Poet, Global Citizen
Hello. My name is Amber. You know… that magic light at dawn and dusk; that torch pine perfume; that healing medicine? Yes, that’s me… sometimes also called cruel ancient sap, famous for entombing prehistoric insects!
My Seventh Generation Message
PART III: LOVE LETTER FROM COP 21 IN PARIS TO THE WORLD
Part III: Love Letter From COP 21 in Paris to the World- Fiji First Country to Write Back, Ratify TODAY!
A Deeper Reflection on Why The World Reached an International Agreement at COP 21—Our Words and Tone Matter
The year 2016 marks a new era of global cooperation on climate change and sustainable development!!! Why Now— After 21 years of science-technology-business discussions and annual Conference of the Parties (COP) was this COP 21 ripe and ready to collectively and globally treat the root causes of climate change? What made this year so different? The simple answer is that we were all clearly, universally, undeniably “InSpired.” Indeed, we are becoming awake to our Naturally Intelligent future.
I have outlined seven causes of inspiration and naturally intelligent reasons for us to be inspired in 2016, I divided this article into three separate blogs. Part 1 and Part II can be found on Catherine’s Blog at World Post and covers the favorable political atmosphere, urgency, focused delegate action, positive development of the climate funds, universal voice from the business community, and openness among all nations to compromise in reaching a climate deal.
Now I invite you to read Part III of my reflections on COP 21 and the Paris Agreement. This post is centered on the language of the Agreement, and why our words, our tone, and our overall narrative matters. Just as American fear over rampant and prolific terror attacks in our country were somewhat allayed in President Obama’s last US State of the Union Address when he described our world’s real threat as one of “fallen states, not evil empires” and the real ISIS militants as a handful of terrorists with “twisted souls plotting attacks in garages”… when he put the acts of terrorism (likely a part of our lived reality the next decade) in right context, these words and his tone mattered.
JUST AS WE'VE HEARD IN THE US PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES...
And just as we’ve heard in the US Presidential debates; the more abusive Donald Trump becomes with his juvenile words toward migrants and asylum-seeking refugees, as well, the more bombastic his tone in promising to “Make America Great Again”; the more hilarious his character is perceived to serious, strategic statesmen and women outside the US as they contemplate the Fall of American Influence (Roman Empire) globally, if such a laughable buffoon ever found his way to the US Presidency. Finally, consider the Democratic front where the words– “Dreamer” versus “Doer” have become the MEME to differentiate Bernie Sanders from Hilary Clinton. Although a true leader really ought to be both, it’s striking that Bernie- the Dreamer has curiously captured the heart of America, especially the younger generation. How is it that Sanders (74) can create such a passionate following to tie in Ohio, win in New Hampshire, and pick up so much social momentum along the Democratic campaign trail to present a real challenge to a seasoned international political leader, like Hilary Clinton? How is it? In the heart of America, the majority of real people are still living and breathing social and economic hardship (exacerbated by climate change). So just like Pope Francis truth-told on the state of the environment in his Encyclical, Laudato Si, and became the World’s Pope regardless of one’s religious tradition; the unknown Bernie Sanders has built his candidacy ($25 USD person at a time) by an honest assessment of the State of our Union. He leads with true compassion for the people and a transformational mission to unplug and to reconstruct the hardwiring of a broken socio-political, economic system that’s stacked against middle class America. His campaign is not about himself; but about equal access to health, education, and a higher quality of life for everyone…and he knows which levers to pull to pay for it…so his political agenda continues to InSpire.
TURNING THEN AGAIN TO THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT...
6. Turning then again to the Paris Climate Agreement— I believe that for the same reasons Bernie Sanders continues to gain popularity across America, the COP 21 Executive Secretariat and the French Government succeeded in gaining unprecedented momentum and enthusiasm behind the final Climate Agreement among All Nations. Why? Again, the agreement led with a text and a tone filled with compassion–a “common concern for all humankind” (and nature) as the driving force behind the ambitious and urgent commitment. The text explicitly outlined more than once the “respective obligation” countries have to protect our human right to live in a non-climate polluting world – our rights as indigenous peoples, migrants, children, women, and persons with disabilities…everyone. In truth, all people living in vulnerable situations, it was universally decided have a human right to Climate Justice. As Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland) who has fought for climate justice many years and as Venezuela’s well-known Chief Envoy to the Climate Conference, Claudia Salerno, who stood her ground during the difficult COP 15 in Copenhagen- both suggested during the closing of the Paris COP 21, the inclusion of this language in the final text reflects a gigantic leap forward in global concern for the common good and represents humanity at its best. The all-inclusive nature, text, and tone of the agreement inspired all countries ultimately to show up with their best efforts, intentions, and national plans to address climate change. Urgent now is to keep that inspired vision alive because now the work needs to be done. As well, only April 22, 2016 onward will countries actually give their signatures to the agreed final text and only in the coming years will we see those expressions of compassion turn toward tangible financing and implentation on the ground. Our long journey together has only just begun. And that said, Fiji decided today, February 15th, to ratify the Climate Agreement ahead of the April signing ceremony.
FURTHER TO THE INSPIRING ENERGY AND ENGAGING TONE
Further to the inspiring energy and engaging tone of the Paris Climate Agreement text– decision points began with a blend of “welcoming, inviting, requesting, recognizing, urging, encouraging” words to inspire individual country responsibility and to stimulate collective country-country peer pressuring. This inspiration strategy served the Secretariat well to point National Party moral compasses north toward our globally common 2C, and in hot pursuit of the 1.5C temperature increase (from pre-industrial times) goal by 2030. The rigid, restrictive, directive language of the past, as well the ineffective controlling tone, and “developed versus developing” world monologue that deterred the international process years before was left behind in the dark shadows of the past.
Although less coercive in tone, the text still held great strength and collective force as it was also quite bold and honest in reiterating that even the current aggregation of the 180+ INDC commitments made by December 12th certainly did not “fall within least-cost 2C scenarios”, but only reduced cumulative emissions to 40 gigatonnes. The Agreement further bravely conveyed that current commitments would bring us to a 3C/3.3C warmer world with a projected 55 gigatonnes of carbon increase by 2030…basically not good and not acceptable. The underlying text of the Agreement reiterated again and again that every country “should” do “tonnes” more (reductions) in the coming years…And as the latest Star Wars film hit theaters worldwide, all Parties (every one of the 195 countries) agreed to be the force for positive climate action. They agreed to continuously track “global carbon stock”. They agreed to a perpetual 5-year review process and a continuous ratcheting up of INDC commitment targets & tangibles… until we actually transition to a low carbon economy. All countries agreed to account for “ emissions transparently, verifiably, and authentically, to include all categories of emissions and carbon removal across industries” in their INDCs, and to explain “why if any category was not included”. For example, this means that energy efficient measures in the transportation sector with new light rail transit can’t be neutralized by increased coal-fired power to new business-as-usual industrial plants. For example, this means that the gains of new solar energy-powered homes or communities can’t be spent by increasing deforestation, new mining operations, or further degrading land. For example, this means that emission gains from new energy-efficient, low carbon building construction can’t be (Donald) Trumped by increased production, use, and export of fossil fuels, even for desalination or petroleum-based products. Simply, the world was ready and the Paris Climate Agreement was an idea whose time had clearly come! And, every country delegation wanted to be the hero character in our “Climate Wars” to save the world from an apocalyptic 3.3C future end.
THIS WAS THE LOVE LETTER FROM PARIS TO THE WORLD...
This was the “Love Letter from Paris” that all were anxious to receive.
7. In addition to the tone and text, the entire cultural narrative of the Paris Climate Agreement elicited compassion and inspiration among delegation.
Instead of pointing fingers of blame toward neighboring countries and coalitions; this time the over-arching global narrative had also matured to one of service, support, and shared knowledge-technology exchange. While the Paris Agreement provided the global framework and primary global goals centered around the minimal 2C increase; ambitiously targeting the 1.5C increase (from pre-industrial temperatures); the brilliance of this Paris narrative was that each country was given the independence and flexibility to design their energy-development futures in infinitely innovative ways, as long as those ways (implemented INDC’s) ultimately, tangibly, quantifiably, transparently, clearly, additionally (no leakage) reduce actual carbon emissions enough to reach our real most aspirational 1.5C (350pm) goal.
And so, The Love Letter the Secretariat in Paris gave to the Country Parties to the Convention:
*You, Country Parties to the Convention understand the urgency of climate change.
*You understand our mandate to protect the future- a long-term sustainable energy future for all.
*You understand we must only choose development paths forward that do not pollute our planet.
*You acknowledge that it requires we be pioneers of new low carbon development.
*You agree that it challenges us to be heroic planners for the future—to strive to be among the first countries in the world to earn carbon neutral status, not the last.
*You are today’s heroes the world has been waiting for.
*You are inspired to ensure your country is on track to meet it’s INDC targets, but you won’t stop there. You know you can’t stop there. Nature has no boundaries for responding to our climate actions.
*Thus, You also agree to be “transparent in translating your country INDCs” into clean energy designs and avoid all “double-counting” of carbon mitigation efforts. Yes, indeed we have come to a crossroads in our journey together, where we both know we must now truth-tell. The time has come for us to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, and not stop innovating in that direction until we reach our carbon neutral destination.
LOVE LETTER CONTINUED... WE ALSO REALIZE THAT WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER.
We also realize that to do this, we will need to work together. We will need to explore clever, win-win scenarios for financing and implementing our INDCs, so other countries can meet their targets too. Why? We understand that we are only successful in reaching our 2020 (and beyond) goals if we are all on-board this solar-powered, electric train in 2016 heading toward our carbon neutral world.
Here, we can turn also to organizations like the World Resources Institute, who continue to engage in break-though cross-border country-country carbon reduction research. Here, we can turn also to visionary world leaders, who are framing cross-country collaborations. Top of mind, great cases in point include the following. Japan has loaned India soft funds to bring Japan’s Shinkansen rail technology to India. Iceland has unlocked geothermal capacities in China and Ethiopia and Mexico. United Arab Emirates (UAE) has committed to generate 75% of Dubai’s total power with clean energy by 2050 and share new technologies freely with the rest of the developing world. The High Ambition Coalition- made up of EU, Africa, Small Island Nations, and the US can also play a keystone role as an informal alliance for the long road of implementation, resourcing, technology transfer, climate mitigation, and adaptation financing ahead.
*In turn, We–the Secretariat promise to provide guidance, resource, assistance through the Ad Hoc Working Group and the Climate Technology Center and Network to help you deliver on and ratchet up your INDC (Independent Nationally Determined Commitment).
*In addition, We–the Subsidiary Bodies on Science, Technology, and Implementation, and the Paris Committee on Capacity-building promise to facilitate greater exchange of best practices, experiences, technology to continue to build greater-greater capacity for You (All Country Parties) to meet your “most aspirational” individually-determined carbon reduction goals and rapidly transition us all toward a low carbon economy… ASAP.
*And further, We—the Global Citizens of the World understand we must also do our part. This Paris Climate Agreement is also one we take to heart. We too are charged with the responsibility to evaluate our personal lifestyle decisions; realistically accounting, assessing, and ultimately also innovating ways to reduce our own carbon footprint. Why not determine independent personal-family plans (IPFP) alongside the national plans (INDCs)? Both will be important to delivering tangible, real, quantifiable carbon emissions reductions in our communities (e.g. In Los Angeles, as we’ve found natural gas can leak), in our nations (e.g. In the US, as we’ve discovered, coal-fired power plants may take longer to phase out of our national energy diet), and in our world (e.g. In global forests, as we’ve learned trees continue to be cut down without being replaced and environments regenerated).
NOW BEGINS THE NEW CHAPTER OF OUR CLIMATE JOURNEY THIS 2016...
Now begins the new chapter of our climate journey this 2016, where continued care and compassion for one another, inspired action, sharp thinking, systemic and strategic cross-country planning will lead us into the Dawn of a New Golden Age. And so, with the spirit of Maurice Strong, Wangari Maathai, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi…and others informing this process from that timeless place in space… the gavel went down.
And, Laurent Fabius, former Prime Minister of France and current Minister of Foreign Affairs, chairing this historic COP 21 declared victory for all. “Today is a moment of truth… we understand we need to examine what is truth. Thus, we conclude that we need to help Island countries in the Caribbean; and to expedite finance to most vulnerable countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. We need to support Latin America in preserving forests; and fossil fuel countries to diversify energy plans… The whole world is waiting… nature is waiting. We must protect the global society that relies on us. Let’s finish the job.” Laurent Fabius
But then, Christian Figueres, Executive Secretary UNFCCC cautioned in her Post-Paris Holiday Greeting to All: “As we celebrate this momentous step, may we remember that the journey ahead, although irreversible, will equally require our determination, our ingenuity, the best of our humanity, and above all our community of purpose.” And so we journey on… naturally, intelligently.