Climate action: where do we want to go?

About the Talanoa Dialogue

Civil society, decision-makers and big corporations to discuss the future of climate action. The purpose of these discussions will be to share stories, build empathy and trust and share best practices among the different stakeholders in order to increase countries’ commitments to improve their NDCs. The aim is to create an environment for free and barrier less dialogue between different actors, to get out of the formal settings of the climate negotiations, and foster more constructive and inspiring discussions. Together, the different stakeholders are trying to figure out: 1) Where are we, 2) Where do we want to go, 3) How do we get there?

Our Anne Barre’s story, “where do we want to go” delivered during the Talanoa Dialogue, 6 May 2018

My story takes place in a beautiful rural country in the Caucasus, where people are facing a structural economic crisis partly due to the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. They suffer from severe energy poverty and the impacts of a strong deforestation. Now, I want to picture here my vision for achieving in this country a people centered energy transition from fossil fuel to safe, affordable and renewable energy, while significantly increasing climate ambition (with an enhanced NDC). Many women and men among the most affected communities of the rural territories of this country have acquired excellent technical skills in producing renewable energy solutions. These citizens, women and men, are locally producing efficient, decentralized, affordable and safe energy systems, such as solar photovoltaic units, solar water heaters, solar heating systems, solar food dryers and improved stoves. Inspired by a philosophy of self-help and self-responsibility, working in tight collaboration with local and regional authorities, and supported by a strong national political will, they have created numerous renewable energy cooperatives across the country, with a democratic governance (1 person = 1 voice), that promote a participatory, gender equal and inclusive approach. Membership shares in the cooperatives are affordable, thanks to flexible deferred payment schemes. Access to these safe renewable energy solutions has been opened to low-income rural households via a specific financial mechanism established with local banks that provide 0 interest rate loans. Thus a strong and sustainable local demand has been ensured for the cooperatives. The economic sustainability of the cooperatives is ensured by the creation of umbrella structures in charge of centralized procurement and marketing strategy at national level, as well as strong connections with a regional and global network of cooperatives, allowing for continued international investment. This demonstrates the crucial role of strong means of implementation and supportive finance for climate policies.

The gender transformative power of the cooperatives comes from their legal statutes, which integrate gender balance and equality in the cooperative’s membership, staff and board. This empowers rural women all over the country, to become renewable energy technicians, sales representatives, and cooperative managers or directors. Women have started to play a significant role in the local and regional energy policy and in their territories’ economy. The new and additional revenues generated by and for women have a positive impact on the entire community, especially in health and education.

The result at national level is impressive:

By 2030, half a million tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases (GHG) will have been saved
By 2040, 1.5 million tonnes will have been saved (equivalent to 40% emissions reduction, compared to if we would continue business as usual)
The living conditions of rural households have been significantly improved (more comfort, better health, reduced energy costs)
A sustainable local economy has been created, generating local, decent jobs and improved revenues
Gender relations have been transformed enabling women to fully and actively participate in the energy transition of their country

This may sound to you like an utopic vision, but to me it sounds like a very realistic scenario, as long as we can rely on the political will of key decision makers to ensure a robust political process aiming to increase climate ambition and supporting people-centered, rights based solutions.

Watch Anne’s story (at 04:21:00)