In the run up to the UN climate talks, we caught up with our Environmental Policy Officer, Petra Kjell, to find out what Progressio's hope are for the climate process.
So, Petra, why are we contributing to these debates?
Climate change is happening now and we need to take action. Everyone has a responsibility and everyone needs to do their bit. But this is also a global problem that requires global solutions and this is why the UN climate change negotiations are so important.
This is the one opportunity we have to come together as a global community to find workable and sustainable solutions. After the Copenhagen climate change negotiations last year some have said that it will be impossible for the world to agree on a global deal. But we have just seen some major breakthroughs in the UN Convention on Biodiversity, so it's not impossible - it just requires considerable political will and this is where it failed in Copenhagen.
So what do we want the negotiations to deliver?
Well, in short, we want a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal that delivers for the world's poor. It needs to have ambitious and legally binding targets for lowering of greenhouse gas emissions, aiming to keep global warming below at the very least 2 degrees, and significant support needs to be given to poor and vulnerable countries to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.
As a 'developed' nation, we have a particular responsibility to make this happen, since we have caused much of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through our industrialisation process. In contrast, it is the poorer countries that are feeling most of the impact of climate change and this is why we also argue that any support provided must be in the form of grants and go on top of official aid money.
Progressio's specific focus is on water, since water resources are particularly vulnerable to climate change, so this needs to be acknowledged when we talk about how we adapt to climate change. The problems this causes might not be that obvious here in the UK, but many of our partners around the world are already struggling to deal with the impacts.
I recently visited communities in Malawi, who were telling me that rainfall patterns are changing and that they are now struggling to know when to plant and when to harvest, to avoid it all being damaged by droughts or floods. In our virtual climate journey, you will also find stories about water problems in Peru, such as how the glaciers are melting and the impact this has on local communities. So, we want a specific focus on water related impacts, but they need to be informed by the knowledge and experiences of poor communities.
How are we at Progressio contributing to these debates?
A lone voice can only have so much impact, so it's important that we come together to make sure that our messages are heard loud and clear at the very highest levels. In the UK, we are a member of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, and we also link with the Climate Action Network which does a lot of work monitoring and influencing the process at the negotiations itself.
On water, we are a member of the Water and Climate Coalition and we will be working closely within this coalition in Cancun, together with colleagues from our partner organisation UNES in El Salvador. This year we also travelled to Bonn in Germany for one of the pre negotiation rounds together with one of our Development Workers from Malawi. You can read his reflections from this meeting on our 'From the ground' blog.
Be honest, what hope for Cancun?
There was a lot of hope for the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen last year, and when these failed Cancun was seen as the next big opportunity to get things back on the right track again.
Unfortunately there has since been a lot of downplaying of what Cancun can actually deliver. Some have even said we need to wait until next year for the following round of climate change negotiations in South Africa. It seems that all the sense of urgency that was surrounding Copenhagen has disappeared, but we really don't have much time.
In fact, more research has come out since that is painting an even more dire picture. It's therefore important that we let decision makers know that we expect them to deliver, and to do so in a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal that delivers for the world's poor.
If there’s so little hope, why are we spending our money going in the first place?
Progressio is sending a small delegation to Cancun, consisting of me and colleagues from Progressio's partner UNES in El Salvador. We will be working closely with the Water and Climate Coalition to ensure water remains on the agenda, through side events and talking to country negotiators, as well as follow some of the other main issues together with other organisations. UNES will also be working with the Climate Justice Now! coalition - to find out about their specific demands see our development worker Maggie Von Vogt's 'From the ground' blog.
Good luck, Petra!
Photo: Progressio campaigners take action ahead of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Will Cancun manage to deliver? (Photo © Geoff Crawford/Progressio)