Climate Negotiations and Action

Paris Climate Agreement: What do East African Stakeholders Think?

After two weeks of intense negotiations, nearly 200 countries agreed on a Paris Climate Agreement through which they have committed to cut their carbon emissions and shift towards a low-carbon economy. Going forward, East African Climate Negotiators to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were updated at this meeting about what people on the ground think about the agreement, and discuss the upcoming deadlines for this year and beyond.

Country Update Notes reflected that yet some positive steps have been taken in Paris (i.e. including for loss and damage to be included in the agreement), national stakeholders often emphasized that there is no provision for penalizing countries when they fail to undertake their commitments of reducing their emissions for instance. Moreover, it was emphasized that there is no mention of food security and agriculture in the Paris agreement itself, but it does not mean that it should not be included in the INDCs, and future negotiating positions of EAC countries.

Stakeholders emphasized that the more challenging part will be the implementation of the Paris agreement, to be able to reach the goals set in December 2015. To do so, public and private representatives in the EAC made clear that: (i) there is a critical need of assistance to prepare, implement, review their INDCs; (ii) More financial commitment, more technology transfer, more capacity building support from developed countries will be needed (i.e. developed countries must meet their commitments).

Recommendations to EAC Climate Negotiators & Policy Makers:

  • They should communicate more on outcomes of COP21, their effects at national level, as well as build awareness around climate negotiations.
  • Developing countries must lobby for developed countries to honor their commitment to finance the climate change initiatives by vulnerable developing countries.
  • They should push for early ratification from all countries.
  • Negotiators must pay attention on issues related to Agriculture since most of African countries are surviving on it.
  • Policy makers must create a conducive structure permitting to access climate funds from Green Climate Fund and other UNFCCC financing mechanisms.
  • Policy makers must be proactive and benefit from UNFCCC technology transfer scheme through Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN).
  • Negotiators must insist on effectiveness and accountability of all UNFCCC mechanisms and bodies in place to avoid redundancy within the system.
  • Decision makers and Negotiators need to strengthen communication and involve many stakeholders before and after all climate negotiation sessions, including CSOs, consumers and private sector

Discussions and Way Forward

Forum participants thanked CUTS for launching this forum. It will be a great opportunity for sharing ideas and best experiences concerning climate actions. It was emphasized that specific discussions following Paris agreement are taking place country by country, although EAC countries should work on having clear and common position for next negotiations. Such forum could be a great tool to try to harmonize negotiators’ views and be informed on policy work and other actions taking place in other EAC countries. Negotiators agreed that it will be critical to consider agriculture and food security when continuing the negotiations, to be able to sustainably fight climate change and poverty in the region.

Reacting on a suggestion made in some country update notes that policy makers and negotiators should mobilize internal resources to implement Paris agreement and INDCs, some affirmed that those funds would allow only funding of raising awareness activities and that developed countries, in parallel, should support adaptation and mitigation actions through climate funds (as promised in the past).

When talking with stakeholders back from Paris, negotiators heard that the language of the agreement was too weak, not legally binding. However, a forum participant emphasized that Paris is not the end of the road and that future negotiations will offer opportunities to strengthen the language and commitments. Moreover, INDCs will allow climate to be included in development actions, strengthening policy processes already in place, and will give the signal that EAC countries are ready to implement the Paris agreement.

CUTS will be organizing the next forum meeting in May 2016. Forum participants are invited to send their topic suggestions for the next meetings shortly after the AMCEN meeting of April 20th. It has also been emphasized in the forum that climate negotiators have the opportunity to ask CUTS for on-demand research studies, at specific time of negotiations for instance.