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Community answers to climate chaos: getting climate justice through the UNFCCC

This paper gives suggestions of how a successful deal can be made at the Copenhagen Conference in December 2009. It argues that during the conference world leaders must agree on a global response to climate change that will shield the world, its economy and its people from the threat of climate chaos. It further indicates that poor communities in the developing world are not just the victims of climate change, but can be a significant part of the international solution. They can deliver low-carbon developments that bring people out of poverty, through local sustainable development.

The report indicates that as a matter of justice, communities and civil society must be included at all levels of decision-making on climate change. The authors add that the mechanisms under development for the post-2012 climate change should be set up to support community based responses. A number of new mechanisms are being developed to deliver finance and technology transfer for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. It is argued that if these mechanisms are not considered at an early stage, they could bypass the poorest and most vulnerable communities of the world.

With political will to engage communities and deliver community responses to climate change, significant steps can be taken to achieve long-term sustainable action, climate change resilience and poverty reduction in developing countries. The report proposes a sustainable development innovation facility (SDIF), which will deliver ten percent of the national climate change finance directly to support local-level actions through civil society community based organisations (CBOs), local private sector and municipal administrations. It also proposes enhancement of civil society to engage in planning for climate change responses at local, national and international levels.

Case studies on climate change are also presented, which show that there are many community answers to climate chaos. The studies include:

  • sustainable development of biofuels to deliver electricity in Mali and India
  • farmers response to drought across Africa
  • forest communities and deforestation in the Brazillian Amazon
  • communities working with scientists to develop rapid responses to climate related floods in the Philippines and Central America.

Recommendations for COP15 include:

  • for a successful outcome, the negotiators must demand that the agreement deliver climate justice for all countries
  • must consider participation of community-based stakeholders as an integral part of the agreement.

Recommendations to UNFCC negotiators include:

  • ensure that any agreement includes a clear commitment to sustainable development innovation facility (SDIF)
  • ensure the agreement includes a robust mechanism, with the full involvement of civil society to ensure SDIF is effective and adhered to
  • ensure that civil society is firmly included in the formulation of national negotiation positions.

Recommendations to civil society are:

  • to ensure that their national negotiators hear their voices and make sure that they are reflected under the requirements within UNFCC process.