Day 3 – Power to the People


– Power to the People

I am more and more tired everyday. I cannot imagine the people who have been here since day 1 (December 3), and who have been so engaged with (most likely deadlock) negotiations.

A lot of panels today, and I finally met some interesting people. Not because I had not heard interesting people before. I had seen good panels, but approaching panelists cab be quite a journey.

At the end of a good panel you have people, like me, running to the front to talk to the panelists. Usually, panelists are running from one place to the next (and away from you) and there is no time to talk. If you are lucky, you would intercept one or two. Minutes later the conference’s staff would “invite you outside” so that the next panel could begin. This paints the picture.

Takeaways from the day.

The IPCC report on 1.5°C urges us to apply the so called carbon law. We need to reduce our emissions by half every decade in order to keep the warming of the planet below 1.5°C comparing to pre-industrial times (we are already 1°C warmer).

The carbon law explained by Johan Rockstroöm

Emissions seemed to plateau in the world in 2016, but they rose in 2017 1.6% and they are expected to raise more this year. This is not good. Increasing is the antonym of decreasing.

If we consider that around 80% of emissions come from energy generation (be it in the form of electricity,  heat or transportation), the way in which we produce this energy is crucial. And again, renewables make it to the picture.

(Sorry for being so repetitive – but renewables are key).

We need renewables. We need a transition. We need to decarbonize our systems. And we need it now

Islands, who are at the front of climate change, are also leading with renewable energy commitments.

Fiji, for example, who presided las COP in Bonn, has a 100% renewable energy goal for 2050. This is impressive if we consider that Fiji is one country, 300 islands and thousands of challenges. Connection is key. But they are not backing down, as the country’s minister highlighted that “Fiji is committed; we are transforming”. And they are.

Performance by Rako Pasefika

What is one of the biggest challenges islands, and other countries as well, face? Investment. The issue here is not so much related to the lack of money, but it’s destination. According to the panel of the International Energy Agency, we would only need an 15% extra investment, but we would need to completely divert all the investment projects and turn investment to energy efficiency, renewables and storage technologies. 

It might not seem like a big deal that a small island commits to big goals if bigger countries do not. But the truth is that a lot of countries are committing. If not, check the amount of countries with renewable energy targets today.

“Energy is not a technical issue. Energy is about people. And people make policy. And policy molds reality”

Energy transitions need to contemplate for the “energy trilema”: 

  • Affordability: electricity needs to remain cheap enough for people to purchase it.
  • Security: there can be no blackouts.
  • Sustainability: there can be no pollution.
Click the image to see the report.

At the heart of this trilema, is people. And this is the easiest thing to forget, especially when talking about fancy statistic that show how good we are doing in renewable deployment.

If you see the trend of renewable energy installation, it is impressive. We are (partially) heading in the right direction. But if you see what is needed, if you scroll through the Emissions Gap Report, you are going to see a different picture.

Here is where people are key, and their voices were heard through the aisles and stairs of the conference venue.

Yes, there are good actions happening right now. But how long will it take?

COP24 should stop being a hashtag and become something shameful. Guys, 24 years to come up with a plan? Who would celebrate something like that? 24 years to come up with a non-binding voluntary agreement (COP21) whose path we are starting to build (COP24). 

Congratulations for the good work. But, in 12 years, it will be too late.

This despair is sincerely expressed by 15-year-old Swedish student. You can listen to her below.

“We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people” – Greta Thunberg at COP24 on Wednesday 12th.

“And yes, we do need hope. Of course we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action” – Greta Thunberg

Conclusions from Day 3

Once again, energy transitions are key.

An extra 15% investment is needed. More importantly, we need to change the receivers of these investments.

Energy transitions cannot forget people. Therefore, renewable energies need to be cheap, to be secure and clean (which they are).

A lot of voices are needed when addressing climate change, because a lot of people are affected now, today. Including them today will bring a better tomorrow. 

Highlights form Day 3

  • Greta Thunberg came into my radar.
  • One of my favorite things of the day was the (for my opinion) controversial “People’s seat”. The idea was to include people in the negotiations (which were per definition closed for the public, with the exception of the two days of Talanoa Dialogue).
    • One the one hand, inclusion of people is always good. On the other one though, it needs to be more than just a hashtag.
  • I also got to see the Argentinian Secretary of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the rabbi Sergio Bergman, give his speech in the plenary – speech that was supposed to last 3 minutes and lasted almost 10.
Sergio Bergman at COP24