Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Colin McQuistan Posts from COP24: Climate Friendly Technologies - Improving adaptive capacity of women and building resilience

COP24 in Poland is the latest episode of the global negotiations aimed at tackling climate change. In the city of Katowice the world’s key climate scientists and negotiators are gathered to agree the rulebook for the Paris Agreement. 

Yes, although the Paris Agreement was signed into force in the COP in 2015 the rules for the implementation of the agreement remain to be agreed and Katowice is the last chance for the global community to agree these details prior to the agreement entering into force in 2020. So the Katowice COP is a key moment in our collective journey to reverse the growing threat of climate change.

But the negotiations have been plagued by numerous challenges. Not only around the different perspectives and priorities of the negotiators and the countries they are here to represent, but also the complexity of the negotiations. The climate agreement is not only attempting to develop a common set of rules for a global agreement, but a global agreement that covers, mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage, requiring knowledge of forestry, energy, transport, health, disaster risk reduction, etc. The one thing that the negotiators are clear on is the urgency of the issue, with the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5oC making it clear that we have less than 12 years to implement the actions necessary to limit global warming to less the 1.5oC and the recognition that for every degree of warming above this the consequences will escalate considerably. 

But who will be most affected? At the outset it certainly won’t be the people of the developed world. The people who will be most and first affected, the people on the frontline of climate change are the poorest and marginalised, those with the least capacity to respond to the challenge, but also those least responsible for the problem in the first place.

However one of the biggest challenges facing the negotiators is what does climate action look like and how to capture this in the rules so that they are practical?  Against this backdrop the Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC), organised a side event to bring community centric practitioners together to share their experience of direct climate action, in the hope that these practical examples could inspire the negotiators to understand the context in which the rules need to fit.

The INECC event was entitled “Climate Friendly Technologies: Improving adaptive capacity of women and building resilience”. The event brought specialists from two social enterprises - LAYA Green ventures Ltd, and Samuchit Enviro Tech - and the international NGO Practical Action to present their ideas on locally relevant climate friendly technologies, highlighting technologies that have been proven to be beneficial for the needs of vulnerable communities and emphasising examples of the gender dimension and their benefit for women. Dr. Saleemul Haq, International Center for Climate Change and Development commented on the presentations. 

Panelists at INECC Side Event: (L to R) Ajita Tiwari Padhi, Priyadarshini Karve, Saleemul Haq, Siddharth D'Souza, Colin McQuistan

Ajita Tiwari Padhi from INECC introduced the session, highlighting why it is important to ensure that technology considers gender dimensions and the challenges this presents. Priyadarshini Karve from Samuchit Enviro Tech began the session giving examples of why it is important to involve end users especially women in the design of technologies. Priya highlighted the case for fuel efficient stoves. Fuel efficiency is not only important to reduce emissions from burning fuel wood for cooking, but also slow down degradation of forest resources. But the problem is that fuel efficient stoves are designed by engineers and scientists not by women who need to use them for cooking. Thus the design criteria are energy efficiency with little or no consideration of whether the stove cooks the food conveniently.  For example some communities may have diets with a lot of frying requiring high heat for short periods of time, whereas other diets may prioritise boiling requiring moderate heat but for much longer periods of time. By involving women in the design and especially the testing of the stoves such issues can be addresses and the stoves would actually get used in the field. 
Unfortunately, Dr. Priya is one of very few women researchers working on fuel efficiency in India. The majority of the stove designers are men. All are working to design fuel efficient stoves for the many millions of poor women using fuel wood and other biomass sources for home cooking, but sadly all to often the resulting designs may be great from a GHG mitigation perspective but fail to meet the individual requirements of the women who make up the majority of food providers in homes in India.
 Gender sensitive technology development approach being piloted by Samuchit Enviro Tech

The next presenter was Siddharth Dsouza of Laya Green Ventures, who presented a wealth of ideas of how simple technology not only meets the needs of poor people, but also how this technology can provide multiple benefits such as reducing drudgery for women in the home, the all too often unrecognised ‘care’ economy. Many simple technologies if designed and rolled out with women’s empowered participation provides additional co-benefits.  
Siddharth highlighted how the shift from kerosene lamps to alternative forms of lighting, including solar and mini hydro could deliver numerous benefits. Kerosene lamps are unhealthy creating an indoor fog of smoke which can cause health problems. So by switching from Kerosene to electric lights can reduce these health problems. An additional benefit is that electric lighting is more stable and brighter and allows people to read and especially children to study after the sun sets. So the switch delivers additional benefits in respect to reducing eye strain and increasing educational attainment.  
Existing and replacement technologies being piloted by Laya Green Ventures

The final speaker Colin McQuistan from the International NGO Practical Action talked about the drivers for the development and innovation of technology and the roles that the various international frameworks play. For example there is a technology work stream under the climate change convention, but equally there are technology dimensions to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-30) under the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) as well as technology consideration in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is important to ensure that these international frameworks are coherent, coordinated, but most importantly do this in a way that delivers technology that meets to real needs on the ground.
In an attempt to do this Colin has been developing a framework to assess the knowledge, policy, finance and user input in the design and selection of technology that is already mobilised and the technology that needs to be mobilised to reduce risk.  In many poor communities the lack of available technology exacerbates their risk.  For example a poor community could shift their risk profile through access to technology that reduces this risk, for example an early warning system that provide early warning of a potential catastrophic flood event.

Reporting Framework for Technology to contribute to climate justice

So where is technology in the climate negotiations? Are the negotiators listening to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable in the design and roll out of technologies to respond to climate change? Technology is one of the three key means of implementation along with finance and capacity building. However, the negotiations tend to focus on the finance issue, as without adequate finance the technology and capacity will be limited.  This is why it is vital to ensure that the commitment “support, including financial support, shall be provided to developing country Parties for the implementation of the Article 10 of the Paris Agreement" are honoured and retained in the Paris Rulebook here in Katowice.
How can developed country parties expect developing countries to both rapidly cut GHG emissions and adapt to the serious impacts of global warming, if they actively deny developing countries the fair opportunities and support to utilise the most appropriate and transformative technologies to leapfrog from carbon intensive to inclusive and sustainable green growth?  This is why we are at the Katowice COP, to try and ensure a fair and equitable outcome for the Paris Rulebook, making sure that commitments are implemented to deliver technology to the poorest and most vulnerable, those least responsible for global warming in the first place.
For further information please contact:

Ajita Tiwari Padhi Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Priyadarshini Karve Samuchit Enviro Tech

Siddharth D'Souza Laya Green Ventures

Colin McQuistan Practical Action

Blog Post by: Colin McQuistan, Practical Action

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