The agreement reached late on the night of 10th December by the representatives of the 193 Parties to the Cancún Conference on Climate Change is a pleasing surprise, a breath of fresh air in the midst of the previous pessimism about debates on climate change. During the weeks previous to the conference, commentators were far from hopeful about the outcome.
Climate and development policy have reached an impasse. The international community’s political efforts are not even close to producing adequate responses to these momentous challenges. One important aspect is to bring together climate change mitigation and development policy.
This has prompted four different partners to join forces: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Institute for Social and Development Studies in Munich, Misereor – the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation, and the Munich Re Foundation. Together, they released the report this year, Global aber Gerecht: Klimawandel bekämpfen, Entwicklung ermöglichen.
The general trends of the worldwide ecosystem degradation are commonly well-known for long. Among the most recent studies however, two documentations released on the occasion of the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity 2010 deliver new and mostly alarming figures on the real extent of the world’s biodiversity losses. And for the first time ever, the economic and monetary values of Earth’s biological infrastructure and the manifold services it delivers for human welfare are taken into account within a comprehensive approach.
A coalition of major international environment groups has called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take a stronger stand on climate change in the upcoming climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.
Lack of political will and exaggerated expectations could explain the failure to achieve a fair, binding and ambitious agreement at the Copenhagen Conference.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu began the concluding prayer at the ecumenical service on Sunday December the 13th, Copenhagen Cathedral bells started to ring, 350 times. Simultaneously, hundreds of Churches in Denmark joined the Cathedral bells – also ringing 350 times. 350 is a symbolic number for environment campaigners: 350 parts per million is deemed the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so as to avoid runaway climate change.
Last 22-25 June 2010, nearly a thousand scientists gathered at the Taipei International Conference Center to discuss the current understanding about the factors that induce such extreme events. Recent findings from the work of around 4,000 scholars were presented at the Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting (http://www.agu.org/meetings/wp10/) in Taipei in the desire to understand and help with more appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies.
The schedule of UN meetings before the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change shows how intense is the negotiation process: 1-12 June, UN climate negotiations in Bonn; 21-25 September, UN Climate Summit in New York; 28 September – 9 October, UN negotiations in Bangkok; 2- 6 November, final round in Barcelona; and 7 – 18 December, the Copenhagen Conference itself. We are entering a critical phase of the Copenhagen preparations at international and European level and any agreement will require energy, diplomatic skills, and generosity.
The United Nations Framework on Climate Change will resume meetings after the failure of the Copenhagen Conference. The two major issues, besides the financial instruments, are the need to conclude a legally binding agreement and to agree transparent rules to assess compliance.
Although a large majority of commentators consider the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference to have been a failure, certain influential voices have stressed the value of the Conference’s agreements. Lord Stern, professor at the London School of Economics and author of a key report on the economic and social assessment of climate change, has affirmed that “this process has itself been a key part of countries stating what their intentions on emissions reductions are – countries that had not stated them before, including China and the US”.
ESSC worked over the past year with the Homeless Peoples Federation Philippines (HPFPI), with assistance from the Philippine Action for Community-led Shelter Initiatives (PACSII) to contribute to building the capacity of their urban poor associations for climate change adaptation and increase their resilience to disasters.
Challenged with the demands of their numerous ongoing and planned shelter-related activities, the urban poor federation sought ESSC’s assistance as part of their strategy in establishing and expanding their professional support partners.