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Paris Climate Agreement five years on: Key messages and conclusions

Author : IPG–Journal International Politics and Society

Source : IPG-Journal

On December 12, the world will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement
10:00, 10 December 2020

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Green Fair Recovery movement emerged in April 2020, it deals with the economic recovery of countries after the Covid-19 pandemic, which, according to environmental experts and activists, should not lead to worsening inequalities and higher greenhouse gas emissions.

In mid-2020, none of the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia (EECCA) adopted the principles of sustainable development and a green economy as a basis for recovery from the pandemic. Moreover, in the government program of Ukraine, there was a thesis about "preventing the establishment of overestimated national targets to reduce CO2 emissions."

In May, during the conference "Climate Dialogue: Green Recovery in Eastern Partnership Countries," Noëmie Leprince-Ringuet of the World Resource Institute stressed that “Chile and Rwanda have presented their national contributions in the midst of a health crisis, while other countries are using the pandemic in as an excuse to slow down climate action.”

Another important characteristic of this year was the limitation of the public in its influence on decision-making. According to research, in the post-Soviet space, there are already a number of measures that prevent the active public from taking part in important issues, namely: repressive legislation, threats of legal sanctions and lawsuits, damage to reputation, and smear campaigns in the media, physical violence. The pandemic only exacerbated advocacy for civic activists, taking away their opportunity to go to rallies and communicate directly with government officials.

So why are the post-Soviet countries in no hurry to raise their climate ambitions, catch up with international green economic trends and intensify work with public organizations?

Related: UN, UK to hold climate summit on December 12

Working with the international Climate Action Network (CAN), one can observe how different approaches to advocacy among its regional divisions are. The model of strong organizations in the "global north" is this: challenge politicians, demand more of them, and you will achieve something. Unfortunately, in countries where democracy is still developing, where politics is still improving, this approach is usually doomed to fail.

In countries like India, when you start challenging decision-makers, they just shut down, according to CAN Coordinator – South Asia (CANSA) Sanjay Vashist. They use their codes of practice, their position to protect themselves, and that's it. This is the end of advocacy. Nevertheless, the CANSA network of South Asian NGOs constantly uses advocacy as a tool and successfully influences the authorities. How do they do it?

Activism is about changing existing systems of power, influencing people who misuse it and showing alternatives. But how can you influence the system if you live in one of the post-Soviet countries? The characteristics of advocacy in developing democracies are the flexibility of approach and careful persistence. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will guarantee you a successful campaign and a change in the country's course on climate policy, but it is important to analyze the opportunities that we have.

Come with ready-made solutions, not just requirements. You may need to do a little research before coming in and talking to the authorities. Show that you are ready to sit at the negotiating table, that you know what you are talking about, and even have some specific suggestions.

There is a gap between making policy and making specific plans. Usually, the first documents are created at the national level, but the mandate for implementation is at the local level. Translating policies into more concrete action plans requires technical know-how, and civil society organizations can play a big role here if they have the potential. Of course, in order to have such potential, it is necessary to constantly build it up and use national, regional, and international resources for this.

The point-the-finger-and-shame approach doesn't always work. Since democratic institutions are still developing in many post-Soviet countries, public criticism may not be the best strategy for starting a dialogue. We run the risk of simply closing the doors that we tried to open. In some cultures, in response to criticism, there may even be a desire for revenge. The best strategy would be to try to work together and show that you are willing to help.

Related: Macron, Putin to negotiate on security, regional conflicts, climate

The approach can be described as follows: "If you do a good job, we are with you. If you are wrong, we are ready to find common solutions. But if you have a personal vested interest, we will have to point it out openly."

We must be prepared to speak in the language of the person we are meeting. Climate change can mean different things to different people, so try to keep your arguments as local as possible, showing specific implications and challenges for better communication.

Start a conversation about air or water pollution, focus on stories about food, farmers, and nature, and then gradually move on to climate change itself.

Meet people in person. Even with a change of power, these connections will help you establish new ones faster. Do not be afraid to remind about yourself, talk about the work you are doing, with the goal, rather, to inform than to demand. If you are doing research or opinion polling, make sure it is sent to the appropriate institutions.

This year, the EECCA CAN network members prepared a position on "Green Recovery and Climate Action in Central Asia". This is one example of how the public can start a dialogue with the authorities. Also for Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, with the help of various partners, studies were carried out on the possibilities of public participation in climate policy. The results of such research should be communicated to decision-makers and referenced in communication.

The extent to which a country is ready to take leadership in climate policy is inextricably linked to the level of development of democracy and civil society. The climate crisis is a challenge that goes far beyond the borders of one country. Decisions made behind closed doors by a limited number of people will not bring about the quality, equitable, and sustainable change that is so needed.

Related: Global environmental crisis: Does Ukraine fulfill climate agreement?

On December 12, the world will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement. The release of the "Climate Policy Review for Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia" prepared by the EECCA CAN network is timed to this date. It is not surprising that the first five years after the historic signing were not marked by either declarative ambitions or actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the EECCA region. The post-Soviet countries have a lot of work ahead of them to achieve climate goals and strengthen democratic structures. It is obvious that no social change is possible without the participation of the society itself, that is, the public. Start a conversation about air or water pollution, focus on stories about food, farmers, and nature, and then gradually move on to climate change itself.

Meet people in person. Even with a change of power, these connections will help you establish new ones faster. Do not be afraid to remind about yourself, talk about the work you are doing, with the goal, rather, to inform than to demand. If you are doing research or opinion polling, make sure it is sent to the appropriate institutions.

This year, the EECCA CAN network members prepared a position on "Green Recovery and Climate Action in Central Asia". This is one example of how the public can start a dialogue with the authorities. Also for Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, with the help of various partners, studies were carried out on the possibilities of public participation in climate policy. The results of such research should be communicated to decision-makers and referenced in communication.

Related: Even Putin is now worried about climate change

The extent to which a country is ready to take leadership in climate policy is inextricably linked to the level of development of democracy and civil society. The climate crisis is a challenge that goes far beyond the borders of one country. Decisions made behind closed doors by a limited number of people will not bring about the quality, equitable, and sustainable change that is so needed.

On December 12, the world will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement. The release of the "Climate Policy Review for Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia" prepared by the EECCA CAN network is timed to this date. It is not surprising that the first five years after the historic signing were not marked by either declarative ambitions or actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the EECCA region. The post-Soviet countries have a lot of work ahead of them to achieve climate goals and strengthen democratic structures. It is obvious that no social change is possible without the participation of the society itself, that is, the public.

Olha Boiko

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