Vision & Strategy
Energy and climate change
1. Climate change
Global warming is the gradual increase in world temperatures
caused by polluting gases, such as carbon dioxide, which are
collecting in the air around the Earth and preventing heat
escaping into space (as defined by the Cambridge dictionary ). The expression
“climate change” also designates this phenomenon. It is used
in many international reports.
Climate is part of the Earth’s fragile interdependent ecosystem. However, it is disturbed by global warming. Addressing climate change is a serious challenge for humanity. In 2001, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which represents the international scientific community, published results of climate simulations in a report on global warming. The simulations showed that there can be no "quick fix" to the problem of global warming. Even if all emissions of greenhouse gases were to cease immediately, the temperature would continue to increase after 2100 because of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere (MASTRANDREA and SCHNEIDER, NASA, 2005). The IPCC warns that we have less than six years left to peak and begin reducing global emissions responsible for global warming. The objective is to avoid exceeding 2C° of average warming. This limit the Earth would enter irreversible conditions with terrible consequences upon the Earth capacity to provide life (Dieback of the Amazon rainforest, cessation of the ocean currents, shifts in monsoons, and melting of land-ice sheets, which could lead to 7 meter ocean rises (WBGU 2009)). Nasa's James Hansen talks about "Planet Earth" being in "imminent peril". According to NASA, global warming is an increase in the average temperature of Earth's surface much greater than most past rates of increase. Scientists worry that human societies and natural ecosystems might not adapt to rapid climate changes. A majority of climatologists have concluded that human activities are responsible for most of the warming by enhancing the Earth's natural greenhouse effect that warms the Earth. Thus, global warming is a global threat that needs to be addressed urgently.
2. Energy and climate change
Poverty, inequality, energy and climate change are
intrinsically linked. Climate change increases inequalities
and threatens the achievement of the Millennium Development
Goals (WHO 2009). Climate change and unsustainable energy
consumption increase global health, poverty and environmental
Climate change will most strongly hit the poor in poor countries and in the most vulnerable regions (mountainous, water-scarce, low food producing). It results in the flooding of island states and coastal areas, increase heat waves, droughts, floods, storms, loss of species and ecosystem diversity, and acidification of oceans which leads to lower absorption of CO2. Further consequences of climate change are that the water supply is jeopardised (millions of people depend on glaciers), food production is expected to decline by 5-12%, health declines from increased diseases (infectious, diarrhoea, vector and food-borne illness) and fatalities (resulting from floods, storms), an increase of millions of climate change refugees, and a reduction of economic potential from loss of natural resources, biodiversity, fisheries, of up to 20% of GDP (Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change 2006).
The main sectors contributing to Green House Gas emissions (GHG) are energy usage, forest destruction, housing, transport and agriculture. In developing countries, the greatest expected increases in CO2 emissions are in the sectors of forest destruction, housing and transport (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, Poznan, 2008). Reducing emissions in one area and not in others is ineffective and climate change solutions need to be integrated. Therefore WECF uses its expertise in Energy in an overall strategy in climate change and energy that integrates transversal areas solutions.
3. WECF strategy
During the very last years, there has been a growing international
awareness about climate change being an imminent issue. Unfortunately,
the sound of alarm often does not come with the solution. Indeed,
the task seems so huge that the classical reaction consists
in doing nothing. In fact “Plus un risque est grand, plus il
est nié tant l’imaginaire se refuse à accepter ce que représenterait
pour l’individu la réalisation du risque (DUPUY JP, 2004).”
This psychological trend makes us deny what we can’t change
unless clear solutions come for the public to rally, so that we can have the feeling of being part of the solution.
WECF's strategy is to intervene on climate change and energy at every level. WECF aims to promote poverty eradication through empowering, effective, equitable solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
At a community level, climate change leaves isolated rural communities vulnerable. WECF ensures adaptation to climate change for the most vulnerable groups by facilitating access to sustainable, safe, sufficient and affordable energy, thus promoting a healthier environment and contributing to the reduction of poverty as well as to the sustainable development of the country. WECF works towards making (global) mitigation instruments and funds accessible for women, indigenous peoples, marginalized groups and the poor. In this way, climate funds will support local renewable energy and carbon-reducing local investments, increase demand for local products and services, strengthen local markets, increase control over local resources and ensure participation of women.
At the same time, mitigation and adaptation funds, as well as direct access to sustainable, safe, sufficient and affordable energy for household communities, can provide much-needed improvements to the livelihoods of the deprived, reducing indoor air pollution from renewable energies, improving health and hygiene from climate-adaptive sanitation systems, conserving and restoring forest ecosystems, and improving access to integrated, safe and affordable mobility.
WECF policy on adaptation to climate change is also focused on capacity building on participatory approaches, innovative technologies and pro-poor financial mechanisms in cooperation with schools, scientists, entrepreneurs and financial institutions.
At the national and the international level, WECF advocates and promotes the switch from fossil fuels and nuclear energy towards sustainable and decentralised alternatives, documenting the damage of the former and the benefits of the latter. WECF seeks to integrate gender and human rights perspectives into the international negotiations such as the UNFCCC, the International Renewable Energy Conference, promoting mechanisms accessible for local communities, NGOs and women’s organisations.
It is essential that national and global policy processes include the participation of affected peoples and are based on local evidence and knowledge of climate, development and structural poverty elimination. Climate change governance should be global in scope and accept the perspective of the most vulnerable countries and peoples as being central to protecting humankind. A structural shift towards de-carbonisation of economic development can be achieved with women and civil society groups acting as key “change agents” in strategic alliances.
Women and children, displaced and indigenous people, and rural and slum dwellers are the most affected. Women are not only more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men—primarily as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent for their livelihood on natural re- sources that are threatened by climate change, they are also effective actors or agents of change in relation to both mitigation and adaptation. Women often have a strong body of knowledge and expertise that can be used in climate change mitigation, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies. Furthermore, women’s responsibilities in households and communities, as stewards of natural and household resources, positions them well to contribute to livelihood strategies adapted to changing environmental realities.