Climate change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations, IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Magisterial Lectures | Antonio G M La Viña, JSD – Forward, Backward, Forward
In this process, i have moved from one role to another in the last three decades. As an activist as a negotiator for a developing country as a high government official as a facilitator in the process and also as an academic, combating climate change can be compared to a tug of war between countries with different interests and right now, unfortunately, were losing the Fight and is now faced with a global emergency that threatens global stability and prosperity. To defeat this threat, the world must come together and cooperate based on common interests and shared values. In this lecture, i will highlight the role of science in the negotiations. I will discuss geopolitics of climate change, emphasizing national interest in the role of non state actors. I will point to four phases in the climate change negotiations before reflecting on the lessons we can learn and best practices. We can distill from the last 30 years and then i will end with a prognosis what we can expect from the climate change negotiations as we hopefully exceed from the pandemic. There would be no climate change, agree agreement or even the last agreement, the paris agreement, if the scientists of the world through the intergovernmental panel and climate change, did not do their jobs. The most important milestones of the climate negotiations are directly linked to the ipcc assessment reports. Thus, the first assessment report in 1990 led to the united nations general assembly resolution creating an intergovernmental negotiating committee that would draft the united nations framework convention on climate change.
The second assessment report issued in 1996 was critical in providing information to governments as we negotiated the kyoto protocol in 1997.. The third assessment report, completed in 2001, led to the adoption of the roots of the kyoto protocol in the marakash meeting that year. The fourth assessment report released in 2007 paved the way for countries to adapt the bali action plan that year and finally, the fifth assessment report came out in 2014, just as we were wrapping up the negotiations for the parties agreement, giving us the necessary nudge to close The deal, and today we eagerly await the release of the ipcc, six assessment report, which will provide us the scientific input to make the next generation decisions that will hopefully finally help the world address climate change effectively. At this point, let me diverge for a minute to pay tribute to dr gemma narisma executive director of the manila observatory and physics, professor of ateneo de manila university. That is her in the slide in front of the solar building of manila observatory, where she and her team of climate scientists did their work and have been doing their work for the last 20 years. Gemma was one of the leading lights of the ipcc. A coordinating lead author of the sixth assessment report, a well respected climate scientist globally, one of the best science communicators in the world, even as gemma, got seriously ill. In 2020, she tried to work on her ipcc duties as long as possible.
She was a paragon of excellence and compassion and brought light. Color, wonder and joy wherever she went. Geopolitics of climate change is complicated and would require a whole semester to completely understand. So i wont attempt that here. Instead, i will discuss three principles in the climate change convention that reflects the diversity and conflicting interests of countries. First, the principle of historical responsibility: the accumulation of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere which is closing causing climate change is the result mainly of emissions from developed states. The first countries to industrialize – but this is not static in that big developing countries – have also exposed exponentially grown their emissions in the 20th and 21st century, and even middle income. Countries like the philippines are doing the same. Second, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities or cbdr, which acknowledge that climate change is a global problem and therefore everyone every country must do something about it, reduce emissions and assist others to do the same as well assist others to adapt. But one should do so and contribute to others, depending only on a countrys historical responsibility and means to do so now. These are rational principles and we as well accept that, but how they have been interpreted through the years has been contentious. The slide i showed earlier reflects the diversity of these countries. There are different types of developing countries, there are different types of developed countries and that continues to evolve today, and alliances continue to evolve today, its the main reason that progress is low and that the climate change negotiation experience is an experience, often of one step forward And one step backward its, not just countries that are in the climate change process.
I must highlight the influence of non state actors in the climate negotiations from the very beginning environmental activists and think tanks have been critical in getting governments to act on climate change. Business troops were also there from the very beginning of the global process. Unfortunately, at first has a negative process: lobbying against strong steps to address climate change, but nowadays, though, business representation and lobbying in the process is more diverse and certainly more positive, local governments, on the other hand, have certainly been more constructive in the negotiations acting, for example, Through networks like e clay, which are local governments for sustainability, development organizations and think tanks like oxfam, international and south centre have been critical in pushing issues like adaptation, poverty, hunger, inequality in the negotiation agenda. Indigenous peoples have had a remarkable presence in the negotiations and among others i caucus and ive witnessed that myself has influenced decisions on forests and ecosystems. Integrity. Women have also been active in the negotiations making sure their voices are heard, given the burden imposed on them by the impacts of climate change and the cost of responding to them. Church and religious groups are always present in climate meetings, lending the moral voice for the call for more ambitious action. I do not exaggerate when i say that pope francis laudato cs encyclical had a big impact in the 2015 party stocks. I actually heard foreign ministers and diplomats quote pope francis in those talks. Finally, in the last three years, the powerful voice of greta, turnberg and youth activists all over the world has immensely changed the political atmosphere on climate change, pressuring and inspiring decision makers to be more ambitious and meet the moment just in time as the climate emergency accelerates.
Let me now discuss the agenda of the climate negotiations as it evolved in the last 30 years, and let me do this with a caveat. The agendas of overlap and the sequence is more complicated than it looks for the first 10 years from 1990 to 2000. The focus was on pressuring developed countries to reduce or stabilize their emissions, and this was right because of the historical responsibility, but then, from 2000 to 2007, adaptation emerges as an agenda equal to mitigation because we were experiencing now climate change in our countries, including in the Philippines with developing countries demanding that developed countries support adaptation in poor countries from 2007 to 2015 mitigation by all and support for adaptation is now accepted by most countries. Leadership of developed countries is still emphasized, but china, for example, reluctantly at first but later does it accept it begins to accept it as a global responsibility. From 2015 onwards, climate justice and human rights rises up to the agenda of the climate process, with the preamble recognizing fundamental price principles of climate justice and human rights and the loss and damage mechanism established in the paris agreement. Even if its details are still to be negotiated, some highlights to the years in berlin. In 1995, we decided to launch the kyoto protocol negotiations in 1997 in kyoto, japan, the protocol was adapted in 2000 in the hague. The conference of the parties had a stalemate and could not adopt the implementing rules of the kyoto protocol.
More ominous that year was the election of george w bush as president of the united states, as he would later pull out the u.s from the kyoto agreement. But in 2001 in marrakesh, the parties finally approved the rules of the kyoto protocol, paving the way for its ratification and entry into force, but without the u.s the kyoto protocols impact is going to be limited. The 2005 meeting in montreal is important because the agenda of how to protect and enhance forest in developing countries is introduced in that meeting later. This is called the red plus, which negotiations by 2009 i will be assigned to lead and to facilitate the 2006 meeting in nairobi is also critical for its adoption of an adaptation program which developing countries have been fighting for and then. Finally, in this phase in bali in 2007, reviewing the state of the science and alarm at what they were seeing. Governments adopted the bali action plan with an ambitious goal to have a new climate agreement by 2009. The plan was to meet in copenhagen in 2009. Unfortunately, when we did arrive in copenhagen, the conference was a fiasco and no agreement was reached. It took another year for the process to recover, but in 2010 the cancun agreements on climate change were adopted, its a good agreement. These were good agreements, it included an agreement to establish the green climate fund and to proceed with finalizing a red plus framework that incorporated human rights and environmental safeguards, while also providing incentives for developing countries to protect and enhance their forests.
A year later, in 2011 in durban, south africa, the parties to the convention decided to try again for a big agreement, but this time learning the lesson from copenhagen we allowed for four years for governments to negotiate and draft such agreement deciding to meet again in 2015. In paris, france, for that purpose, but before paris, tour meetings in doha in warsaw and in lima, where progress on a new agreement was slowly achieved and just during this time that climate, justice and human right human rights emerged to the top of the negotiating agenda. In warsaw, in 2013, the parties adopted a warsaw international mechanism on loss and damage with the philippines as one of its strongest advocates. Ironically, the meeting coincided with the devastation typhoon yolanda internationally named haiyan inflicted in the visayan islands of the philippines, with thousands killed by the storm surge in lima in 2014. The philippines would support only of a few countries advocated for human rights language to be incorporated in the paris agreement by the first negotiating meeting. However, in 2015, in geneva switzerland, dozens of countries had come around to support the philippine proposal, and you will see later on that thats adapted in the paris agreement, the paris agreement, its not a perfect agreement for sure, but its a good agreement and, more importantly, it Was drafted in such a way that can it can be improved over time? We can increase ambition, for example, which we are trying to do now.
The paris agreement adopts two targets 2 and 1.5, and it should be clear now that 1.5 degrees celsius is the upper limit for global temperature increase is a better target. The paris agreement have mitigation and adaptation mandates that countries must include their obligations in their obligations under the agreement. What is called nationally, determined contributions, whats clear, is that the climate emergency now requires higher end disease by everyone, including the philippines, climate, finance and other support is in the agreement, but they must be increased and made legally demandable. The sustainable development mechanism in the paris agreement is good, but it needs to be designed properly with the right safeguards. So there is no green, washing or shifting of responsibilities to developing countries and yes, as ive said earlier, its good that human rights and climate justice has been incorporated in the paris agreement. But theres a lot of work still to do to give flesh to those principles, and this includes designing a workable loss and damage mechanism that will help countries and communities who suffer from climate change. Let me conclude now by summarizing my lessons learned and i do want to emphasize with this slide the impressions with the impressions of greta thornberg, al gore and bernaditz mueller, the famous filipina primate negotiator and one of the toughest and most effective among developing country negotiators. When i impressed that leadership matters in the climate negotiations and greta gore and ditas, who died two years ago, are examples of such leadership that has made progress possible in the climate negotiations.
We need more of them in the negotiations, but in addition to leadership, as i have emphasized in this lecture, there are also other things that are important. One respect the science be guided by the ipcc: two be inclusive, transparent, participatory, allow non stake, actors to give ideas to propose solutions; number three be flexible, adaptive and imaginative. We have seen that in the forest negotiations lets do that in the loss and damage negotiations. Number four acknowledge diversity of national interest, which means we must be strategic about the national politics of countries like the united states or brazil, for example, for the u.s whats good about the paris agreement is that we have found what might be an effective way to u.s Proof the climate process, so we are not too dependent on who is the u.s president to get the big country to do its part? I am hopeful for the future of the climate process with the u.s back in with many big countries adopting net neutrality goals. Others increasing ambition with young people demanding ambitious action with climate justice at the center of the agenda. The next meeting in glasgow could be a turning point. Finally, we might be able to say this generation has done its duty and we will live a better kinder. More just world for children, grandchildren and future generations. We can win this tug of war by making the global climate negotiations an experience of forward forward and always forward Music.