On March the 12th, Citizens’ Climate Lobby hosted its 4th online working session for the Pathway to Paris project. (It was the 6th open working session in the series to date.) After the discussion, participants were given the opportunity to propose further comments and insights through an online form.
Much of the participants was again reducing carbon emissions through carbon pricing. The group discussed some complex issues relating to the design and implementation of this leading policy priority. This led to important new insights, specifically in relation to the difficulties inherent in changing the economic status quo, despite the already mounting costs of an escalating climate catastrophe. A focus was the need for efficient enabling policies to facilitate a broad shift in energy production practices.
Participants shared a common doubt on the energy sector’s will to move on towards an absolute and irreversible reduction in carbon emissions.
Carbon pricing policies also have to be inclusive and provide a clear path for economical transition in countries or regions that are resource-based economies. Reducing fuel production may mean sacrificing crucial incomes for some areas if no transition towards green economies is planned. It was also pointed out that carbon pricing policies, though they are a driver of mitigation activity (emissions reduction, specifically), need to consider adaptation to climate impacts in their design, so that they may be priced at appropriate levels, remain efficient and effective over the long-term, and gain support from people for whom investment priorities may not be linked directly to energy production practices.
Looking for powerful solutions: the importance of language
To address the issue of designing carbon pricing policy, participants insist on the importance of maintaining a strong action at the micro-level. In other words, it was a shared belief among participants in the March 12 working session that the language used both in the structure of the policy and in its relationship to the text of the Paris agreement, has to be adapted to the semantic requirements of people, given their circumstances. In other words, policy should connect effectively on a more humane and personal level, in order to gain greater support for positive action, and remain resilient in both positive real-world impact and in and political support.
From the national and international perspectives, policies should consist in a balance between consensual broad guidelines and specific goals to track progress. This will ensure that every country is engaged in the process of mitigating climate change.
Phrasing that is conducive to cooperation will be key to effective outcomes from the global negotiations. Participants proposed phrasing such as: economic efficiency, social equity, environmental effectiveness, increased ambition and systemic integrity.
As mentioned earlier, participants in the Pathway to Paris working sessions will need to think critically about fossil fuel lobbyist obstruction of climate solutions, in order to maintain the fluidity of the process and focus on how to achieve the best outcomes.
COP21: a chance to achieve concrete objectives
In this context, the efforts of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, other citizen stakeholders, the Pathway to Paris coalition, and the COP21 in general, provide a unique opportunity. All participants support bringing clear, quantitative and catalytic policy goals to the negotiations, in order to achieve effective outcomes. Targets to be included in that effort are: a global consensus agreement to reduce carbon emissions to levels that would prevent 2ºC of global warming (one expression of this would be Full Decarbonization by 2050), securing policies at the national level, in nations around the world, that would effectively add a minimum price per tonne of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions, and creating a binding transition plan from high-carbon to low-carbon energy production practices, to be respected and carried forward by both governments and the private sector.
Human well-being & climate change
In the discussion on international policies, respondents underlined the importance of not forgetting the key issue of the consequences of climate change on human well-being. All human beings should be able to be heard and listened to. In order to provide a safe and sustainable environment to every human being, the direct engagement of civil society is seen as a top priority.
While preparing for the negotiations in Paris, the Pathway to Paris project needs to help people stand up and use their voices and their perspective to educate and build relationships with governments, business leaders or with citizens with opposing views.
Participation to further working sessions and Pathway to Paris Project
Respondents to the form expressed their will to join the Working Groups focusing on International Cooperation, but also Access & Transparency and Knowledge/Leverage to Empower Citizens & Consumers. In any case, every participant highlighted once again the crucial need for inclusivity and transparency between those groups. Again, a strong motivation for participation was expressed by participants, who shared their will to help in shaping the Paris Priorities Matrix, work on Obtaining cross-accreditation for volunteers in Paris, Announcing events to their networks, Creating Youth-Driven Draft Climate Agreement, helping with Media and Technology Arrangements in Paris, and designing and Managing an enduring Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network.
>>> For information about past and future Working Sessions, go to pathwaytoparis.org/ws