Countdown for climate action – are 10 days enough?

Jul 07, 15 Countdown for climate action – are 10 days enough?

The countdown has begun. There are less than five months left before world leaders meet in Paris to make commitments to address climate change and attempt to halt the devastating effects it will continue to have on all

In advance of this December ‘COP21’ meeting, it is imperative that the elements of an effective, efficient, and equitable gender-responsive climate change framework are in place.

From every corner of the planet, clarion calls sound for action and decision making on climate change. Most recently, Pope Francis released the first papal encyclical focused on the environment, Laudato Si. In his letter, he urges the world to engage in a “new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”

His voice joins the many women and men of communities, scientists, activists, theologians and civil society groups that have already emphatically spoken out on this issue.

In June, IUCN’s Global Gender Office (GGO) representatives attended the intersessional UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany where parties to the climate convention tried to make progress towards a new global agreement.

We have been providing input on areas for possible collaboration toward the effective implementation of the climate convention’s gender mandates, to guide the implementation of a two-year programme to promote gender equality and achieve gender-responsive climate policy. We’re also trying to move words into action – international policy frameworks towards on-the-ground strategies which ensure women and men are equally considered, included and empowered within climate change policy, planning and implementation.

Feelings in the corridors in Bonn ranged from impatience to desperation. Indeed, there are five months remaining until COP21, but there are less than 10 days of negotiations left – only two more meetings. This is not much time at all to finalise the conditions of the framework and have all Parties agree to implementation.

As GGO participated in these crucial discussions about the changing climate, we wondered: Can those most affected by climate change – the poor and the disenfranchised – afford to wait on stalled environmental decisions? What messages of hope and promise for the future can we report back to them? Do we still have time to change the course of our environment or is it too late to undo the damage we’ve already inflicted?

In ‘Laudato Si’ Pope Francis references women 11 times, underscoring the importance of their inclusion and untapped potential in finding solutions to the negative effects of climate change. His words express what lies at the heart of GGO’s work: “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited.”

Gender equality and women’s empowerment can open the door to achieving better overall development outcomes, including reducing greenhouse gases and building resilience to climate change impacts – the world must seize this opportunity!

GGO is committed to helping negotiators agree on an ambitious, equitable, and gender-responsive climate change framework – one that enables the increase in global average temperature to be held below 2°C or 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, maintaining the highest possible level of environmental integrity and respecting gender equality and human rights.

Some are already taking measures that go beyond current mandates – for example, the Hague District Court recently set a precedent by ordering the Government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions above and beyond current mandated measures.

Globally, there are leaders taking firm stances on climate change policy and striving to make a difference in environmental decision making, yet there are also those who choose to ignore the scientific evidence and disregard the risks posed by a climate continuing to change.

To reiterate the words of Pope Francis, “Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.” We cannot afford to not respond – the time for action is now.


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