Packages of cheese puffs in a grocery store dumpster

Leading up to and at COP 19, I worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists, helping them to develop policy positions related to climate change adaptation and mitigation in global agriculture. Agriculture is a nascent subject within the UNFCCC, but by 2020, global emissions targets relating to both forests and agriculture will be incorporated under a single heading of “land use.” Addressing agricultural emissions will be a significant step for the UNFCCC. The following statistics convey why:

  • According to a recent report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, demand for food is predicted to increase by at least 60% by 2050 – not simply because of population growth, but because of changing consumption patterns, referred to as the “nutrition transition.” Developing countries are rapidly adopting a
Photo: Mariusz Patalan/Climate Centre

On Saturday November 16th was the first day of Development and Climate Days (D&C) at COP19. D&C Days, an extremely participatory event, was hosted by the GEFJICARed Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC), IIED and ICCCADI, along with my team partners at Yale, Verner Wilson and Rex Barrer,co-facilitated climate change games at D&C Days. We interned with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre as a component of the International Organizations and Conference Class that we are taking at at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In this post I want to share my reflections on how D&C Days, with an innovative conference approach, positively inspired participants to take action on climate change.

At D&C Days the first session of talks was about a diverse range…

Apples branded with the COP 19 logo that were distributed widely at COP-19 by Poland’s Ministry of Environment

From the first day I arrived in Warsaw for the UNFCCC’s 19th Conference of the Parties, there was an atmosphere of cautious excitement surrounding the negotiations on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). A week of negotiating had already taken place, resulting in consensus on two contentious technical issues, one of which had led to the breakdown of the REDD+ negotiations at last year’s COP. Agreement on these issues was an enormous accomplishment and, if adopted, would mean that the five major technical elements of the REDD+ framework would be complete. Enthusiasm was reined in, however, by the understanding that these technical elements would be held hostage for a decision on long-term REDD+ finance. It was an all-or-nothing deal: either the package of both technical and finance…

Multi-hazard mapping in Metro Manila (Rappler.com).

“Stand up if you live in a city. Stay standing and I want you to hold this image of the destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in your mind. Now, imagine that the early warning sirens go off. When you hear the sirens, what do you do? How do you know what to do, where to go?”

This was the interactive exercise I used to start off my talk at the COP19 side event on “Implementing Article 6” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Article 6 — which pertains to Education, Training, and Public Awareness — commits countries to “promote and facilitate… public access to information on climate change and its effects” and “public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate…

Current Yale F&ES Students with Dean Tony La Viña of the Ateneo School of Government and F&ES Professor Ben Cashore.

Amidst all the madness at this year’s climate negotiations, the friendly faces of Yale delegates and F&ES alumni in the hallways of the Warsaw National Stadium are a welcome relief.  As tradition dictates, we held a TGIF (Thank God I’m a Forester) reception last Saturday to bring together Yalies and friends of Yale to share stories over drinks.

Speaking as a key note at the Yale TGIF reception, Tony La Viña (LL.M. ’92, J.S.D. ’95), dean of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila, reminisced about his time at Yale and his pathway through the climate change negotiations. La Viña has attended 15 out of 19 UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. And, the four years he took a break was during the middle of the Bush Administration, when…

You’ve got an issue? We’ve got options.

(Reposted from IUFRO Blog: http://theiufroblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/youve-got-an-issue-weve-got-options/. Posted November 16, 2013 by IUFRO in Global Landscape Forum – Social Reporting.)

Over the last 30 years practitioners and scholars have been dealing with a range of interventions designed to improve global forest management. These included criteria and indicators (C&I), forest certification and, more recently, legality verification and REDD+, to name but a few.

Editor of the Series Benjamin Cashore, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Despite these well intended efforts, frustration exists about their impacts on the ground when addressing deforestation, forest degradation, carbon emissions, and improving the livelihoods of forest dependent people.

Often, potentially transformative interventions are “abandoned” prematurely and replaced…

16 Yale students have joined hundreds of others in the symbolic Fast for the Climate

“We have entered a new era that demands global solidarity in order to fight climate change and ensure that pursuit of sustainable human development remains at the fore of the global community’s efforts.”

– Yeb Sano, Lead Negotiator for the Philippines at the UNFCCC

This year’s international UN climate negotiation started off with an extraordinary personal and heroic action. The lead climate negotiator for the Philippines declared a fast for the duration of the two-week COP19. The fast is a symbolic display of empathy for the thousands of Filipinos struggling to survive in the deadly aftermath of Typhoon Hyain, the thousands who did not survive, and the future generations who will suffer the consequences of our failure to act.

The decision to fast makes this issue…

Ending this Climate Madness

Even before the climate negotiations began this week, Typhoon Haiyan sent a message to the world – a message that is still making waves. The strength and trajectory of Typhoon Haiyan was unprecedented, even for the Philippines, an island nation that experiences more disasters than most. In response, the lead Filipino negotiator declared a fast for the duration of the climate negotiations until progress has been made to “stop this madness.”

I spent last summer in Manila, Philippines researching the policy dimension of climate change and cities, so this plea for action hits home. For decades, climate scientists have predicted an increase in storm intensity and weather extremes due to anthropogenic climate change. Yet, when this prediction becomes reality, people run to the scientists asking for the…

Bringing the fossil fuel divestment conversation to the UN climate talks

Thanks to the support of the YCEI COP Fellowship, I am representing Fossil Free Yale at an international Fossil Free gathering at the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 19th annual Conference of the Parties (COP 19) in Warsaw. Fossil Free is a movement born in response to international inaction on meaningful climate agreements. Thus, Fossil Free has come to COP 19 to bring our message to the international negotiations. Together with youth-led NGOs, SustainUS and the United Kingdom Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC), we are leading a side event on Friday, November 15 on The Potential of Divestment: Changing the Landscape of Climate Politics and Its Relevance to 2015.

Divestment uses the power of investing to change the world. It is a tried and true tactic…