In December, the LWV UN Observer for Climate, Robin Tokmakian, and three Delegates (Rebecca Boyd of LWV Wilmette, IL, and Claudia Keith and Cathy Frischmann of LWV Corvallis, OR) attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.
COP24 had three primary goals: to finalize a Rulebook implementing the Paris Agreement, to negotiate financing for developing countries, and to increase each country’s ambitions for 2020 emissions reductions. The more than 190 Paris Agreement nations also considered the implications of an alarming UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Global Warming of 1.5 ºC scientific report issued a month earlier, which states that we must reduce worldwide emissions by almost half within 12 years or face cataclysmic climate change.
By the end of the two-week process, member states made some progress towards completing the Paris Rulebook that guides nations to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Preliminary negotiations included discussions on time frames and the rules for complying with reporting emissions to the UN, whether 1.5 °C or 2 °C should be the limit on the global temperature increase, and the specifics of funding distribution to under-developed and developing countries.
The US (closing statement) was part of the negotiations, and continues to be a party until at least November 2020. The US also joined with Russia, Saudia Arabia, and Kuwait in refusing to acknowledge the critical importance of the IPCC report, significantly hindering the efforts of negotiating nations.
What we're doing
By working with the Women and Gender Constituency (made up of worldwide non-governmental organizations [NGOs] focused on gender and the environment), League members not only networked with and learned about the experiences of amazing women from around the world, but also came away with a better understanding of the process and rationales for discussions within national governments and by civil society. LWV delegates also attended the Environmental Constituency update meetings (chaired by the Climate Action Network), gaining greater insight into the environmental aspects of the Paris Rulebook.
During the second week, LWV issued a press release to member states—and particularly the United States—emphasizing the need to support strong climate change policies. League delegates participated in actions focused on convincing member states to include human and gender rights in the Paris Rulebook text and protested the US’s coal and petrol focused energy workshop.
We heard from illustrious people on various climate policies, including the head of the World Bank (who will look at all projects funded by the bank through a climate lens), David Attenbourgh, Al Gore and Tom Steyer at the US Climate Action Pavilion (non-government), and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Three LWV members attended the only official US government event (focusing on the importance of the “clean coal” industry), and one delegate joined the people’s protest and walk-out. The protestors interrupted Wells Griffith, Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment, with a lively protest where four people (including Vic Barrett, a youth plaintiff in the Children’s Trust lawsuit) spoke about environmental injustices they had faced before most of the room walked out. LWV members also attended an organized march, rally, and sit-in to bring attention to environmental justice.
2018 was the second year in a row that LWV attended COP and, with training and exposure to the complicated UNFCCC processes, our voice continues to be amplified to encourage member states to include women’s, human, and indigenous rights in the implementation rules negotiated at COP24.
The next COP (25) will be held in Chile sometime in late 2019 or early 2020. The location and time has not yet been determined.