By Simon Lhoest
Hi IFSA Community!
Here is my report for the first day of COP21 in Paris! Unfortunately, we were not allowed to assist at the opening ceremony. Thousands of people are present in Le Bourget and we have observers’ badges, allowing us to access only at some key events during the conference. At the site of COP21, there are several halls with a lot of rooms dedicated to exhibits, conferences on key topics, meetings, TV interviews and press reporters. The main interesting activities that we can share with you are side events: these are conferences of 1.5 hours consisting of key speakers’ presentations followed by Q/A. Here is a short resume of the three side events that I have followed today.
The first side event was about the key issues of COP21, especially for developing countries. The main objective of this COP is to know where we are going in terms of global temperature increase for the future. This is also the occasion to revise the previous agreements and to deal with adaptation as a consequence of climate change (notably for losses and damages), even if the possible actions are quite limited. Su Wei, the representative of China, also insisted on the importance of developed countries responsibility in historical GHG emissions. They consequently have the duty to use technologies and funding to help developing countries for limiting poverty and climate change. New agreements will definitively be based on climate justice (i.e. climate finance). This concept is not the same as solidarity, but just an application of historical responsibilities. However, negotiators only have three days to make an agreement on those points. The Prime Minister of India, Ravi Prasad, also added that developing countries already have ambitious programs to limit their GHG emissions but they are not still enough to stay below a global increase of 2 degrees. The use of previous funds allowed from developed countries to developing ones is not clear and will have to be explained in details in future negotiations.
The second side event that I followed was a debate around concrete projects linked to REDD+ framework at the interface of biodiversity, climate change and human rights. Presentations were focusing on the cases of Madagascar, Brazil and Indonesia. The island of Madagascar is currently in a concrete phase for REDD+ development, for diverse types of ecosystems: mangroves, restored forests, etc. In Brazil, some local initiatives show that a real coalition between local stakeholders is possible to reduce deforestation. Even if illegal activities continue and no commitment for restoration of forests is taken, the rate of deforestation in Brazilian Amazon rainforest is really lower (more than 80% lower) that in the beginning of the century. However, the Cerrado forests are today more deforested that Amazonian forest in Brazil. In Indonesia, annually deforested areas reached more than 800,000 hectares in 2012, mainly because of palm oil plantations. The RSPO certification is currently applied in some of the palm oil exploited areas.
The third and last side event for me on Monday the 30th November was analyzing the opportunity of climate change to accelerate integration and development of Africa. This continent is heavily impacted by climate change, mainly with intense droughts and floods. Generally, droughts in a zone are counterbalanced by higher crops productions in other regions. There is therefore a high necessity to integrate and optimize the system of crops production and trade at an adapted scale. For the future, it will also be necessary to work more on risks assessment. The observing systems have to be improved. Indeed, for example, climatic data are not sufficient among the whole continent to rely on robust statistic analyses. There is also a high necessity to make a junction between scientists and institutions dealing with climate challenges.
Do not hesitate to make comments and stay connected to follow our news every day during this decisive conference!