Report from February 26 Working Session

On February, 26th, 2015, our Pathway to Paris Online Working Session included a worksheet hosted through Google Forms. The objective was to deepen a process of inclusive policy direction, for framing a coordinated list of objectives and priorities for COP21.

The feedback from participants showed a great support to previously discussed top policy priorities:

  • Greenhouse Gases Emissions Reduction,
  • Carbon Pricing,
  • Persistent Direct Citizen Engagement,
  • Climate Finance,
  • Intergenerational equity & Human Rights,
  • Integrity & Preservation of Ecosystems.

Some additional insights were provided by the respondents to help the team identify new issues to be discussed in Working Sessions and events. Participants also shared propositions of essential phrasing and ideas on how to implement those policies.

A wide range of organizations, backgrounds and countries were represented in the sample of contributors: members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (US, Germany and Australia), Yale College, One Degree Serbia, Context News, CCAN, AIDA and This diverse sample is very representative of the Pathway to Paris project’s aim at improving networking between people interested in the COP21 process.

Carbon pricing as a supporting policy for emissions reduction and climate justice policies

Carbon pricing is, according to responses, the quickest and surest way to tilt the market towards a post-carbon economy. In other words, by promoting the emissions reduction and international cooperation on improving renewables capacity globally, carbon pricing is understood by all participants as a major motivating policy to reduce emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.

In practice however, carbon tax propositions included direct revenue return to citizens/households at a national scale, as well as targeted revenue recycling to national green funds subsidizing renewable energy technologies. The fee and dividend scheme discussed at the first Working Session (February, 4th) prevails but different scales of implementation are considered by the contributors.

A vast majority of participants insist on the importance of an international commitment to full-decarbonization by 2050. In order to be able to reach this objective, all participants highlighted the importance of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to be announced in advance of the 21st Conference of Parties in Paris.

From this perspective, some see the future Paris agreement as definitive of a structure for future climate action (a kind of Kyoto Protocol 2.0), on carbon pricing and emissions reduction, while others envision the possibility of a consensus document conducive to coordinated global climate action, through national policy, a kind of “climate constitution” operating in the realm of legal principle, structural guidance and overall targets.

As fervent believers in direct citizen engagement, the participants in this working session propose that the accountability provisions of such a constitution be ensured by a network for persistent direct citizen engagement, to be administered by civil society partners independent of governments or the strict protocols of the UNFCCC.

Regarding language, there is a will to insist on the positive impact of green economics but also to frame every important energy policies decisions under the concept of precautionary principle.

COP21: a unique and inclusive opportunity for and by citizens

A common feature of each participants’ responses is the strong optimism sensed in all propositions. In fact, participants in this working session recognize the importance of casting light on some policy issues that tend to bring less attraction than carbon pricing and GhG emissions. For instance, some stated their wish that the COP21 agreements address the deepening impacts of climate change on social inequalities but also on the integrity of the biosphere.

In the participants’ opinion, those topics need to be included in the agreement with hopeful and positive phrasing. This supports the vision for a bold global target, as well as the principles of escalating ambition and no backsliding. Again, COP21 agreements are designated as a unique opportunity to include such topics and enforce action through direct citizen engagement and bottom-up capacity-building. In order to obtain such results, the role of the civil society is unsurprisingly praised by every participant, as direct citizen engagement appears as the key factor to make the negotiation process ethical, thoughtful and responsive.

Working together to improve framing of important subjects

All participants underlined the importance of improving the mapping of controversial questions, and the many ways of answering key questions at the heart of those controversies: this working session left clear that each of the following subjects needs to be addressed in an inclusive and interconnected way in order to raise ambitions and achieve solutions . 

Intergenerational Equity

Participants from youth organizations or universities underlined the importance of involving youth voices in intergenerational equity debates. Further discussion will be required to find innovative ideas to make this process accountable.

Knowledge/Leverage to empower Citizens & Consumers

A great contribution to this subject was that the team should work on raising awareness of the existing counter-arguments to the different positions taken by the project Pathway to Paris. Through possible trainings and information sharing, citizens and consumers would gain a stronger capacity to present their position and convince others.

Water & Food Resources

This subject must be considered not only a top policy priority but also a strong pillar of the Pathway to Paris project according to some participants. The team should discuss the dangers inherent in water and food resources being treated as, or even assigned the legal characteristics of market commodities.

Due to the potential risk of poor policy judgments or flawed market dynamics steering life-sustaining resources away from the most vulnerable people, the issue of water and food resources should be treated as a matter of justice, and a space in which new legal frameworks can achieve both climate resilience and also improved opportunities for positive economic outcomes for more people. 

Innovative propositions for participations and citizens empowerment

Participants were asked how they would collaborate to the Pathway to Paris project. According to their availability and background, they proposed very encouraging participations channels, such as:

  • Shaping, editing Paris priorities Matrix
  • Hosting Working Sessions
  • Cross-accreditation for volunteers in Paris
  • Creating Youth-driven Draft climate arrangement
  • Announcing events to network
  • Management of an enduring Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network
  • Mobilizing a global citizenry commitment to accomplishing the critical Paris conference outcomes
  • Media and Technology arrangement in Paris
  • Providing information about climate science itself whenever necessary
  • Sharing relevant information.

It appears from those contributions that an important topic to be discussed in the next Working Sessions will be how to effectively coordinate of all those different participations efforts.

How to improve transparency?

In the first Working Session, the issue of the transparency of the process had been brought up. In order to achieve a strict level of transparency, participants proposed to focus part of the Pathway to Paris project on the development of a long-term process to promote information access and data transfer among citizens before, during and after the COP21. Through a set of concrete actions, these information sharing teams should disseminate information on a global scale, providing citizens with channels of interactions with key actors.

Participants also brought forward the idea that the project must have a role in promoting open, direct access to the Paris negotiations for communities that are routinely excluded from the policy process. The first step toward actualizing that proposal is to widen participation in the Open Working Sessions of the Pathway to Paris project itself.

As there has been persistent interest in designing the “architecture” for some sort of new institution, in parallel to the UNFCCC Secretariat, but with the specific capability of opening the process to citizen participation, future Working Sessions will be committing time and energy to the examination of the optimal design for a Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network capable of playing a constructive role in the process, while remaining independent of political control and fostering local participation, in cities and villages around the world. 

Please visit for reports and announcements regarding our Open Working Sessions.

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