ACCESS 2020 — Co-creating the climate-smart future

CCE COP25 Press Conference

The Paris Agreement was achieved four years ago today. How far have we come? What can we do to rapidly upgrade the design of national climate action?

On Saturday, December 12, 2015, the 196 nations of the UNFCCC process agreed to work together to end the industrial disruption of the climate system. The Agreement was designed to be both aspirational and action-inducing:

  1. Aspirational, because it would require repeated upgrading of national and international policy and investment;
  2. Action-inducing, because the clear directional signal, together with ongoing upgrading of policy and investment, makes earlier action more attractive.

We described the process envisioned by the Paris Agreement as an “aspirational collaboration on climate, energy, sustenance, and security” (ACCESS). Any nation, or group of nations, working under the ACCESS standard, would be better positioned to:

  • avoid unmanageable costs,
  • build cleaner, more affordable, more independent energy systems,
  • secure and improve the food system and other human development needs, and
  • remain resilient in the face of major threats.

Today, we are signaling the work of the year ahead, and of generations to come, by changing Aspirational to Active. We need an Active Collaboration on Climate, Energy, Sustenance, and Security — to build a future that works for people and for the whole Earth system. The work we do, as a world community, in 2020, will determine how readily we can ACCESS the future we want.

We want to see nations upgrade, reinforce, and supercharge their NDCs, by committing to economy-building science-aligned policies. One of these would be a climate dividend framework (CDF). But any market-corrective carbon pricing policy can align with the virtues of a CDF. We advocate for adhering to the PARIS Principles:

  • Price pollution — with an efficient, economy-wide fee on carbon based fuels.
  • Add momentum — by ensuring revenues flow to households and community-level economies.
  • Reduce emissions — with an environmentally effective intensifying price signal.
  • Internalize (pollution-related) inefficiencies — as directly as possible to the business model that generates pollution.
  • Spread by aligning — cooperating across borders to align price signals and other market-corrective or enabling policies.

The Engage4Climate Toolkit for local stakeholder meetings allows anyone anywhere to come together in structured but flexible meetings, to develop a long-term vision for a healthy climate future and deliver new insights to policy-makers. The Acceleration Dialogues bring together high-level leaders to identify obstacles and opportunities for enhanced climate action.

This work has led to a clear common goal of 100% climate-smart finance within 20 years. In other words (as Christiana Figueres put it to global financial leaders in 2015): no money should generate climate damage. The ongoing process of working toward that goal is something we call Resilience Intel — an effort to connect science data to financial data and build macrocritical resilience.

Engage4Climate and Citizens’ Climate efforts have also shown us that ambitious policy requires collaboration among people and institutions with varied perspectives, and that engagement has to be persistent.

  • This week, in a Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition leadership dialogue, the World Bank announced the Partnership for Market Implementation (PMI) — a successor to its Partnership for Market Readiness — which will assist countries in designing and deploying economically efficient carbon pricing policies.
  • An effort is also underway to establish an International Climate Dividends Alliance — to bring together national governments, advocacy and research organizations, intergovernmental agencies, businesses and investors, to design optimal climate dividend framework policies for specific national circumstances.

Action for Climate Empowerment — the implementation process for public participation in climate policy design, under the UN Climate Convention — got a big boost this week, when former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced his new World War Zero initiative. Secretary Kerry described the need to get to zero emissions globally no later than mid century as requiring an organization and reinvestment effort across whole economies, on a war footing.

The war, he said, is not one we are declaring, but rather one that has been declared by those who seek to undermine access to truth, and to profit by propagating harm, cost, and the destabilization of nations, with impunity. Because climate disruption is an existential threat, he says, World War Zero seeks to bring everyone into an alliance of ambitious collaborative problem solving, which will start through millions of conversations about our common interest in avoiding this danger.

The ECOS community (Education, Communication and Outreach Stakeholders) works to connect people in communities to the intergovernmental climate negotiations. As we learn to connect local experience to abstract global science, policy, and investment activities.

We must learn to see interests that appear remote to our everyday experience as integral to the ecological systems that shape our vulnerability or wellbeing.

  • We must learn to value the benefits of a stable cryosphere, healthy watersheds, and resilient ocean ecosystems, as integral to our wellbeing.
  • Success will mean healthy sustainable food systems, financed by targeted locally rooted institutions, with data tracing the interactions that connect us to each other, through the physics of the planet.