COP24: The Smarter Path to Human Freedom

The COP24 opens amid reports of dangerous climate disruption. Major scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the US Global Change Research Program find the human cause is clear, and impacts are steadily worsening. Those impacts are pervasive and compounding; they directly threaten human wellbeing, as well as the sovereignty of individuals, communities, and nation states.

The 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change requires the nations of the world work together “to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Paris Agreement commits 195 nations to implement nationally determined contributions to the global climate-related transition process, to meet that mandate.

This year’s annual UN climate talks are required by the official process to deal with a few key structural issues for Paris and Convention implementation:

  • Paris Rulebook — including timelines, targets, ways of working across borders and across sectors, technology transfer and financing standards and incentives.
  • Talanoa Dialogue — A required Facilitative Dialogue process, to encourage shared learning, mutual empowerment, to step up ambition in national climate action strategies (NDCs).
  • Finance — At the High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance, and in other negotiations, to examine and advance climate-related finance activity.

Signals of Paris progress are getting stronger. There is more wealth moving through climate-related financial instruments than ever before.

  1. Climate bonds and green bonds are accelerating rapidly.
  2. Commitments to green capital markets are moving forward.
  3. The G20 Leaders statement calls for high ambition from COP24 and commits to the decarbonization of the global economy.
  4. Clean renewables continue to dominate new energy investment.
  5. The path to 100% climate-smart finance is coming into view.

During the In-Session Workshop on Long-Term Climate Finance, at the SB48 negotiations in Bonn, in May, it became clear that economy-wide resilience intelligence would be required to maximize the long-term economic and energy independence of any nation.

The right to know gives background significance to the whole complex, evolving landscape of issues under consideration at COP24. Not only should free, prior and informed consent attach to any major decision or initiative that has the potential to generate harm; it should be part of how we engage with food, water, energy, politics, and finance.

  • Where information is lacking, we should not shrug our shoulders and move on; we should find ways to find, build, and share useful and trusted information.
  • Not only do we need to make our own activities as smart as possible; we need to empower all other actors to do so as well.
  • Climate disruption has opened up new opportunities for thinking about how to inform and empower each other and make our way of working in the world more sustainable.

We need to reveal hidden costs, wherever we can, and make sure we avoid them, wherever we can—especially by mitigating overall future risk.

After 11 years of patient relationship-building by citizen volunteers across the United States, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives, last week. The three Republicans and three Democrats co-sponsoring the bill have sent a clear message: the broad political center of American politics can work beyond politics, beyond ideology, to solve this unprecedented challenge, and the solution can be good for the Main Street economy.

For reference, the The Paris Principles ask that any effort to capture the hidden costs of carbon emissions embody the same climate, economic, and administrative virtues. There is value not only to the climate, and to the environmental integrity of our economic activity, but also to the viability of industries that depend on others carrying these hidden costs.

Undervaluing of the right to know has put such businesses (and national economies and policy-makers) in a precarious position. While the situation as it is may include some ongoing market dominance, the basic transcendent right of people to access evidence and correct injustice, combined with rapidly advancing new technologies and business models, will worsen the risk of sudden collapse for out-of-date industries.

The COP24 can provide strategic guidance to all such industries, nations, leaders, and investors — to help ensure they are developing resilience intelligence, putting enabling policies in place, and accelerating their own pathways to participation in a climate-smart future.

  • The Paris Rulebook should structurally facilitate such knowledge-sharing, facilitative mutual empowerment, and climate-smart investment.
  • The Talanoa Dialogue should map the steady raising of ambition, as Parties learn from their most capable subnational actors, and from each other.
  • Climate-related finance should move beyond dedicated additional public spending, to align with economy-wide resilience intelligence.

Every person is a climate stakeholder. The more we align our collaborative future-building efforts with that fact, and with the Paris Agreement’s high ambition, the more secure, prosperous and free the human future will be.

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About The CCEN Team

The Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network is a global framework to support and expand direct citizen and stakeholder engagement in the intergovernmental climate negotiating process. It emerged from the Pathway to Paris project—with the support of Citizens’ Climate Education and Citizens’ Climate Lobby, in collaboration with the UN Millennium Campaign and the World We Want platform—and launched at the COP21 in Paris. The CCEN has produced a Talanoa Dialogue Engagement Toolkit, to ensure that every person everywhere is welcome to participate in the shift to a thriving climate future.