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The Atrocity of Syria: What to do?

Syria is the world’s current agony. The civil war is five years old. That is too long for a civil war. Ideally they would not occur at all. Once they occur, they should not be allowed to continue. What went wrong? The global structures for handling conflict are undeveloped. The structures, principles and methods we have for handling conflict date from last century – born in 1920, revised in ‘45. Those were the days of the primacy of the nation-state, with the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in domestic affairs. In the 21st century, the world is a global village, where we tear each other apart.

The Atrocity of Yemen – What to do?

By: Kennedy Graham MP, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Last week I commented on the atrocity that was occurring in Syria, and asked what the world, and we here in New Zealand, might do.

An associate-atrocity is occurring in the same region, in Yemen, but with less global scrutiny. The same questions need to be addressed.


The dinosaur awakes – How quickly will it move; how clearly can it think?

By Kennedy Graham MP, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Disclaimer: this blog was written prior to the results of the US election.

Humanity has woken, after a quarter-century of fitful slumber, to the fact of climate change.  Dangerous climate change.


Ratifying Paris Agreement - KG Question

Taking Climate Action to the Next Level: Reflections by UN Climate Chief

As the ink dries on the Paris Agreement concluded in December, the significance of the event is now being weighed up. At one and the same time, it is an ‘historic moment of hope for humanity’; it goes ‘nowhere near far enough’; and it is even a ‘fraud’. Which is correct? For Christiana Figuerres, Executive Director of UNFCC, the Agreement, “establishes a new model of 21st century diplomacy”. The global problems of the 21st century are different; they are not zero-sum; they invite the tragedy of the commons through national free-loading. If the ‘deficits’ of the Paris Agreement are also its ‘greatest strengths’ in the new form of global governance, then we are in for an exciting ride. Inviting 196 parties to save the planet rather than requiring them to do it is a nice way of playing roulette. And experience suggests that naming-and-shaming will not do it. If change does not come from governments, in the name of Paris, and within the next five years, not fifteen, then it will require the peoples of the world to revolutionise their governments – in the name of Paris.

Case Study for an Effective Climate Contribution: New Zealand - Post-COP21 Blog 2

The 2015 Paris outcome is going to require higher standards of behaviour from all 196 Parties to the Framework Convention. What is required is a Cabinet paper no later than mid-‘16 that does the following: 1) Acknowledges the integrity, and applicability, of the principle of equity in the ’92 Framework Convention, and the results which some of the research institutes have reached regarding the responsibility of each State party for its national emissions within the Global Carbon Budget, including for the specific year 2030, noting in particular New Zealand’s NRL; 2) Explores the maximum domestic abatement potential for New Zealand by 2030, and acknowledges a responsibility to make up, through climate financing, any shortfall between this and its NRL; 3) Explores the most effective set of climate policies (carbon pricing and/or taxing) and regulatory measures designed to reach the maximum domestic abatement potential (the National Climate Action Plan); 4) Ensures that the National Climate Action Plan reflects optimal equity among all relevant inter-sectoral and societal interests, to the extent possible.

The NZ Government, for one, has no idea about the ‘Hard Part’ - Post-COP21 blog 1

Now that the Paris Agreement has ‘brought us all together’ with common intent to protect ourselves from dangerous climate change, it is time we stopped shying away from each nation's actual National Responsibility Level for their share of the Global Carbon Budget. The world has moved away from the ‘top-down’ to the ‘bottom-up’ approach. Dividing up the Global Carbon Budget is the most sensitive exercise on God’s Earth right now. To this day, no government is prepared to even enter this kind of discourse with numbers; nor for that matter is the UNFCCC Secretariat. But it is time we began to explore the numbers, not leaving it to the research institutes but taking responsibility for it within governments and the UN.

Historic Agreement ‘Brings Us Together’: Now for the Hard Part - Kennedy Graham COP21 blog 6

The outcome is historic. The international community is, substantively for the first time, acting as a global community facing a global problem. All 196 parties are accepting a legally-binding obligation to undertake effective action to avert dangerous climate change. The ’92 Framework Convention set up the global objective and structure. The 2015 protocol (otherwise known as the Paris Agreement) is requiring nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) from everybody to deliver on the global objective. It is a big success. Now the hard part begins. The hard part is because the 196 parties are, currently, under-delivering on the global effort. And, more critically, it has yet to be shown that the mechanism for remedying that is structurally sound.

The Text As It Needs To Be - Kennedy Graham COP21 blog 5

At present, the text fails to avert dangerous climate change. A diplomatic success in producing a document. A political failure in that the document does not guarantee attainment of the stated purpose. In what ways does it not, will it not, do that? In two ways: 1) The global emissions reductions are inadequate, both as to magnitude and speed; 2) There is no meaningful exploration of national responsibility levels for sharing the Global Carbon Budget.

The President’s Text: Invertebrate and Vulnerable - Kennedy Graham COP21 blog 4

The President’s text of 9 Dec. has weakened the co-chairs’ text of 5 Dec. to a dangerous degree. With mitigation, there are eight main components: purpose, long-term goal, individual effort, progression, timing, ex ante process, adjustments, and stocktake. With four of these, the text remains more or less unchanged (individual effort; progression, timing and adjustment). But in four others, the text is weakened, as is shown below.


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