No Time to Rest
After the Paris Climate Agreement, What Next?
During the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), the world’s governments delivered a new global climate agreement. It marks a historical moment because for the first time, all countries will make commitments to greenhouse gas emissions reductions and adaptation measures for global warming.
Four building blocks underpin the Paris package: the Paris agreement, the registration of national contributions or commitment by the states (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs)—the financing package of money for decarbonization and adaptation, and the Solutions Agenda—the announcement of pledges and initiatives by cities, provinces, and companies.
The Paris summit alone cannot solve climate change. It is therefore important to insist on leaving behind the success-or-failure framing that often dominates the media. In practice, much of the world’s attention goes to the first crop of national contributions covering the period 2020 to 2030. Some assessments show that while the INDCs are a breakthrough, they do not yet put the world on the global average temperature trajectory that will be needed by the end of this century.
So it is crucial to explore ways to improve the national commitments as well as the voluntary pledges by nonstate actors. The Paris agreement will need to contain a clear mechanism to upgrade national commitments, for example, every five years. Developing countries are increasingly aware of their vulnerability to climate impacts, and they have insisted on the urgency of the adaptation plans contained in the INDCs. Nearly 90 percent of the INDCs included this dimension. Addressing “loss and damage”—the point where adaptation might be too hard or no longer be possible—is very important for highly vulnerable countries, but no consensus had been reached going into the negotiations.
Building a Constituency to Support Reforms
Implementing climate plans necessarily calls for governmental choices such as selecting renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels, pushing for electric public transportation and car pooling, choosing climate-smart agriculture over pollution control approaches, having stricter land planning, and instituting building codes that help cities adapt to climate impacts.
Because these changes generate opposition from incumbents, decision makers are more likely to push forward if a clear constituency supports reforms. Moreover, citizen engagement and monitoring of pledges is also needed to ensure implementation in practice. That is why one of the key tasks for implementation beginning in 2016 is to empower organizations and support efforts to “translate” the Paris agreement into citizen language in order to increase the understanding of the global agreement and how it connects to people’s lives.
Governments will need to send policy signals such as pathways to achieving commitments for 2030 and beyond for crucial sectors (for example, energy pathways, transportation pathways, and agriculture pathways). They will have to have stronger mechanisms for monitoring progress and a more sophisticated approach to assessing the costs and benefits of the measures to be taken. Those policy signals need to be complemented with information about the opportunities for private investments, job creation, and savings in oil imports. This is important because of the tendency in national debates to focus on the costs of actions. After Paris, the shift has to be about the costs of inaction and benefits of early action.
Citizens Want to Be Part of Climate Decisions
Citizens care about climate change. On June 6, 2015, World Wide Views (a public Internet site for citizen dialog developed by the Danish Board of Technology, including the Ministry of Ecology) cosponsored the largest citizen consultation to date on climate change and the UN climate negotiations, reaching about 10,000 citizens worldwide and including 97 debates in 76 countries. Some key messages that emerged are that citizens:
Because two-thirds of global emissions come from developing countries, defining strategies to involve citizens in implementing the Paris pledges will require innovation in these countries. In some countries, like Chile, Peru, and Mexico, some citizen consultation was put in place to define the national pledge for Paris. However, more citizen involvement in more countries will be needed. The public must be persuaded that there will be concrete benefits associated with making cleaner energy choices (for example, cleaner air). In 2015, US President Barack Obama provided a good example. He explained to the American public how the Clean Power Plan was linked to health by leading to the prevention of up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 1,700 nonfatal heart attacks in 2030. He also released a video to explain to citizens why the plan was a good idea.
Citizen concern about air pollution is on the rise in most developing countries. Citizens consume more but they are also demanding cleaner choices, and this could be a game changer for the Paris package. In Latin America, for example, two different polls, one by the government of Chile and one conducted by the United Nations Development Programme in Costa Rica, revealed that tackling air pollution was the top environmental priority in both countries, followed by waste management. An Inter-American Development Bank poll of 5,000 citizens in Bogotá, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Mexico City; and São Paulo, Brazil, also revealed that they want a better quality of life, more transparency in city government, and more participation in decision making.
This poll, along with those from Chile and Costa Rica, show that citizens understand that climate change will affect them. They want governments to do more, not less, to protect their health and the climate. If Paris has shown one thing, it is that climate change is no longer just an environmental issue. It is an economic, social, and political issue too.
The battle over climate change science has been won—the evidence is overwhelming—and in the debate on the economics of climate change, there is growing evidence that climate action does not hurt economies and in fact has benefits. The new challenge will be winning the hearts and minds of people, and after Paris, this should be one of the top priorities for every country starting in 2016.
Monica Araya has worked on development and environmental issues and politics for over 20 years and collaborates regularly with leaders in civil society, government, and business with a focus on climate action and advocacy. She is the founding director of Costa Rica Limpia, a citizen platform that promotes clean development and democracy. She founded Nivela in early 2014, developing the concept for the organization for about two years.
Photo license: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode.
— Monica Araya
The Winter 2016 issue of Courier features policy insights for the President-elect and new US leadership to improve our peace and security in nuclear policy, genocide prevention, and climate change. The issue also includes an in-depth interview with a survivor of the Phnom Penh, Cambodia genocide in the late 1970s. The full Winter 2016 issue. PDF (1.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE.
|Stanley Foundation at 60
On December 12, 1956, the Stanley Foundation was certified as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Iowa, bringing to life an organization dedicated to creating a world in which there is a secure peace with freedom and justice. Sixty years later, the organization continues to pursue and advance that vision as a thriving nonpartisan operating foundation. Moreover, it remains an organization with a professional staff and the involvement of family members who have an ongoing role in shaping its strategy and core values. More.
|IRP Fellows Reporting Live from the COP22 Climate Change Conference in Morocco
The International Reporting Project (IRP) and the Stanley Foundation collaborated to bring five international journalists to Marrakech, Morocco to report on the Twenty-Second Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from November 7-18, 2016.
|SAFETY Guidelines for Journalists:
In the event of a radiation incident such as the use of a so-called dirty bomb or nuclear reactor incident, accurate and swift reporting is vital to public safety. This guide is intended to both help the journalist to be safe if they are covering such a story and to provide basic safety information that can be conveyed to the public to limit the risk of radiation exposure.
|Reporting a Radiation Emergency
Journalists would play an indispensable role keeping the public informed in an emergency resulting in the release of radiation, either accidental or deliberate. But what do they need to do their job effectively? The following recommendations to authorities who would manage such an emergency were drafted by participants in the 2016 Rotterdam Nuclear Security Workshop for International Journalists.
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.
You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.
|Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences
The Stanley Foundation holds two annual conferences, UN Issues and the Strategy for Peace Conference. These bring together experts from the public and private sectors to meet in a distraction-free setting and candidly exchange ideas on pressing foreign policy challenges.
Divided into roundtable talks, the cutting-edge discussions are intended to inspire group consensus and shared recommendations to push forward the debate on the foundation’s key policy areas.
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.
|Nuclear Security Video
The Stanley Foundation produced a 13-minute video looking at what needs to be done to stop terrorist groups from acquiring enough fissile material to make a bomb. The foundation talked with over a dozen diverse and distinguished experts from the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group and the Fissile Materials Working Group to see how today's patchwork of voluntary arrangements can be forged into a long-lasting system. Watch the video.
|Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.