Reflections from COP20, Day 4

Atâyi Babs, Climate and Sustainable Development Network of Nigeria

As the climate negotiations enter a frenetic pace, one cannot help but notice the coordinated and orderly comportment of the African civil society groups at COP20. Coalescing under one umbrella known as the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), this group makes no pretence as to their objectives in Lima: climate justice for Africa!

With this background, a few colleagues and I decided to follow the activities of this group with a view to having an enhanced understanding of their activities, disposition and relevance to the climate negotiations. At a press conference organised by PACJA on Wednesday, the group was unequivocal in its demand for a better deal for Africa.

African CSOs at the press conference warned that climate talks in Lima could trigger an even greater climate crisis in Africa, if they were not careful to protect the rights of the most poor and vulnerable in the continent, and those most impacted by climate change. “Negotiations on a new climate deal are struggling due to trust issues – but we will not be hoodwinked by technical or procedural tricks,” Mithika Mwenda, General Secretary of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said.

Another interesting aspect of the conference came when it was announced that Japan wished to count the funding of coal power plants as climate finance, and that the African proposal for a renewable energy partnership is yet to be approved by developing countries. The litmus test of Lima will be: does it see pre-2020 climate action increase? Thus far, the silence has been deafening.

“We were promised that emission cuts would be strengthened this year; they weren’t. Instead African countries are been saddled with the additional load of paying for climate debt which they least contributed to” – said Rev. Dr. Tolbert Jallah from FECCIWA, an umbrella body of faith-based organisation based in Lome, Togo and PACJA member.

“We cannot have a situation where because of the pressure from developed countries, agreement on Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) is hurriedly entered into by developing countries without a clearly defined outcome on the elements. It would open the door to compromising African strong demand for adaptation. ” – said John Bideri, Rwanda Climate Change Network, based in Kigali and a PACJA member.

At the end of the press conference, my colleagues and I left the convention centre better-informed and challenged to expect the best from the on-going talks, especially as they concern Africa.

Daniele Savietto and Sara Cattani, Youth Press Agency

“Our lives are not for sale”. These were some of the words in the song that opened the “Intergenerational Inquiry – Youth as Agents of Change” on the fourth day of COP20. Thursday was the Young and Future Generations Day. Having a voice in the 2015 agreement is an important achievement for young people.

The day began with an opening session in the presence of Emmanuel Dumisani Dlamini, Chair of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), Amena Yauvoli, Chair of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and representatives of the G77+China. It was followed by several events, including a Flash Mob, where Pachamama (Mother Earth) died and rose again, thanks to the union of youth. In the afternoon, at the Intergenerational Inquiry event, a lot of young people took part in a debate about the problems caused by climate change. Israel Maldonado, the General Coordinator of the Conference on Youth (COY10),which took place last week, emphasised the hard work that was undertaken during the three days at the COY10 to achieve the first Youth Declaration. The main statements of this Declaration are: solidarity between people, inclusiveness and intergeneration action.

The interaction between young people, decision-makers and indigenous youth – which rarely occurs and was one of the main purposes of this panel – was constrained by the fact that the speakers didn’t really manage to keep track of their time as it was scheduled. Being perhaps one of the few opportunities of intergenerational interaction, it was a shame that this event was not as successful as expected. Youth participation was minimal compared to youth needs, due to the fact that UNFCCC accreditation for young people is a rare exception.

In summary, it is necessary to build bridges between generations and to build an agreement in 2015 where everyone is heard. Moreover, the real purpose of the final agreement ought to be life and land defence, rather than the protection of political and economic interests. We, as youth, have the energy and hope to change paradigms and lifestyles, and we are aware that this planet was loaned us, so we have to leave it exactly as we found it.