With contributions from Taniel Yusef (UK), Giovanna Pagani (Italy), and Dawn Nelson (WILPF Environment Working Group)

In the first two weeks of December, world governments met in Madrid, Spain, for the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP25. The much awaited talks aimed at continuing discussions about how to fully operationalise the Paris Agreement, and increase ambitions ahead of 2020, when new national climate plans are due to be submitted by countries across the world. 

Despite the urgency and strong demands from activists, the conference ended with little progress and stalled ambitions. 

This was the general feeling from the NGO representatives, including WILPF, who was there with four delegates advocating for peace and climate justice throughout the conference: Giovanna Pagani (WILPF Italy), Taniel Yusef (WILPF UK), Pilar Gegundez (WILPF Spain), and Maria Nembo (WILPF Italy).

WILPF also participated in a panel session jointly hosted with the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and Transparency International on 9 December, titled “A Feminist Attempt at Connecting Climate Crisis, Corporate Capture and the Urgency of Good Governance”

While many of the outcomes of this year’s COP are concerning, there were positives to be embraced. Below we report some of the highlights from our delegates at COP25.   

A Feminist Economic Lens

Taniel Yusef (WILPF UK) represented WILPF on the gender and corporate-capture panel, which people were very responsive to. There was much interest in the analysis of legal codification of natural resource extraction (as a cause of environmental and gender harm) through economic and trade deals coerced by militarised threat.

There was broad agreement that policy coherence in addressing mismanagement, inefficiency and exceptionalism in finance and militarised extractive policies is essential. Students and activists responded positively to WILPF’s legacy ability to intersectionally analyse the authenticity of the “Green” banner. 

In general discussions the European Union, aware of disproportionate responsibility, pledged groundbreaking legislation to ensure justice while meeting climate goals. However, discussion over the Gender Action Plan was heated, as African states wanted ‘finance’ included.  This was met with heavy resistance from some states, stating that this was not the appropriate mechanism, and ‘gender’ was already included in the finance discussions.

Many increasingly recognise that directives and legislation around finance and “sustainable development” must be assessed for a meaningful and just transition, and not simply left as a gesture. Small and Large Island States, indigenous peoples and women’s groups spoke of slow-transition, the need for community-led, nature-based science and human rights defenders’ protections.  

Disaggregated statistics, gender budgeting, nature-led and decentralised data and science with a political-economic understanding is crucial to ensure changes made now do not exacerbate current disproportionality and harm. We need transparent and rigorously scrutinised regulation to ensure human rights diligence.

These imperatives to ensure just transition further underscores the need for WILPF advocacy from our Disarmament and Women’s Peace and Security programmes. Taking a feminist, peace, political-economy approach to inform and influence unfolding law can prevent replicating disparity under aid and development myths.  

Evolving Feminist Law and Policy 

There are many potential mechanisms which represent possibilities as well as loopholes.  For example, applying the principle of Common but Different Responsibilities (CBDR) must include non-market approaches; bottom-up, representative and transparent data, mitigating greenwashing and umbrella pseudo-support of Corporate Social Responsibility and corporate capture by powerful/wealthy structures over vulnerable and poor populations.

Existing legal definitions must be re-examined, influencing unfolding Climate Law Governance (particularly “loss and damage”, disaster indicators and externally reviewed qualitative and quantitative data). These could affect current International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law through UNFCCC frameworks (especially finance and sustainable development regulations), International Labour Organisation and UN High Commissioner for Refugees task forces, as well as food and water security directives.

Meaningfully implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325’s fully transformative agenda could minimise replicating and exacerbating current inequity through newly-colonising climate law.

Climate, Health and Ecology

Credit: Giovanna Pagani 

The data provided at COP on the global ecological disaster is more than alarming: 

  • The 6th mass extinction of living species is underway
  • 60% of climate-changing emissions come from cities and cities now host 50% of the world’s population
  • Deforestation is on the rise
  • The oceans have lost 2% of oxygen in the last 50 years and we are on track to lose 4%
  • Deoxygenation is combined with heating and acidification of water
  • There are currently 700 critical areas (in the 1960s there were 45)

Additionally, there are dramatic connections between health and climate change; seven million people die each year as a result of air pollution alone. The World Health Organization has presented an online training course aimed at climate change negotiators on how to include health-related aspects of climate change. There is a proposal to make COP 2020 the Health COP.

Forward into 2020

Hoesung Lee, Chairman of the International Group of Scientists on Climate Change (IPCC), called on politicians to really commit to the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and recalled that the impacts of the climate are much more severe than expected and the possibilities of adaptation and mitigation have been reduced.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, referring to the alarming scientific data, denounced the lack of political will. By 2020, the new national climate action plans will need to be presented with greater climate ambition. The problem is not on the horizon, but in the present. It is therefore necessary to “act now, not tomorrow”. 

Guterres maintains his hope of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, yet climate-change emissions in 2019 have increased further, rather than decreased, moving humanity away from the Paris targets. With only one year to go until the 2020 deadline, the presentation of new “binding” climate action plans is weak and severely undermined by powerful states, including the USA (Read the full statement from the Women and Gender Constituency). 

 

Forward into 2020

Hoesung Lee, Chairman of the International Group of Scientists on Climate Change (IPCC), called on politicians to really commit to the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and recalled that the impacts of the climate are much more severe than expected and the possibilities of adaptation and mitigation have been reduced.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, referring to the alarming scientific data, denounced the lack of political will. By 2020, the new national climate action plans will need to be presented with greater climate ambition. The problem is not on the horizon, but in the present. It is therefore necessary to “act now, not tomorrow”. 

Guterres maintains his hope of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, yet climate-change emissions in 2019 have increased further, rather than decreased, moving humanity away from the Paris targets. With only one year to go until the 2020 deadline, the presentation of new “binding” climate action plans is weak and severely undermined by powerful states, including the USA (Read the full statement from the Women and Gender Constituency). 

Where is the investment to save our planet, if 5 billion dollars are spent on war every day?

WILPF Sections can support each other interactively in our advocacy efforts across the globe. If you would like to participate in WILPF’s Environment Working Group (EWG), or have resources to share, please reach out to the EWG convenor Dawn Nelson at environment@wilpf.org 

WILPF Delegation @ COP25:

Taniel Yusef, WILPF UK (job-share) International Liaison 

Panel Presenter: “A Feminist Attempt at Connecting Climate Crisis, Corporate Capture and the Urgency of Good Governance”.

Giovanna Pagani, WILPF Italy

Pilar Gegundez , WILPF Spain

Maria Nembo, WILPF Italy 

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Read the final statement from the Women and Gender Constituency:

http://womengenderclimate.org/for-climate-justice-we-need-people-power/