[COP24] There is no time to waste on climate change

4th December 2018

“Climate change touches every fibre of our being together as community,” says Isaiah Toroitich, ACT’s global advocacy lead, in a conversation at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.  “There is an urgency for the world to respond to climate change.  As ACT Alliance, we know this- our members deal with it every day.  In Africa, ACT members respond to ongoing droughts that affect our humanitarian and development work.  In Asia, in Latin America, in the Caribbean we see similar levels of climate change related stresses on communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

ACT brings a unique voice to the climate change negotiations .  “We have policy experts here in Katowice,” Toroitich explains,” who bring tremendous knowledge and experience on the technical side.  But we also bring practitioners. This year, we have people from the Uganda, Zambia, Europe, Kenya, South Africa, India, Bangladesh, Argentina and other Forums here.  They bring their own experience of the practical community-based solutions that work in their own context.” This combination of policy and practice helps ACT to raise up the voices of people in communities effectively, to input into the negotiations. 

“As part of the ecumenical family we bring, along with WCC and LWF, a voice of faith, the moral and ethical imperative to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable, to care for creation, and for each other as we respond to the needs that climate change brings to the world,” Toroitich adds.

Anna Khatun and her neighbors dry jute in the sun in West Fasura, a village on an island in the Brahmaputra River in northern Bangladesh. Severe flooding in August 2017 destroyed the island's crops but RDRS Bangladesh, a member of the ACT Alliance, provided emergency cash grants to Khatun and other vulnerable island residents so they could reestablish their household economies and restart their lives. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT
Anna Khatun and her neighbors live in West Fasura, a village on an island in the Brahmaputra River in northern Bangladesh. Severe flooding in August 2017 destroyed the island’s crops but RDRS Bangladesh, a member of the ACT Alliance, provided emergency cash grants to Khatun and other vulnerable island residents so they could reestablish their household economies and restart their lives. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT

ACT’s history of involvement in the COPs goes back to COP 15 in 2009, but some of our member organisations have engaged on climate change right from 1992 when the UNFCCC was established. “The most important thing for this COP,” Toroitich says, “is to develop the rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

The world came together in Paris and recognized the urgency of climate action, the need to be ambitious in keeping global temperature rise to 1.5C.  “But now we need to focus on how to make it happen.  What rules will guide us in implementing this ambitious, urgent Agreement.”

It is vital that a good rulebook is established at this COP, as the Paris Agreement must be operational by 2020.  According to Toroitich, “There is no time to waste!”

ACT would like to see a rulebook that will:

  1. Enable climate action to keep to the 1.5C target. The rulebook must push for ambition and enable countries and the world to act urgently to ramp up their national commitments to cut their greenhouse gas emissions .
  2. Enable accountability and transparency. The rulebook must enable countries to be  transparent and accountable  to their emissions reduction commitments and provision of climate finance. 
  3. Focus on the vulnerable. The rulebook must be overtly supportive of the most vulnerable, including  developed countries who are at risk, and vulnerable groups within societies including women and indigenous people.

The next two weeks in Katowice will be critical in determining how the world will respond to the huge challenges before it.  And ACT will be in the thick of it, raising the voices of the vulnerable and advocating for an ambitious, accountable and just rulebook to shape that work.