problems, especially as we are in an emergency situation. How can we use the latest data available and combine it with the best technology? Then we should use those acceptable ethical technologies not to: i) make new emissions, and ii) put carbon credits in the market, just for the sake of ticking the box. This will change the game in terms of climate justice. Both restoration of nature, and use of acceptable technologies, with the guardrails outlined above, are required at the same time.
Maria Espinosa said the issue of the whole multilateral system is an implementation crisis. We need to be better equipped for accountability and transparency for oversight on the environmental front. and to improve accountability and issues of legal liability. There are excellent examples of environmental litigation for greater accountability and better implementation.
For Joshua Lincoln, the main issue is of binding and non-binding agreements. Many say that the Paris Agreement is non-binding. However it is an instrument agreed by 196 states and it must be complied with. One of the points in the report is to upscale, publicise and make COPs more effective on the implementation and accountability front. This is a challenge for the entire multilateral system but also for the environment as it is perhaps as important as other fronts like Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals. This can all contribute to the Summit of the Future (Sept 2024).
On transportation, we will not be able to live without the shipping industry since 80-90% of trade happens with shipping by sea. Green shipping is one of the biggest gaps identified at the COP (shipping emissions). This also needs to become part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Food can be produced through innovative aquaculture and through new innovative biotechnology from the ocean instead of fishing and reducing the biomass, if we develop other foods such as algae and bivalves. This can create a cycle from water and land which the ocean will need. Blue carbon and small coastal ecosystems (mangroves and seagrass beds) are also important. We need to look in greater detail at the overall biomass of the ocean and sediments which connects to other processes like deep sea mining and the International Seabed Authority.
The basic requirements for planetary clean-up need to have a common legal framework and governance tools to implement all of these new solutions for cleaning the atmosphere. Policies across issues need to be integrated because the same country delegations may have different opinions and these policies need to be aligned. In preparation for COP30 in Brazil, we need to bring on board influential policy makers to agree on a common strategy.
6 December – Day 7
Role of private sector, innovation and technology in the first Global Stocktake, COP 28
6 December – Day 7
Joint Declaration and Task Force on Credit Enhancement for Sustainability – linked Sovereign Financing
The world’s top multilateral development banks and other international organisations have signed a joint declaration and launched a global task force to boost sustainability linking sovereign financing for nature and climate at COP28. Reporting issues of the past need to be addressed to further develop trust between Global South and North. The need for several trillion dollars per annum to save the world is completely possible. The macro-economic picture of the world is that it produces 100 trillion dollars of output per year. Setting aside several trillion dollars per year to save our planet is manageable if it is 5% of the global economy per year.
6 December – Day 7
Global Climate Finance is shaped by harmonised global solutions and mobilisation of sustainable finance
Speakers: Kristalina Georgieva (Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund - IMF), Ravi Menon (Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and chair of the network for greening the financial systems), and Mark Carney (UN Special Envoy for climate action and finance and co-chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for NetZero).
It cannot be business as usual; promises need to be kept. In response to the question: How is the fund working with countries to not just develop but also finance climate policies that reduce risks and minimise shocks, Kristalina Georgieva replied that, 2 years ago, the IMF adopted for the first time in history a Climate Strategy so the institution can be systematically significant in the fight against the climate crisis. The impactful action chosen is to integrate climate considerations in policy discussions with countries every year (e.g. focus on good subsidies and not bad fossil fuel subsidies). By phasing out fossil fuels, we need to simultaneously build social protection for the vulnerable people in society. We keep a finger on the pulse of each national economy with queries such as: How is your country progressing with carbon intensity? And how is your country meeting the challenges of vulnerability to climate shocks? For countries that are large emitters, we focus on mitigation. For countries that are vulnerable to adaptation with high hydrocarbon sectors, how can the transition be smooth and effective?
Going right to the heart of banking, we are integrating climate in the way we assess financial stability risks. We are focusing on where the risks are most significant. For example, insurance can play a positive role by shifting financing where it ought to go or pulling it away from where it should not go. There is no way that good decisions can be made without high quality data. Working with different institutions will improve the quality of reliable data that can guide sustainable finance.
6 December – Day 7
What are the data cities need: accelerating solutions with advanced data and AI
In Brazil, COP30 will be in the Amazon, merging the Green Amazon with Amazon city. 29 million people live in the city. We need to consider urban fairness. Funds need to be used not only to combat deforestation but for tax monitoring and infrastructure of the cities. Local leaders have to make decisions to strengthen their municipal governments so they can communicate the true necessities (with solutions) to the central government.
In Zambia, in contrast, Lusaka had a stocktake for the climate emergency that showed the underlying and pressing needs on the ground. Exacerbation of inequality and marginalisation of communities have been impacted by only 10% of the funds being allocated to urban locations. Financial constraints at the local level bring vulnerability to the cities. All AI and advanced data are needed (not only for the sake of it) but for the advancement of progress in cities.
6 December – Day 7
Moving at the speed of AI: How AI accelerates progress on climate solutions
Panellists were: Andrew Zolli (Planet Labs -AI), Christopher J.L. Murray (The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations), Loretta Hieber Girardet (Chief of the Risk Knowledge Monitoring and Capacity Development Branch at UNDRR).
A group of tech firms is coming together to solve climate migration through AI/satellites. Microsoft tests satellites to take pictures of the Global North, and the same task is done for the Global South. Maps have data that either doesn’t exist or is 10 to 15 years old. The impact in protection can be severe and critical, for example in the event there is an earthquake and people cannot be helped. It is also important for baseline maps to know where the humans are, assets at risk, public health challenges, food insecurity, etc. AI can help to reduce risk when hazards are identified. Climate change is leading to more unpredictable events.
UN Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has a system in 110 countries which does loss tracking. This means the impact of every disaster is being captured, but they are struggling to analyse the data, and they also have difficulty measuring the impact of climate change at a localised level, due to high frequency but low intensity events that are not captured by any database. It is the cumulative impact that is driving some of these challenges, for example: the social-economic wellbeing of communities, frequent floods, road closures and mudslides.
The aim is to help countries analyse better what is happening by assessing loss and damage occurring. Some of the predictive analysis that is required means looking not only at past historical trends of data but also climate change projections. To understand resilient infrastructure there are many applications that are possible for improving the forecast, by trying to understand both hazards and vulnerability. The main point is to bring these institutional/capacity strengthening technological advances to countries so they themselves can analyse the data and formulate solutions. There will be places that will be uninhabitable. Therefore, it is essential to place where the risks are located, then add the analysis, such as rainfall and access to water.
Data analysis can assess human population concentration down to a few meters, mapping human structures on every 30-meter square on the planet. When climate disruption causes individuals to be displaced or become refugees, there is a need to understand: i) the need for permanent or temporary settlements, ii) how much food aid should be delivered or is needed, iii) public health support required for this population. If that information arrives in 24 hours, it can save millions of lives. The same capability can plan future adaptation to avoid greater risks of harm to humans as a result of climate impacts. Vulnerable populations are not getting the investment they need for prevention. If a certain population is hit by a disaster, it must bear the cost of the humanitarian response and reconstruction. Governments need to see the potential losses from not investing in prevention now. Transparency brings accountability. Warnings should be announced to policy makers that risks are real and can be documented very clearly, along with guidelines of how policies should be changed.
Last updated 1 January 2024