Fairtrade and Partners Push for Greater Commitment at COP19
Just a few days before the start of the UN Climate Talks (COP19, 11 – 23 November) in Poland, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines killing more than 5,000 people. This disaster increased awareness of the more frequent and stronger weather events and highlighted the extreme vulnerability of the poorer regions in the world.
Staff from Fairtrade International attended COP19 along with partners from the Forest Stewardship Council and the Gold Standard Foundation to advocate for greater support for smallholders and the producers we represent, including producer organizations in the Philippines (read about the typhoon's impact on Fairtrade farmers here).
With the devastating effects of the typhoon evident, talks at COP19 resulted in development of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, a commitment from developed countries to provide support for developed countries hit by environmental disasters. This instrument still needs to be developed, made functional and effective. Another positive achievement was the US$100 million raised for the Adaptation Fund, to support adaptation projects managed by intergovernmental agencies.
Despite these achievements, the 19th Conference of the Parties was called a ‘missed opportunity’ and ‘a failure’ by civil society groups. Governments failed once again to agree on clear targets to reduce emissions. Representatives of most of the world’s poorest countries along with a large number of NGOs and networks staged a massive walk out, which delegitimized this year’s negotiations. In spite of a clear emissions gap under current pledges and lackluster best case scenarios, governments are merely expected to submit their “intended national contributions” instead of agreeing on commitments to reduce carbon emissions.
By now science has proven beyond doubt that global warming is happening as a result of the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The primary driver is fossil fuel combustion and secondly land use change and deforestation. Governments are neglecting this reality and acting slowly or not at all, while the most vulnerable and less responsible countries are being affected by the impacts of climate change.
With its strategy ‘Unlocking the Power of the Many’ Fairtrade is encouraging all actors in value chains, including producers, companies, and consumers to work together with funders to address challenges like climate change.
Fairtrade International and partners are active on both climate change adaptation and mitigation. On the adaptation side, Fairtrade Africa in collaboration with Vi-Agroforestry are implementing a two-year project to support tea producers in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya to adapt to climate change.
Retailers are also engaging to support climate change adaptation – the German grocery store chain Lidl is supporting two organic coffee cooperatives CAI Sonomoro and CA Sangareni to adapt to climate change and conduct reforestation work as an adaptation measure (watch a film of the work in Peru here). Kaufland will also support a one-year project to help APOQ, organic banana producers in Peru, adapt and control new pests affecting their crop.
On the mitigation side, Fairtrade International is developing a Fairtrade Standard and scheme for carbon credits in collaboration with the Gold Standard Foundation. The standard aims to provide access to the carbon market to smallholders, ensure ownership, and deliver additional economic and social benefits.
In collaboration with the Gold Standard and the Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade International hosted two events at UN Talks this year. At COP19, an update was presented on the partnership and plans to develop the joint scheme for carbon credits.
At the Global Landscape Forum, a technical session was held to discuss the challenges and opportunities in certifying ecosystem services in both forestry and agriculture. The forum was attended by over 1,200 experts on landscapes, agriculture and forestry, and was designed to inform the global climate and development frameworks about the opportunities of a “landscape approach” to development.
The next UN Climate Change Conference (COP20) will be held in Peru in December 2014. Fairtrade International will collaborate closely with the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fair Trade Producers (CLAC) to bring the voice of producers to the floor highlighting the challenges faced as well as the technical and financial support greatly needed.