Whether the Paris Conference (COP21) process leads to success or is perceived as a failure, it now seems that even if they disagree on the path, the large majority of players share the same goal. It is this joint concern and dynamic that CLIMATE BRIDGES wants to underline and preserve.
To speed up the implementation of the Paris agreement and avoid time being wasted on accusations about whose responsibility failure in Paris would be, CLIMATE BRIDGES proposes two complementary approaches:
- Create a space for informal mediation to convene participants committed to maximize the chances of a positive outcome;
- Moderate a series of Public Debates before and during the United Nations conference in Paris, reflecting and possibly impacting the progress of formal negotiations.
Also, this approach will insure a forceful and strategic handover between COP21 and COP22, not forfeit the implementation of commitments and achieve new results.
The urgency of urgency
As we near the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21 will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11), the fear - or intent - of failure to reach significant agreements looms over the horizon.
While a number of governments still have a minimalist approach to Climate Change, a significant component of civil society believes that the overall process is not meaningful enough and says : “we don’t want COP22, we want COP 1”. And so, as we noted on July 29 in New York at the High Level Event on Climate Change, the urgency for action is compounded by the urgency among those actors (UN, governments or NGOs) that deeply want to see an agreement reached at the Paris Conference, a lasting agreement beyond 2030. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, regretted the current negotiations on climate change were too slow, saying: “they advance at a snail's pace".
This feeling of urgency hasn’t abated, far from it.
So it is in this context that Bridge Initiative International, through CLIMATE BRIDGES and the knowledge acquired at previous United Nations conferences, hopes to serve this historic challenge. Contacts made to date with the UN, the French government, civil society and experts (see section F) suggest a real need and impetus for us to get involved.
At a time when blockages are recognized, such issues as global warming financing (between public and private sectors, between North and South, or among developing countries), monitoring and reporting, the binding nature of the Agreement, according to our interlocutors, entry points exist for us to initiate discussions and advance the negotiations themselves.
On links such as:
- Climate and trade (treaty negotiations on transatlantic and transpacific partnerships on one side, and on the Climate on the other);
- Climate and climate refugees;
- Climate and development.
Similarly, if the governments closest to reaching a significant agreement already have their own dialogue with civil society, the very fact of bringing together these actors (governments, civil society and sometimes the private sector) makes this process constructive. At first, this would mean to bring together between 20 and 30 people for exploratory purposes and together decide on the nature and frequency of the process, leading to the Paris Conference. To help overcome preconceived ideas, the first meeting should last two to three days.
Finally, we noted that following the inception of a mediation and dialogue space, it often happened that the conflicting actors made that space their own, for ends that we had not necessarily envisaged, and which proved positive for all participants.
Bridge Initiative International plans to organize a series of Public Debates, open to the media and aimed at providing better information to citizens on the negotiations progress, the issues' relevance, and also to weigh on, through the Public Space, the positions of all the actors involved at COP21.
1. Is there an alternative to the COP process?
Should we do things differently to combat global warming? The idea here is to accept extreme criticism of those who think that the Summit should not take place, that the process itself is flawed. Taking into account those voices from the outset is to reduce tensions and make that part of civil society and some governments of the G77 constituent to an open and constructive dialogue and inherent to the official process.
2. COP21: last chance saloon?
Some have the feeling that this process is "too little, too late”, despite it only being a few years since a few questioned the scientific basis of the alarm call about the future of our planet. How to permanently remove this question? Equally, how do we fight the growing sense of doom, our citizens’ climate fatigue, faced by the seemingly unescapable catastrophe.
3. Climate: who does what?
The skates are such and the issues so numerous, that it appears important to quickly understand who does what? And who bears responsibility? Specifically, what should be done now and by whom? It is also clear that often, government policies lag behind citizens and business initiatives. Can our collective intelligence provide concrete, immediate decisions, which impact could be radical.
4. What happens after COP21?
Whether on December 11, 2015, Paris is a success or a failure, it is essential to look to the future. Either to implement agreements, or to maintain the necessary pressure for subsequent ones, or perhaps to overhaul the process. The purpose of that debate, from December 12, will be to efficiently and lucidly project into the future, whatever it may be.
Following up towards COP22
It is clear that whatever the outcome at COP21, even a very positive one, the handover between France and Morocco, the host country in November 2016, will be critical. And that is why, in the margins of the official processes, Climate Bridges has already secured the participation of the Moroccan gouvernement and its civil society representation to its own informal processes.