“Connecting people for change”: that is what Both ENDS did at the COP
After a busy week filled with side-events, meetings, negotiations and covid, our colleagues Daan and Niels are back in the office in Utrecht. Together, they look back to their expereiences and results during the climate conference COP27 in Egypt.
How useful is a climate conference like this?
Niels: It's the best and worst global climate process that we have. A conference like COP shows the power generated by everyone being in the same place at the same time. In a little more than a week I spoke to leading Dutch political figures like Diederik Samsom and Rob Jetten, members of the Dutch parliament, ministers from other countries, dozens of Both ENDS' partners and climate activists from all over the world, and made a wide range of useful new contacts. The conversations in the corridors at the conference are so important for the negotiations that take place throughout the day. Your world literally becomes smaller.
Daan: That applies even more to our partners who are much less familiar with having access to policymakers at international events. It's my mission during such a conference to give our partners a podium on wchih to make their voices heard – connecting people for change. Our side-events are an example of that. In the session about gender-just climate finance, some GAGGA partner organisations engaged directly with representatives of the Canadian government, the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund on the need for giving local women and indigenous organisations a central role in the fight against climate change. And in our session on finance for acroecology, Rosinah Mbenya from our partner PELUM Kenya had the opportunity to cross examine one of the directors of IFAD. Niels and I were also able to facilitate many bilateral meetings between our partners and policymakers. This served to increase the sense of urgency among policymakers on these themes – some called it a reality check during their negotiations. Lastly it gave many partners the motivation and strength to continue their struggle, a factor that should not be underestimated and which also resounds in their local communities.
Niels: At the same time, there was a record number of fossil lobbyists at the conference, going around with 'green' sales pitches and false solutions. And they had a gigantic impact.
Tell us more: what impact did the fossil lobbyists have?
Niels: Civil society organisations and activists have been calling for years for fossil fuels to be included in the final texts of climate conferences. Last year there was a breakthrough with the phasing out of coal and fossil subsidies being referred to. But oil and gas have remained out of the firing line this year. The good news is that more than 80 countries, including Europe and now India too, want them to be mentioned. And there was a lot of discussion about them at this COP.
What were you lobbying the hardest for at this COP, and did you have some success?
Niels: After signing an agreement at COP26 last year, together with 38 other countries and financial institutions, to put an end to public funding for international coal, oil and gas projects, the Netherlands has now published the weakest policy of all those countries. I naturally wanted to do something about that. But climate and energy minister Rob Jetten dug in his heels at the conference and refused to abandon the transition period, leaving the door open for the fossil industry for another year. But that fight has not yet been lost: there's still to be a debate on the issue in the Dutch parliament!
Daan: My advocacy activities were focused on our GAGGA call to action for Gender Just Climate Finance, in which we call for local access to climate finance. This I discussed with the Dutch and Canadian delegations, the various climate funds and other actors like the Global Centre for Adaptation. Again, this topic that I have been promoting for many years, found resonance among many of those I spoke to but implementation remains severely lacking. Countless adaptation initiatives on which our partners are working – such as agroecological practices, but also other gender-just climate solutions – are ready to be financed but, due to a series of factors (and more importantly, choices!), climate financing is hardly finding its way to them.
For the first time, together with our partners, I was given concrete answers about the deployment of small grants funds to serve as bridges between the bureaucracy that stands in the way between climate financing and local initiatives. In the coming period, we will continue to advocate on the urgency of this with renewed vigour. But regarding this year's negotiations, it was disappointing to see how the outcomes on gender were somewhat diluted. Not surprising, but quite worrying nevertheless.
What do you both see as the most important breakthrough this year?
Niels: The main issues this year was loss and damage. If you cannot prevent climate change and cannot adapt to it, as with the floods in Pakistan, then that damage – economic and emotional - will occur. This year, the most vulnerable countries called for a loss and damage fund to be set up. And that is coming. That means, finally, recognition for people who are already suffering damage. Now we need to see the money. With a fossil industry that for the time being faces far too little resistance, I am very careful about getting overly enthusiastic. Because this is still a drop in the ocean.
Daan: I agree with Niels that a Loss & Damage Fund is an important step in the right direction, especially for the recognition and, to a certain extent, restoration of confidence among the countries of the Global South in this process, whichcould certainly do with a boost after many broken promises. However, I hope that the new Loss & Damage Fund does not come at the expense of other climate finance. Furthermore, 12 years ago when the Green Climate Fund was set up, the pledge was made to invest a large part of the 100 billion a year in mitigation and adaptation projects in the Global South, with many opportunities for smaller, transformational projects led by local organisations. This promise has not materialised, even after many awkward – to put it mildly – board meetings, so as civil society organisations it is our task to continue to push for access to this money for those in the Global South who need it the most. Because, at the end of the day, that's what it's all about!
And Niels, what are you going to focus on?
Niels: There are quite a few issues I'd hoped to have seen addressed at this climate conference, but which were not. The Netherlands and other rich countries, for example, should have joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance and signed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. By doing so, the Netherlands would have taken its responsibility to finally stop extracting oil and gas in the Netherlands itself, such as below the Waddenzee, and stop providing fossil grants.
In addition, the financial sector should be compelled by law to set reduction goals, and fossil advertisements should also be banned. But above all, I will continue to work hard to achieve the correct implementation of the Glasgow Declaration: 100% fossil-free export credit insurance!
* Also read the report about the side-event on gender-just climate finance on the GAGGA website.
** More finance for agroecological initiatives was one of our goals for this climate conference.
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