Monday, December 13, 2010

My thoughts on Cancun Accord

Surprisingly, other than Bolivia no other country opposed to the new Cancun Accord came out of COP 16 negotiations at 3.40 in the morning on 11th December 2010 in the Moon Palace, a Spa and Golf Resort located in Cancun, Mexico far away from the local communities. Bolivia pointed out that this new accord does not provide any mitigation targets and no adequate finance provides for addressing climate crisis which we are facing already. It has set the temperature increase to 2 degrees which will increase 3 degree temperature in the African region. However the African, Asian and Least Developed Countries were not able to negotiate the climate agreement based on the science perhaps due to the high expectations of the financial package. The COP 16 agreed that a 30 billion Dollar short term finance and 100 Billion dollars annually after 2020. But this money is not assured. It will be only mobilised though public and private sources. The trustee will be the Wold Bank who is responsible for climate crisis we face today. In many ways Cancun Accord is nothing more than the Copenhagen Accord II.

G 77 and China, is a block of many large and smaller countries which also include major polluting industrial as well as poorer countries. How can they give one voice? Surprisingly, Venezuela or Cuba did not associate with the views of Bolivia. At the opening of the conference Papua New Guinea argued that no consensus can be achieved in this issue and the decision making process in the UNFCC to be changed to the decision majority. However India argued that consensus can be reached in multilateral negotiations and mentioned the recent decisions taken in the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) held in Nagoya. Therefore the decision making is in the UNFCCC is still based on the consensus. However, the Cancun Accord was adopted with no consensus which is a slap of the face of India. This also question credibility of the UN multilateral process.

Understandably, Bolivia joined the COP 16 negotiations after hosting more than 25,000 people in Cochabamba in April 2010 which established the People’s agreement in Cochabamba. Bolivian President Evo Morales who attended the climate event organised by Via Campasina in the city of Cancun was embraced by the farmers and the civil society. The farmers slept on the concrete floor of the basketball stadium for more than a week while governments negotiate the agreement inside the expensive Moon Palace.

The Bolivian position on the Cancun accord will give much strength to the people’s voice and opportunity for the other governments to think why they are away from people. In most countries people protect the leaders when they do the election campaign. Once they are elected Military protect them from people. However, Evo Morales who attended the farmer’s event was protected by the farmers. I am happy to see that there are leaders who are still protected by the people not by military.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


I remember I met Nnimmo for the first time in the first Oilwatch International meeting held in Mexico City. I met him second time in Ecuador in 1997. He was arrested on arrival at the Nigeria Airport in Lagos on 26th October 1997. He was detained in the airport for the night and transferred to the Head Office of the SSS in Lagos the next morning.

As he wrote us later, "all through Monday I was subjected to rigorous interrogations. I spent Monday night in their cell. No talk of convenience in the cell! I regained partial freedom at about 8 pm on Tuesday night, I was allowed out of their center, but with all my luggage held hostage. That included my eye glasses, wedding ring, wrist watch and wallet. I was further interrogated on Wednesday and Thursday. Centred on my involvement in the struggle for a better environment in Nigeria. Centred also on my activism in the Oilwatch network. I was finally released yesterday [Friday 31st October 1997]. My luggage was returned to me but my Passport is still being held."

Where is the liberty? Where my freedom? Our freedom?? I have to keep reporting to the SSS and that in itself is dangerous! That's the price to pay for fighting for an environment suitable for mankind. He wrote..

Now Nnimmo is the Chairperson of the Friends of the Earth International, the largest grassroots environmental network. This Monday Nnimmo Bassey will be one of the five recipients of the 2010 Right Livelihood Award. This award is often referred to as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize'.

Nnimmo Bassey, who is also Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria, was nominated for this award "for revealing the full ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally."

Bravo Nnimmo!

No to World Bank and ADB role in climate finance

Yesterday( 3rd December 2010) over hunderd people coming from various parts of the world took part in a mobilization in Cancun city, Mexico against giving any role to the World Bank in climate financing. They demand that World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other regional banks should not handle climate finance due to the undemocratic governance structure of these banks and their contribution to the climate crisis by financing fossil fuel based power plants. Civil society demands that future climate finance should be deliverd under a fund managed by the UNFCCC.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Will Japan kill the Kyoto Protocol?

December 30th Japan announced that it will abandon the Kyoto Protocol. Many climate negotiators felt that this as a threat to the progress needed at the UN climate talks in Cancun.

Kyoto Protocol is the only treaty that could tackle growing greenhouse gas emissions by rich countries. This historic treaty was, ironically, agreed to in Japan, which chaired the third Conference of the Parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997.

According to Yuri Onodera, Friends of the Earth Japan: "Japan's move to drop out of the Kyoto treaty shows a severe lack of recognition of its own historical and moral responsibility. With this position, Japan isolates itself from the rest of the world. Even worse, this step undermines the ongoing talks and is a serious threat to the progress needed here in Cancun."

All rich countries, including Japan, should agree on cutting their emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020, without resorting to carbon offsetting, and commit to this under a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.There will be no excuse if they kill the Kyoto Protocol at this critical moment.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Another Copenhagen?

Hemantha Withanage
COP16 or climate negotiation was started in Cancun in Mexico with many ambitions by the parties on 29th November. Representative form Venezuela said we have 15 days to save the world. In Copenhagen in 2009 some representatives told that we have 10 days to save the world. But while many countries were in open negotiations, United States sweeps the process by bringing 26 countries to a close door process which resulted the Copenhagen Accord. Later 140 countries signed. I am happy that Sri Lanka is one country that did not associated even with the pressure from the US.

It was told that Mexican Government has invited Heads of the States of the G20 countries to the high level segment of the Cancun negotiations but not others. Civil society believes that it will once again destroy the negotiations. However, it looks most people either in the negotiation rooms or observers have no much hope on Cancun.

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 1ยบ 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.