With ELLIE COHEN, Point Blue Conservation Science & JONATHAN PARFREY, Climate Resolve December 2017
Hosted by Kate Meis, Local Government Commission
Hosted by Kate Meis, Local Government Commission
December 13, 2017 by Ellie Cohen, Point Blue Conservation Science See here for my full post— and more on the 2018 CA Adaptation Forum August 28-29 in Sacramento.
It was an inspiring couple of weeks representing Point Blue Conservation Science for its first time as an official UN observer organization at the 2017 global climate meeting in Bonn, Germany in November. Delegates from every country in the world gathered for COP23, the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The country representatives worked on developing the “rulebook” for implementing the 2015 Paris climate agreement to keep increases in global temperature well below 2°C or 3.6°F since the pre-industrial era.
But COP23 was about much more than negotiating rules. It truly was an enormous global climate change conference with over 23,000 people attending from all levels of government, NGOs and businesses exchanging insights, progress and challenges. I personally logged more than 4 miles a day just walking from one session or press conference to another across the huge venue along the Rhine River!
COP23 saw more inclusion of city and state voices (roughly 15 cities in the world are bigger than half of the UN countries combined, according to one presenter) and a new “Carbon-Free City Handbook” was released. There was also a greater focus on women as climate action leaders (currently women make up less than 6% of all the mayors in the world and less than 15% of all legislators).
And, after more than four years of negotiations, the countries formally recognized that how we manage agricultural lands can be a significant part of the climate solution for carbon sequestration, water, biodiversity and other benefits.
The latest science indicates we will need dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas pollution and removal of warming gases from the atmosphere to get back to a safe climate by 2100 (<1C of warming and ~350 PPM CO2 in the atmosphere). Natural climate solutions, including reforestation and climate-smart land management will be key to achieving these “negative emissions” goals as well as resilience and adaptation.
At a COP23 panel on this topic, Dr. Deborah Bossio of The Nature Conservancy, reported on a recent publication showing that natural climate solutions could make up more than 1/3 of the emissions reductions needed to stay below the 2°C warming limit by 2030 per the Paris accords. She also reported on a new study she coauthored that better management of cropland soils could conservatively sequester up to 7 billion tons (Gt) of CO2e per year or about 18% of annual global emissions, while also providing food and water security.
COP23 featured multiple presentations and discussions on nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. Barron Joseph Orr of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, spoke about “optimizing your land” and reminded us that “you can’t have biodiversity above ground unless it’s in the soil.” Another panel featured Batio Brassiere, Minister of the Environment for Green Economy and Climate Change from Burkino Faso. He explained how “agroecology can help save the environment, improve living conditions, increase productivity and remove carbon from the atmosphere.” And, Inger Anderson, Director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature summed it up when she said, “When you invest in nature, nature invests right back into our communities and resilience.”
I was honored to present on nature-based solutions as part of a panel about California’s innovative climate policies organized by The Nature Conservancy and held at the US Climate Action Center. Panel participants were Louis Blumberg/TNC, Jonathan Parfrey/Climate Resolve, Nicolas Muller/UNFCCC, myself, and Ricardo Lara/CA State Senator (see photo below, left to right).
Other side events (there were many going on simultaneously) included one on a new certification for city planners to raise the qualifications and status of those who assess urban greenhouse gas emissions, develop climate action plans and guide their implementation. Presenters from the World Bank, World Resources Institute and ICLEI Sustainable Cities talked about many of the same issues we seek to address in the natural climate solutions arena– from the need to implement an adaptive management approach for testing and improving efforts, to exploring approaches for scaling up and catalyzing more action locally, regionally and globally.
As Governor Brown concluded his talk on America’s (non-federal!) Pledge, “economy is rooted in ecosystems”…. and “we are not where we need to be to prevent catastrophic warming.” He stated emphatically that “we have to create a different consciousness about what it is to be a human being in the 21st century.” He implored us, “Don’t be complacent. We face unprecedented threats to everything we hold dear. Be on the edge of your seat. Push yourself to the furthest degree. Billions of people are depending on us.”
Hilda Heine, the first woman President of the Marshall Islands, shared the meaning of the Fijian word “chumamich” – tenacity, determination, and resilience on a long sea voyage when tasked with ensuring the safety of the passengers to the end of the journey.
Working together with “chumamich,” we must each redouble our efforts to secure a healthy future for us all.
Note: See here for more on COP23 outcomes.
|Ellie Cohen, President and CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science since 1999, is a leader in catalyzing collaborative, nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental challenges. She and Point Blue’s 160 scientists work with natural resource managers, ranchers, farmers, local governments and others to reduce the impacts of environmental change and develop climate-smart conservation approaches to benefit wildlife and people. Ellie is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Observer Organization representative for Point Blue. She is Immediate Past Chair and Steering Committee member of the CA Landscape Conservation Cooperative, an invited member of the SF Bay Area’s Resilient by Design Research Advisory Committee, and co-founder of the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium. Ellie was honored with the Bay Nature 2012 Environmental Hero Award for her climate change leadership. Ellie received her undergraduate degree in Botany with honors at Duke University and an MPP from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she was honored with the first Robert F. Kennedy Public Service Award. She speaks regularly on the urgent need to include nature-based approaches in the climate change solutions toolbox.|
By Ellie Cohen Point Blue Conservation Science November 22, 2017
It was an inspiring couple of weeks in Germany for the 2017 UN climate meeting representing Point Blue for its first time as an official Observer Organization. COP23 (the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), convened by Fiji and hosted by Bonn, focused on developing the “rulebook” for implementing the 2015 Paris climate agreement to keep increases in global temperature well below 2°C or 3.6°F since the pre-industrial era.
COP23 was the first ever with essentially two US delegations. One was an official State Department group that generally kept a low profile (except for their “clean fossil fuel” session that was met by singing protesters!).
The official US Delegation offices at COP23– closed door for the most part.
The other was a group of over 2500 cities, states and businesses committed to meeting the US emissions reductions goal under the Paris accord, led by Governor Jerry Brown, former NY City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and others. Under the slogan “we are still in,” they launched “America’s Pledge” at the alternative US Climate Action pavilion. I was honored to present (see pdf here) on California’s innovative approaches to nature-based climate solutions as part of a panel organized by The Nature Conservancy on that same stage a couple days earlier. Click here to see my blog post with links to videos of the US Climate Action pavilion presentations and here for the full listing of COP23 on-demand videos of press conferences and other meetings.
At the US Climate Action Center.
Mayors from all over the world participate in the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders.
And, for the first-time ever, the countries (parties to the UNFCCC) agreed to work on agriculture and climate change, including how to improve adaptation, co-benefits and resilience; soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility, including water management; livestock management systems, as well as socioeconomic and food security aspects. See here for my blog post for various views on key outcomes of COP23.
On a personal note, it was fantastic to meet so many committed leaders from all over the world who are working towards our common goal of a safe climate and healthy planet. In addition to meeting mayors, other elected officials, business people and top UN leaders from Pittsburgh and Peru to Kuwait and Mozambique, I had the honor of meeting colleagues from conservation non-profits across the globe. Every time I introduced myself as being from California, I was warmly received! And I found that Point Blue really is on the cutting edge of addressing nature-based solutions to benefit wildlife and human communities, although there is much more we need to do.
With Mayor and regional leader, Maria Helena J. Correia Langa of Mandlakazi, Mozambique.
Amidst all of the excitement, I felt that a sense of urgency was missing, not from the many scientists and civic leaders who presented, but from the formal negotiations (perhaps in part due to the lack of committed US leadership).
Leaders of island nations call for urgent action on climate change at COP23. Pictured: Environmental Minister from Dominica addressing closing plenary.
Fiji, as President of COP23, had hoped to light a fire under the delegates to take whatever actions are necessary before 2020 to stay below 1.5°C. They, along with other “small island developing states” (or large ocean states, as described by one of their leaders!), are literally on the front lines of climate change, already experiencing devastating impacts from sea level rise and extreme storm events. Despite the ‘drua’ (traditional ocean sailing canoe) situated prominently at the conference venue, the bigger-than-life island photos adorning walls throughout and other reminders that we are all literally in the same boat, my guess is that they may also have been disappointed with the lack of significant progress.
CA Governor Jerry Brown speaking at one of several COP23 appearances.
We know we need dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas pollution and removal of warming gases from the atmosphere– including from nature-based solutions- to secure a safe climate by 2100.
New study on nature-based solutions from the Nature Conservancy and other partners.
As Governor Brown concluded at the US Climate Action Pavilion, “economy is rooted in ecosystems”…. and “we are not where we need to be to prevent catastrophic warming.” He stated emphatically that “we have to create a different consciousness about what it is to be a human being in the 21st century.” He implored us, “Don’t be complacent. We face unprecedented threats to everything we hold dear. Be on the edge of your seat. Push yourself to the furthest degree. Billions of people are depending on us to go even further.”
Powerful… and true.
Hilda Heine, the first woman President of the Marshall Islands, shared the meaning of the Fijian word “chumamich” – tenacity, determination, and resilience on a long sea voyage when tasked with ensuring the safety of the passengers on the journey.
Working together with “chumamich,” each of us must redouble our efforts to secure a healthy future for us all.
Note: Photos by Ellie Cohen/Point Blue.
After 4+ years of negotiations, countries (parties to the UNFCCC) agreed to work on a series of efforts around agriculture and climate change. Below are some highlights from the draft recommendations. Countries and observers have been asked to submit their views on what should be included in the work by 31 March 2018, with options including how to improve soil carbon and fertility, how to assess adaptation and resilience and the creation of better livestock management systems.
…Invites parties and observers to submit by 31 March 2018, their views on elements to be included in the work referred to in paragraph 1 above for consideration at the forty eighth session of the subsidiary bodies (April–May 2018), starting with but not limited to the following:
…COP23, the second “conference of the parties” since the Paris Agreement was struck in 2015, promised to be a somewhat technical affair as countries continued to negotiate the finer details of how the agreement will work from 2020 onwards.
However, it was also the first set of negotiations since the US, under the presidency of Donald Trump, announced its intention earlier this year to withdraw from the Paris deal. And it was the first COP to be hosted by a small-island developing state with Fiji taking up the presidency, even though it was being held in Bonn…
Carbon Brief covers all the summit’s key outcomes and talking points.
Closing the climate talks, two ‘rays of light’: What happens when a major world emitter steps away from the table?
The 23rd annual “Conference of Parties” (or COP23, in UN-speak) closed Friday with two key messages:
But little progress was made defining specific emissions-cutting guidelines. Activists call for a “robust set of rules,” but that rulebook remains woefully thin. (A U.S. talk about the necessity of fossil fuels sparked one of the conference’s biggest protests. Our quick read: “Song, dance and protests at US energy talk.” Ecowatch has a first-person account.)
The Center for International Environmental Law saw “two rays of light:” Governments agreed to integrate gender equality into climate action, and they committed to giving indigenous peoples equal footing in UN climate responses.
It is further sign that the climate talks are also becoming the way the global community addresses environmental and social justice.
“The decisions related to gender and indigenous peoples are welcome developments,” said Sébastien Duyck, a senior attorney for CIEL. The climate talks, he said, are “where theory becomes practice, with real consequences for communities around the globe.
3- by Brad Plumer read New York Times article here November 18, 2017
November 20 2017 by Andrew Deutz, Director of International Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy; Read full article here
Over the past two weeks, leaders and representatives from around the world came together to build on the promise of the Paris Agreement.
The conference gets a grade of “meets expectations.” The negotiators got down to the orderly business of working out the rules to implement, assess, and advance the Paris Agreement. The processes did not get overly distracted by the U.S. government’s announced withdrawal from the accord. In fact, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron celebrated the energy generated by the leadership of U.S. governors and mayors. Nevertheless, the absence of national U.S. leadership was evident within the negotiating process this week and for driving more ambitious climate action in the future.
Two years after adopting the Paris Agreement, the global climate policy process is on cruise-control in the race toward a low-carbon, resilient future. We are still headed in the right direction, but since the U.S. took its foot off the accelerator, the risk of global climate action slowing down has increased. the pace of increasing ambitions has slowed down. It’s time for someone to jump in the driver’s seat and floor it.
Outside of the formal negotiations, the climate conference is also the world’s biggest trade fair of innovation and inspiration on climate action, and there were clear signs of commitments:
In the two years since Paris, governments, companies, and communities around the world have stepped up to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the risks they face from climate change. Taking climate action presents huge opportunities for innovation in all facets of human life – in how the world produces and uses energy, designs buildings and cities, and conserves and uses lands and coastlines. Every day, new thinking and science is emerging to contribute to safer communities, stronger economies, and healthier lands and waters.
2017 has shown us in a myriad of places that the negative impacts of climate change are upon us. We are in the race towards a low-carbon, prosperous and healthy future, being chased by a poorer and less secure one. It’s time to accelerate.
Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?
[Ellie’s Note: this UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP23) meeting in Bonn continued the process of agreeing on the rules for implementing the Paris Accords. This is a multi-year consensus effort. After 5 years of debate, according to an UN Food and Ag Organization (FAO) leader and others, parties agreed to include agriculture in the Paris Agreement rule book (more on the importance of the rule book here) for the first time. See some background on UNFCC’s discussions around agriculture and land use here. Agriculture as a source of GHG emissions but also as a part of the solution was on the agenda in this year’s COP23 unlike ever before according to many people I spoke with.]
November 17, 2017 read today’s full Climate Home Bonn Bulletin here
That is the summary of the questions to be answered through the “talanoa dialogue”, which officially starts as these talks wrap up. Fiji will convene a year-long process alongside 2018 [UNFCCC COP24] hosts Poland, according to an informal note published late on Thursday.
The plan, which they will ask ministers to endorse this afternoon, takes the UN special report on 1.5C due next September as a key input – anchoring that and not 2C as the target. A draft “Bula momentum for implementation” confirmed the need for an extra meeting next year to make sure the Paris rulebook gets finished….
By Ellie Cohen November 16, 2017
An interesting experience here at COP23 in Bonn has been to attend some press conferences. See here for the full listing of press conferences and other meetings held at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Convention of the Parties (COP23). I believe they are strictly limited to 30 minutes. Some are scientific presentations with a media Q&A (see example below).
Speakers include renowned climate scientists from around the world as well as leaders of major nonprofits and others. It is interesting just to look through the list (from Nov 6- Nov 17, 2017) and fascinating to watch some of them!
Here is an example of one:
|7:00 -08:00||Dr. Johannes Lehmann, Soil organic carbon sequestration and food security|
FYI, in case you are interested, here is a link to a short overview video showing the location and layout of the “Bula Zone” restricted to the country delegations, observer organizations (like Point Blue) and IGOs (intergovernmental organization). And here is a link to a 2 minute video showing more of the “Bonn Zone” portion of the UN climate meeting (the Bonn zone is open to many others nominated by those in the first group.