Lucy: Monday Observations

BRICS high level actions

  • There were no National Statements by BRICS countries.
  • Side events from all BRICS country pavilions start on Tuesday
  • Agendas of the side events can be found here

South Korea Pavilion event: National Strategic Project carbon upcycling R&D project

  • Presentation of South Korean technologies for carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and measures for facilitating smart water grid project implementation in multiple cities, including overseas in Beni Municipality, Nepal
  • Raised ambition for decarbonization using innovative technology and social methods

Council on Energy, Environment, and Water CEEW: Living up to the Deal: Expectations from COP24

4 expectations were presented in their briefing

  • Science must guide collective action on the basis of equity
  • Paris Agreement Rulebook must support building capacity for transparency and ex ante reporting on climate finance
  • Access to finance more just, equitable and differentiated
  • Recognize actors, initiatives and institutions that can strengthen collective action

What should be delivered as a result of COP24?

  • Katowice Rulebook

What it is currently expected to deliver?

  • An insufficient bare skeleton of rules whose development will be dragged on into the next few years
  • Polish presidency themes* to achieve carbon neutrality:
    • Technology – development of climate-friendly modern solutions, such as electromobility;
    • Man – solidary and just transition of industrial regions;
    • Nature – achieving climate neutrality by absorbing CO2 by forests and land, or by water management.
    • *all of which were criticized as a distraction to transparency, loss and damage, and financing, the heated topics of this COP

What could bridge the gap between sub-optimal and ideal?

  • Countries should adopt distributed and diffused leadership for climate action and do a little more than expected instead of expecting one country to take responsibility for driving the efforts.

Establishing transparency and trust is key to adapting to the changed political and climate reality

  • The impact of transparency and transnational carbon market is getting 40% closer to emission reduction target for 1.5C compared to using primarily national carbon markets

At the 6th Workshop of the Facilitative Sharing of Views (FSV), I followed China’s first participation in such an event. Based on the questions raised by other parties, there were a few issues China seemed to highlight as areas of expertise:

  • Afforestation program and greening program to offset carbon emissions – which was also presented on at the first official side event at the Chinese pavilion
  • Pilot programs for carbon emissions trading
  • Development of and insights for greenhouse gas inventory
  • Measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) system development on the national, local, and enterprise level

China gave an impressive data-driven detailed presentation on the above topics and more. The enthusiasm from other parties in the Q&A period eventually led to China speaking overtime and being cut short by the chair/facilitator of the FSV. China definitely set a model for tackling this global challenge with vigor as they shared the breadth and intensity of climate action.

Lucy – Investigating driving factors of energy structure change for achieving future energy market designs

Hello! I am Lucy Xinyu Zhu, a first-year student at Yale-NUS College from Shanghai. Having done extensive policy research for my debate tournaments on carbon pricing and multilateral binding mechanisms in addition to leading the operations of a community recycling initiative for 3 years, I want to make sense of how countries translate ambitions into achievements. At COP24, I will be tracking pathways for transitioning into cleaner energy by witnessing first-hand negotiations, attending relevant side events, and hopefully visiting a Polish coal mine to learn about their strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

I plan to investigate pathways to decarbonization and energy structure change of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa) because they are responsible for ~42% of global carbon dioxide emissions and are regional leaders in economic development and renewable energy adoption. Since COP24 is a major progress checkpoint for the Paris Agreement Nationally Determined Contributions, I will follow BRICS negotiators and organizations whenever possible to observe their concerns regarding energy transition from fossil fuel to renewables. By the end of this LAB, I hope to understand 1) why are BRICS energy sources the way they are now (aka what was wrong with the pre-COP24 status quo) and 2) what has been done at COP24 to overcome these issues?

Besides tracking institutional change and conference actions by BRICS, there are additional things I will be watching out for

  • Leadership (or lack of leadership) by BRICS countries – is there critical engagement with issues that seem distant to themselves, instilling positivity into goal-setting and trust, taking up extra responsibility (eg. transportation sector emissions, more ambitious) etc
  • Interactions involving BRICS countries in negotiations – what issues are they concerned about and how strong is the language in their speeches?
  • Strategies for renovating current non-renewable energy generator infrastructure – what to do with the coal mines which become replaced by renewables?
  • Additional de-carbonization efforts unrelated to energy  such as carbon capture and storage, financing technology research and development, etc.
  • Responses to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) milestones achieved at the Bangkok Climate Change Conference (SBSTA 48-2, SBI 48-2, APA 1-6)
  • Talanoa Dialogue on energy
  • Prospective carbon emissions trading and pricing schemes

I will be doing the following

  • Getting state and non-state perspectives on energy transition by BRICS and organizations (all of BRICS have pavilions with side events!)
  • Observing negotiations and speeches by the BRICS countries
  • Checking out the renewable energy and negative carbon emissions technology developed by non-BRICS countries
  • Stay updated about the progress of the Rulebook and conference transparency
  • Periodical recaps of key messages delivered by negotiators and event hosts
  • Deciphering what’s at stake for BRICS engagement with energy transition

It’s going to be a thrilling week as I try to keep up with the climate actions and events. Can’t wait to experience the intensity of the conference with the Yale-NUS delegation!

Finally, a shameless plug for @ynccop and @_lucyzhu_ on Instagram for brief updates every day.

Food Security at COP24

COP24 is taking place in Katowice, Poland, from 3 Dec 2018 to 14 Dec 2018. I will be attending the conference as an observer for the first week. As a student attending the Conference of Parties (COP) for the first time, I will bring you through the COP with a focus on the topic of food security. I ask the research question:

How do state and non-state actors play a role in enhancing food security?

At the conference, I will be attending events related to food and agriculture!

The first side event that I will attend is “A Farmers’ Driven Climate Agenda – the Climate Change Agricultural Alliance” on Wednesday. At this event, I intend to speak to farmers as well as food-related NGO representatives, with the intention of answering the following questions:

  1. What are the challenges that the agriculture sector faces as a result of climate change?
  2. What do you think is the responsibility of the government in helping farmers to mitigate the upcoming challenges with regard to climate change?
  3. What are your strategies, as a farmer/food-related organization, to reduce the impact of climate change on agriculture?

I will also be speaking to government representatives about strategies that they will be taking in order to ensure sustainable food supply in the long run, as well as strategies or actions to reduce the impact of climate change on agricultural production.

Another side event that I will be attending is “How do we get there? The role of agriculture, energy and systemic change to meet the Paris Agreement” on Thursday. This event seeks to “explore ways in which agriculture, energy and broader changes at societal level would allow us to reach the Paris Long Term Goal without relying on geoengineering and negative emissions technologies.” The Paris Agreement aims to limit the increase in global temperature to “well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels”, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C. At this event, I intend to speak to representatives from civil society organizations. I will be asking them about the challenges that they are facing in ensuring food supply and food security. I also intend to speak to academic representatives to find out about the impact of climate change on agricultural production, as well as what they think the role of government should be, in attempting to meet the Paris Agreement.

At the conference, I will also be focusing on food security in two countries: Singapore and Malaysia. I aim to speak to country leaders from Singapore and Malaysia with regards to the governments’ specific strategies in ensuring household food security. Singapore is a country that is largely reliant on import of food, thus it is essential for Singapore to strategize its sources of food supply. For Malaysia, as it largely depends on palm oil as its cash crops, I intend to find out more about the impact of climate change on palm oil production, as well as strategies that Malaysia is taking in order to reduce the impact of palm oil on climate change. In order to hear from various perspectives, I will also be speaking to environmental NGO representatives about the challenges that Malaysia is facing in order to ensure sustainable palm oil production.

All in all, on a broader scheme I intend to find out from specific government leaders about what they hope to achieve through this conference in negotiating with different leaders.

I will also be picking up event schedules by at the Malaysia and Singapore country pavilions, and will keep everyone updated! 🙂