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A Yardstick and a Grass Mat

A Yardstick and a Grass Mat
Executive Director

Photo: Rev. James Bhagwan of the United Methodist Church in Fiji describes the Tanaloa custom and the grass mat that Fijians use to hold community dialogue

The Paris Agreement is built on the expectation that the global community will take increasingly significant steps to address climate change over the next several decades—so the initial commitments countries have made to reduce emissions are just baby steps. The process of gradually ratcheting emissions reductions globally is called the “arc of ambition.”

The materialization of that arc of ambition is really important. The collective impact of all the commitments that all nations have made so far yield a 90 percent probability of global temperatures rising more than 2 degrees C by the end of the century…so keeping temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees C will take considerably more ambition.

The core goals of COP23 relate to this idea of global ambition to reduce emissions—such as how to foster ambition; how to measure the value of committed reductions; how to balance ambition with respect for a multiplicity of cultures, values, and needs; and more.

While representatives of national governments have spent the first portion of the COP establishing their expectations, representatives of “civil society” also have been laying out their priorities for the negotiations and their hopes for climate progress. On Monday, the Climate Action Network held a forum on COP priorities that included input from environmental NGOs and responses from the former president of the COP from Morocco and the current president of the COP who is from Fiji.

The NGO representatives described a "yardstick" for measuring the success of COP23:

1.     Ending the COP with a solid work plan for 2018 that will result in stronger national emissions reduction commitments at COP24 (increasing ambition).

2.     Establishing a strong framework for financing climate adaptation and “loss and damage—” the existing negative impacts of climate change that developing countries are already experiencing and lack the resources to mitigate.

Texas Impact is focusing on the arc of ambition in Week One, moving to finance in Week Two.

The foundation of the arc of ambition is a process that has been named Tanaloa Dialogue. Basically, the idea is to create a global conversation about how implementation of the Paris Agreement is going: how nations are faring on achieving their “baby step” commitments; how frontline communities and other stakeholders see the lay of the land; whether the activities nations and other actors are taking are actually achieving the emissions reductions expected; and so on. 

The traditional Fijian culture of Tanaloa centers on the idea that every person is on equal footing, and their voice is respected regardless of who they are or where they come from. In the UNFCCC environment of highly technical knowledge and national political calculations, the Tanaloa Dialogue process is intended to bring together the contributions and perspectives of actors ranging from small indigenous groups in the Global South to multinational corporations, along with governments at every level. Parties and non-parties all agree that the success of the Tanaloa Dialogue largely will determine the likelihood of successful implementation of the Paris Agreement over the long haul.

See all Climate and Sustainability post.