Sunday, December 11, 2011

Durban Package serves Corporate interests

After two weeks of painful process “Durban package” was delivered by the COP 17 at 5 am in the 11th December 2011. Last 48 hours of the negotiations was non transparent similar to Copenhagen and Cancun climate negotiations. Many national delegations were not inside some negotiations which were happen in the green rooms. Many decisions have been rushed through in the last minute. Many negotiators were not in the room due to the extension of the COP 17 for an extra day. While many spectators and the civil society still believed the UN multilateral process, it was evident that multilaralisms is not functioning in the UN system.

The so called “Durban Package” has come to a number of controversial decisions around many of the major issues written in the Cancun Agreements, yet many of the elements have been postponed. Countries such as Russia was not sure what was just signed onto, as many of the final decisions involving relatively new texts were rushed through.

India played a major role in bringing equity and Common but differentiated responsibility in to the next commitment period of the Kyoto protocol but lost in the last minute. Final plenary discussions on both the Kyoto Protocol and Long Term Cooperative Action were noisy due to the disagreements on the disputed texts forwarded to the main COP plenary despite objections.

Despite the disagreements, parties were successful in agreeing to a 2nd commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol, which is rather weak and unambitious. Yet, it does not include major polluters such as US, Canada, Japan etc. It was decided that quantifiable emission reductions targets to be decided in May 2012, which will be “an agreed outcome with legal force”. Second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol shall begin on 1 January 2013 and end either on 31 December 2017 or 31 December 2020. However due to the lack of ambition in emission reduction targets the KP second commitment period, it will cover less than 15% of global emissions. According to the  CMP decision “the aggregate emissions of greenhouse gases by Parties included in Annex I are reduced by at least 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and a review to be concluded by 2015.

Many countries felt that unless ambition is increased, KP second commitment period could potentially lock the world onto a pathway of dangerous climate change to 3-3.5 degrees, as opposed to the 2 degrees currently aimed.

One of the serious problems under the KP second commitment period is with monitoring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Land Use and Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), which is a critical structure under the Kyoto Protocol. As it was discussed the LULUCF loopholes in forest management would allow developed countries to increase their emissions by up to 6 gigatonnes by 2020.

One of the most contentious issues in COP 17 is the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The private window of the GCF was heavily criticized by the civil society and by Venezuela.  The Fund however was approved without funds as an empty shell. The World Bank will remain as the interim trustee, but and independent board will be formed by March 2012. However, Fund is suppose to produce safeguard, disclosure and accountability mechanisms. The Durban package invites Parties, to submit to the Board expressions of interest for hosting the Green Climate Fund by 15 April 2012. The independent nature of the GCF is therefore uncertain at this stage. Among other disappointment the programme on National Adaptation Plans decision has been postponed until COP18.  

The Durban Package hasn’t delivered much on the need for immediate action and ambitions to cut the GHG emissions in time. While developing country negotiators were struggling to keep the multilateral process, rich countries, had green room discussions to influence selected countries and groupings with bilateral financial packages.

Following the Copenhagen and Cancun processes,  once again the people been let down by the governments in Durban. US, EU and developed nations have won by allowing the polluters to profit from the climate crisis. As pointed out by Sarah Jayne Climate Coordinator of the Friends of the Earth International “It is clear in whose interests this deal has been advanced, and it isn’t the 99% of people around the world. The noise of corporate polluters has drowned out the voices of ordinary people in the ears of our leaders”.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Don't Kill Africa

Hundreds of climate activists form Friends of the Earth International, Greenpeace, and many other civil society movement protested inside the COP 17 venue in Durban for delaying actions and against killing Kyoto Protocol. They sung

Ku lezontaba
Stand strong, stand strong for Africa
Wen u ya baleka
Ku lezontaba
Stand strong, we support Africa..............

Environmental Minister from Maldives join the activists and demanded no kiling of Kyoto Protocol.

Thousands of people rally demanding climate justice

Over 10,000 people join the rally on the 3rd December 2011 for demanding climate justice for the people in the world. Centre for Environmental Jutice/ Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka join the rally together with Friends of the Earth International and others. Thousands of the protesters demanded to LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE NOT THE POLLUTERS. They demanded no corporate window in the proposed Global Climate Fund, No Carbon Markets, No REDD. 

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Coal in the hole; Oil in the Soil; Tar sand in the land- but Nuclear unclear-

Coal and oil are the main fossil fuels responsible for the most Green House Gas emissions. Rich nations burn most of these fuels and responsible for emitting CO2 in to the atmosphere. Oilwatch International demand keep “oil in the soil” and “coal in the hole” and “tar sand in the land”. This solution is simple. What are the alternatives? Earth receives enough solar energy and wind power if the world needs to harness them.

Yet most developed countries plan to build more and more nuclear power. South Africa Government planning to spend 1 trilling Rand for building nuclear power plants. India, Russia, Malaysia are some other countries to build nuclear power. Sri Lanka is also planning to follow the same path.

Germany is the only country to abandon all nuclear power stations. All remaining nuclear power stations should be closed by 2020. Will rest of the world follow Germany?

Greedy Corporate Fund or Green Climate Fund

Green Climate Fund was one of the hopes of the developing countries during the last two climate negotiations. It was agreed in COP 16 held in Cancun and had series of negotiations to shape it. However, two questions remain unresolved. Its interim Trustee the World Bank can become the permanent Trustees and there are no provisions to stop that. It also has created a private window which will benefit the greedy corporations. As civil society pointed out both corporations and the World Bank have no rights to engage in a green climate fund.

In most current examples Bankers, Fund managers, companies and the consultants are the beneficiaries of these public funds and not the poor communities or the developing country governments.

Several developed countries including UK are threatening to turn the Green Climate Fund into a Greedy Corporate Fund that would serve the interests of the corporate and financial sectors, instead of financing activities to save the planet and protect the poor in developing countries.

Let the Fund be green and not to serve the corporate greedy.

COP and COPs

A police constable guarding our hotel in the city of Durban in South Africa where COP 17 is happening told me that local people here wondering whether this is an event organised by them. As you know COP is an acronym for (Police) constables. He asked me what is happening inside the International Convention Centre (ICC) where the world governments are gathering to discuss the future of the climate on the Earth. He told me that local people don’t understand how to react to the climate problem and if they were told they could have done something that would help reduce climate change.

Sunday night downpour killed 13 people in the area of Durban. The same cyclone killed 11 people in Sri Lanka and reported many fishermen are missing. Sri Lankan authorities admitted that they failed to inform the people about the Cyclone on Sunday. This is the story across the world. More cyclones and droughts are common in the World.  According to the IPCC experts it is virtually certain that on a global scale hot days become even hotter and occur more often. For the high emissions scenario, it is likely that the frequency of hot days will increase by a factor of 10 in most regions of the world. Likewise, heavy precipitation will occur more often, and the wind speed of tropical cyclones will increase while their number will likely remain constant or decrease.

Pablo Solon, former chief negotiator of Bolivia said “In Cancun, the developed countries listed their greenhouse gas emission reduction pledges for the 2012-2020 periods. The United States and Canada said they would reduce emissions by 3% based on 1990 levels, the European Union between 20% and 30%, Japan 25%, and Russia from 15% to 25%. Adding up all the reduction pledges of the developed countries, the total reduction in emissions by 2020 would be 13-17%, based on 1990 levels. However, Kyoto targets expect to reduce GHG emission by 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The current pledged are far behind this expectations and it will increase the temperature 5-8 degrees Celsius. Are we ready for this?

It is clear that United State want to kill Kyoto protocol. They are not signatory to it. Russia, Canada and Japan declare that they will never agree to a second commitment of period of the Kyoto Protocol. Will the Kyoto protocol die in Durban?

It is clear that the countries are not going to agree on the earth climate future in Durban. However, South African Government is trying hard to produce a “Durban mandate” as a result of the ongoing negotiations. The “mandate” is nothing else other than agreeing on the EU position. The EU publicly supports a second commitment period as it believes that a single legally-binding instrument would be the best while that it should be the last one before convergence between the Kyoto Protocol and Convention outcomes, and that in any case it should last no longer than 2020. So hopefully Kyoto will survive although it is in great danger in Durban.

Other than the Kyoto protocol is being the only legally binding treaty, it has provision to cover the  principle of “historical responsibility”  and the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility. It is in the opinion of many in the climate justice movement that the world is no longer going to have these principles in any future agreement. Saving Kyoto Protocol therefore is the responsibility of the developing countries.

Many African countries and small Island states are trying hard to save it. G77 and China is also trying its best to stop wrecking the Kyoto ship in Durban harbour. Yet, is not an easy task. Many smaller countries including Sri Lanka has no voice in the climate summits. Unfortunately as one of the most vulnerable island nation, we haven’t played our role in the climate negotiations.

Developing countries should be committed to direct the UNFCC negotiations in line with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations of greenhouse gas emissions reduction for developed countries (including the EU) of at least -25 to -40% based on 1990 levels by 2020, and -80 to -95% by 2050 to avoid an increase in global temperature of more than 2°C by 2100. However, division in African, Asian and other developing country groupings may decide the survival of the vulnerable communities due to climate change.

Duty of the COP (Constables) is to secure the people. Can COP 17 secure all of us living on the earth?