The Road to Paris and Beyond: Your Guide to This Fall’s UN Climate Negotiations

Guest Blog | September 22, 2015 | Climate Change, Energy Justice, Energy Policy

This is a guest excerpt from Oxfam America, based on a post co-authored by Heather Coleman, Climate Change Policy Manager at Oxfam America, and Vicky Rateau, GROW Campaign Manager at Oxfam America. The original post can be viewed here. The following post contains a few omissions from the original post as well as some additions by SACE staff which were not part of the original post.


This fall is a big one for people and the planet. Throughout the next 100 days, global leaders will convene in a series of meetings leading up to the 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris where negotiations will set the course for the global response to climate change for the future, with potentially dramatic implications for the world’s poor. Mobilization efforts are growing bigger as people from around the world are demanding action from leaders. We’ve waded through all of the meeting agendas and policy debates and brought you the highlight reel – the big things to keep your eye on from now through December.

Here’s what you need to know:


Eyes on Washington, New York, and Pope Francis: Pope Francis has raised environmental issues – especially the climate crisis – to a new level.  Speaking to more than 1 billion Catholics around the world, the Pope is a powerful and influential voice.

September 23-24: The Pope will meet with President Obama and address Congress, the first pope in history to do so. His visit comes at a particularly crucial time as Congress makes decisions on the upcoming budget, which includes the first payment of President Obama’s pledge to the Green Climate Fund. The Fund is vital in helping developing countries build resilience to climate-related disasters and reducing carbon pollution.

September 25: The Pope will open the UN General Assembly followed by a Heads of State meeting in New York, which will focus on climate.

At both stops, Pope Francis is expected to emphasize that we have a moral imperative to act on climate change and poverty – themes from his new encyclical Praised Be. As the first pope to release an encyclical specifically focused on the environment and climate change, his addresses to Congress and the UN General Assembly provide significant moments to inspire action from key world leaders. And this is an even more important moment to link climate to issues of inequality and poverty, as world leaders will come together to commit to the new Sustainable Development Goals, which recognize that we can’t eradicate hunger and poverty without tackling climate change.

Many people will take to the streets, urging governments to take Moral Action around key climate issues, including a rapid phase out of fossil fuels. In New York and Paris, large concerts such as Global Citizen and Live Earth will bring together celebrities, youth and climate advocates, making the call for global action. Pacific Island leaders whose countries could be underwater in the future will mobilize, and we will see more from developing countries as the clock ticks down.


October 14: National Day of Action – The People’s Climate Movement and others are calling for a National Day of Action Wednesday, October 14 to demand bold action on the climate crisis facing our planet. This broad coalition is calling for a sustainable, democratic and just economy that preserves our planet and works for all peoples.

The People’s Climate Movement will use this event and others planned for fall to continue building a powerful movement for change and bring the demand for bold action to our leaders in anticipation of the Paris climate talks. The People’s Climate Movement will insist that our public leaders support us in taking action in building a new economy that will avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis, and will call out those public leaders, corporations and other organizations that are standing in the way of progress as they deny the science and block the popular alternatives.


November 1: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat will provide a synthesis review of what countries are bringing to the table in terms of emissions reduction contributions (INDCs.) No one expects these pledges will be enough to keep climate change below the most dangerous levels. The analysis will tell us how much further we need to go to close the emissions gap. It will put pressure on countries to come up with a series of agreements in Paris that provide a credible process for measurement, reporting and verification, and for strengthening commitments over time.

The Green Climate Fund will hold its final 2015 board meeting in early November where they will approve the first set of poor country projects to receive funds. This will send a strong signal on the types of projects the Fund is likely to support and will demonstrate that the Fund is open for business.

November 15-16 (two weeks before COP21):  Negotiations begin in the G20 conference in Turkey. This meeting is the first time the G20 energy ministers will meet in the G20, putting energy issues at the center of the agenda. The G20’s positions on climate change will be vitally important in setting the right tone for the Paris talks. The hope is that the G20 will reiterate the goal of limiting rising temperature change to below 2 degrees, and provide momentum in the lead up to the Paris negotiations on outstanding issues of importance – namely, financial reform and long-term goals for phasing out fossil fuels.

November 29*: Global Climate March will be a massive march in Paris with other marches across the globe that weekend. This global day of action will then crescendo as the summit ends in Paris on December 12 when citizens will have the final word and chart the fight going forward to keep dirty energy from choking our communities.



November 30 – December 11: The 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change – COP21 – will consist of two weeks of intense negotiations to push us over the finish line of reaching agreement around a new framework for collaborative global action on climate change. What happens in Paris will usher us into a new era of multilateralism in addressing climate change. As leaders convene, we’ll be actively engaged, influencing a deal that we hope is fair to all.

It’s important to note, the street mobilizations will pick-up on November 28th and 29th. These are big moments for organizing and projecting voices around the world. In Paris, a march similar to the biggest one we saw in New York last year – the People’s Climate March – will make known the will and energy of a growing climate justice movement. Because real climate action will require that individuals, private sector, and governments all play a role, the momentum will continue after the negotiation of talking heads. We hope you will take part.

*SACE added events details from People’s Climate Movement.

Guest Blog
My Profile