Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sri Lankan Role in Cancun negotiations

Hemantha Withanage,
Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka

In 1992, all of the world’s governments pledged their commitment, through an international agreement, to adopt measures to prevent a climate disaster. This is what gave rise to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which almost all of the world’s governments have signed and ratified. Therefore all government have the responsibility – to protect this common good of all humankind, the global climate.

Governments will be participation in the sixteenth time to resolve climate Change related problems. The last several meetings have not moved beyond negotiating over secondary issues and have failed to tackle the climate the problem and agree on the elimination of fossil fuel emissions in the shortest time possible. There are indications that the next meeting in Cancun will follow in these same footsteps.

Nevertheless, the world still has hope that governments will adopt the decisions needed to prevent a climate disaster, and it is prepared to support them. In order for this hope to inspire this support, what is needed are clear signs of a complete change of attitude. In this regard, the main sign would be placing fossil fuels at the centre of the debate. The time has come to put aside discussion of false solutions that have been so eagerly espoused (“carbon sinks”, “avoided deforestation-REDD”, the “Clean Development Mechanism”, “carbon offsets”, etc.) to focus on the real problem: how to move beyond the fossil fuel era as quickly as possible.

We realize that this is an enormous challenge, but is it really too much to ask, when what is at stake is nothing less than the survival of life on earth? The groups gathered in the leadership of the Bolivian Government in October 2010 agreed several steps and made proposals to the United Nations which is also called as Cochabamba agreement.Specific proposals from the Cochabamba Agreement included in the negotiation text are:

• 50% domestic reduction of greenhouse gasses emissions by Annex 1 countries for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol years from 2013 to 2017.
• Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1º C and 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
• Guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries.
• Full respect for the Human Rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children, migrants, and peasants and other small producers.
• Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
• Recognition and defense of the Rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature.
• Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice.
• Rejection of the mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries.
• Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries.
• Promotion of national policies that could improve local markets and food sovereignty instead of supporting global markets and exportation.
• Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to exclude from the protection of the intellectual property rights those technologies to mitigate climate change.
• Developed countries will allocate 6% of their national gross product to actions relevant to Climate Change to repair the ecological debt from the North and use this to adaptation and mitigation measures in the global South.
• Integrated management of forests for mitigation and adaptation, without applying market mechanisms and with the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.
• Prohibition of the conversion of natural forest and other valuable ecosystems for plantations, since the monoculture plantations are not forest; Instead, to encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests.
• The management of funds and policies related to climate change must be under the governance of the UNFCCC.

We believe that Sri Lankan delegation should support these demands and push the G77 countries to support the same.

Among the various proposals at the negotiation table Reducing Emissions from Deforestation
and Forest Degradation (REDD) would be one issue that will be discussed in COP 16. We believe REDD does not give adequate benefits to Sri Lanka as some forest heavy countries are already in the front line. Further, we believe REDD or REDD plus would be harmful to the local communities and their livelihood will be in danger. We believe Sri Lanka be concern about this aspect when negotiating at the COP 16.

Adaptation will be the most important issue that Sri Lanka should have a position and need to focus more to obtain necessary finance and financial mechanism relation to adaptation. Adaptation fund and proposed Climate fund under UNFCC would be worthwhile initiative to support.

The reduction of GHG emission will be the most important for future. Sri Lanka must support reducing emission by cutting down the 50% domestic reduction of greenhouse gasses emissions by Annex 1 countries for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol years from 2013 to 2017.

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