Reporting Back on Talks on Climate

Report Back:                  CYC at Fostering Multi-level Resource Governance to meet Paris Climate Change commitments: the role of local decision makers.

The Centre for Science and Policy and Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Energy Resource Governance organised a policy workshop on the topic of Fostering multi-level governance to meet Paris Climate change commitments: the role of local decision markers at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge on the 5th October 2016.

The background to the workshop was an acknowledgment of a change in language in the Paris text that seemed to invite States, non-State actors and civil society to take action in order to fulfil the promises that the Paris Agreement promises to bring. At the time of the discussion, the European Union deposited its ratification instrument and as a result 30 days from then (5th October) the agreement will enter into force. The dialogue brought academics, policy makers, entrepreneurs and internationalist around the table to discuss what actions are required to ensure a coordinated multi-level approach to achieving the Paris climate change commitments.

The conversation began with examining the change in language of the latest text of climate agreement that created space for the initiatives of non-state actors such as transnational, sub-national and private sector initiatives taking place. A practical example of how non-state actors can bring about policy change in States is by cities, which are crucial to combating climate change, are taking action and as such put pressure on the States to also act. The good news seems to be the laws are there, that is to say the authority to act has been established and there was a call for the creative implementation of the laws.

The participants differed in their opinions as to whether governments should make more regulations to ensure that businesses and people do take action that is beneficial for the environment whilst others believe that the market forces should be left to operate and will lead to better and cleaner business models as sustainability and the environment climbs up the list of priority especially in light of the many natural disasters that are taking place around the world.

Whilst many speakers looked at matters from a local level in discussing what could the city council or businesses in the area do to bring about a revived carbon free city, Abhik Sen from the Commonwealth Secretariat and Angelique Pouponneau from the Commonwealth Youth Council presented the Commonwealth perspective that showed the potential for inter-State collaboration at the level of the Commonwealth. There was particular emphasis on the fact that 31 countries of the 53 Commonwealth States are Small Island developing states (SIDS) but can work together with big carbon emitters like India and take a firm position on combating climate change. He also pointed to the other work that the Secretariat was involved in including helping States develop their Blue Economy road map and brokering ground-breaking deals between States to co-manage natural resources in ocean boundaries.

Angelique took a different approach with the focus on public participation and the role of youth as civil society to ensure the implementation of the Paris Agreement. She gave examples of how young people had brought about policy change whereby the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub – Seychelles had started A Seychelles Free from Plastic Bags campaign that nudged businesses in taking action on this and government in taking this as a priority issue and recently announcing that plastic bags would be banned as of January 2017. She further went on to show how young people have been part and parcel of the processes and the move away from tokenistic participation but rather a systematic involvement of youth at every step. She pointed to the work of the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN) whereby it had a workshop in July 2015 where youth climate experts met in London to write policy recommendations for Member States. This fed directly into the Commonwealth Youth Forum where action plans were developed and again the recommendations fed into the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November 2015 in Malta. A few days later they participated in COP 21 in Paris and following Paris attended the first meeting on the implementation of the Paris Agreement in Bonn. She then touched on the recent capacity-building workshop for Commonwealth youth climate advocates and practitioners and the launch of the toolkit that makes climate science and negotiations youth-friendly. The crowd was also keen to hear of the potential for collaboration between the CYC, CYCN and universities on creating a mechanism that ensures public participation using an online mechanism to collect data and monitor the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

What do you think is the role of young people to meet the Paris climate change commitments?

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