What are co-operatives doing for COP21?

While the Kyoto Protocol has resulted in clear commitments from state parties to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, post-Kyoto negotiations have failed to establish a new worldwide contract about...

While the Kyoto Protocol has resulted in clear commitments from state parties to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, post-Kyoto negotiations have failed to establish a new worldwide contract about climate protection and emission reduction objectives.

The 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11) will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2015. A series of side events are also highlighting the importance of climate change, some of these supported by co-operatives and mutuals.

On 4 December Shaun Tarbuck, chief executive of the International Co-operative and Mutuals Insurance Federation, will be joining other representatives of the financial world in a discussion on how the sector is undertaking their green shift towards a low carbon economy. He said: “Co-operative and mutual insurers are hallmarked by values that reflect sustainability objectives: protection of individuals, support of the communities in which they live, and development of an environment in which they can thrive.

“Many of them are already demonstrating leadership in addressing the challenges associated with climate and socio-economic change. ICMIF is a founding supporting institution of the United Nations Environment Program – Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI)’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance, to help move our industry towards a more sustainable future, and 2015 is a crucial year for building resilience, reducing disaster risk and moving our industry forwards in the fight against climate change.”

The conference is part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda Thematic Focus events, where stakeholders will present issues in their action area and solution pathways to tackle these issues.

The Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) aims to strengthen climate action throughout 2015 by providing practical guidelines and orientations to both state and non-state actors to implement the declaration and support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.

LPAA is a paper authored by the COP20-CMP10 Peruvian Presidency, the COP21/CMP11 French Presidency, the UNFCCC Secretariat and the Executive office of the secretary-general of the United Nations.

The agenda also focuses on private finance and voluntary commitments undertaken by different financial businesses. Mr Tarbuck will be talking about the initiatives designed to tackle climate change developed by co-operative and mutual insurers.

Shifting to a low carbon economic model at a global level will require approximately one trillion of dollars of investments per year by 2020, according to the International Energy Agency. A Climate Policy Initiative recent report shows that a third of this amount was reached in 2013, coming at 40% from public actors and 60% from private actors.

French co-operative bank Crédit Cooperatif is also organising a side event for the COP21 conference, which will take place at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 3 December. The theme of the event is Civil Society engaged in the transition, and features a conference on how to co-operate to foster a transition to renewable energy. Speakers include Martin Lawery, chief executive of the National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives in the USA. The detailed programme is available here.

A Canadian co-op is taking a different approach to raising awareness of climate change. The co-op is helping host a concert to raise consciousness around the urgency of climate action. The initiative will bring together musicians, artists, activists, academics and politicians as part of a series of events designed to highlight the issue of climate change.

The COP21 climate change conference also features a series of side events, some supported by co-ops
The COP21 climate change conference also features a series of side events, some supported by co-ops

For this project, Sustainability Solutions Group, a worker co-op based in Vancouver, is partnering with campaigning group 350.org for Pathway to Paris, a global project aimed at building a working coalition of engaged partners to coordinate a strong and effective consensus at the UN climate talks in Paris.

A number of celebrities will be attending the concert, including Canadian author, social activist and filmmaker, Naomi Klein, and actress Jane Fonda.

The funds raised will go to 350.org, which is trying to build a global climate movement through online campaigns, grassroots organising and mass public actions. The number 350 refers to climate safety. Scientists say that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere must be reduced from 400 parts per million to 350 ppm.

To mark the United Nations Climate Conference the European federation of groups and co-operatives of citizens for renewable energy and energy efficiency (REScoop.eu) is organising a high level conference to showcase citizen and community owned renewable energy initiatives.

REScoop thinks that achieving a transition to renewable energy is key to tackling climate change. REScoops and other related community energy projects are joint ownership models where local citizens collectively own renewable energy projects and share in the profits. Many REScoops also supply renewable energy to their members.

Themed Energy Democracy: citizen involvement in climate change challenges, the conference, will look at how renewable energy co-operatives can help local, national and European policy makers fight climate change and lead the energy transition to energy democracy. Attendance is free and places can be booked here.

  • You can read more about the conference and the role of co-operatives by clicking here.
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