To make the COP27 climate summit count, focus on local action
To connect people to climate action and deliver real and lasting benefits, key UN climate conference should be refocused to focus on grassroots projects and innovations, Kenyan communications specialist says in commentary published by Forbes Sustainability.
Despite the media attention given to November’s COP26, the summit failed to secure binding commitments on emissions cuts from the most polluting nations. Additionally, rich countries have again postponed the creation of a $100 billion-a-year fund to support climate action in the developing world. Activists like Greta Thunberg argued that the COP was nothing more than a “Global North Greenwash Festival– simply a public relations exercise to make wealthy nations feel good about themselves, while doing little to solve the climate crisis.
Many have asked the question: how to ensure that COP meetings achieve real change?
In the following comment, Ng’Endo Machua writes that instead of giving center stage to abstract discussions between diplomats and politicians, the COP climate summit should promote on-the-ground sustainability projects linked to people’s daily lives. This, she says, would be a more effective way to make climate action relevant and immediate to a wider audience, and pay dividends in the form of community investments and verifiable emission reductions.
Realign COP messages to focus on local projects and innovations
By Ng’Endo Machua
This year, around November, the world will gather in Cairo, Egypt, for the 27and United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). The COP, which brings together leaders from around the world to deliberate on issues related to climate change, has for more than two and a half decades contributed to fostering dialogue and debate on priority areas for adaptation and mitigation of climate change. climatic.
Yet even today, the vast majority of people around the world are unaware of what the COP entails, beyond the glamor that accompanies the two-week summit. Indeed, communication activities around its implementation throughout the year are mainly focused on high-level meetings between planning teams, governments and other leading organizations. Very limited attention is given to success stories that arise in response to previous COP resolutions or future COP goals.
But now there is an opportunity for change, as discussions at COP26 highlighted the need to improve the reporting of climate change initiatives on their contributions to reducing greenhouse gases.
There are already many brilliant projects and innovations that can serve as evidence of steps towards carbon neutrality. These should be celebrated in COP messaging programs, for the reasons that will be described below.
In Kenya, for example, organizations such as AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) and the IKEA Foundation have implemented several agroecology projects [PDF] which have led to the dramatic restoration of deforested lands. In the western region of the country, about 6,000 hectares of degraded tropical rainforest lands have been reclaimed, greatly contributing to the restoration of their carbon sequestration capacity.
Similar successes have been reported in the central region of the country, where the promotion of regenerative agriculture has led to the adoption of agricultural strategies that cause less damage to the environment. Such innovative investments, unfortunately, rarely arrive at the COP showcase as scalable pilots, as the global convention has long been organized to disproportionately promote high-level dialogue.
Having the COP message celebrate ongoing activities around climate change mitigation and adaptation would be a good way to create and validate a database of programs that can be properly funded for implementation. At scale. Indeed, during COP26, the richest countries pledged to continue financing their poorest counterparts in adaptation. This is part of the yet-to-be-achieved goal of channeling $100 billion a year to developing countries by 2020, helping them adapt to climate change and mitigate further temperature rises.
Commitment could, however, be achieved more quickly if donors had specific projects to fund – an arrangement that would also help improve accounting processes for climate finance, a challenge that was recently highlighted by the same people who negotiated engagement 12 years ago. in Copenhagen.
In the meantime, it is now up to governments, the private sector, youth, observers and civil society in developing countries to scale up and promote activities in their regions to capture the attention of COP decision-makers. .
The message from these interest groups should be that impactful projects, which offer the best chance of slowing the pace of climate change, are already taking off locally, and with the right support could accelerate the goal of the 2015 Paris agreement. to limit global warming to “good”. below” 2 degrees Celsius, otherwise 1.5 degrees.
Ng’Endo Machua is a communications specialist from Kenya, specializing in food systems and climate change. She can be found on Twitter @ngendo87.