What does the future of climate negotiations look like?

Podcast EP 24

Title: What does the future of climate negotiations look like?

Running Time: 45 mins

PSC [00:00:03] Yuma all and warm Pacific Greetings. Welcome to the Pacific Wayfinder, a podcast by the Pacific Security College. This episode is a conversation between members of the ANU’s Pacific and First Nations delegation to COP 27 in Egypt last year, with Australia’s newly announced bid to co-host COP 31 alongside Pacific Island countries and much anticipation for the outcomes of COP 27 to come to fruition, this conversation provides a firsthand insight into the mechanics of a UN climate cop and analyses what the future of Pacific climate negotiations could look like. PSC would like to acknowledge that this podcast was recorded on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Land, and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Brianna Gordon [00:00:59] I’m Brianna Gordon. I’m a first year Ph.D. student at the Fenner school. So I went to cop completely blind. Really just going in to learn from global indigenous people and to be a mouthpiece for Indigenous Australians. But also as a scientist working in an area that is related to climate change but doesn’t get a lot of attention on the global climate change platform to try and get some more attention on it.

Mahealani Delaney [00:01:29] Thanks, Brianna. And hi, everyone. My name is Mahealani. I have just graduated from my Masters of Environmental Management and Development here at ANU and I currently work at the Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions, where I coordinate a project to communicate IPCC findings with different stakeholders across the Pacific. And I went to cop, I guess kind of similar to Brianna really for a learning experience and to understand how these processes actually work, how international climate policy is made, and particularly as well to connect with other fellow Pacific Islanders who work in the climate change space.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:02:14] My name is George Carter. I’m a research fellow with the Department of Pacific Affairs, but also the director for the Pacific Institute. This year I attended COP as part of the Pacific Scholars with other lecturers here from the university, as well as Ph.D. and Master’s candidates to COP. But my main role, as well as a researcher, is working with Pacific regional organisations. So under the mechanism called the One Crop or the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific, where we provide technical and political support for Pacific Island countries leaders who participates within negotiations and this year supporting the countries from the Pacific on the agenda and climate change. Mahealani being your first COP this year at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, what was your key takeaway from this year?

Mahealani Delaney [00:03:13] Oh, it’s really hard to, I guess, choose from three weeks, which is a really intense and awesome learning experience. But it’s hard to choose. The one thing that was a key takeaway, but one thing that really stood out to me when observing the negotiations was the consensus approach to negotiations. And I didn’t really understand that before going into COP. But the fact that consensus, which makes sense when you think about it, but it’s not by a majority, it means that everybody in the room has to agree to whatever the proposal is and. It. To me, that’s such a great thing because it allows. It’s the only way that I think every nation would come to the table and participate in these sorts of negotiations. But at the same time, I feel that it is kind of remiss for making true progress on climate change when the countries who are actually experiencing the impacts and the most impacted are getting the same, say, as the companies up there, not the companies, countries and their companies who are actually exploiting the environment, benefiting from it and causing these impacts. So that was something that I guess stood out to me and I as well just did some research into it and realise and maybe George, you could speak to this a bit more. But in the initial rules that were drafted for COP, there was an article that said consensus would there was an option for consensus, and then if that couldn’t be reached, that would be done by three quarters majority voting. But that has never actually been adopted at any cop in the last 27 years. So maybe George or Brianna, if you had any comments or thoughts on that.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:05:00] I’m yes, it hasn’t been utilised. The the option to use as a voting mainly because you only need one country to say no for it not to be used. And consensus has been, as you said, the way in which decisions are made within the UN policy as well as other U.N. bodies. But it’s the way to be more inclusive and the sort of part of my fascination and my key takeaway from it is continuing to study strategies around getting to consensus where, you know, in my study has been building and influencing and reaching consensus and the role of Pacific Island countries in partnerships with other coalitions, such as the alliance of small island states or coalitions with G77 or even working across the board in working with Australia in trying to form that consensus. And so it’s well, it is an endeavour that is frustrating, frustrating, laborious. It takes time, but it’s also is a process that’s of huge fascination. And that’s why I go in as a scholar to study the strategies, especially strategies of small island countries in which they employ to create this climate consensus.

Mahealani Delaney [00:06:18] So, Brianna, I think we were focusing on slightly different agenda items across the three weeks. So what were your key takeaways from COP?

Brianna Gordon [00:06:26] I think my general sort of key takeaway was just feeling very disillusioned by the whole process. It’s, for one thing, just extremely overwhelming being there. There’s so much going on and so many people. And definitely I think we can probably attest to this. It felt like, you know, things are sort of being held together by staples and duct tape. But going from the I ndigenous perspective, it really feels like there wasn’t a lot achieved in terms of tangible outcomes to help Indigenous people right now. And even within Australia, it is Indigenous people that are impacted the most by fires and floods. So it just feels like, you know, I probably built up, you know, the U.N. in my head is this big, magical, smart process where, you know, things happen. This is where the global decisions get made and they get made now. But like having seen the reality of it, things are a lot more it’s a lot slower and there’s a lot there’s a lot more like red tape and processes, which if we, you know, we kind of need immediate action given that we have this very definitive 2030 timeline, it feels a little bit like for me just going in not as a negotiator, but essentially as just a regular citizen, just kind of being like, what are we doing? Like, it feels like we weren’t really making fast, tangible action.

Mahealani Delaney [00:07:55] So George, you were there for the entirety of COP. We left a few days earlier, so can you share with us what the outcomes were in those final days?

Salā Dr George Carter [00:08:03] If you look at the news that came out after COP and even to now, there’s a lot of talk about the loss and damage fund. But the devil’s in the detail of what actually has come out of that. While there is an announcement of a loss and damage fund. And this is something that Pacific Island countries and G77, the Global South, have been pushing for for almost 30 years, that there must be some sort of a facility or a mechanism that can address the needs of communities or countries with communities that have gone beyond adaptation. Any sort of strategy beyond adaptation is not enough. And that’s what we got into the loss and damage. So it’s taken almost 30 years for something like a facility to come through. However, we must be vigilant that during the negotiations it was a very much a hard fought fight to try and even get it on the agenda. But at the same time gets where it is. So the outcome does not precisely give you a fund. It gives us the beginning of the discussion into making a fund to looking for what it would look like, getting resources, the institution, or even start talking about how much money should be there or how it should be used. So at the moment it’s an announcement now and that’s what we saw throughout the whole outcomes as well. Even the mention of 1.5 was even put aside because many developing countries such those from the BRICS were trying to bring forth language around two degrees. Now, for the Pacific, this is detrimental. So to remove any sort of mention of 1.5 means we are decreasing ambition or even action from different countries. So you even have that fact of even keeping 1.5 alive. Even discussions around carbon markets and even mitigation efforts were watered down to, you know, language that was about we will try and do something next year. And so while it’s hugely disappointing that the actions that come out of COP 27 give us work agenda for one year and not a work agenda for the next 5-10 years, it gives us more, you know, I guess, strength to come back next year in Dubai because the work in Dubai will all be about what was not finalised. And this is the area of global adaptation in terms of finance. And of course, the other areas which we all want to elevate from the Pacific and First nations, such as the work agenda around oceans, around local community, indigenous issues as well as gender. These are the other areas which we look forward to in this year and taking full into Dubai.

Mahealani Delaney [00:10:59] I just had a quick question on what you were saying, George. Do you think one of the risks for the new loss and damage fund could be similar to the 100 billion funding that was meant to flow to developing countries for adaptation and mitigation where that finance has just never been realised since the commitment was made.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:11:18] I mean, during the negotiations, a lot of interventions that were made by parties in doing this was the example of the Green Climate Fund that it was an announcement was established in 2010, but it came to fruition in 2018. It took almost a decade just to get such a fund from announcement to being operationalised to actually communities using it. Now what we’re also finding with GCF and it’s something that that was talked I mean pursued within the negotiations is simplifying the access for not just countries from the Pacific who have very low capacity or have capacity constraints to put forth big applications. But if these grants or finances are to reach our local communities is even much harder. So it’s about simplifying access so that not only small island governments, but even their communities are able to access some of these. I think you have something similar around that.

Brianna Gordon [00:12:26] Yeah,  I spent a lot of time the local communities and Indigenous people’s platform and that was a big criticism of current finance models that as they exist now, they are going to NGOs. And what that effectively looks like for local communities is that they’re going to white people to help these indigenous local communities and implement these platforms or programs or what have you. But they aren’t actually going directly to Indigenous people in their communities. And part of that is capacity issues, especially for historically very underserved communities where you do have, you know, lower  literacy education rates, less access to technology and just less access to put forth these sort of big, complicated multimillion dollar proposals. But it is usually indigenous knowledge that is often, you know, being stolen or being misappropriated by the people who are getting the financing and the people in the communities. The big criticism that I was hearing was that they aren’t seeing the outcome of the finances as it was promised.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:13:38] One area I heard and also saw in a lot of side events and conversations within COP was the importance of indigenous and traditional knowledge. And this, of course, is. A basis around the work of the IPCC. Now, Mahealani, you did some work on that earlier with the IPCC and the potential of indigenous and traditional knowledge to inform such reports.

Mahealani Delaney [00:14:04] Yeah, absolutely. And agree with what you’ve both said that in almost every side event that I went to and maybe I was selective in which ones I was attending, but that was mentioned. And in the IPCC in the most recent reports, they do acknowledge the importance of indigenous, local and traditional knowledge. But it’s still at the point where they’re just acknowledging that it’s important, but it still isn’t foundational to these reports. And so something that we’ve been discussing and looking to for the next cycle of IPCC, which is the AR7 reports, is how particularly we can bring in more Pacific Islander representation into those reports, more research that’s relevant to the region, and also elevating Indigenous voices all across these reports. So it’s not just mentioned and acknowledged, but actually forms the basis of the knowledge we’re using to take into these climate negotiations.

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Salā Dr George Carter [00:15:36] So part of COP 27 or any conference of the parties is on one side you have the negotiations. But on the other side, you also have the exchange of knowledge through the various different side events. I mean, I was part of this exchange of knowledge. You would have witnessed so many different side events for the Pacific alone in the Pacific Moana Pacific Pavilion. There were over 71 different site events. But that’s, you know, part of the other thousands of side events. For you, what were some key takeaways or key events that came out for you from these events?

Brianna Gordon [00:16:23] Like Mahealani, I was very selective in the kind of side events that I attended. I typically stuck to indigenous led or youth led events. But I did go to like a really excellent side event on climate justice. And it was in particular there was a gentleman from Port Arthur in Texas, I believe not, not our Port Arthur. That threw me for a loop the first time I saw it. But basically talking about how as a African-American man, his community in the area was massively impacted by corporate pollution and how in his community they’re fighting for justice from and, you know, essentially reparations from this corporation. I forget it was a multi-billion dollar corporation, but I forget exactly which one. But just getting to be able to hear from people that I would never normally meet, you know, in Australia in my day to day life and talk about their own experiences and talking with indigenous people from Africa about how their fire management techniques differ to Indigenous fire management techniques in Australia, and that really highlighting that the importance of Indigenous knowledge to that specific region because our ways of managing fire was much different and how it is important to put those knowledge holders in a platform like this where they have the opportunity to speak freely and openly and have a receptive audience. How about you, Mahealani?

Mahealani Delaney [00:17:53] Thanks, Brianna and George. So as you mentioned, there were so many side events happening at one time. So to paint a picture of what it’s like at COP, you have the negotiations happening at at any given time and there are several meetings happening towards maybe, you know, exactly how many. And then on the other side, you have the pavilions where there are about, I think, you know, almost 100 different pavilions and booths and they all have events going at the same time. So every morning you’re kind of trawling through the agenda and seeing what sticks out to you and what to attend. And it can be definitely quite overwhelming because you constantly have this feeling like you’re missing out on something. But I guess you just have to go to the one that is most interesting and be grateful you’re there. And for me, it was quite similar to Brianna, where I spent a lot of my time at the Indigenous pavilion, at the Australian Pavilion, the youth Pavilion and also the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion. And just there was so, so many aspects that stood out to me, but one that came up a lot at the Indigenous pavilion was around carbon markets, which is something that I have an interest in so I was really keen to hear different views on this, and there was a lot of concerns from Indigenous communities across the globe on the efficacy of carbon markets and the unintended environmental and social negative consequences of these. That I think is really critically important to be discussing because carbon markets form such a big part of how nations are planning to meet their NDC, so their mitigation targets. And there was a, you know, a few people who called it out as another false market solution. And really a lot of conversations about refocusing solutions away from economic and market based approaches to one that really put first the needs of environment and society as opposed to prioritising the economy to make these changes and to, yeah, create the solutions to tackling climate change.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:19:59] That’s certainly one of the big areas that we do see in the pavilions are climate solutions, you know, climate innovations. We see it in the technology around renewable energy, you know, that’s been showcased. But something that’s when I look at across all these pavilions and just see what comes out from especially our part of the world. Remember, this was an African cop and there was a lot of activity around water, around food security and food systems and agriculture. But we find that. From our part of the world is that where we come out strongly is climate justice. That link of human rights to climate change, of course, because we have many great campaigns coming through from the Pacific, such as the Fossil Fuel.

Mahealani Delaney [00:20:49] Proliferation Treaty.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:20:50] Non-Proliferation Treaty on fossil fuels, as well as the ICJ, you know, led by Vanuatu. These these are just some of the many different initiatives borne out from the Pacific, including Australia, initiatives that are driven by not not just governments, but are driven by individuals and local community. And what we saw also this time around is that it wasn’t just the youth there or local communities pushing this. They were actually teaming up with philanthropy such as the Bloomberg group from New York, you know, or banks from Switzerland. You saw the diversity of these initiatives coming through. And that’s something that I think when we look forward to now that the bid has been announced of Australia and the Pacific, that, you know, what else can we see from our part of the world when we come to that, you know, COP hosted by us. And that’s something that I’m looking forward to. Yes, we continue on the key work of pushing mitigation, pushing finance and pushing adaptation. But the other area which is sidelined in the negotiations is climate justice. Now, of course, it’s very hard to bring that in the negotiations. Yet this is the platform of which we are able to tell that story, the initiatives and actions that need to happen. And yeah, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as well on where this can be progressed, especially in an Australia Pacific COP.

Mahealani Delaney [00:22:28] And I think as well, if we look within Australia like in the Torres Strait, the Human Rights Committee found the Australian Government to be violating their rights, their cultural rights, by failing to adequately act on climate change. And so climate justice, as you mentioned, George Pacific Islanders have been leading and spearheading a lot of the movement for climate justice and COP 31 is a really great opportunity for Australia to partner with them and really listen to them and have a, yeah, collaborative process on how that COP should be run. But just going back to what you were saying, George, I was curious as to whether in formal negotiations and in any formal texts climate justice has been referenced yet?

Salā Dr George Carter [00:23:11] Well, no. In fact, climate justice hasn’t been adequately addressed. One way in which this has been undertaken, of course, is through the Vanuatu, which is a great example of I’m going to segway a little bit here. Remember, this is a movement that was started by Masters sorry, Bachelor of Law Students. They were not initiated by government. They were initiated by a class a classroom of law students who said in their class, what can we do? You know? And they found this instrument called the International Court of Justice – an opinion. And so what they did is these students wrote letters to the individual governments, to eight governments, and one government wrote back and said, yes, we will spearhead this initiative. So it was actually started by university students. I look forward to when our ANU students think of something creative such as this. So take it all up. And one instrument that has been undertaken is through that ICJ, but also through other means. And now we have here within a new the special repertoire of climate change and human rights, which is through Dr. Ian Fry, who is actually listening throughout this whole idea, trying to collect as much as possible to create a report and various initiatives which will be elevated up to the Human Rights Council to try and find this link and affirm this link of human rights and climate change. And hopefully there we have ammunition for it to be discussed within the main climate change UNFCCC.

Mahealani Delaney [00:25:01] And just just going back to what you were saying earlier, Brianna, about, you know, cop definitely has flaws and the fact that Egypt were having human rights issues when we were there with their climate activists. It’s also encouraging to know and we saw this a lot at COP with the civil society organisations that were there, that there are other means and other so many other actions that people are taking to progress action on climate change, like the ICJ advisory opinion, which I believe is going to the UN General Assembly sometime in the near future so would encourage listeners to advocate their government to approve this going through the General Assembly.

Brianna Gordon [00:25:43] Now, I do think I agree that civil society really is the one that sort of spearheads a lot of the innovative discussions that we need to be having and should have been happening having for a long time. And it’s in those community led organisations outside of states and governments that I think are really on the forefront of these things. And a lot of the time the official avenues who actually doing the negotiations are playing catch up because of course these discussions of climate justice have been going on for years and years and years and loss and damage, you know, it’s been, as you said, fought for for 30 years or only now just getting something. But that also like, you know, maybe it makes me quite disappointed in a lot of states where, you know, you should be more proactive in climate change and not so reactive to issues that have already, you know, be rising and are already causing havoc in people’s lives and causing deaths. A lot of the Australian Indigenous people that went were from civil society or from universities. And the Australian Government really did take advantage of that. They had a lot of strong Indigenous people speaking in the pavilion and, you know, giving various events. But the Australian Government didn’t monetarily support that in any meaningful way. So, you know, quite happy to have us talk and have us there as representatives and it’s great. I want them to encourage us and give us a platform to use our voices, but they aren’t necessarily so great at actually facilitating that.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:27:21] One of the question that has been asked is whether Pacific Island countries will support Australia’s bid. We’ve heard with the proliferation of fossil fuel treaty countries like Vanuatu and Tuvalu are supported and there was a comment from the Climate Change Minister that support was conditional. Now, of course, yes, I mean that is the view of Vanuatu, that it is necessary, the support is conditional on what it can work to, and I think that’s what the work will be in the next 2 to 3 years because hosting COP is not you show up and you organised a meeting and you know, and you see hopefully you get a consensus at the end. It actually takes at least 2 to 3 years before you get to a COP and when it does happen you have another year or two. So it’s a big enterprise. I think when the French took the presidency was $1,000,000,000 exercise. So it is quite a lot of investment because it’s not just the facilities, it’s actually the diplomacy, the way in which a country like Australia and its partners from the Pacific will work together to provide some form of diplomatic practice or stage or process that can lead all 200 parties of the UN F.C.C. to create a consensus. Now what that looks like, I’m looking forward to the work around studying indigenous or local or knowledge from the Pacific about how you create that consensus, because that will be one way in which to showcase the world the type of diplomacy that’s found on this side of the world. You know, when presidencies do host, they bring in their own form. Like when South Africa hosted the Durban presidency, they introduced whats called an Indaba formats, which is clearly meant for chiefs of villages. And they brought in that and that still continues to be a part of the process. So there is that cultural aspect of of diplomacy that’s brought in. And so we’re looking forward to having those discussions leading up where not only Australia but all countries from the Pacific organisations and institutions can be a part of that conversation to create that diplomacy. Of course there’s also the resources and the funding, there’s the training for people, the capacity for because it’s not just one or two people, it’s actually facilitators in each meeting. You saw that at UNFCCC there’s 50 meetings going on at the same time. You need to have a representative of the president in every meeting. It’s the shuttle diplomacy of flying to individual countries or working with other countries to try and leverage out disappointments before you get I mean, disagreements before you get to those final two weeks. So it is a lot of work that comes through. But it’s something that cannot you know, that’s not impossible. It is possible, but it’s also that brand of diplomacy, the work behind the scenes, but also the capacity that will come through. And then as I said again, where I’m very, very much looking forward to is the showcase of the diplomatic culture from Australia and from the Pacific island countries. What that looks like, I think that will be an exciting space because I think we have a lot of great research here at a venue for First Nations, but also areas such as oceanic diplomacy and the area around Indigenous diplomacy that’s now starting here. And so it’s a way of building that type of innovative way of of building and reaching consensus leading up to COP.

Brianna Gordon [00:31:22] A fairly similar approach for what I would like to see for Indigenous Australians. You know, I obviously can’t speak for all Indigenous Australians, but in my perspective and sort of what are the vibes that I’ve been picking up, is that again, the, the support of Australia hosting COP 31 is conditional. I think it’s not something that it’s been typically done in the past, but there’s been talks around it of a like a specific diplomatic position for the Australian Government to Indigenous people. And the way that we work diplomatically with Pacific Islands is how we should focus on working with our individual language groups and actually and treating them almost like, you know, like nations within a nation and giving them the respect of, you know, having a say on how things run rather than just telling them, telling us, you know, this is how we’re going to do it and you can come or you can’t. Because you know, this is an amazing opportunity. We could have elders and representatives and pretty much almost every language group in the country and have them be like, I would like to see it build almost as co-host. So, you know, it’s a cohosted cop between Australia, the Pacific and Indigenous Australians and have Indigenous Australians voices and viewpoints on climate change, not just be an extra accessory or something that is, you know, spoken about it pavilions, but really be part of the presidency and have that big, you know, in the underlying messages of all of the work that we do if we were to host it. And it’s also just a beautiful opportunity to showcase our culture at, you know, at COP, I got to speak with Indigenous people from Lands that, you know, I’ve never been to and I’ve never spoken with anyone from there before. And you get to share, you know, amazing culture and we can talk about the individual. We have such a wide variety of practices and languages. We can really showcase that with people. And because I think, you know, Indigenous Australian history is not something that’s widely discussed around the world. And I even met some, you know, lovely American people but used the word Aborigine, which really I’m just like, Oh, and then what? It’s like, it’s not them, you know, being offensive. That’s a word that they’re taught to use. COP can Have us, you know, be elevated onto an international stage. Like we got to see like, like with other indigenous groups and become a world leader in terms of climate change and how we manage things like fires and forests.

PSC [00:33:47] For the latest analysis on climate, environmental, human and national security trends in our blue Pacific region, you can read the PSC blog at PacificSecurity.net. Our contributors come from across the region and include policymakers, practitioners and academics. If you’d like to contribute, get in contact with our team through our website.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:34:14] But of course, I mean, to be on the international stage, you got to have climate action. You’ve got to have ambitious action on the ground. And it’s not just for Australia but also Pacific Island countries to have those ambitious actions and what they can be. Maybe Mahealani you can comment on what those ambitious actions could be.

Mahealani Delaney [00:34:33] Big question there. There’s I mean, I think first and foremost is for the Pacific the priority of mitigation because like keeping 1.5 alive. And I think, you know, the fact that there is still time to keep to 1.5 by the time COP 31 happens will be past 2025, which is the year that emissions need to peak. But still keeping the ambition there, you know, even if we have overshoot of emissions so we temporarily surpass 1.5, there is potential to bring it back down. And that is the temperature goal that the Pacific will continue to strive for, even if it does go above 1.5. And I think there is just no room to let go of 1.5, because once you let ambition slide above that, then you know, if we’re saying, oh, we’ll aim for two, then it goes to 2.5 with two being ideal. So I think one priority will definitely be holding to the 1.5 degree target. And as has been mentioned, loss and damage as well, ensuring that the work programme for that keeps up and that we establish the finance for that to start flowing as soon as possible, because it is very much the case that Pacific island nations are experiencing the impacts of climate change now, and ten years for a fund to be set up is just not adequate to deal with the reality of what is being faced at the moment. So I think those are two key areas. I mean, there’s a whole lot of different agenda items that need progressing. And just on your points before about the presidency, that was something I didn’t realise at COP was how much power the presidency has to dictate the agenda of a cop. And I just really didn’t understand that before. Was that something, Brianna, maybe you had realised or observed as well?

Brianna Gordon [00:36:24] It was sort of something that I definitely don’t think I realised going in, but once I was sort of there, the way that people spoke about it and, you know, the different countries. And I also spoke with some people who had worked for the British, for the UK presidency who were in ALSIP and speaking to them about their role, that I do think it is a you know, there’s a reason countries want to host because obviously it’s very expensive If you didn’t get something out of it, you know, not a lot of countries are going to put their hand up to be like, Yeah, well, we’ll sacrifice that. So I think there is definite political ambitions and power that comes with with being the country that’s the presidency, because you do get to dictate what happens and even like really intangible things that you are in charge of as the presidency, like whether or not it’s deliberate. But with the ALSIP, I think our conversations were really hampered by the administrative situation that we were under and the sort of resources and rooms that we were provided. And, you know, things like even though if it’s not deliberate or it’s not like an actual this is that this is what we’re going to be discussing, but by hamstringing certain conversations or just making it difficult for, you know, real conversations to flourish, that’s an element of power that you have in controlling what gets discussed at COP and how successful those discussions are.

Mahealani Delaney [00:37:40] And I think that’s also why it will be important with the COP 31 in partnership with the Pacific that they have a very prominent role in the actual presidency of it, and that it’s not tokenistic.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:37:53] But also something that has been suggested. And I really do believe in, you know, working within the gender program and then the climate negotiations. One of the things that came through in those discussions was that, why don’t we have a male and a female president, why can’t we have two, you know, so that to bring that sort of balance. So these are suggestions within that working group and it’s something that we need to think about. Well, the gender programme within climate change negotiation is about gender balance, about equal numbers of men and women at the table. But we also need to be more transformative. Go beyond that. We need to look at gender equality.

Mahealani Delaney [00:38:33] Absolutely. I actually saw a graph and maybe it would be different for COP27, but a graph from COP26. And it was showing the difference between men and women, the speaking time they had in plenary sessions, and it was still 75% men that was speaking in plenaries. And this was just last year. So yeah, absolutely. So many different avenues for making change in small but very significant ways. I think for COP 31 and all future COPs.

Salā Dr George Carter [00:39:01] What are you going to do this year leading up to Dubai?

Brianna Gordon [00:39:04] Well, whether or not I end up going to Dubai, What I think is a really key thing that we can implement is to increase the capacity for more Indigenous Australians to go and have it through the government, have it funded, have the individuals funded as well as their trip, as well as building up capacity in terms of actually understanding the UN process, you know, it’s complicated, it’s labelled in jargon and legalese and all this sort of stuff and you can’t just pick up a random citizen and pop them in and expect them to understand it. So, you know, we’ve got a year to look to build up capacity in people, and I think it’ll be a great opportunity for the Australian Government to really demonstrate that they are on board with forefronting Indigenous Australians in the climate change discussion. And I’d love to see more Indigenous Australians at COP. How about you, Mahealani?

Mahealani Delaney [00:39:57] I don’t know if it’s necessarily in the lead up to to Dubai per say, but just more broadly in climate change engagement. One thing I heard from a fellow youth advocate, at COP was just the kind of responsibility to use your voice or my voice in this case, and to put aside your inhibitions and reservations of, you know, how you’re going to sound, or if you’re going to say the right thing and just stand up and show up for the causes that you know are really important. And so that was something that stood out to me and I’m going to try and carry out over the next 12 months. And for example, I was talking about, you know, doing some advocacy, maybe even within ANU, seeing if there would be potential to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty within the circles here. So just different routes of advocacy. And I think that was really just inspired from all the incredible people at COP, particularly civil society and fellow Pacific Islanders. And how about you, George, from the negotiation side?

Salā Dr George Carter [00:40:58] Well, well, the work leading up to Dubai is great. I mean, so much to do, but I can think of it in different ways. So through my research and the research in collaboration with others is progressing that work around climate security, the progression of the work and supporting climate change agenda. Focal points have been because we were working with the negotiators around gender. We’d like to be able to continue that support and the work that be not only do for countries, but also in the way that they negotiate in these negotiations. Part of that also is thinking bigger and broader. And so having some form of initiatives or program that supports Pacific and Australia diplomacy in working together in the bid leading up to COP31. The university has a responsibility in that space. And so to us as researchers, we have the great network of being researching in this place, having the network within the Pacific. This is an opportunity that we should all be working together. And beyond that, it’s also continuing on working with students like we have this great opportunity of going to COP and bringing along First Nations, but also Pacific scholars who are currently here at ANU and we’d like to continue this. As you know, we can hear from analysts what the interactions and your comments about what you saw at the negotiations. I mean, you all were pulled in to speak at various different events, even at the very, you know, 30 minutes before it begins. You became those voices for those who could not be there or, you know, you were able to make that representation. And it’s important that we continue to empower our students here at the Australian National University to be able to do that. And we can do that through our learning about the structure or the theories of what happens during negotiations or actually taking our students there, because that continues on. What we’re hoping to build is this alumni of climate scholars from this part of the world in understanding, but also to have confidence to speak in these process, whether it be in negotiations, whether it be inside events and of course, the many people from this university that become leaders and have to speak with authority and climate change. This is one way to do that. So I’m looking forward to taking on that further throughout the year leading up to Dubai, Key issues to look out for this year. It’s climate finance because it’s halfway through the global stocktake. We look at what has been not only implemented or where the work has been since the Paris Agreement leading up to 2025, 2023 is very essential to that. And so there’s a big focus on climate finance, but that does not undermine the other work that we need to elevate in. Gender, ocean and Indigenous policy which needs to be elevated. Climate justice that needs to be at the same platform as mitigation and adaptation and finance and loss and damage. So yeah, a lot to do this year.

Mahealani Delaney [00:44:28] Thanks everyone for the great chat and thank you to the Pacific Security College for having us here today.


What is it really like at a UN Climate COP? What could an Australia Pacific COP31 look like? Join a conversation between Salā Dr George Carter, Mahealani Delaney and Brianna Gordon, three members of ANU’s Pacific and First Nations contingent to COP27 in Egypt, as they discuss the importance of Pacific diplomacy, Indigenous knowledge and the future of the Loss and Damage Fund. 

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