COP24: More action, less participation?

This COP was definitely going to be different – and it shows in all the events – it is all about less talk, more action. So something positive already to take away. It is about local, regional actions and at the same time policy (and financial) support from the global level. The technology efficiency growth shows another very positive story – mostly solar panels, lighting. Before heading ahead, what are the negatives – USA really looks absent in the whole discussions, except for researchers and it is definitely a problem. The existing mandates and intense dedications to it from the NGOs and the universities might be a way to go, anyways. India has just a fancy show-off stand with no real event – well, same like its current environmental policies. Also, maybe it is just Katowice (a small coal city atmosphere), but I think the participation as compared to the last previous COPs from exhibitions is still less. Any bad news from industries? – The lock-in systems of industries (the investments for last decades in infrastructure) still remain a problem – e.g. the heating systems, coal power plants. But there are solutions – Carbon capture utilization – it needs more money though!

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So let’s start with some exemplary event to understand how the day of side events looked like in COP24. There were two major events on bringing science to policy implementation. One of the discussed ways in a conference by IPCC, and green climate fund was to understand the tradeoffs versus synergies between the SDGs. But this comes with a warning – The latest IPCC report has already shown the need to already be alarmed at the 1.5 degrees rise of the global temperature – and thus the demands are already to protect every 0.5-degree rise. The gap from 1.5 to 2 degrees already means saving around 2-3 times of the biodiversity loss. The Green climate fund has already and has been investing in around 1.6 billion dollars in developing countries for working on these urgent solutions. Another event by CGIAR project and the Cornell University emphasized the lack of political will to actually bring these researches to implementation.

The other set of events which focused on the energy transition (by IEA, Canada, the European Commission, and Costa Rica) showcased the need of working on the power, building, and the transport industry. The reason for the first two industries of not performing lies in their lock-in investments which are the cause of the current 90% emissions. The transport industry has a problem of the demand growth with the projection of 900 million vehicles on road in a decade. There are implementable solutions, majorly from Pan-Canadian frameworks, and the Climate Action of the European Commission.

The most interesting event for the day was one on public involvement and climate change – how to communicate the real change to real people? This session was held with the communication folks from Monash and Cardiff University, Tyndall Center and many more. The main takeaways were how to keep these messages real and local and crisp, targeting the community ambassadors.

So, summing up – yes I am happy with where we are heading with the discussions and stress on the action, but still worried about the limited participation of the countries and especially the industries.


Notes:

  1. The great tool by IEA for comparing different technologies tracking the clean energy progress – https://www.iea.org/tcep

  2. Pan Canadian framework for greening government strategy: https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/innovation/greening-government/strategy.html

  3. Climate impact by the area over years: https://www.electricitymap.org

  4. CGIAR project: https://ccafs.cgiar.org/

  5. Climate ledger initiative: https://www.climateledger.org/en/News.3.html?nid=24

Carbon Pricing at COP24: Agenda vs acceptance

Many terms are thrown when it comes to carbon pricing – carbon taxes, internal carbon pricing, discounts – but where they all fail is in actually being accepted by the industries. So COP24 was adamant on asking the reasons for this.

Canada and China started the discussion in the Brussels room of the EU pavilion discussing the carbon pricing approaches. The political will and the structure of government clearly show the difference in the pricing approaches. China with its changing agendas have moved from development/reform authority for carbon pricing to ecology/environment authority and thus shows much more primitive approach than Canada – but still more orientation towards action with focuses on focused industries i.e. cement, power, and Aluminum industry.

Canada has developed a very good framework for making carbon pricing implementable at a larger and more sustained pace. As seen here, the approach is not just setting carbon caps and benchmark, but a method of “backstop” which ensures accountability on emissions for coming years and towards the province. The discussions with non-state organizations like Ecofys, i4ce, World Bank, climate focus – focused on the acceptability of these carbon pricing measures – largely focusing on good communication of the data.

The discussions on internal carbon pricing show that emerging countries are still hesitant, and it still needs a lot of communication and coordination/ administration complexity with the different contractors/ specialists (in a supply chain). But at the same time, there are great advantages for a company to adopt this with the integration of carbon pricing in investment decisions. Cost-benefit analysis and different approaches from EBRD economics, Rijkswaterstaat, The generation foundations – show the scale and adaptation of these strategies worldwide. Almost all the communication projects highlight one thing – “use of revenue” – focus on the growth and innovations (as an investment) over the heavy-pockets.


Notes

  1. Check out the details for Canada frameworks here: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2016/10/canadian-approach-pricing-carbon-pollution.html

  2. What is Backstop? http://www.chamber.ca/advocacy/briefing/18_Briefing_federal_backstop.pdf

  3. Some of the communication (again) projects are well done visually by the climate outreach program – https://climateoutreach.org/resources/public-engagement-1-5c-ipcc-sr15/

  4. Some details here on the data on carbon taxing and pricing: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/29687/9781464812927.pdf?sequence=5&isAllowed=y.

Financing long-term strategies: Some insights from COP24

Are we actually heading towards the right targets when it comes to resilience in the future policies?  There are more realistic opinions to this which shows the pressing challenges, but all of these are optimist opinions towards better cities. Optimism is due to the right technologies we HAVE, and most importantly the policy and immense financial support we NEED:  for example, there is need of more than 2.8% GDP of EU for it to realize its goals by 2030. The panel discussion from the participation of EU, France, Costa Rica, Japan, Argentina, and the UK highlighted quite a diverse set of approaches, but similar industry focuses and very similar concerns. EU shares the concern of the inclusivity in the decision making prolonging the results and acceptance, with the stress of doubling the emissions reductions (target for 2018-2030 is 23% reduction while it was 22% for 1990-2017). Thus, EU proposes more transformative processes with graduality and focusing on renewables and renovation for zero-energy agenda.

France recently published its carbon neutral strategies with major focus on the 4 pillars for 2050 goals (1) Sustainable management of the sinks – forestlands, agricultural lands, increase food product, (2) Reduce non-energetic production – waste, residual, etc. (3) Decarbonize the whole energy consumption and production, and (4) Decrease the energy consumption – by a factor of 2! The short-term emissions target are available for every 3-5 years still and focus heavily on the retrofitting of the building stocks. The interesting part from France is the involvement of the carbon sinks i.e. the forests, agricultural lands, etc. in the carbon budgeting and sustainable management plan. Also, their priorities remain to work with continuous public and people authorities.

Costa Rica enlisted how it is aligning with the policy instruments mostly with the data gathering, analysis, and scenario projects. The UK ensured its focus on the risk assessment and the consumption side for handling the long-term strategies, while Argentina focused on the forestry and transportation strategies. Japan’s focus remained on the long-term laws for reducing 80% of GHGs by 2050. The concluding remarks from UNFCCC emphasized the need for multiple pillars e.g. Resilience, Energy transition, local actions, nature-based solutions, finance. Additionally, there were quite broader, but very important comments on the need of (1) constant renewal of the strategies, (2) cooperative political support from all the countries – beyond Environmental industries, (3) creating global perception and a societal debate – to promote the investments from business to households, and (4) raising of the ambitions and thus the intentions and the strategies, meaning meeting the NDCs need exponential trend, not linear growth.

The other side of the financing solutions goes towards African development solutions – with increasing demands and developing economies: with focus on environmental, social and economic development. The panel discussion by the Munich Climate insurance initiative with the African development bank and the Multilateral Development Bank mentioned that there is still a huge need of more targeted finances and more data-intensive approaches for understanding the hotspots of the overall development (as employed by ADB as well). Having said that, there is a need of developed countries involvement for increasing affordability of the solutions. Similarly, there is a need for being aware that the coal burden compensation is not shifted only to African development (and other developing and developed countries take enough responsibilities with carbon taxing/ quitting complete support for coal-based projects).


Decarbonization of the cities – from COP24

Let’s start from East this time. Japan had 75% of people admitted to hospitals for heat attacks due to the heat INSIDE the building. At the same time, the building energy needs are ever increasing with the increasing affordability of people.  This means that the building demands are not decreasing, and so are not the associated impacts. And, this raises a need for very quick actions on the demand side (energy-efficiency and renewables) and supply side (grid balancing, the flexibility of the grid, and better storage) for net-zero energy buildings. The distributed energy systems were a major discussion topic with notable mentions to the grid optimization, intelligent technology solutions from smart meters, better diagnostics, IT solutions like AI/IOT/blockchain based energy distribution solutions, and nuclear power integration with other renewables.

Additional to the technologies, we need indicators for understanding the progress of decarbonization of the cities. Going to the west, ACEEE discussed some of their solutions e.g. 2017 city energy efficiency scorecard and these are derived from parameters like community initiatives, utilities, transportation, and building process efficiency. Multiple policies have been helpful for this, especially in the USA – Energy conversation audit, building energy savings act, etc. Multiple ratings, labels, disclosures are released by ACEEE and the most important solution has been the “benchmarking”, which allows building owners to compare their buildings with other and indicate their performance.

Another project which is more global – C40 cities discussed various solutions at technical and policy level, engaging public and private entities for installation of the solutions. The transport was highlighted as one of the important solutions here with a focus on access to technology-enabled transportation data for passenger mobility. This should not be limited to public transport, but also ride-sharing companies which would help in understanding the gaps in the transportation planning. The report released by C40 with Mckinsey also indicates that energy for heat, electricity, and transport are the biggest issues for the decorbanisation of the cities. As local governments cannot do this alone, major schemes for support are needed as incentives for industries and cities. Taking the example for Paris where C40 worked on, public schools were targeted for the emissions control – leading to an estimated 30% savings. Similarly, Seoul with a loan scheme is facilitating retrofitting of 90000 buildings for becoming zero-energy.

The US green energy building council indicated that with the increased floor area demand, and the target for reducing building emissions by 80-90% by 2050: the buildings need to reduce their consumption emissions immensely to meet the targets. The LEED zero programs, green build program, and grid optimal initiatives are some examples of how this can be made possible. Similarly, with all the decentralized solutions coming up, grid optimization/ flexibility with its extension becomes the biggest need. As this is still an expensive solution, it is important to consider the efficiency versus the reliability of the project before choosing decentralization over other options. Integration of the decentralization solutions with the IT solutions can be quite impactful here: for not just predicting the heat waves and the heat islands, but also helping the district grids’ optimizations with the dynamic data analysis.


Youth at COP24 – scared, but optimist.

When you walk into COP, especially as a beginner in the climate field, the words thrown at you can be quite intimidating: NDCs, V20, MRV, MDB, and so on. But as a youth, you are new and you have many new questions/ curiosities and though we are very much represented by the YOUNGO and many youth organizations, it always feels difficult to get across many relevant questions to the experts in the field.  Fortunately, I have been able to be a part of one of such organizations – YES-DC as the observer delegate at COP24 and one of their events actually discussed this gap. They showed that how they were able to advise the government as a youth climate initiative or Kek (Klimatat-enEnergie Koepel) by appointing representatives to the government in different industries.

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Starting from the field of agriculture, the major suggestions by the youth involved focusing on the diet of the people which is still meat and dairy intensive.  The electricity sector needs a lot of reforms which were suggested by the youth and they were quite ambitious like making PV mandatory on every rooftop, retrofitting existing gas network for hydrogen. But also there were some more suggestions which can be attained more gradually e.g. decentralization of the grid, intraday batteries/ heat buffers solutions for storage. Some suggestions which are quite important in the field, especially for engagement of the youths were related to more stable contracts and paid internships which would help to keep the youth more engaged in the climate sector industry.

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As the Euro/ton CO2 paid by the Netherlands is still very low as compared to the neighboring countries, a range of price was suggested by the youth initiatives for different industries, and a stress was given on the local carbon markets. The mobility industry is still crucial for carbon cuts even if the Netherlands has quite sustainable mobility modes like bicycles, as most of the people in the country still prefer aviation for many travels. But this also demands an action at the global level. The policies suggested by the youth here were on the price by usage for the mobility, and inclusion of green fiscal policy by having a gradual increase in the price for the gas.

The interesting part of the youth discussions is that they have immense pressure on interaction – you like it or not. So though the start of discussion was with the music we loved as teenagers, it became quite serious as everyone agreed that we are definitely not meeting the 1.5-degree challenge – with major frustrations due to rise in populism and lack of political will around the globe. The policies which the youth gave for their own countries from Italy, China, India, Spain, and Brussels included more incentives for bikes e.g. promoting bike lanes, increase in the EV public transport, CCS technologies (with some discussions on why it is still risky for some countries), and a flexible energy management planning.

The sessions on intergenerational inquiry emphasized the actions from all generations, especially as actions (and not just hope) from the youth, and the communication for solidarity between the generations. “We need to keep demanding as the youth to be a part of the conferences, parties – because it is not enough for us to make good consumer choices, but industries do not change.”

Though there are immense challenges which the youth see in achieving our individual NDCs, let alone the 1.5-degree challenge, there is still optimism to give our best. That quite sums up the youth day at COP24. We might be the lovers of social media and seem to be too dreamy, but we are the most aware and active generation to work on climate change – every single day.

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Rural development with climate risk mitigation & adaptation – India at COP24

India always had a supporting stand for helping the climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, by making commitments to cut down 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2030. But all these goals need to sync with the rural development and the economic /employment growth of India – as there are many who still lives in rural areas with minimal or no wages. The implementation of the MGNREGA scheme, while understanding the climate mitigation and adaptation i.e. involving the climate risk assessment is one of the primary policies discussed for this.

The involvement with the ICRG, IPE global has helped develop some case studies for the climate risk assessment for developing infrastructures which are feasible and easily communicable with the local authorities. All these approaches are tapping into data focused methods and using GIS tools. The case study in Fatehpur (Gaya) in the Northern part of India has been able to implement compatible planning of MNERGA assets, climate proofing/ resilient engineering design especially in the horticulture, forestry, fisheries sector. Identifying different indicators for climate vulnerability assessment have helped in achieving this, which finally helped in choosing the infrastructures e.g. contour bunds, earthen burding, etc. Climate apps and communication tools like games in the communities have helped further adapt these new infrastructures.

One more interesting takeaway was from the approach of urban participation in the rural development e.g. some projects in Satara which helped rejuvenation of the wells by inclusive development (details). There are multiple approaches for achieving a climate and economy inclusive approach as researched by IIED and IISc. They focus on steps to absorb, adapt, and transform i.e. providing wages (which are climate shock adaptation), infrastructures (which are risk assessed investments), focus on institutional strengthening and help skill development to the households. Public grants, loans, equity, risk finance are major investment channels for this. One interesting research by IISc helped in allocating area data to the MGNREGA employment data helping develop the average area per work and estimate the Carbon sequestration possible. This has helped recommendations to MGNREGA like complementing forest cover and tree cover activities with the crop plantations.

Concluding, I think this data intensive approach to support employment development activities with climate risk assessed infrastructure would be a good way to go for India.

Game of Parties – COP24, what lies ahead.

COP, or conference of parties is the high-level agenda meeting for 2 weeks where countries discuss how do we actually stick to the 2-degree challenge (preferably, 1.5). I attended as an observer and though engaged in a lot of questions and discussions, I felt so much more could be done. Though I should accept a lot more has been achieved from the last years, especially on the front of the bottom-up approaches and the involvement of the public. There were also some great discussions on carbon finance and carbon pricing – how developed countries are lagging behind in attaining the NDCs (Nationally determined contributions) to prevent the climate change, and how developing still needs finance.

But what put me off most was the lack of discussion on the life cycle approach and the associated environmental impacts. EU and most of the developed countries also focussed on the emissions, and that too the carbon emissions – but forgot the holistic environmental footprint impact. Also, the aerospace industry was there, but there were quite little discussions on the actual strategies and most of the countries were giving up because the Paris agreement says nothing about the aviation. Another sad part was the reduced participation from the countries: especially many underrepresented parts of Africa and much-reduced involvement of USA. Coming from Zurich, I looked for Switzerland – but found them missing – they claim to do their part with quite an eco-friendly lifestyle of the consumers, highly clean electricity mix and a large support of funds for Africa Development banks for climate mitigation and adaptation. What they forget is their supply chains – and apparently, there was no one to discuss this with.

There were some really new agendas being pushed – mostly by China and Poland on the nuclear energy and the social sustainability issues were blindsided even in Q&A rounds. This is a bit terrifying, but they say it is still “clean”. The other thing which scared me was the division of dialogues between different countries – e.g. EU focused on the energy, while the Pacific islands pushed on the food production and biodiversity. There was no bridge or discussion between the two, ironically that these pavilions were right behind each other. 

So who wins this – or rather, how do we stop thinking of this as a cooperation and not a competition? I am not sure, as I have no clue how political agendas work. Personally, I am a tech-savy-tech-pro-tech-nourisher. And I believe science is the way to go, but I have serious implementation fears with misaligned agendas of the countries. I hope the frameworks like those by Canada for carbon pricing, the recommendations as in the tracked clean energy progress by the IEA, and other tools and methods actually get some more attention. I hope.

But what I take away for the next year? I take away the need to have a more positive discussion, with countries talking about not what I did good and what you didn’t – but honesty. I hope countries are open to accepting what they could not do good and what they can do better.  I know this needs much more fundamental changes in our political and industrial systems, but I hope we change – for the good of humanity. For the good of the one planet we have

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Coding & Policy making for Climate. A delightful Combination (Hack4Climate/COP23 Experience)

The debate on the choice of becoming a specialist or a generalist is not new, and no doubt my career choices were affected by it. So I just chose to have both skills. Policy analyst skills to be a generalist with overview of major industry domains and programming skills to be a specialist with clear focus on AI and Blockchain related development.

Through various projects I was able to realise these skills together through personally initiated research projects such as assessing the education system of Turkey and understanding how reservation systems surrounding caste can be improved in India. However, the Hack4Climate hackathon, one of the events during the COP23, was the first situation where I could combine these skills. It brought together people from all backgrounds in policy, design and programming to create solutions in fighting climate change.

To reach Bonn, I decided to avoid a flight and took a 10 hour bus ride(because carbon footprint!). After the tiring ride, I realised I was missing my luggage, I took the tram in wrong direction, debit card didn’t work and I had to walk for 40 minutes in rain and 3 degrees. Despite this rough start, the experience i gathered during the next week would become one of my best experiences I had this year.

The Scenic Crystal Cruise which was the venue of hackathon with UN Bonn Campus in background ( Source )

The Scenic Crystal Cruise which was the venue of hackathon with UN Bonn Campus in background (Source)

Introduction to COP and Hack4Climate

In layman terms, COP is a climate change conference, where country delegates meet, negotiate and discuss how to combat climate change. There are three major strategies for combating climate change: Adaptation, Mitigation and Resilience. This year, Fiji hosted the COP (administratively), while the city of Bonn was the physical host. The discussions primarily involved post-2020 strategies to meet the Paris agreement goals. Some very nice overviews of the outcomes with concerns (e.g. Japan’s strategies towards coal and achievements like Gender Action Plan) of the COP23 can be found here and here (by ECO).

Dr Harsh Vardhan  (Minister of Environment, India) discussing the goals of India for 2030 for combating climate change

Dr Harsh Vardhan (Minister of Environment, India) discussing the goals of India for 2030 for combating climate change

H4C was the first ever hackathon aimed at climate change solutions using the technology of blockchain. 100 top-notch hackers were selected from across world. Blockchain as a technology took a central position in this hackathon. It is the technology which laid the foundations for bitcoin, allowing information to be stored on a distributed ledger. It helps people or machines to do transactions more securely and on a trusted platform. For more details, what blockchain is and how blockchain can be used for example for healthcare, decentralised energy trading, etc. read this great blog by Yvo Huninkthis blog by Ashay Tejwani, and another blog by Melissa MokhtariFive main challenges were presented, namely tracking of emissions (supply chain), carbon pricing, distributed energy, sustainable land use and sustainable transport. Of course, I chose distributed energy.

Energy Island

Our team’s focus was to explore how renewable energy can be traded between devices at a place where there is no grid of any form (due to poverty, lack of access, etc.). This would help to prevent fossil-fuel technologies to prevail or emerge and improve climate change resilience for a region in developing countries. In 24 hr, we developed an end-to-end solution in the form of a plug-in solution for trading energy from devices to devices. At the same time, this solution would help in communities to optimise their renewable energy usage, save their bills and thus help to increase incentives for community energy trading.

Back end to Front end of the Energy Island project

Back end to Front end of the Energy Island project

The solution was composed of a real-time input from the devices communicating their production, done with a Raspberry Pi. The tariff values were also collected real-time from the ENTSOE platform. This data would be combined with the limit price that the consumer puts on their affordability (at which they would like to buy energy). Additionally, the capacity of the devices would be taken into account to develop a trading logic and based on this the transaction would be written on the Ethereum ledger. The consumer can see what amount of energy is being traded with which device in the system. The complete development of this end-to-end solution, together with the presentation, is openly available on a Github repository and can be found here.
Development of this solution did not mean solely coding for 24 hours, but also brainstorming on the business opportunities, understanding national and local policies around the devices or land usage and understanding the hardware requirements or limitations. Thus, the skills of generalist and specialist came together well into one solution at this platform.

The complete design of the end-to-end product developed during hackathon (Credits: Manuela)

The complete design of the end-to-end product developed during hackathon (Credits: Manuela)

Development of this solution did not mean solely coding for 24 hours, but also brainstorming on the business opportunities, understanding national and local policies around the devices or land usage and understanding the hardware requirements or limitations. Thus, the skills of generalist and specialist came together well into one solution at this platform.

COP23

Being an observer delegate for COP23, I was able to attend a few events at COP, such as the plenary sessions. Ministers of environment from all the countries mentioned their agendas for post-2020, which showed some interesting differences, providing the mutual goal. Nevertheless, the efforts are appreciable. The Ministry of environment from India talked about saving their coastal areas at risk, as Fiji did. The focus on Renewable energy was expressed in mitigation measures at urban centers, sustainable waste processes, a better regulated transportation sector and industrial plants. However, poverty eradication remained the most important goal for India, while inclusive sustainable lifestyles are maintained. The Netherlands made promises on erradicating gas usage by 2030, which was commendable. There were other comments released, from countries such as Suriname, Mongolia and Congo, on sustaining their green forests.

What is concerning is the absence of statements from the USA at central level and actions of Japan in signing treaties on coal plants with other countries. But the hope for a greener and better future continues with COP 24, a Polish-Fiji hosted event and COP 25 in South America with an important role for developing countries in these conferences.

The COP can be really intimidating with so many influential people around. I thought COP23 would be a relief as it was my second COP (Marrakesh experience), but oh boy.. I realised that each COP was not only intimidating in a positive way, but also a bundle of many other emotions, ranging from amazement to shock! If you are also interested to join COP as an observer delegate, it is best to reach out to various NGOs admitted at UNFCCC.

Though this blog is a very personal experience, I think it would be really helpful for people to understand how cool COPs actually are, and why it needs involvement and opinions from more youth across the world.

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For coming up with an end-to-end solution, we formed a team with specialist from all genres and I would like to thank them all: Hardware specialist Alexander, Front end specialist and integrator Thulasi, Smart contract developerQianchen, Business specialist Manuela, I was handling the trading logic/ predictive algorithm development. Thanks to Riccardo Volpato as well for coming to last minute rescue! My personal motivation to be part of this team was very much influenced from my work at Energy Bazaar, where we try to build decentralized platform for energy trading using block-chain to the households with issues of energy access. The solution was built together with support and challenge statement from Selber community project by Michael Butzer and Nick Beglinger.

Thanks to the YES-DC team who made it possible for two years in row for me to attend the COP events! Thanks to Hack4Climate team for the amazing arrangements. Finally, thanks to Dirk van den Biggelaar and Yvo Hunink for being my moral boosters.

The winners of the hackathon are the team members of gainforest, who created amazing architecture for “fighting rainforest deforestation by intelligently rewarding, while empowering caretakers with a cutting-edge proof-of-care consensus system and suite of AI-powered conservation tools.”

Original post: https://medium.com/energy-bazaar/how-can-programming-as-complementary-skill-to-policy-analysis-help-develop-climate-change-solutions-6589774186ca

COP22 log: Understanding basics of international policy making for combating climate change

Sunday at COP22

Hi all! As promised by Natalia, I (Rhythima) have arrived at Marrakesh on a nice sunny day. This post won’t be specific to COP, but more of the effect of COP activities on the Marrakesh city. It is so because technically it is supposed to be a holiday for COP22 today, but come on, who would take holiday when there are so many passionate preachers of climate change from around the world in the city. 

So after meeting Natalia, I couldn’t wait more than 20 minutes in the room to dump my bags and run exploring the city and the amazing activities going around for COP22. The first thing that struck me was the city and administration has put a lot of efforts into making it perfect as a perfect international host. It was undoubtedly commendable. After a lunch full of Natalia’s excitement filled description about COP, and delicious Tagine (the first thing to eat in Morocco), we ended up at a climate March which took place around the city center. The climate march had people from  different organisations talking about why they think climate change is important. There were issues about social justice, women and gender equality, environment laws, biofuels, recycling of plastic, and many more from people of all ages, all countries from Indonesia to USA, presented in one single march! The march took momentum with time and we talked to some counter-protesters who believed COP22 was just a distraction from the real problems faced in the city of Marrakesh. There were also some other protests which were taken on the same route by people in the field of political and social justice, to attract the media’s attention. The amazing part was that the march had slogans which were played with electric guitar and congos. Thus, it felt like a chorus singing some tunes, which even the people in traffic were applauding. The zeal of everyone in spite of the sun at our heads was very encouraging. There was a street play by students from Bali, which really touched me and it was a protest against the palm oil industry and plastic wastes in water resources. Go check them out here

That’s it for today folks, you will hear more about the real COP days from me in next 24 hours.

Day 6 at COP22

Today, COP22 was on the topic of education. This week is supposed to be more political because of more high level events (including negotiations by global leaders). Though there were many side events on other topics like the rural communities, indigenous people issues, etc. the prime focus remained on the research, education and technologies. So indeed, it was a long day full of many interesting things. The first thing I visited were the exhibits from various organisations working on different aspects of climate change like the climate storage capture to the virtual reality tools for showing forecast of carbon emissions and climate changes. Then I ended up in the countries’ pavilion where I mostly saw the presence of UAE (unexpected, but obviously considered as they are soon going to run out of fossil fuels for sure) and the most important point they mentioned was about their ministry’s investment in sustainability like the initiative of the solar park. You can check their initiatives here. The other countries I saw was Malaysia, and India, which had really good initiatives like Forest City and Smart city, respectively. France (unfortunately everything there was going on in French) had some good very good field action science reports on the decentralized and rural electrification.

After this,I went to the climate tracker meeting, which consists of really cool young people who give updates about the events a day before and day to come. They notified about very important things that I would like to share (which you can read more as some facts): (1)Global carbon budget evaluation is out now and the carbon emissions has stalled for the third year running. (2)  Also, China gave a statement that they are going to be the global leader for climate change as US falls out and they declared it in a coalition event of China, Brazil, and South America. (3)There were some questions about different type of funding for investment in climate change: “How the balance in private and public equity will be?” (4) On similar lines, in terms of climate change, 2017 is believed to be the year of  finance and 2018 a major decider for global stocks

Next I attended an event by imperial college London’s Grantham institute, which researches on investment and risks for climate change in a new concept called Green bank. These green banks do majorly two things: invest in the activities which are green like sustainability innovation ideas, or second, reshape the setup institutions to accommodate for the new financial green market. This was a very well received concept in developing countries like China where the government showed interest in starting their own green bank. You can check more about green banks here.  There were questions raised about the biomass and the skepticism about why it is involved in the policies of green bank (BioCCS). The speakers replied that they understand the debate and they will accept it only if they are burnt on the marginal lands. They are also looking into mainly other solutions and not just biofuels. “There is no way it (biofuels) is going to happen from investment point of view” one of the speakers said, boldly

Then, I attended the event at the Indian pavilion on women entrepreneurs in renewable energy. This was a milestone event as the UNWomen and the renewable energy ministry of India signed an agreement to promote more women entrepreneurs in India. This event not just talked about this specific agreement but also the investment of India in renewable energy sector. I would like to mention some interesting facts that I listened. These facts are also from a small event I attended later in the the evening for Indian pavilion, which had the main speaker as the Minister of environment of India, Mr. Anil Madhav Dave.(1) India and developing countries in general need to focus in tropical region on  3 things: Economies of scale, Solar power, and Self Help. (2) 600,000 LEDs have been provided in households in India, dropping the price (3) It targets to electrify 650,000 villages (350,000 more) by 2018, and many more…

Then after a pure vegan (and delicious) lunch (after a very very long queue), I ended up in other side event which was hosted byAbibimman  foundation, climate initiative, and CoLab of MIT. This event talked about various different topics but majorly showed the new different types of tools coming up for tackling climate change. CoLab talked about their various competitions where 1000s of communities are participating to bring a solution. Abibimman  foundation talked about their technology (a device) in Ghana which prevents the people getting affected by the pollution produced in domestic areas due to the smoke of stoves. 4.5 million people die due to this type of pollution every year. Finally climate interactive showed their technology which lets people generate scenario for climate change and see the results. 

For half an hour gap in between I bumped in a press conference hall where the business leaders talked about their take on climate change. This was quite interesting looking at the combination of companies like Bosch.They all promised their interests in sustainability and how they are giving their best to reduce their own carbon emissions. One of their means was minimizing their energy consumption. Frankly, it felt like they were present there because they had to be there. So nothing interesting I got from here. Still you can check the 30 minutes press conference here.

Finally I ended up in the IPCC conference on "what is next? After 1.5 degree target”. Here the IPCC vice chair was present who told the process of how the various scientific reports of 1.5 degree target was made and negotiated with the governments. That was a rather long discussion! But definitely helpful and informative considering a policy analysis background.

All in all, the day was way too fruitful than expected. Looking forward for tomorrow which would be focused over gender related discussions. Good night folks, my dinner is here :D

PS: For the photos, I would ask you to follow @energyclubtudelft and @tudelft on instagram! ;) 

Day 7 at COP22

Today the day was a amalgam of different types of events. The events for me started with a plenary meeting on the  report on the Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts. Next were the exhibits area that I couldn’t see yesterday that I ended up in. I visited Korean, Indonesian, USA, Brazil and Pakistan pavilion. Then, was the time for an event on the “Urban development as the catalyst for the climate change”. The other event that happened in the afternoon was a highly policy-oriented event which focused on how the parties can write their technical analysis reports. A small visually appealing event I attended was by NASA which discussed how satellite imaging can help in gathering information for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Then was a science policy event which discussed how science and policies are interacting for easier implementation of solutions.  Finally, I attended the event on Woody Biomass Energy to understand the controversy around it. And then I headed for a dinner in the center with my co-observer delegates from YES-DC!(they are cool! check them out on their website: http://www.yes-dc.org/)

To start with the plenary meeting, it was like a general assembly and more of a high level segment meeting. It discussed the report of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts. This was related to the funding from the Global Climate Fund by parties to the developing countries in case of loss and damage. The discussion bodies were Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). They talked about need of a comprehensive gender and climate action plan, and mentioned about further assessment in the Paris in May 2017. 

There were some awesome tools I found at German Development Institute’s exhibit and USA center exhibit. First one is called the NDC explorer with future forecasts and present scenario due to strategies of climate change adaptation, mitigation, finance & support and planning process. The second one by NASA can be found on their climate website which imposes satellite images on the maps to depict the changes over time from 6000 meteorological stations in terms of sea temperature rise, Carbon di-oxide emissions, and further changes. I wanted to attend the pacific islands: information management event which cancelled, but I am sure it would have been fun for data science enthusiasts! 

RECNET and RESURBE held their event on urban development as catalysts and discussed that highly developed countries do not mention a lot about the urban content, while developing countries mention it in depth (not so good news!). They discussed over carbon trade systems, funding for working unions, retrofitting buildings, participatory involvement, fiscal policy (which is light on land, heavy on building and this needs to be reshaped). This event also had Sweden ministry of environment, who talked about integrated approach, requirement of local leaders required, gender equality, housing and infrastructure. WMO (World meteorological Organisation) talked about their models on hazard mapping in static and dynamic risk domains like floods to UV radiation forecasts in the cities. The interesting part was that they are able to study emissions tracing back to the sources via atmospheric monitoring using wind patterns mapped over cities. This helps urban decision makers monitor the right sources and thus help planning of cities better. There was also the mention of shared economies, autonomous vehicles  and leading technologies like IOT and their role in the transition of cities. 

International Consultation and Analysis (the high end policy oriented event) by FSV was a technical analysis session specifically meant for parties, and this included many high words that I would need another full post to explain. So, maybe another time ;) 

Science policy event was held by ICLEI, Carbonn, WBGU and they talked about the need of managing the vertical integration between all levels of government as necessary because of the integration approach on adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development needed for local, regional and national level. Sweden, Canada, Denmark, and Fiji was present in this event.  "Canada is back" was the first statement mentioned by the delegate and he talked about the research from University of Alberta & Alberta climate dialogue where citizen panel from different demographics and occupations was set up. These people were put in a room for 6 consecutive sessions and they helped translate science into layman language. Though they were divided on their opinions in the sources of climate change, they had consensus on the idea about the transition. City administration found it useful to convince people. Public took it more seriously. This helped transition from very ambitious things to more basic ideas which locals can relate to. Taiwan shared their ecomobility concept. The discussion ended with again mention about the digital revolution.

Finally, the discussion over woody biomass energy was what I attended. This was a highly controversial discussion. It was claimed that this is a cheaper, faster and easier path for developing countries. It was mentioned that the idea behind this is to stick to “not let anyone behind” which included the poor sections of world who relied on biomass for fuel everyday. Bioenergy is said to be the only renewable energy, where the term renewable is taken literally unlike solar, wind, wave, etc. A new improved value chain for charcoal was presented and then the idea of biomass charcoal was also shown, which is actually smokeless fuel for household. Coming to the controversy, about loss of biodiversity due to heavy plantations and non-clumping bamboo, the answer was that a proper landscape planning is done before this plantation is done. It was promised that 10 hectares of land can support 1600 households i.e. 14000Kwh/ hectare, but the problem of efficiency was disregarded. 

Btw, some of the news I heard: (1) International Solar Alliance (ISA) corpus fund investment is done (Yaay!) which aims at development and deployment of solar energy and it is the first International and Inter-Governmental Organisation of 121 Countries to have Headquarters in India with United Nations as Strategic Partner. (2) WMO support established for the UN Urban Agenda. (3)  ICRAF and INBAR MOU signed for production in bamboo biomass energy (I was not that happy about this one!)

Finally because I heard this quote a lot, I would like to say this “Cost of inaction is much higher than action for climate change!” So it is now or never!

See you tomorrow, folks! It is going to be exciting day again :D 

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Day 8 at COP22

Hi all! I am back with another information overloaded day of COP22. The first event I attended was the Transportation strategies for low carbon future by International Emissions Trading Association. The next short event I attended was how developing countries can tap into finance models for better energy efficiency with using innovative business models. This was facilitated by International Energy Agency (IEA). Later, I spent a long time in the green zone around the exhibits which were open to everyone and ranged from initiatives and technologies from EV vehicles to sustainable fashion. 

The first event was about the transportation strategies for low carbon future, held by IETA where California, BMW, Ontario, Vermont and Washington State and company officials were present. California mentioned about 25-30 million cars on roads and their 3 goals on sustainability: change the fuels, increase fuel efficiency, and use less fuel leading to low carbon fuel reduction. This has been Incentivizing investment in EVs and biofuels. The target has been that by 2025, 1.5 million EVs are on the road. 250,000 EVs mark has already been crossed. There was a mention about planning California sustainability for walking and riding bikes. 480 million dollars for affordable housing has already been invested in this field. BMW has also focussed on zero emission vehicles after push from California. Not just this, they have also aimed at production sustainability by producing energy of windmills. Ontario state officials discussed how being one of the biggest manufacturing district affects their sustainability. They promised to be the first province to have autonomous vehicles legalized on road. The officials also discussed about the spaces occupied by parking lots, which can be reduced. This is very important as billions of dollars of land can be saved by reallocation to other purposes using efficient IOT technologies. Vermont officials talked over the hybrid vehicles, hybrid vehicles and capacity management for EVs and their charging stations. Finally Washington mentioned about their research investments in this field and fuel efficiency. 

Next I attended a very informative lecture by geeks of UN, i.e. UNDESA who talked about the modelling tools. They have made their tools open source already on https://un-desa-modelling.github.io/. They discussed about various case studies in Africa and how these modelling tools have helped them in planning demands from water to energy management and in policy analysis. The methodologies used were discussed in steps and thus the session was really practical as a researcher. The capacity building and communication tools with Georgia as an example was discussed. Steps like data collection, scenario analysis, participatory involvement of people in understanding scenarios, and general steps for policy analysis were basis of this discussion. There were discussions about building institutions to inform sustainable development policies like generating models from economy, microsimulation, sector models and facilitating tools across ministries after data gathering to generate policy report.

Next I visited Korean Pavilion event on Global Inventory Research institute (GIR). What they do is basically calculate the Greenhouse gas emissions for a country. They presented their case studies on this with Nepal and Cambodia. They showed how they systemize distributed statistics and information in cooperation with relevant ministries and institutes across the country, and establishes networks with various domestic and international stakeholders:

Then, I attended two events; one on how to create resilient communities in remote places like forests, or Nordic regions (mostly close to poles) and how the communities are storing this energy in extreme weathers and how they are preserving their cultural values and biodiversity. The second event was on carbon pricing for developed and developing countries and its impact on businesses. Finally the day ended with me a lot of information at hand, and announcement of Australia as the “fossil of the day” sarcastic award winner. See you tomorrow then!

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Day 9 at COP 22

Hi all again, today was a mix of political and energy activities for me. Okay, what is meant by political? The events that happened all over the “blue” (only for observers and party delegates) zone were about ACTION. It was all about how the Paris agreement can be implemented in one or another form. As you might have seen for this week, majority of my posts talked about policies, because it was how COP was like this week – All about implementation! So here comes more. The first event I attended was towards implementation in the form of legislative framing for the countries or NDCs (Nationally determined contributions). The next event was the energy day from Morocco Pavilion. Further, I attended a very innovative event just out of pure curiosity: “How consumers can drive the transition to planet-cooling regenerative beef, poultry & dairy systems”. Finally I attended the meeting on the “Nexus of Innovation and Clean Energy” which was all about technologies on energy for meeting the 2 degree challenge.

The Legislative framework implementation event started with the discussion about the G20 countries. How they have taken the ambitious pathway to achieve the Paris agreement, but also the challenges of doing this for the 2 degree target with consistency given their own challenges. The representatives from East Africa talked about the inadequate funds for the investment in the climate transition, let it be adaptation or mitigation. They also emphasized that we need funds as per the need and not give the funds to where we “feel” is the need. There needs to be awareness at national, local and rural settings, and exchange of knowledge across countries. EU parliament official were also present in this discussion who talked about how different countries are trying to balance the burden through EU. The focus of EU has been in renewable energy, transport and for emphasizing the ambition there is review every 5 years to adjust the legislation to the more ambitious plans. EU is presenting themselves at Abu Dhabi in January with discussion on legislation on renewables where 175 countries will be participating. (You can be there too as a delegate!) There was mention about the refugee crisis and Brexit and the means to tackle this with still a priority over the measures to prevent the “global” climate change. Bangladesh mentioned about how the migration from 25 million to 1 billion in 2030 is going to impact on food security and mitigation due to climate change. They discussed over the need of an amalgam of mitigation and adaptation strategies. Kenya presented the problem of urbanization influx and solutions to prevent this to affect the climate change via funding arrangements with promoting the local communities.  Need of civil society for overcoming the reluctance of the national government, and need of cross-party climate action (to prevent something like USA post-election scene now) were also some of the legislative approaches mentioned.

Post this political session, I attended event at the Morocco Pavilion where Germany, Portugal, and Morocco state officials were present. Germany mentioned their transition to renewable in a very interesting way: Renewable energy was looked upon as the expensive energy, but it has changed now.  They have penetrated Renewable using 32% of their production as annual average. After 50 years - new windmill and solar panels at the cost of gas. But the challenges are of consistent power system which is efficient in itself. The proposition to move the renewable from feed in tariff to the market was made. This would help in reducing the costs and make a sustainable market for renewables. Today, Germany has touched as low as 7 cents for even solar, where solar is not Germany’s biggest physical asset. Considering fluctuating sources like wind and solar has to be taken in account too here.  An interesting point was that the worlds of kilowatt hour is now going towards bits and bytes and thus definition of privacy standards are needed. The Decentralized system need to be connected using information technology. There is also a need of integration into European single market. Portugal mentioned about the need and importance of interconnection with North Africa and European countries of the renewable energies. They have aready implemented feed-in tarrfis for solar and started using LNG for the ports.Portugal Energia is the organisation which can be checked out on this line. Finally Morroco presented the plans of 42% reduction in emissions by 2030. They are ready to mobilize capital. There was signing of many contracts within Morocco and research institutes and companies for investment in renewable energy. Interesting of them were those with Novare energy, risen energy, green of Africa, China railway Construction Company. The other one was for solar plants in Morroco and Africa aiming at 45 MW solar energy. There was one more with the Volatile Morocco and Green of Africa for wind farm investment.

There were two more events, one on ICT solutions and the innovation in energy that I will mention very shortly.  For all these solutions, you should visit the momentum for change website of UN: http://newsroom.unfccc.int/climate-action/2016-momentum-for-change-lighthouse-activities/. There were solutions ranging from Bangladesh to Sweden, micro grids to climate rights, and mangroves to carbon taxes.  

There were some more small events I would like to share, but for that the post would get overflooded - so we can meet over coffee sometime in Delft! We can be reached at info@energyclub.tudelft anytime :)  Tomorrow would be a small day for me in COP22 as I am leaving Morocco early afternoon, but you would here from me for sure with final notes for this year from Energy Club at COP22.

Goodnight!

-Rhy

PS: Check out our photos on instagram @energyclubtudelft :)

Final Day (10) at COP 22

Hello all to the final post of this series. This is my last day at COP22 and Morocco,and today I decided to start the day with a very peaceful session because I wanted to take back home a message of optimism. The event was titled “Trust and peacebuilding approaches for ambitious climate action”. Here the spiritual speakers were from Friends World Committee for Consultation, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU), World Council of Churches (WCC) and an adaptation organisation Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW). From the speakers, you might have been thinking this to be a “boring” session to majority of the youth, but I realised this event was actually the only event which raised question from a really practical perspective for people who are not “believers” in climate science. There was discussion about how human behavior can be influenced to understand the urgency of climate change. There were critical discussions on the ethical values of communities and how to preserve them in crisis situations without overriding the rights of people. We need to transition from military investment towards climate change – this was one of the bold statements I would say. “We all have things to contribute and we can’t ask or rely upon government to take action always!” was the favorite quote I liked from this event. We were also asked to do a small meditation for 5 minutes in this event to understand the importance of harmony and peace among nations during this transition!

After this session, there were no meetings or events I could attend as it was the last day of COP22, but I met amazing people from South Africa and Nigeria who threw some light over the negotiations happening among countries. I came to know about the negotiations in food security not coming to any agreement, and actually a failure because of a dispute between the developed and developing countries strategies (split over adaptation and mitigation). This was sad to know and it would mean all the work to be re-done in agricultural negotiations after efforts of 6 years. There was also a concern raised in our discussions that COPs have become less scientific in the last years and more bureaucratic, there is need of more scientists and less lawyers, to negotiate here and keep ourselves below 1.5 degrees temperature rise.

So, I would say reaching negotiations is surely difficult when we have 190+ countries and there will be happy and sad results after such processes. But I would like to end on the note that at least there is the consent of these countries to be together to fight for climate change in some or other means. I have hope and I will have this hope that we will give our next generation a livable earth! I hope you keep the hope and do your part towards the sustainable earth too. It just takes you few seconds extra to put different wastes in different bins, less money to travel via public transport, a healthy schedule to bike to buy grocery, and it would surely ensure a happy planet for your own children.

Goodbye fellas till the next year! Shukran :) 

Energy Club (Rhythima and Natalia)

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