ATC170518: Report of the South African Parliamentary Delegation to the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Dated 18 May 2017

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

Report of the South African Parliamentary Delegation to the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 12th Session of the Conference of the Parties Serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP22/CMP12) as well as other bodies under the UNFCCC, with a particular emphasis on key features of the formal negotiations under various negotiating bodies; The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting on the occasion of COP22/CMP12, held on 13th November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco; and other Parliamentary engagements in the course of the United Nations Climate Summit, Dated 18 May 2017.
 

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs having considered the Report of the South African Parliamentary Delegation to the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to the 12th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP22/CMP12) as well as other bodies under the UNFCCC, with a particular emphasis on; Key features of the formal negotiations under various negotiations bodies, The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting on the occasion of COP22/CMP12, held On 13th November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco; and other parliamentary engagements in the course of the United Nations Climate Summit, dated 18 May 2017, report as follows:

 

1. INTRODUCTION

 

This South African parliamentary delegation report first provides an overview of the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), namely COP22; the 12th Session of the Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP12); first Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1); and the 45th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 45) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 45), as well as the second part of the first Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1-2), held in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco from 7th to18th November 2016. This first part of the report captures all the different components of climate change negotiations that the South African delegation headed by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Honourable Edna Molewa participated in.

 

Secondly, the report captures all the various parliamentary functions, key events and bilateral engagements where the South African legislators played an important role. For example, in keeping with the past practice, the parliamentary meeting on the occasion of the UNFCCC in Marrakech, Morocco, was organised jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Moroccan Parliament. As on past occasions, the Meeting was intended for parliamentarians who would be present in Marrakech for the COP22/CMP12 session as members of official national delegations or in any other capacity, such as observers representing civil society organisations. The IPU event was convened on 13th November 2016 at the Palmeraie Palace Conference Centre in Marrakech. This was the only official parliamentary activity held in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) Climate Conference, and indeed was a great and unique opportunity for the organisers to bring legislators from many countries and other parliamentary organisations together to discuss the role that legislators have in ratifying the Paris Agreement and in overseeing the implementation of the Agreement.

 

The working modality adopted at the IPU event required all agenda items to be dealt with in plenary. The programme of the Meeting typically included a series of interactive panels and keynote presentations with the participation of leading international experts and officials from the United Nations and beyond. The format of the Meeting was largely interactive, and every effort was made to avoid reading formal statements. Instead, delegates were invited to ask questions and participate in the debate by making brief statements and suggestions. No formal list of speakers was drawn up in advance and the order of interventions and questions was decided by the chairperson. It was obvious from the presentations and discussions that followed that there is a global convergence in the understanding of the challenges of climate change and the solutions thereto, as shown both in the opening remarks and the interventions as well as the questions that followed.

 

  1. South African Delegation

 

The following list constitutes the parliamentary delegation that attended the IPU event held on the occasion of COP22/CMP12 in Marrakech, Morocco, all other parliamentary engagements and side events pertinent to strengthen parliamentary law-making and oversight functions in respect to executive action:

 

Hon Mr Cedric T Frolick (MP), African National Congress (ANC): Leader of Delegation;

Hon Mr Philemon M Mapulane (MP), ANC;

Hon Mr Olifile J Sefako (MP), ANC;

 

Hon Ms Machwene R Semenya (MP), ANC;

 

Hon Ms Hilda Nyambi (MP), ANC;

 

Hon Mr Zondi S Makhubele (MP), ANC;

 

Hon Mr Mlungisi Johnson (MP), ANC;

 

Hon Ms Johni Edwards (MP), DA;

 

Hon Mr Thomas Z Hadebe (MP), DA;

Ms Phelekwa Mfuyo, Logistical support (House Chairperson);

 

Ms Tyhileka Madubela, Secretarial Support; and

 

Dr Scotney Watts, Content Support.

 

It suffices to state that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs, Hon Mr Mapulane was requested by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Hon Edna Molewa to represent her where she could not attend due to competing demands. Hon Mr Makhubele attended a “High Level Breakfast Meeting ‘on the’ Climate Justice Day” at the invitation of the Mary Robinson Foundation. Climate justice links human rights and development to achieve an anthropocentric approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable people and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts equitably and fairly. The Climate Justice Day sought to institutionalise this thinking in multilateral processes underway. In addition, all legislators were deployed to man the South African Flag at the main plenaries, where heads of country delegations were delivering their respective national positions.

 

  1. SALIENT FEATURES OF THE FORMAL Negotiations

 

The Marrakech Climate Change Conference was significant as it launched the first session of Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) in addition to the other five bodies, namely: COP22, CMP12, SBI 45, SBSTA 45 and APA 1-2. The CMA 1 launch took place following the ratification of the Paris Agreement by more than 55 Parties, representing over 55 per cent of total global emissions, thus triggering its entry into force on 4th November 2016. It is noteworthy that South Africa participated in the sessions with three main objectives: ensuring inclusiveness in the decision-making process; furthering discussions on the modalities, procedures and guidelines of the Paris Agreement; and promoting South Africa’s contribution on climate change. These three objectives have largely been achieved through the various phases of the conferences.

 

Regarding the negotiating modalities on the relevant guidelines of the Paris Agreement, including the decision-making process, after the CMA 1, South Africa considered it important to ensure the inclusiveness through participating in their discussions. This would enable all Parties to have the ownership of the relevant guidelines of the Paris Agreement, regardless of whether they are Parties to the Agreement. Conversely, during the discussions on the relevant guidelines of the Paris Agreement, developing countries argued that there should be different treatment between developed and developing countries in implementing the Paris Agreement, and developed countries were against these arguments. South Africa emphasised, with other developing countries, that the guidelines should promote all countries’ efforts on climate change and should not be used to renegotiate the Paris Agreement. South Africa also stressed that concrete work plans are needed to further the technical discussions in a timely manner toward adopting the relevant guidelines.

 

It is important to note that negotiations in Marrakech mainly focused on matters relating to the entry into force and the implementation of the Paris Agreement, including under the COP, CMP, CMA, APA, SBI and SBSTA. During the first week, work was concentrated under the APA, SBI and SBSTA, which closed on Monday, 14th November and Tuesday, 15th November. The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement and the high-level Segment was opened on Tuesday, 15th November 2016. National statements for the high-level segment were heard during the joint high-level segment of the COP, CMP and CMA from Tuesday, 15th November until the morning of Thursday, 17th November 2016. The high-level segment concluded in the afternoon of Thursday, 17th November 2016 with statements by inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations.

 

Although the Marrakech conference under the COP and CMP considered and adopted a number of decisions forwarded by the SBSTA and SBI, the overall focus of the Conference was centred on advancing negotiations on the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) in an attempt to adopt a set of decisions that would pave the way forward for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. CMA 1 decision set 2018 as the completion of the current work programme under the Conference of Parties (COP) and Ad Hoc Working group on the Paris Agreement (APA) and to the transfer to the Conference of the Parties and Meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) in 2018. Furthermore, the Conference agreed to continue the discussion on the controversial topic of possible additional matters relating to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the so-called “homeless/orphan” items. These are issues that were not specifically mandated to any subsidiary body under the UNFCCC with the exception of the items on education, training and public awareness as well as common timeframes for nationally determined contributions. These two “orphan items” were allocated by the COP22 President to the Subsidiary Body for Implementation after consultations by Parties during the closing plenary of the COP.

 

The Conference successfully demonstrated to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway and the constructive spirit of multilateral cooperation on climate change continues. As part of the Africa Group, as well as a leader of BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India & China) countries for the Marrakesh Climate Change Conference, South Africa is satisfied with the outcome of the Marrakesh climate talks, which recognised the urgency of addressing climate change through the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement, and the extension of the mandate of the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund, which may serve the Paris Agreement. The Conference reached agreement on an ambitious work programme and timeline for technical work for operationalisation of the Paris Agreement.

 

Thus, South Africa is preparing itself to fully implement the Paris Agreement and the Marrakech outcomes, having ratified the Paris Agreement on 1st November 2016. At a national level, efforts are underway to further develop South Africa’s policy and regulatory framework and to strengthen the institutions and capacity required to implement the Paris Agreement. Regarding the promotion of South Africa’s contribution on climate change, Minister Molewa signed a bilateral cooperation with German Minister of Environment. The Ministers agreed that the GIZ will be the main delivery unit to support climate change activities in South Africa. The Ministers further agreed that there is a need for effective, coordinated support to developing countries, insofar as the Paris Agreement is concerned.

 

  1. IPU EVENT ON THE OCCASION OF COP22/CMP12

 

  1. Opening Session

 

Hon Mr Hakim Benchamach (MP), President of the House of Councilors of the Kingdom of Morocco opened the IPU meeting at the Palmeraie Palace Conference Centre in Marrakech. He welcomed the delegates, thanked them for their willingness to attend the event in the context of the ongoing challenge of climate change and outlined the programme of the day. This was followed by Mr Salaheddine Mezouar, the Chairperson of COP22, who called on parliamentarians to have a shared understanding of the need for finance and technological transfer in the context of climate change challenges faced and experienced by the African Continent. He drew attention to the particular threats of climate change that induce migration, underscoring the need for legislators to build climate change information-sharing with key stakeholders and among parliamentarians into climate change law. He stressed the urgency for the global community to save the planet by undertaking such actions that result in a better world for all, taking into account the fact that the present generation provides a shadow (a secure environment) for the future generations from the comfort of which they can plan their future.

 

Salaheddine Mezouar, the Foreign Minister of Morocco and the President of COP22/CMP12 stressed that after facilitating early entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the second pillar of Morocco's vision for COP22/CMP12 is to encourage parties to implement and strengthen their National Determined Contributions (NDCs). He stressed that Morocco wanted to set the example as the country "has revised its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal from 32 percent to 42 percent by 2030." He added that the final pillar of Morocco's vision is to mobilise non-state actors with the goal of institutionalising their actions under the Global Climate Action Agenda. Foreign Minister Mezouar affirmed that "COP22 will be a COP of action with a special focus on the important contributions of civil-society. The Moroccan Presidency will work together with civil society during the Marrakesh climate change conference and chart a common agenda under the Presidency".

 

Hon Mr Saber Chowdhury, President of the IPU welcomed all the delegates and expressed his profound gratitude to the Moroccan hosts of COP22/CMP12, but notably the Moroccan Parliament in the case of the IPU event. He talked about the particular vulnerability of the African Continent in the context of the 2°C, as it is already a warm Continent. He reflected on the representation, law-making, budget allocation and oversight roles of legislators and the need for them to use the multifaceted role of legislators to advance climate change agenda in their respective countries. Hon Chowdhury questioned whether legislators are representing the voices of the people well, as the whole COP/CMP12 is about people and their aspiration for sustainable development. He urged legislators to take practical actions in dealing with the challenges of climate change at different levels, being conscious about the impact of climate change on children, youth and women, as the first respondents in the fight against climate change. He drew sharp focus on the health implications of the climate phenomenon.

 

Hon Mr Chowdhury indicated that legislators face the challenge of taking effective discussions into integrating science and policy, and if they could resolve the “how” question, achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be a reality. Furthermore, he noted that the need for the current generation to work for future generations is more than we could ever imagine, especially if we were ever aware that our children would ask us one day about what we had done in our lifetime, as legislators to secure their future.

 

  1. Briefing session by Ms Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC

 

This briefing session was moderated by Mr Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union where the Special Guest, Ms Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC briefed the legislators about the status of climate change negotiations in the post-Paris era, which indeed was a new era, with new opportunities. The Executive Secretary reflected on her exposure to climate change when Mexico hosted COP16 in Cancun and was chaired by her. She indicated that she worked very closely with the Mexican Parliament and had since then seen the value of collaborative work between policy executioners and legislators. Secretary Espinosa stressed that this year’s climate change COP was truly exceptionally, considering the rapid pace of ratification, as 107 countries had ratified the Agreement on the night of 12th November 2016. She indicated that this explicitly showed the significance of parliamentarians in implementing the Paris Agreement. She further indicated that the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) place much emphasis on parliamentarians to act, for example, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that governments undertake should be translated into actions, policies and investment opportunities where legislators are expected to play a pivotal role in the process. Legislators are also called upon to provide relevant frameworks for climate change adaptation; and capacity-building (at various levels) can also be facilitated by legislators. Parliamentarians further should ensure that all sectoral policies reflect international goals that governments undertook to implement, notably the SDGs, which are good for sustainable development, society, prosperity, women and children.

 

In responding to questions about the implications of the election of the new United States President for the Paris Agreement and the expectation for legislators in the context of the Agreement, Secretary Espinosa stated that the Paris Agreement had entered into force, and that it reflects a strong, heavy weight of legitimacy. She indicated that the United Nations stands ready to work with all governments, including the incoming US Administration. On the role of legislators, she noted that decisions of Parties guide the participation of legislators in certain international forums, including the COP22, indicating that certain Parties include legislators as part of their national delegations as well as part of their negotiating teams, whereas other Parties’ legislators attend as part of civil society organisations. She encouraged legislators to resolve this matter with their national governments. On support to developing countries, Ms Espinosa indicated that the Paris Agreement has mechanisms for supporting countries directly affected by climate change in term of finances and capacity-building, underscoring the fact that we are still far from the desired financial target. As a result, there is an urgent need for climate change adaptation policy initiatives that create opportunities for investment. She urged legislators to learn from the host country’s massive investment in renewable energy.

 

She further reported that the Green Climate Fund had raised US$10 billion, but there were concerns that not many projects could be funded, as the projects submitted for funding go through rigorous scrutiny. Finally, Secretary Espinosa pointed out that donor countries had presented the roadmap for meeting the US$100 billion/annum by 2020. 

 

  1. From Ratification to Implementation: Turning Action Plans into Achievement

 

This was an interactive panel discussion, moderated by Mr Mohamed T El-Farnawany, Director, Strategic Management and Executive Direction, IRENA. The panellists were Ms Alina Averchenkova, Co-Head Policy, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science; and Hon Bärbel Höhn, Member of Parliament, Germany. Legislators heard that governments were reconsidering their energy choices after the Paris Agreement. In outlining Germany Experiences and Climate Policies, Hon Bärbel Höhn stated that 10 years ago German parliamentarians made a decision to have ambitious emissions reduction target of 40 per cent by 2020. Germany needed binding targets, but transport and coal-fired power generation plants posed to be huge obstacles. However, renewable energy sources have been increasing ever since Germany started the renewable energy programme about 15 years ago. Consequently, 30 per cent of energy in Germany comes from renewables, which has a huge social investment component, as renewable energy production in Germany is decentralised in that consumers are also producers. Germany is phasing out coal from its energy mix. Hon Bärbel Höhn stressed that the global community needs to do more in terms of renewable energy to challenge the incoming US President Donald Trump sufficiently enough to change his mind and remain in the Paris Agreement.

On the other hand, Dr Alina Averchenkova, Co-Head of Climate Policy at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics, presented the findings of the global climate legislation data and the analysis of the legislative gap that needed to be bridged to implement the NDCs to the Paris Agreement, as well as what the global community had achieved a year after the Paris Agreement. The Climate Legislation Study covered over 850 national laws and policies directly related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Launched in 2010 covering only 16 countries, the Study currently covers 99 jurisdictions, which, taken together, produce 93 per cent of global emissions and are home to 90 per cent of the world’s forests. The database included 46 of the world’s top 50 emitters. The results are encouraging, although current commitments made by top emitters were not consistent with the international goal of maintaining global warming of not more than 2°C. Among the G20 countries, Germany, United Kingdom, France and the European Union Bloc were consistent with the Paris Agreement. Notwithstanding, there is a need for the UK to up its emissions reduction target. The Legislative Study further reveals that two-thirds of the countries covered by the study would need legislative amendment to bring alignment with the Paris Agreement commitment, such as the NDCs.

 

In discussing the findings of the Study, it became apparent that domestic climate legislation should have a mechanism for monitoring, verification and reporting progress. An Italian legislator indicated that Italy and the EU should do more in terms of renewable energy, especially now that 40 per cent of their energy comes from renewable sources, stressing “Let us dance under the brain.” Japan considered the entering into force of the Paris Agreement truly historical, and that the Japanese Government had made certain strategic gains in implementing renewable energy initiatives. The Government had also drawn up a plan for combating climate change upon the adoption of the Paris Agreement, emphasising the need for all role players in the domestic sector, including consumers to commit to reduce greenhouse gases. A South Korean legislator unequivocally remarked that parliaments must show strong leadership on climate change; they must forget their political affiliations/parties when it comes to showing the necessary leadership for mobilising the entire society. There must be a strong parliamentary leadership on a low-carbon society.

 

Madagascar noted the fundamental role of legislators in implementing the Paris Agreement and highlighted its negotiating position to defend those vulnerable to the threats of climate change. Lord John Prescott (UK) affirmed that Trump could build a wall to keep Mexicans away, but he could not build a wall to keep away environmental threats, such as climate change. He encouraged legislators to spearhead establishing bilateral relations between developed and developing countries, which are affected by climate change in order for those developed countries to assist their developing country counterparts to respond appropriately to the challenges of climate change. Lord Prescott further remarked on the difficulties of calculating contributions to the Green Climate Fund. A legislator from Chad highlighted the concerns of the Lake Chad Basin communities affected by the receding Lake Chad that is hardly the true reflection of what it was in the 1960s. The Lake has shrunk to nearly a 20th or more of its original size, due both to climatic changes and to high demands for agricultural water. The changes in the lake have contributed to local lack of water, crop failures, livestock deaths, collapsed fisheries, soil salinity and increasing poverty throughout the region.

 

Thailand had set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2030. there is a policy to encourage reforestation and participation of local communities, in this regard. Hungary reported on its ratification of the Paris Agreement in May 2016, asserted the need to maintain the current political momentum in ratifying and implementing the Paris Agreement, and underscored Hungary’s National Climate Change Strategy as well as the National Decarbonisation Strategy. Hungary noted the growing population and hence the increased need for energy, necessitating the need for cooperative action among nations in implementing the Paris Agreement, especially in assisting those countries in the dry northernmost part of Africa, suffering the severe impacts of desertification. Ecuador indicated working with other developing countries in developing a code for climate change, highlighting the need for the use of incentive programmes for nature/environment. An Israeli legislator emphasised the necessity for legislators to nudge their respective executive branches of government to implement more serious actions or programmes on climate change, considering the leadership role legislators play in their communities and countries. Legislators have an important role to play in changing the way how local communities see and respond to climate change.

 

Senegal reported on the opening of the second Solar Power Plant by the country’s president. Emirates noted its important role in the region, being the first to invest in renewable energy and affirmed that its government was doubling efforts in renewable energy, being proud members of ARENA, and having effectively supported renewable energy initiatives in other countries. Emirates called upon all parliamentarians to implement the Paris Agreement and to set up incentive mechanisms to spur green investment and green economy. He appealed to corporations to streamline capacity-building and innovation to do things better in the face global climate change. A Pakistani legislator accentuated the fact that Pakistan is one of the most affected countries by climate change, highlighting especially the challenges of water security that befall Pakistan, as climate change is fast reducing the size of glaciers from the Himalayas. He underscored the need for developed countries to assist developing countries financially and technologically, as poor countries such as Pakistan never caused the current climate “mess” that we are contending with, considering the high costs of renewable energy technology.

 

Legislators further highlighted the necessity to amend existing laws, which are unresponsive to climate change. There was a further suggestion to consider the occupational aspects of climate change, whereas a delegate asked whether society had the ability to change the current economic system in the face of climate change. In responding to foregoing applicable comments, Hon Bärbel Höhn of Germany indicated that Germany’s renewable energy programme was an initiative of legislators, and that renewable energy generation creates sustainable and more jobs than coalmining. Renewable energy technology is a peaceful technology – nations cannot fight over photovoltaic (solar energy) and wind energy, whereas there were wars fought over fossil fuels. Besides, renewable energy technology is no longer expensive, as we had paid the price, as a pioneer nation to subsidise it for late comers. Renewable energy offers hope, energy security and independence.

 

  1. Crossroads Between Climate Change and Conflict and Migration: Current and Emerging Challenges

 

This session was moderated by Mr Martin Chungong, the Secretary-General of the Inter- Parliamentary Union, and entailed a special presentation by the keynote speaker, Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme on Migration and Displacement. Prof McGlade noted the genuine commitment by Parties to reduce global climate warming well below the 2°C mark, presenting further that 25 million to one billion people would experience environmental migration and displacement by 2050. She indicated, as an example, that 90 per cent of wastewater, which is untreated, flows directly into rivers, imposing a serious water security challenge on riverine communities as well as heightening the propensity of conflicts. This induces migration and displacement, as people move to safer areas. In fact, people may decide to migrate in any of the following cases: loss of housing due to river or sea flooding or mudslides; loss of living resources, such as water, energy and food supply or employment affected by climate change; and loss of social and cultural resources (e.g., loss of cultural properties, neighbourhood or community networks), particularly in the case of a devastating flood. Rising average sea level, salt water intrusion in aquifers; increase or decrease in water availability; and extreme weather events, such as droughts, heat waves, violent storms and floods drive migration and displacement. Prof McGlade presented human migration as potentially influenced by environmental factors, including climate change. Consequently, she considered nature-based solutions responsible for making people to stay in their communities.

 

In response to Prof McGlade’s intervention, a legislator from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) raised concerns about low financial commitments by developed countries to fund climate change projects in developing countries. He called on international community to fund mega-dams for hydropower in the Congo Basin. A UK parliamentarian commented that Africa’s investment in renewable energy had surpassed the investment in the North. The legislator raised concern about ensuring that climate change funds are used for the purposes intended, accentuating the need for legislators to ensure that this happens in their respective countries even if such climate-related funds are disbursed to state agencies. Another African legislator lamented the fact that the Pan-African Parliament is not assisting its members (national legislatures/parliaments) to play the kind of role needed in ensuring the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

 

Prof McGlade concluded by noting that there had to be a broad participation by river basin countries in the construction of hydropower infrastructure, such as dams. Similarly, there had to be a great scientific consensus on building dams for hydropower purposes, for example, how is precipitation going to increase or decrease over the years and what are the implications for infrastructural investments? She also remarked that there were opportunities for private finances to fund climate change adaptation, and probably the negotiations underway would map out the entry points for private funding.

 

  1. Social Impacts of Climate Change: How to Effectively Deal with Gender and Other Inequalities?

 

This was an interactive panel discussion moderated by Mr Saber Chowdhury, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and comprised the following panellists: Dr Andrew Norton, Director, International Institute for Environment and Development; Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General of Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organisation; and Ms Nouzha Skalli, Former Member of Parliament and Former Moroccan Minister of Social Development, Family and Solidarity. Dr Norton affirmed that climate change is an issue of social and environmental justice, for example, it is only the 10-per cent of the global population that contribute approximately 45 per cent of the overall global emissions of greenhouse gases. In the same, climate change vulnerability is dictated upon by the social attributes of an individual or a community. Recognising the great climate change injustice is the good starting point for tackling the challenges of climate change. In fact, climate change cannot be adequately addressed without justice, considering its strain on human health. Dr Bustreo equally highlighted the impact of climate change on human health, emphasising that the impact bears strongly on people’s vulnerability.

 

Dr Bustreo indicated that climate change changes the biology of the reproductive cycle of vectors, for example, the burden of malaria on people. Climate change also threatens food security, water and air quality, weighing heavily on the young and the elderly. Incidents of indoor air pollution and the consequences for women and children are indeed dire. She maintained that legislators could influence climate change funding in a manner that favours adaptation in the health sector. Finally, Ms Skalli’s input briefly dwelt on how the Paris Agreement has highlighted the need for gender equity to be featured in climate management, specifically highlighting Morocco’s renewable energy programme. Accordingly, renewable energy would constitute 42 per cent of the county’s energy mix by 2020, which is indeed a noble objective that Ms Skalli attributed to Morocco’s progressive leadership on climate change. She suggested the creation of a parliamentary network for climate change and sustainable development.

 

In commenting on the inputs of the three panellists, Nigeria raised its concerns about the difficulties in accessing international climate funding. Another delegate would like gender parity to be considered in selecting the governing board of current international climate financing institutions (e.g., Green Climate Fund where 20 per cent of the board members were women). Bolivia would like a platform to be created for climate change to incorporate the concerns of indigenous people/communities. Cameroon wondered why the impacts of climate change on humans were being slowly attended to, whereas the plight of gorillas was hastily addressed. “What have we got to say to the suffering and dying people?” Dr Norton responded by stating that all stakeholders, including legislators must pursue environmental and climate justice to rectify these anomalies.

 

  1. Adoption of the draft outcome document

 

This was a closing session where the IPU President, Mr Saber Chowdhury moderated the presentation of the Draft Outcome Document by the Moroccan rapporteur, Hon Ahmed Touizi,

MP. The Draft Outcome Document was duly adopted. The South African parliamentary delegation could not have played any meaningful role in scrutinising the document, as such scrutiny and subsequent views that might arise could contradict the views that might have been raised by members of the South African Parliament who attended the 135th IPU Assembly and were accorded an opportunity to discuss the preliminary Draft Outcome Document during the session of the IPU Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade in Geneva on 25th October 2016. Besides, IPU members were invited to examine the preliminary draft and provide comments and observations on its form and content by 1st November 2016 at the latest. It suffices to mention that none of the South African members of Parliament that attended 135th IPU Assembly was part of the parliamentary delegation to Marrakech.

 

  1. Parliamentary Perspective on Integrating the Paris Agreement and NDC into Sustainable Development

 

Hon Cedric Frolick, the South African House Chairperson for the National Assembly and the Vice President of GLOBE International for the Africa Region, was invited to this Nigerian side event as a panellist in the African Pavilion. The Nigerian programme director welcomed the Nigerian Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, legislators from Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa. He presented Nigeria’s emissions reduction target of 20 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2030 with and without conditions attached. A Nigerian panellist invited the legislators to reflect deeply on their multifaceted roles, asking what they could not possibly do, considering the breadth of their mandate. He indicated that legislators could practically do all that which needed to be done, underlining the need for greater responsiveness by legislators toward climate change. He further emphasised a regional approach to formulating climate change policy, highlighting the work Nigeria was doing to confront the challenges of climate change with other west African countries.

 

On his part, Hon Frolick outlined the critical role of legislators in operationalising and overseeing the implementation of the Paris Agreement. He encouraged legislators to ratify the Paris Agreement, if they had not already done so in their respective parliaments; formulate a proactive climate change legislation for implementing the Agreement; and the need to cost and finance such a domestic climate law. He underscored the important role that legislators could play in mobilising private climate finance by passing innovative laws that provide favourable risk-return ratio to spur private investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to ensure that every bit of the local and international funds for climate change are used solely for climate mitigation and adaptation projects. Similarly, he stressed the need for legislators to ensure a coordinated approach to climate change oversight and for them to participate in raising climate change awareness in their respective constituencies.

 

  1. NORDIC PARLIAMENTARY WORKSHOP

 

The Nordic Parliament held a parliamentary workshop on 16th November 2016 titled “Turning the Paris Agreement into Legislative Action”, where Hon Mr Cedric Frolick (MP) and Hon Mr Barry Gardiner (MP), Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, served as panellists in addition to other two panellists. The Workshop reminded legislators and other attendees that implementing the Paris Agreement is a bottom up process, and the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment, Mr Ola Elvestuen affirmed that Norway is committed to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, as it adopted a White Paper on Norway’s Energy Policy in June 2016. Norway’s energy requirements are met wholly (100 per cent) from renewable energy sources. The country had set targets for the next 13 years and the Norwegian Parliament was putting the agenda for transitioning. It is noteworthy that the Norwegian Parliament had chosen not to enact a climate-specific law of its own, but rather to work with what was already there, i.e., the EU law on climate change.

 

Hon Mr Frolick highlighted the South African Parliament’s position in the context of a development state. He indicated that the concept of an Activist Parliament that South Africa pursues meant that Parliament should complement the work of the executive branch of government, offering alternatives to ensure and safeguard government effectiveness in responding optimally to societal challenges. He noted the slow process of law-making on the African Continent in response to the Paris Agreement, but affirmed that those African countries that had ratified the Agreement, including South Africa, were well on the way in formulating applicable climate law. He reiterated that the non-legislative Pan-African Parliament (PAP) might be the only reputable organisation to drive the legislative process on the African Continent, particularly for those countries that had not done much. Hon Mr Frolick indicated that there is an unwritten expectation on PAP to take this leadership role in the context of Agenda 2063, which concurs with the key elements of the Paris Agreement.

 

Hon Mr Barry Gardiner (MP) featured the UK’s climate legislation that was put in place in 2008, and the Act makes it the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for all six Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases for the year 2050 is at least 80 per cent lower than the 1990 baseline, toward avoiding dangerous climate change. The Act further places duty on the Secretary of State to set for each succeeding period of five years beginning with the period 2008-2012 (“budgetary periods”) an amount for the net UK carbon account (the “carbon budget”), and to ensure that the net UK carbon account for a budgetary period does not exceed the carbon budget. The Act also created the Committee on Climate Change, a new independent, expert body to advise Government on the level of carbon budgets and where cost effective savings could be made. The Committee submits annual reports to Parliament on the UK’s progress towards targets and budgets to which the Government must respond, thereby ensuring transparency and accountability on an annual basis.

 

On adaptation, Hon Gardiner indicated that the Government must report at least every five years on the risks to the UK of climate change, and publish a programme setting out how these impacts would be addressed. The Act also introduces powers for the Government to require public bodies and statutory undertakers to carry out their own risk assessment and make plans to address those risks. The Law further set an Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change, in order to provide advice to and scrutiny of the Government’s adaptation work. Hon Gardiner indicated that the passing of the UK’s Climate Change Act was an important political process in that it rallied all political parties to support the Act. The Climate Change Act was a good safeguard, but legislators and stakeholders must drive the process.

 

He further indicated that legislators and other stakeholders were pushing for a net zero goal, meaning the total amount of energy used in the UK on an annual basis should be roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created by the UK. Asked about whether the UK would retain its emissions reduction proportion earmarked for it under the EU or whether it would reduce its level of ambition on exiting the EU, in which case other EU countries would have to do more than they were doing, Hon Gardiner indicated that the UK would not drop the ball. Asked about the challenge of coal in the South African energy mix, Hon Frolick indicated that there is a plan to progressively wean South Africa off excessive coal dependence over time. As we decrease coal, we upscale renewable energy over time. This is South Africa’s overall energy policy position.

 

  1. AFRICA DAY

 

African Heads of State and Government marked Africa Day in the Africa Pavilion on 16th November 2016, with focused and strategic discussions on the ratification and roll out of the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the key continental initiatives to support member states’ efforts. However, the parliamentary segment hosted by the President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Hon Roger Nkodo Dang was convened in the afternoon, and was attended by PAP members and other legislators from the Continent, including South Africa. The meeting highlighted and supported calls for engagement and involvement of other crucial stakeholders such as the civil society and the non-governmental organisations in talks and negotiations around climate change as well as the implementation of relevant outcomes. This parliamentary meeting discussed in great depth, the climate change negotiations post-Paris, transition from ratification to implementation, current and emerging challenges relating to climate change, conflict and migration as well as social impacts of climate change. Members of Parliament were urged to work on legislative frameworks that would enable and pave way for achievement of the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Hon Dang stressed that “we need to be clear that there is political will in this matter.” The African parliamentary event was also attended by certain members of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) on Climate.

The advocacy role of legislators to mobilise support to ratify the Paris Agreement featured prominently in the discussions at the parliamentary meeting. It also became clear that the Paris Agreement quickly entered into force because of the quick legislative response of legislators in the various countries that had ratified the treaty, and this could be attributed to the fact that legislators were involved in the process of negotiating the Paris Agreement and hence they saw the need to move speedily on the Agreement. It was obvious that legislators had a bigger role to play than they could ever imagine in ensuring the effective implementation of climate change action at various levels. Members of Parliament (MPs) were also called upon to ensure maintaining of parity between mitigation and adaptation, notably at the national level; they should ensure that this happens at the budgetary level.

 

In presenting the anatomy of the Paris Agreement and Africa’s negotiating position at the legislative meeting on the Africa Day at the African Pavilion, Yaw Osafo indicated that MPs should ask “What is the climate warming in Africa, if the global warming target is 2°0C?” He encouraged the legislators to consider the rate of warming on the African Continent, urging them to facilitate their respective governments not to fight climate change based on the global goal, but rather based on Africa’s own goal of 1.5°C. “The global goal would lead us into a serious problem, as Africa is already a warm continent”. When asked to make a brief intervention by the President of PAP, Hon Frolick called upon all African legislators to commence a legislative programme for implementing the Paris Agreement and to ensure climate change adaptation focus in the process.

 

  1. MEETING WITH THE NORDIC PARLIAMNTARIANS

 

The Danish Chairperson of the Nordic Parliament welcomed the South African parliamentary delegation, noting that they consider South Africa a strategic partner for exchanging ideas. Hon Frolick indicated that South African legislators had grown accustomed to meeting with Nordic legislators on the side-lines of COP meetings. He introduced the South African MPs and their respective portfolios, and further reflected on the challenges of climate change and the growing need for energy as well as the need to obtain an optimal energy mix in meeting the challenge. He indicated that South Africa was moving towards the formulation of a climate change law. Conversely, the Chairperson of the Nordic Parliament noted that South Africa was more advanced in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, as what they had introduced to the Nordic Parliament was hardly a semblance of a climate change legislation. Hon Frolick further reflected on the engagement at the African Pavilion that took place earlier under the auspices of PAP, pointing out that PAP might be the only legitimate organisation to nudge the process of climate change law-making forward on the African Continent, particularly for those countries that had not done much in respect to the Paris Agreement.

 

Hon Thomas Hadebe asked the Nordic legislators to share their experiences with nuclear energy with South Africa, as the country was considering the nuclear new build. The Nordic Chairperson stated that Denmark had no experience with nuclear energy, but Sweden does as Sweden currently gets about 40 per cent of its electricity from nine nuclear reactors, but four of its older reactors are due to close by the end of this decade. However, he stated that off-grid renewable energy, or stand-alone systems can be more cost-effective than connecting to the grid in remote locations, such as rural parts of South Africa. For many people, powering their homes or small businesses using a small renewable energy system that is not connected to the electricity grid (a stand-alone system) makes economic sense and appeals to their environmental values. The Nordic parliamentarians stressed the public opinion against nuclear energy in Europe on the basis of cost and threat to the environment, human life and property, following the Daiichi Nuclear Plant disaster in Fukushima in March 2011, that shook the overconfidence in the possibility of making nuclear energy safe.

 

  1. MEETING WITH THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

 

The Chairperson of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Hon Giovanni La Via (Italy) opened the meeting by welcoming the South African parliamentary delegation. He asked the South African legislators about their views on climate change negotiations underway in Marrakech. Hon Frolick responded by reviewing the position and status of South African legislators at the COP22 UN Climate Summit after the IPU event, and affirmed South Africa’s confidence in the climate change negotiations underway, stressing the legislators’ keen interest in the negotiations taking place under climate change adaptation. Hon Mr Frolick also touched on the work underway to release South Africa’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan that outlines the nation’s energy mix as per the media statement of the Minister in the Presidency, Hon Jeff Radebe. He affirmed that South Africa was not looking for handouts from developed countries, but rather genuine partnerships that could assist it in resolving its climate change-related challenges.

 

The EU Chairperson of the Committee outlined the EU’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and emphasised the need for developed countries to support developing countries, but the EU still believed that all countries should do more irrespective of their developmental status. Hon Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (Netherlands) thanked South Africa profoundly and acknowledged the excellent hosting of the CITES COP17 by South Africa. He indicated that EU legislators also faced the challenge of securing long-term finance from the EU Government, while the Chairperson of the Committee asked whether South African legislators felt that the EU was doing enough in terms of sharing legislative experience. Hon Frolick responded by reflecting on the Climate Legislation Study, asking how such important findings got filtered down to the people that needed them the most –- those in developing countries. He was concerned about what happens between, say, GLOBE summits, affirming the need to share lessons learnt with each other, especially between developed and developing countries. On the other hand, Hon Mr Philemon Mapulane stated that for a developing country like South Africa to come up with appropriate climate change interventions, there was a need for flows of climate change financing from developed to developing countries. He expressed South Africa’s frustrations with what African Group of Negotiators were saying that they were not making a good progress on adaptation and climate change financing.

 

Hon Mr Frolick further outlined South Africa’s progress on climate change by drawing attention to the National Development Plan (NDP), which is the country’s development blueprint, with a clear focus on climate adaptation and mitigation. He also drew attention to Operation Phakisa, which would play a very significant role in lessening South Africa’s vulnerability to climate change, particularly in terms of poverty relief. Finally, Hon Mr Lulu Johnson highlighted South Africa’s water security challenge, and asked the EU legislators how they had dealt with the issue of seawater desalination. Hon Julie Girling (UK) responded by using an example of a small community of about 30 000 people who derived their domestic water from a tidal desalination plant, but there was no major-scale desalination project in the EU to offset water security challenge of the magnitude that South Africa faces.

 

 

  1. conclusion

 

The IPU meeting on the occasion of COP22/CMP12 allowed a thorough exchange between legislators and global leaders who have a mutual interest in sustaining the planet and creating prosperity for all. It is clear after the IPU event that legislators have a crucial role to play in implementation of the Paris Agreement, advocating for global poverty eradication through climate change mitigation initiatives, and liaising with local and global leaders to create the world we wish to see in moving forward. The outcomes document and its resolutions certainly sent a strong political message to legislators worldwide. It was obvious from the discussions that ensued at IPU that a curtain is steadily being drawn on fossil fuels, seeing the increasing proportion of renewable energy in countries’ energy mixes, even those in developing countries.

 

  1. Recommendations

 

  • While South Africa has produced some innovative policies, action on climate change is a cross-cutting issue that requires a framework Act of Parliament to drive it forward, considering that such an Act would oblige all key stakeholders both in government and in the private sector to take account of climate change in what they do.

 

  • Need for a proactive climate change legislation: There is an ample evidence worldwide that countries, which have proactively formulated laws to deal with certain issues are generally considered leaders in those matters that they legislated on. This would also strengthen the hands of South African negotiators at multilateral forums, as there is a general awareness of them having legal positions at the national level on such matters.

 

  • Costing and financing of domestic climate law: legislative Acts and policy initiatives most often produce costs and benefits for society as a whole, and hence the need to have a sound analysis of new legislative Acts and measures to determine whether benefits typically coincide with the reasons why they were formulated. It is therefore imperative that Parliament should ensure that the cost of a climate change law is estimated and budgeted for, to ensure effective implementation. It must ensure that targets contained in the law are worked into deliverable programmes for government departments with precise targets to ensure effective oversight of government departments and entities in terms of budget for those programmes, timeframes and obvious results on the ground. Relevant parliamentary committees need to be scientific in their thinking and work, precise and deliberate in deepening the culture of accountability and transparency in the nation.

 

  • Exercising leadership in mobilising private climate finance: legislators have a critical role to play in mobilising private climate finance by passing innovative laws that provide favourable risk-return ratio to spur private investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

 

  • Climate change awareness: Legislators have a crucial role to play in shaping people’s perception of climate change and in building the political will needed to tackle it. They can help inform people by supporting public information campaigns and by reporting on the issue through personal statements and communications. Legislators can also encourage their respective parliaments and relevant committees to share findings and reports with the public, and push for greater openness and direct consultation with citizens and key stakeholders. Strong and consistent communication on climate change is indeed crucial for citizens to see and accept the need for urgent action. For unless a critical number of constituents are reached and awakened to the need for climate action, climate change would remain fundamentally a government problem, rather than every citizen’s.

 

  • Legislators should talk about climate change in their constituencies and distribute fliers/pamphlets on climate change in locally relevant languages.

 

  • Need for a coordinated approach to climate change oversight: the crosscutting impact of climate change requires mainstreaming of climate change across a range of sectors and departments, which in turn requires considerable coordination to ensure effective oversight of climate change implementation. There is a need to do things in an unorthodox manner, for example, the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs monitors the Department of Environmental Affairs, which is the Department responsible for climate change, but it should also consider monitoring the relevant budget lines and climate activities housed in other departments. It is in this respect that we appreciate this kind of parliamentary engagement that is aimed at getting all parliamentary committees whose law-making and oversight responsibilities affect our climate together under the same roof to discuss climate change and related matters.

 

  • Legislators must be involved in meetings and forums that would yield important outcomes, which should be ratified by Parliament to ensure their legislative support.

 

  • There is a need to coordinate all environmentally-related parliamentary participation on international forums, notably the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and GLOBE to ensure that South African legislators speak with one voice on these and any bother related international platforms.

 

Report to be adopted.

 

 

 

 

Documents

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