By GWC Senior Fellow and Advisory Council Chair, Marilyn Averill
Much has been written about the interaction between COVID-19 and climate change. Proposals abound to build back better, to change societal norms, and to preserve pandemic-induced reduced consumption. At the same time, many of us are concerned that we are losing time and momentum for progress on implementing the Paris Agreement. Many resources are available to help us to keep in touch with what is happening while we are sheltering at home or beginning to creep back into our normal lives. Here are a few resources that will help you keep up with international climate news without leaving home.
UNFCCC. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) postponed its June meetings of its Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice and Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBs) (they have been tentatively rescheduled for November). But the secretariat was concerned about losing traction on climate issues, so it scheduled ten days of online events called June Momentum for Climate Change. A few sessions were for parties (countries) only, but most were available to anyone who wanted to participate. Some of the sessions were outstanding. You can review the program and click on individual sessions at:
Other UNFCCC constituted bodies are holding regular meetings and conducting intersessional work online. For example, the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) held its fourth annual meeting remotely on 22-25 June. The agenda, documents, and presentations for PCCB4 are available at:
The Adaptation Committee is holding an ongoing set of virtual Technical Expert Meetings on Adaptation 2020 (TEM-A) through October. The focus this year is on “education and training, public participation and youth to enhance adaptation action.” Capacity building and youth engagement have been major UNFCCC issues this year.
Materials for other meetings are available through the UNFCCC website.
Future of COPS. The Conference of the Parties (COP) includes all the countries that are parties to the UNFCCC. The COP typically is held for two weeks in November or December. Because of the pandemic, COP 25, which was scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November 2020, has been rescheduled for November 2021 in Glasgow.
The Paris Agreement was approved in 2015 and went into effect on 4 November 2016. The rulebook to facilitate implementation is almost complete. Some people have wondered if annual COPs are still necessary, or whether time and energy should be redirected towards implementation. Others are interested in tying climate change more closely to other major problems, such as those addressed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And still others want to establish connections across ministries, regimes, and sectors, both domestically and internationally. The pandemic has provided opportunities to think through possible new directions in more detail.
A plethora of reforms has been proposed. One stands out. The Wuppertal Institute for Climate presented a series of four webinars in June addressing “It’s the end of the COP as we know it.”
You can view the webinars here.
Other Webinars. Sheltering has produced a remarkable number of webinars relating to climate change. It can be hard to keep up with all the online events listed separately on CLIMATE-L (see below). For a weekly selection of climate webinars, check out Climate Online and sign up for their newsletter:
Listservs. Consider signing up for the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s ( IISD ) excellent CLIMATE-L listserv on all-things climate. It’s a great way to keep up with new studies and events, and to keep from feeling lonely while you are staying at home. It also provides regular lists of available climate-related jobs. IISD offers many other environmentally related listservs, as well. They also publish Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB), which provides daily summaries of major international environmental negotiating sessions.
The pandemic has disrupted our lives in so many ways. But don’t let it weaken your interest in action on climate change. Use the resources listed above to keep yourself engaged, and be ready to take action when the world opens up again.
Marilyn Averill is a Senior Fellow with the Getches-Wilkinson Center. She previously served as an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior, where her primary clients were the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. Marilyn’s research interests focus on international environmental governance, the politics of science, and the ethical implications of environmental issues, primarily in the context of global climate change.