What we Know after Bonn

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The governing paradigm for energy policy and climate action is shifting, now, in real time. With a few crucial innovations, we can achieve a more rapid pace of decarbonization than was previously thought possible by any players in the global negotiations. We will need:

  1. Commitments that are catalytic, cooperative, and accelerating over time;
  2. A framework that makes clear no one wins by stalling action;
  3. Regular escalation of national commitments, with tangible economic benefits;
  4. More direct participation by citizens and civil society, at all levels.


Though many are frustrated with the pace of progress toward the Paris consensus, we have seen meaningful progress on all of the above.

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Citizen Engagement e-discussion now active

Today, we launched a new e-discussion in the Pathway to Paris climate consultation on the World We Want. The headline question is:

How can sustained citizen engagement improve both policy choice and human outcomes?

There are many challenges for institutions in sustaining direct citizen participation. There are also many success stories. We urge participants to share both challenges and success stories, as well as your vision for how sustained citizen engagement can improve both policy choice and human and environmental outcomes. CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE

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How Citizens can Catalyze Climate Action

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On June 5—World Environment Day—we held a press conference to announce CCL's effort, through the Pathway to Paris project, in collaboration with the World We Want, to build a worldwide always-active Citizens' Climate Engagement Network. The press conference was conducted in association with the Climate Matters video interview series, as well as COY11, CliMates, IAAI GloCha, Context News, and the Association Actions Vitales pour le Developpement Durable.

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Divestment Doesn't Have to be Scary

Dear Lehigh University,

A Master’s in Environmental Policy is bittersweet in 2015. We are given the tools to do what is morally right but are hindered by what I was told was financially feasible. I graduated in 2015: the year the world will agree a new global accord on climate action (through the UNFCCC) in Paris and set a Post–2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. This is also a breakthrough year for reinvestment strategies: where the word Divestment once seemed like it might stain the ivory towers of our major institutions, it is now a central component to the actions being taken by leading companies, investment funds, and insurers. Educational beacons are now being marked as a call to action.

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Redesigning the Global Economy for Resilient Prosperity

What is happening right now in climate policy, smart financial investment strategy redesign, and energy innovation, is as big a revolution as the world has known in its history. In the last year, we have seen the world move from an aim to avoid global temperature rise of 2ºC, to the more ambitious 1.5ºC; we have seen breakthrough technologies in household clean energy storage, and hyperlocal distributed solar power generation. And this week, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister announced a vision that includes the full phase out of oil consumption by 2040 or 2050, with a profitable shift to solar energy.

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Villanova Working Session: Knowledge-based Climate Stewardship

On Thursday, April 23, the Villanova Center for Energy and Environmental Education (VCE3) hosted a Pathway to Paris working session with a focus on the ways Augustinian philosophy on truth, free will, learning and moral action, relate to climate civics and the global climate response. The working session was a small gathering intended to lay the foundations for a larger conversation over the summer and into the fall, regarding the most detailed, consistent and clear-thinking ways to match up moral motivation, scientific truth, and political action.

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Figueres Optimistic Ahead of Paris

cfigueres-cclicensed.jpgLast week saw Christiana Figueres, the head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Australia to promote the importance of international climate policy this year across multiple sectors. In keeping with her busy schedule she spoke at events hosted by non-governmental organisations, business groups, universities and state governments.

2015 is a big year for the UNFCCC, with countries due to finalise a new international agreement on climate change action in Paris later this year. The last time countries tried to reach a new climate agreement of comparable significance was in 2009 in Copenhagen. The aftermath of Copenhagen is well known, with these talks being widely criticised as countries failed to produce a new legally binding instrument to address climate change.

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Hawai'i sets 100% renewable target for 2045

The state of Hawai’i has broken new ground in the United States’ project to build a truly secure, sustainable energy economy. By a vote of 74 to 2, the State Legislature passed a first-in-the-nation bill, mandating 100% renewables by the year 2045. The binding target applies to electric utilities, and sets a steady increase in the rate of renewables that must be used, along the way to 100% carbon-free electricity 3 decades from now.

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Savoring Collaborative Intelligence: Report from the Civil Society Working Session

Our Pathway to Paris World Bank Working Session, held at the Civil Society Policy Forum on Wednesday, April 15, focused on the role of direct citizen participation in the global climate negotiations. For many reasons, direct citizen participation has been limited:

  1. One is there are already tens of thousands of people participating, representing interests, issues, places, solutions, grievances, and legal constructs.
  2. Another is that intergovernmental negotiations generally treat the interests of citizens and stakeholders as the province of their government officials. The sovereignty and political process of nations stand in for direct engagement.
  3. A third is that citizen participation is often equated to referenda, which are not always the best expression of the will of the people or the safest route to the policy that most benefits those voting.
  4. But a fourth, and perhaps most significant, is that we just don’t have a strong tradition of such engagement in multilateral negotiations.


Our working session produced powerful practical insights into the value of inclusive policy-making, stakeholder engagement, and outcomes that account for and embrace the complications of difference and variability.

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On the Disruptive Optimism of Non-expert Voices

We need non-expert voices in the room. No individual expert knows everything, many decision-makers are themselves non-experts, and considering stakeholders' voices leads to more legitimate, relevant and viable policy outcomes. Significant improvements in the prevailing condition require disruption of the status quo. The status quo implicitly extends from the status quo ante, the prevailing norms that preceded the current state of affairs and on which the structures we know were founded. Expertise is rooted in an examination of these two states, and can provide a sound and reasoned reference for how to move into the future, but when we look to achieve a post status quo reality, where human conditions are greatly improved and the previously unavailable has become commonplace, we have to recognize that we are looking beyond what is known. Expertise unaccompanied by the power of imagination and a hot contest of ideas can lead to planning not well adapted to visualizing, comprehending or catalyzing disruptive optimizing change. 

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