The Talanoa Dialogue on Climate Change


#1

Background

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a treaty between essentially every national government on earth and is the collective response of humanity to climate change. Every year the 197 governments that are party to this agreement meet in what are called a ‘Conference of the Parties’ (or COP). The next meeting (to be held in Poland in December) will be the 24th COP.

Confusingly, “UNFCCC” is also the name of the United Nations Secretariat charged with supporting the operations of the convention and the COPs. The 197 governments get together once a year and it’s up to the UNFCCC Secretariat to organise it all and to mediate, negotiate and politic though this maze of interests to come up with a coherent position that all can or will adopt. The 2015 Paris Climate Accord was such an agreement.

At the last meeting (COP 23) one of the things that the 197 governments voted to do was to start a “facilitative dialogue” (decision 1/CP.21, paragraph 20). This ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ (named after a Pacific Island word for inclusive, participatory and transparent discussion) is intended to be “constructive, facilitative and solutions oriented”. It is open to ‘non-party stakeholders’ (i.e. everybody) and it essentially involves making a submission through a dedicated website. These submissions will be discussed (along with a lot of other things) at an advance meeting this May, and will then be summarised in a synthesis report for discussion at the COP24 meeting in December. The deadline for submissions for discussion in the May pre-conference is April 2nd. In practical terms that’s two weeks from this Friday.

Current Situation

It’s not easy to find the UNFCCC Talanoa Dialogue website (it’s not optimised for search engines and only a few other websites link to it, so it’s on the second page of a Google search). Although just a simple website it’s grandly called a “platform” and a “portal” but there has been little or no publicity or promotion for the website or process (if there has been any promotion it’s been very ineffective). The stark contrast between the discription of the intention (“inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue”) and the impenetrable legalese of the mandate would be almost funny if the arctic wasn’t melting. In general (and if you know about it… and if you can find it…) the Talanoa Dialogue website offers the basic information and functionality required by the COP23 decision, but nothing else.

What’s most interesting and disturbing, however, are the submissions that have been recieved so far. Remember, this is the global mechanism for groups, organisations, individuals, businesses, academics and other parties interested and involved in climate change to contribute their perspectives, ideas and concerns into the global mitigation process. This is the entire governance of the planet earth, representing the entire human species, and focusing on the vast, urgent and existential issue of climate change. The deadline is two weeks from Friday and there have been exactly four submissions.

Two of those submissions are previously-published academic papers and one is a previously-published report from a UN-sponsored group. The only actual, real submission is a 16-page document from a 177-employee institute of the Japanese government with the core conclusion that carbon pricing in necessary.

Just think about that for a moment: Climate change is the biggest, most important, most potentially catastrophic problem that the human species has ever faced. All of the goverments of all of the nations of the planet earth have agreed that there be an “inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue” through which any interested party can communicate their information, ideas, and concerns. Think of all the millions of people, all the organisations, all of the billions of dollars, euros, pounds and yen, all of the time and energy and resources, all focused on this one vast and urgent issue. And with the deadline just a couple of weeks away there’s just one real submission of a few pages, stating the obvious.

Two weeks left and only one real submission so far. Just think about that.

Proposal

I therefore propose, suggest, urge, plead and beg of you the following:

(1) Circulate this message and other information and awareness of the Talanoa Dialogue to as many people as you possibly can, as quickly as you can - and especially to those who’s work or passion involves climate change. The deadline is in a few weeks and nobody knows about it. Publicise it as much as you can.

(2) Make a submission to the Talanoa Dialogue process before the April 2nd deadline. It would be much better if you could do this on behalf of an organisation of some sort. Any submission would be better than no submission.

(3) If you’re not sure about what to say in your submission, can I strongly suggest that you investigate and learn about carbon fee and dividend. This revenue-neutral policy puts a real, serious, behaviour-changing tax on carbon and redistributes the proceeds to everyone equally. Everybody’s prices go up, and everybody gets a monthly cheque. For most people the cheque is bigger than the price increases, protecting the poor and the middle class while dramatically inventivising people and markets away from carbon.

Carbon fee and dividend is politically realistic, and has political support from both the Right and the Left. It’s the only way to internalise the costs of climate change into the price of carbon without forcing the poor and middle class to freeze in the dark. In other words, fee and dividend is the only fair and politically possible way to include the costs of climate change into the price of carbon. If you don’t know what specific policy to suggest to the governments of the world in your submission, you could do much worse than propose carbon fee and dividend.

Conclusion

The Talanoa Dialogue for non-party stakeholders is the United Nations, on behalf of all of the governments of the people of the planet earth, asking for your views, opinions and ideas on what to do about climate change. If this process is to be anything more than a joke, a farce and a tragedy, then surely it needs to be known about and used.

This is climate change. It is our planet, our future and the future of our children, our grandchildren and of all the generations yet to come. We are the ones who can do something about this - it is up to us. This is the way to influence, however slightly, the entire direction of our planet and our human peoples on this urgent and existential crisis. The governments of the world have asked for your opinion about what should be done about climate change. The first deadline is very soon.

Please, please don’t ignore it.


#2

OK, on to this.
website http://unfccc.int/files/bodies/cop/application/pdf/approach_to_the_talanoa_dialogue.pdf
There will no doubt be a number of Institutions frantically trying to finalise papers for this.
I have asked Prof Jem Bendell at IFLAS, University of Cumbria. There are some UN post-grads on IFLAS discussion group, so I’ve asked if and what any of them are doing or if they know of anyone submitting a paper. Will let you know if anyone replies


#3

Four more submissions were added today (see here) but they’re all previously published papers or presentations. There’s still been only one proper submission.

Just to remind everybody, this is the global submission process for any individual or organisation to tell the Conference of the Parties what they think. Basically it’s a planet-wide process for the entire human race about the most important issue we face.

And with the deadline less than 3 weeks away.there has only been one real submission. One.

Why?


#4

Appreciate the call for papers . . . my suggestion is far simpler in that I suggest everyone use social media to help people understand first off what a ‘greenhouse’ gas is.

When I discuss climate change with people questioning it’s validity, my first question to them is just that: do you know what a greenhouse gas is.

The overwhelming response is that they don’t know . . . but they’ve made up their mind based on some ‘trusted source’ that makes the issue political with no reference to the science.

I reference this link often:

Understandably convincing folks that have little scientific background can be challenging but I don’t see on social media enough ‘basics’ to help folks get to the first steps is understanding this issue.

But I do appreciate your thread . . . and what it seeks to accomplish.

Addressing climate change is a key issue in addressing long term sustainability.


#5

While it’s vitally important for as many people as possible to be as knowledgable as possible on this issue, I think it’s too late to look to education, information and ‘awareness-raising’ as a solution to climate change.

Veteran climate scientist and activist James Hansen reckons there’s maybe a 20% chance that it’s too late already and that we’re on an unstoppable rollercoaster ride to 6 degrees+, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing famine, and all the rest. While we all desperately hope he’s wrong, it’s undeniable that that is the direction in which we’re heading. Maybe the Arctic was a tipping point, maybe not. Maybe it’ll be the permafrost, or some unknown oceanic event or something else. But it’s clear that this is an emergency and that we have at best a decade or two in which to meaningfully act (and that’s Act, not Talk!).

I’m not in any way against climate education, information and awareness-raising. But the solution is bills and votes and laws and politics, and waiting or working towards some mass political change among voters is just not realistic (look at the polls!). IMHO it’s certainly not realistic in the time we have left.

However we are already in the midst of a mass political change among voters - albeit as a response to squeezed incomes and unfairness rather than climate. These are ‘interesting times’ in politics, and that means opportunity. That’s why I strongly and with laser-focus support (1) a carbon fee and dividend solution to climate, and (2) the Citizens’ Climate Lobby approach of training, resourcing and empowering quiet, respectful lobbying of existing politicians from all parties.

Climate is now a crisis and an emergency, and IMO the time for a general, broad-spectrum, long-term ‘awareness-raising’ approach is over. There is spectacularly huge political movement on carbon tax/fee and dividend already - this specific, laser-focused, immediate approach works. I (ironically!) encourage you and everyone who reads this to at least investigate and learn more about it. Make up your own mind. But considering our situation surely it is your duty to at least find out more.

Finally and in relation to the Talanoa Dialogue, I think the sheer and utter ridiculousness of a planet-wide dialogue essentially resulting in a single submission with only a few weeks to the deadline is illustrative of massive incompetence and waste of money, resources and time at a vast level. IMHO climate has in some ways been hijacked by a very well paid crowd of professional, highly-educated and careerist bureaucrats, consultants and academics who feed off the many, many £$€billions raised from carbon tax and other allocations. A massive, massive pile of money has been made available and an army of Phds, consultants, think tanks and institutions has come to feed, justifying what they take by uselessly talking to each other in reports, conferences, websites and other forums that few people care or even know about.

Maybe I’m just envious and bitter at the resources I see available to those I also see as useless or worse than useless. But one thing I do know is that whatever it is the vast, well-financed and professional climate industry is doing - it’s not working.

In contrast, the underfunded, shoe-string approach of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby is. So I’m with them.


#6

Thanks for the link to Citizens’ Climate Lobby. How many members do they have? Are any of them going to submit a paper?
I understand what you are saying about trying to learn about the issues; it’s a complicated subject. Maybe the time has come for just telling our personal stories, fears and hopes for the future. As you suggest, we could tell the leaders how we want them to go forward. That might include explaining about greenhouse gases among other things, in language, pictures etc many more can understand. But importantly that we wish them to stand up for us!


#7

CCL have about 100,000 members around the world in 457 active chapters - all laser-focused on quiet, respectful political and media lobbying in favour of a carbon fee and dividend. Successes include growing the Climate Solutions Caucus of the US congress from zero to 72 members in 2 years (36 Dems, 36 GOP); getting the endorsement of the Democrat-controlled legislature of California and hundreds of cities, etc., getting the non-Trump, non-Tea Party GOP behind it (Shultz, Baker, etc.), helping Canada adopt it as the default federal carbon pricing solution (if provinces don’t choose something else), etc. It’s the policy of both Exxon AND the US Green Party, of veteran climate scientist and activist James Hansen AND the late Stephen Hawkings - and on and on and on it goes. Watch for bi-partisan movement on this in the US congress this year.

CCL as a whole will be making a submission to the Talanoa Dialogue before the April deadline and local chapters will be encouraged to submit for the October deadline.

(Incidently, with just over 2 weeks till the deadline there is still only ONE real submission!)


#8

I would recommend the members of CCL start a weekly social media blitz on climate change basics. Use the daily trending hashtags like: #MondayThoughts and the more specific: #ClimateChange

Once the public starts to grasp what a greenhouse gas is . . . have them call their politicians.

Unless there is public support . . . politicians will ignore the issue as they’ve done the last 20 years.

It’s frightening enough the US and global economy is based on nonrenewable fossil fuels let alone addressing the consequences of burning same:


#9

Climate change is a vast, vast challenge - as those excellent pie charts show. It’s certainly far beyond the efforts of CCL or even the policy of carbon fee & dividend. But carbon pricing is a vital and indispensible part of the matrix of solutions - and fee and dividend is the only fair way to impose a price that’s high enough to force deep change. Here in Ireland poor people are charged €20/ton carbon tax for trying to stay warm, with the money given to rich people to subsidise their new electric car. IMHO this is both morally wrong and politically unsustainable.

CCL do seem to know what they’re doing (they’ve certainly had some spectacular successes!). The focus is on building political will through:

  1. Direct Lobbying - building relationships with politicians
  2. Media - getting published in newspapers, on the radio, etc…
  3. Grassroots Outreach - bringing education and outreach to local community
  4. Grasstops Outreach - talking with like-minded local community leaders
  5. Chapter Development - building a group of people to work effectively at the above.

Regarding social media I think you are absolutely right and that much more could be done in that area (although it’ll take more than a few hashtags). Considering the urgency and scale of the climate crisis, I’d love to see a well-funded coalition of social media companies working on this. Maybe this is a way for Facebook to redeem itself?

Why not do some research, then reach out to the right person in Facebook to suggest it?


#10

hi @Graham, I have contacts with environmental organisations and climate activists from e.g. FossilFree, which is a branch of 350.org

I haven’t looked at the details yet, but should I try to wake these people up to this option, quickly? And what kind of detail is expected from a ‘submission’? These people are concerned with the ‘how do we get there?’ question. And then especially on the aspect of how do you break through the resistance from the status quo powers of fossil fuels, and those that feel threatened by any climate action. As their current powerful niche in our economy and society is based on the fossil fuel energy system that has to go.

How to formulate that project, or submission?


#11

Hi @Nichol

The deadline is now 11 days away (Easter Monday). As of yesterday there have been 12 submissions, 9 of which are previously published papers/reports that don’t directly address the purpose of the exercise. That means there are only 3 actual submissions.

Of these 3 submissions, one is 3 pages, one is 18 pages (but really 13 pages once you take the filler out), and one is 5 pages. There is no standard or prescribed format of any kind, and the three real submissions are very different in layout, etc.

One of the so-called submissions is actually a blank Powerpoint presentation, which would imply that not only did the group submitting it not check, but the UNFCCC also didn’t check before uploading (I suspect I’m the only person who has actually looked at it with my actual eyes!). Note - just checked it again. It’s been replaced with a previous and not directly relevant presentation)

I used to teach academic English, and if any class produced these results I would consider the course an absolute failure. That these are the results of the global public consultation process run by the United Nations about the most urgent issue facing humanity - well, that makes me feel like I’m living in the Matrix or the Truman Show. I just can’t get my head around the lack of interest. The ‘official’ UNFCCC hashtag of #Talanoa4Ambition would be absolutely hilarious if the arctic wasn’t melting.

I hope there will be a last-minute flurry of interest in the next week or so. The UNFCCC are now pushing it more on social media (I expect they’re worried about a PR disaster, as they should be).

I don’t have any advice for you about what you should do. All I can tell you is that I will be making a submission arguing for carbon tax and dividend. I expect it will be about 10 pages long, laid out like a college report. In a way I’ll be doing this as a matter of principle only. I mean, you’d really have to be a fool to have faith in this process, would you not? But I’d much rather be a fool than do nothing.


#12

FYI, @Nichol


Reframing the Trump-China "trade war" anyone?
#13

#14

Talanoa Dialogue update:

With only 5 days to go until the deadline (2 working days) there are now 14 submissions published, of which only 4 or 5 seem to real (haven’t had time to go through them yet). This is only the first open global consultation process for how all of the governments of humanity should deal with the greatest threat in human history, so no biggie!

Is it just me or is this lack of response really, really wierd?


#15

I posted on IFLAS linkedIn group and had this response from Arthur Dahl,of ief, (International Environment Forum) about three weeks ago. To my shame I forgot to share on here. Sorry.

“The International Environment Forum (https://iefworld.org) has just submitted its first input. We encourage other organzations to get involved in this opportunity to contribute to more open international governance”.


#16

#17

There is a public event in an hour and a half in my city where local green activists together with Green Peace Russia members are going to sum up the work that they’ve done and what needs to be done. I am going to ask them about what they know about alternative economic models, because what I think that the whole activism based on donations is non-sustainable and non-scalable hack. As I am neither ecologist, nor economist by a trade, I am deeply curious to see gameplay that these two things can bring given the recent advances in technology.

I found this thread because I try to prepare for the event, and I remember that banks were remaking financial flows towards “green economics” or something like that, and then COP-24 occurred in the news. “The Talanoa Dialogue” name is an unfortunate meaningless name from PR stand, as the whole habit of giving names like that. No surprises that people could not discover if they could be heard in upcoming COP-24. A message to pass if you have a channel.

Only 15 minutes left before I have to leave, and I want to point out that COP-24 is over.

https://unfccc.int/event/cop-24

It could help me a lot to know the outcome and read the summary of COP-24 results in this thread if somebody is curious enough to read through UN papers above. Unfortunately, right now I am not in the position to process this information myself, but it will be useful for a broader audience for sure.