‘Talanoa’ is the Pacific concept of storytelling for the common good. The Talanoa Dialogue was launched at COP23 to create an inclusive and positive ecosystem for sharing experiences and ideas in the wake of enhancing international ambition to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The core of the Talanoa Dialogue is centred around constructive, facilitative solutions-oriented discussion avoiding confrontation and conflict between individual parties or groups of parties.
This whole dialogue revolves around three basic and structural questions:
While addressing the first question, Mr Jim Skea, Vice Chair of Working Group 3 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), put forth an interesting overview that the global Greenhouse Gas Emissions/GHGEs levelled off for a couple of years after decades of growth but picked up again in 2017. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is continuing to surpass the 400ppm level. Mean global temperature rise is approaching 1°C over pre-industrial levels. He accepted that we have been falling marginally short of what we projected in terms of involving key technologies of carbon capture and storage. Furthermore, climate action at the sub-national level (e.g. by cities) is increasing and some countries have announced net zero GHG targets. Interestingly, he also talked about the 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC, to be produced in the first Global Stocktake in 2022. This report is expecting a strong mitigation and adaptation linkages which would translate the long-term temperature target in terms of short and medium-term actions. He thinks that the core narrative of this report will implicitly address the three questions of the Talanoa Dialogue.
Ms Anne Olhoff, representative of the UNEP-DTU partnership addressed the question – ‘Where do we want to go?’. She reminded that the Paris Climate Agreement and the international collective commitment to maintaining average global warming below 2°C with pre-industrial levels and complying to pursue signatories to bring down average global temperature below 1.5°C. What was significant during her full address was accepting the practical truth that even when countries strictly comply with the promises what they have made in their respective Nationally Determined Contributions to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the global average warming shall remain around 3-3.2°C by the end of the century.
The full implication of the current NDCs is estimated to have the potential to reduce global GHGEs by 4-6 GT CO2 equivalent (eq) annually by 2030. If we want to pass on a healthy biosphere to our children and grandchildren, we need to reduce Global GHGEs by 11-13.5 GT of CO2 eq to maintain average global warming below 2°C with the pre-industrial levels. Proven low-cost green technologies having $100 per ton of CO2 eq in solar and wind energies, efficient appliances, efficient passenger cars, aforestation and strict policies to avoid deforestation, as well as actions in real estate and agriculture, have the potential to reduce sectoral emissions by around twice the amount of the emission gap projected for 2030.
Mr Anirban Ghosh, a representative of Mahindra Group, addressed the question ‘How do we get there?’. Being a techie giant from India, he talked of internal science-based targets to reduce absolute emissions, internal carbon pricing and certification schemes. His personal experiences show that nations won’t only achieve the stipulated targets but confidence has started building up to achieve additional commitments and increased targets. Government-led programmes and international partnerships can make a big difference in mobilizing action by the private sector. He disclosed that the climate-friendly business outcome would generate $400 million in revenue each year.
Business is at the centre of the Talanoa Dialogue and we can observe that corporations have a big agenda to crack these three questions. They just want to discuss how technologies can generate a huge climate-friendly business to achieve Paris target.
While addressing the three questions, none of the speakers talked of heavy degradation of vital ecosystems which can’t be handled even by advanced technological operation. We have dismantled the flow of rivers globally, we have destroyed our wetlands everywhere, our development ambitions have been continuing to eliminate forests, mountains and hills, and we have overloaded our marine ecosystem with hazardous wastes, plastic and electronic waste. Cities have turned into man-made deserts and we have crossed miles closer to certain destruction.
I understand that the Talanoa Dialogue was meant to create a positive and inclusive atmosphere for exchanging experiences and ideas but when expert officials and professionals put their stands on such significant core questions, they start to expand business and involving stakeholders and partners, leaving behind marginalized sections of the large demographic distribution dependent directly on the natural ecosystem for their lives and livelihoods. When Mr Anirban Ghosh was dealing with the question ‘Where do we want to go?’, he was simply dealing with his business plan. He has simply no idea of how the economics of ecosystem and its biodiversity work to support a huge population of the world directly or indirectly extracting ecosystem services for their livelihoods.
When Ms Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, representative of the Association for Indigenous Women & Peoples of Chad, provided views on Talanoa Dialogue from Civil Society’s standpoint, she catalyzed the entire dialogue process through her firm and optimistic views. She said, “The answer to the question where do we want to go, is simple. We need to follow the rhythm of science and alarm of people.”
Many local communities know precisely where they are going because they follow the rhythm of nature. They are used to follow (ing) rain, to follow (ing) water, to find (ing) pasture for their cows.
Ms Ibrahim was very straightforward in talking about the commitment of the Paris Climate Agreement and said it will be fulfilled only when we attain net zero emission. We need more action; we need more ambitions, right now. This is the simplest answer to the question ‘how do we get there?’ Ms Ibrahim warned that if it doesn’t happen, our people and all vulnerable communities will disappear. Parties and non-state actors must present foolproof strategies that ban the use of polluting technologies and promote cleaner ones as well as ensuring ecosystem protection with a view to end biodiversity depletion and desertification. She was quite optimistic that the Talanoa Dialogue must evolve a global agenda for people and nature. Indigenous people would like to work with all parties to develop concrete solutions for sustainable natural resources & ecosystem management at local level. She accepts that as gardeners of nature, indigenous people can help, but cannot do it alone.
This is how Talanoa Dialogue creates a tremendous impact when people from diverse areas interact under one roof in an environment of constructive, facilitative and solution-oriented discussion with a clear intent to avoid confrontation and conflict between individual parties or group of parties. There were 162 parties represented comprising 305 participants of which 207 were party and 98 non-party representatives. About 474 contributions were shared comprising 369 by parties and 105 by non-party stakeholders.