CCL at COP 21: Day 2

CCL at COP21, Day 2: More on the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition

By Jessica Langerman

Last night, over twenty Citizens Climate Lobby volunteers found their way to 32 Rue Pastourelle, a small apartment in the middle of the Marais district which, along with “Place to B,” has become CCL Central in Paris. The volunteers had several hurdles to surmount: 1) finding the address amidst the maze of narrow, cobbled streets long after dark; 2) negotiating the security pad at the front gates; 3) choosing to squeeze into the miniature elevator (big enough only for two malnourished Parisians), or climbing the four flights of stairs on aching feet after a long day of walking; 4) figuring out which of the three non-marked apartments was where they were supposed to be.

You’ll be glad to hear all were up to the task.

CCL volunteers Peter Joseph and Lee Balance on the streets of Paris

CCL volunteers Peter Joseph and Lee Balance on the streets of Paris. (Photo by Jessica Langerman)

New faces appeared: among others, we met Serbian CCL volunteer Djordje Samardzija (first name pronounced a bit like “George”) and new interns Morgan Wood and Zachary Beaudoin. Cathy Cowan Becker had also arrived earlier from Ohio. All introduced themselves and cozied up on the large sofa to debrief with the others.

As we got settled, Joe told us the amazing news of the day: that President François Hollande of France had joined other heads of state as well as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to introduce the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition.

Inspired by the Citizens Climate Lobby and spearheaded by the World Bank, the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) is a new global organization made up of U.N. agencies, 12 national governments (including Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland and Spain), five subnational governments (Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and California) and more than 60 businesses (including BP, Enel, and Shell). The goal of CPLC is to add carbon pricing to all national strategies by 2020, to ensure the most cost-effective way to implement a true global response to climate disruption.

It will work to advance the long-term objective of an economy-wide carbon price by:

  • Strengthening carbon pricing policies to redirect investment proportionate to the scale of the climate challenge;
  • Bringing forward and strengthening the implementation of existing carbon pricing policies to better manage investment risks and opportunities; and
  • Enhancing cooperation to share information, expertise, and best practices.

The news was stunning – a truly thrilling moment for those of us who had doubted the emergence of meaningful carbon pricing action from COP21. In fact, we all looked at one another in amazement, wondering whether or not we could really believe our ears.

“There is a fundamental misunderstanding in the whole conversation about Paris in relation to carbon pricing, which is the assumption that if something isn’t in the text of the Paris agreement, it doesn’t exist,” said Joe. “Most people assume that the formal agreement with legal decisions voted on by governments is the obvious final outcome of the conference. However, it [the outcome] is not so much an agreement, as a package.”

There are really four “pillars” to the COP21 process:

  • The text of the agreement, and various legal decisions of the 196 nations that have ratified the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change;
  • The “INDC’s” (“intended, nationally-determined contributions”)
  • The agreed-upon financial mechanisms
  • The action platforms for implementing these ambitious goals

One of those action platforms is the CPLC. Its launch yesterday was the first time in U.N. climate talk history that heads of state have agreed to sit at the same table as non-governmental agencies and businesses – including oil company executives – to decide how to deploy carbon-pricing solutions across the world by 2020. That mission is endorsed by, not only the World Bank, but by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It is, said Joe, “The first time in history that someone like Angela Merkel will sit at the same table as someone like Mark Reynolds, and the two will have an equal voice.”

It isn’t often environmentalists get good news of this magnitude. I’m not sure we knew how to respond. The entire group looked so stunned that Joe had to talk to us on a pretty basic level: “This is a real thing that has now been established and will start to do business in 2016.” In fact, he said, “Everyone’s favorite prime minister, Justin Trudeau, had formally joined the group.”

Sarabeth Brockley, CCL’s Global Strategy Advisor, broke in. “What he actually said was, ‘Canada is back, my friends,’ ” Sarabeth quoted. ” ‘We’re here to help.’ ”

Somehow, those words broke through. Let’s hope our French neighbors didn’t mind an explosion of cheers late at night from out the windows of this quiet apartment building in the center of the Marais. Hurray for our Canadian CCL volunteers to the North!

Jessica Langerman is a CCL volunteer from Wellesley Hills, MA, and founder of Climate XChange.

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