A flurry of activity over the next 100 days will set the course for the global response to climate change, with dramatic implications for the world’s poor. We bring you the highlight reel – the big things to keep your eye on from September through December.
This blog was co-authored by Heather Coleman, Climate Change Policy Manager at Oxfam America, and Vicky Rateau, GROW Campaign Manager at Oxfam America.
This fall is a big one for people and the planet. Throughout the next 100 days, global leaders will convene in a series of meetings leading up to the 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris where negotiations will set the course for the global response to climate change for the future, with potentially dramatic implications for the world’s poor. Mobilization efforts are growing bigger as people from around the world are demanding action from leaders. We’ve waded through all of the meeting agendas and policy debates and brought you the highlight reel – the big things to keep your eye on from now through December.
Here’s what you need to know:
Eyes on Washington, New York, and Pope Francis
Pope Francis has raised environmental issues – especially the climate crisis – to a new level. Speaking to more than 1 billion Catholics around the world, the Pope is a powerful and influential voice. From September 23-24th, the Pope will meet with President Obama and address Congress, the first pope in history to do so. His visit comes at a particularly crucial time as Congress makes decisions on the upcoming budget, which includes the first payment of President Obama’s pledge to the Green Climate Fund. The Fund is vital in helping developing countries build resilience to climate-related disasters and reducing carbon pollution. (Take action: Support the Green Climate Fund.)
On September 25th, the Pope will open the UN General Assembly followed by a Heads of State meeting in New York, which will focus on climate.
At both stops, Pope Francis is expected to emphasize that we have a moral imperative to act on climate change and poverty – themes from his new encyclical Praised Be. As the first pope to release an encyclical specifically focused on the environment and climate change, his addresses to Congress and the UN General Assembly provide significant moments to inspire action from key world leaders. And this is an even more important moment to link climate to issues of inequality and poverty, as world leaders will come together to commit to the new Sustainable Development Goals, which recognize that we can’t eradicate hunger and poverty without tackling climate change.
Many people will take to the streets, urging governments to take Moral Action around key climate issues, including a rapid phase out of fossil fuels. In New York and Paris, large concerts such as Global Citizen and Live Earth will bring together celebrities, youth and climate advocates, making the call for global action. Pacific Island leaders whose countries could be underwater in the future will mobilize, and we will see more from developing countries as the clock ticks down.
Global moments, big decisions –The World Bank Annual Meeting and World Food Day
Be prepared for whiplash in October as the pace continues to quicken. Climate negotiators have a mandate to come up with text for a new agreement by the first week of October. EU member states will make decisions on a few key policy opportunities to score the climate financing needed to deliver to developing countries. From October 9-11th, the World Bank annual meeting in Lima will be a big moment for climate finance. Specifically, finance ministers will have an extraordinary meeting to discuss the roadmap to mobilize $100 billion by 2020. While this is only one piece of the broader climate finance puzzle for Paris (it gets even tougher in a post-2020 context), it is a critical component of securing finance for poor people, and for developed countries to show that they are taking their commitments.
Put your marching sneakers on! October 16th is World Food Day – a day established by the United Nations to focus the world’s attention on hunger and food security. This year, World Food Day is a lightning rod for the climate discussion as the changing climate – higher temperatures, changing rainfall, more intense storms – are already severely impacting growing regions around the world, and thus threatening the food security, nutrition, and earning capacity of millions of the world’s poor. Throughout Africa and Asia, mobilizations led by farmers, women, students and communities feeling the biggest impacts from climate change will push their governments to show strong leadership in Paris. The tremendous People’s Climate March we saw last year in New York will be followed-up by actions around the US on October 14th.
Around the world, educational, advocacy, and organizing efforts will continue the refrain: make the link: We cannot address hunger without tackling climate change.
The final stretch on the journey through Paris
On November 1st, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat will provide a synthesis review of what countries are bringing to the table in terms of emissions reduction contributions(INDCs.) No one expects these pledges will be enough to keep climate change below the most dangerous levels. The analysis will tell us how much further we need to go to close the emissions gap. It will put pressure on countries to come up with a series of agreements in Paris that provide a credible process for measurement, reporting and verification, and for strengthening commitments over time.
The Green Climate Fund will hold its final 2015 board meeting in early November where they will approve the first set of poor country projects to receive funds. This will send a strong signal on the types of projects the Fund is likely to support and will demonstrate that the Fund is open for business.
From November 15-16th, (two weeks before COP21), negotiations begin in the G20 conference in Turkey. This meeting is the first time the G20 energy ministers will meet in the G20, putting energy issues at the center of the agenda. The G20’s positions on climate change will be vitally important in setting the right tone for the Paris talks. The hope is that the G20 will reiterate the goal of limiting rising temperature change to below 2 degrees, and provide momentum in the lead up to the Paris negotiations on outstanding issues of importance – namely, financial reform and long-term goals for phasing out fossil fuels.
The moment of truth
The 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change – COP21 – officially begins on November 30 and will consist of two weeks of intense negotiations to push us over the finish line of reaching agreement around a new framework for collaborative global action on climate change. What happens in Paris will usher us into a new era of multilateralism in addressing climate change. As leaders convene, we’ll be actively engaged, influencing a deal that we hope is fair to all.
On the streets, the mobilizations will pick-up: November 28th and 29th are big moments for organizing and projecting voices around the world. In Paris, a march similar to the biggest one we saw in New York last year – the People’s Climate March – will make known the will and energy of a growing climate justice movement. Because real climate action will require that individuals, private sector, and governments all play a role, the momentum will continue after the negotiation of talking heads. We hope you will take part.