Obama’s COP17 team “represents the polluters and financial elites.” —Kate Horner, Friends of the Earth

No 359 Posted by fw, December 10, 2011

In a polished Q&A session with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, Kate Horner, a policy analyst at Friends of the Earth, responded to Goodman’s questions. Here’s the video clip of the Goodman-Horner dialog. The segment also includes an exchange with Michael Dorsey, assistant professor at Dartmouth College with the Environmental Studies Program and a clip of supreme denialist Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican senator from Oklahoma, who was “happy to bring you the good news about the complete collapse of the global warming movement and the failure of the Kyoto process.”

 

TRANSCRIPT OF HORNER’S RESPONSES TO GOODMAN’S QUESTIONS (subheadings are mine)

Four years after the Bali road map agreement, it remains unimplemented

We are very far from agreement, even as the conference comes to a close tonight. Four years ago in Bali, the world agreed on a road map that would fairly address 100 percent of global emissions, meant that the developed world would agree to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only legally binding instrument that we have to address climate change. There was a compromise struck for the United States, which has long repudiated the Kyoto Protocol, and they said that they would take on action that was comparable to the rest of the world. And lastly, the world agreed to provide technology and finance for developing countries, who are currently and will be impacted by this crisis for years to come. Even now, four years later, that road map remains unimplemented.

The world is on track to deliver 5˚C warming, “a level that will cause unimaginable human suffering”

According to the recent reports by the United Nations and others, the pledges that we got for emissions reductions last year in Cancún will, in the worst-case scenario, deliver a five degrees of warming in this world. That level of warming will cause unimaginable human suffering for Americans at home, as well as around the world.

Talk of yet another new road map will delay action 5 to 10 years

And yet, here at the talks in Durban, there’s a lot of talk about a new mandate to launch a new round of negotiations, even as the existing road map and the existing promises that have been made haven’t been kept. The new road map will possibly delay action by five to 10 years as it’s negotiated and then ratified. It could possibly be much, much weaker than the system that we have in place now, in which developed countries merely pledge whatever they’re willing to do domestically, regardless of whether that, in total, will yield a safe climate future. And it will also compel—and this is what we understand consists of many of the proposals on the table—to compel developing countries, who are least responsible for having caused this problem, to take on binding cuts. It’s unfair, and it won’t work. The problem that we have now was caused by the cumulative emissions in the atmosphere. And developing countries simply haven’t contributed the same amount, and they don’t bear the same historic responsibility. So we’re in a very dangerous position of, in the next 24 hours, having to shift the talks from the current focus on a new mandate towards delivering on the mandate that we presently have in a fair and equitable fashion.

Grist said that . . . the four degrees of warming is incompatible with organized society. This is the level of impact that we’re talking about. It’s frightening. It’s severe. And if we can imagine what that will mean for us in the United States, imagine what that then means for the communities around the world who face health impacts, education, all the other development priorities.

The U.S. has led an exit strategy from Kyoto with Canada and Japan tagging along

The United States, as I mentioned earlier, has a long history in multilateral affairs of weakening and delaying international deals where they don’t have domestic legislation in place. The U.S. position here, of course, is shaped substantially by its failure to secure legislation at home, as well as the polarized politics that we see at home. Here, what they’ve done is, firstly, by refusing to commit to the Kyoto Protocol, leading an exit strategy from the Kyoto Protocol. Others have followed behind, Canada and Japan among them.

Obama’s team at COP17 has represented the elites and polluters

[Climate science] is clear, it’s compelling, and it’s urgent. And we must listen to it. I think that what this demonstrates is, yet again, politicians speaking on behalf of the 1 percent—the polluters, the financial elites—that stand to benefit from a lack of action, and not the 99 percent that are demanding climate justice around the world. I think that Obama’s team here has, of course, continued to represent those elites and those polluters, and that’s in large part what’s driving his position here. . . . the world expected more of Obama. They gave him a chance to enter into these discussions in a productive, constructive way, and his team here hasn’t. I think when you talk to delegates, you’ll see some of that frustration, and you’ll see some of the concerns around the blocking of progress.

SourceObama Admin Denounced for “Startling Level of Obstructionism and Defeatism” on U.N. Climate Deal, Democracy Now! December 9, 2011. For a full transcript of this segment of the program, click on the title.

About Kate Horner — Kate Horner is a policy analyst at Friends of the Earth, leading the organization’s work on forest protection, with a focus on ensuring that emerging climate policies lead to real emissions reductions, the protection of human rights and sustainable development. Kate tracks developments in U.S. policy, multilateral environmental agreements and international financial institutions. She has worked closely with indigenous peoples’ organizations, local communities, development organizations and economists to advocate for policies that address the real drivers of deforestation in both developed and developing countries, including demand-side measures, forest governance and land tenure reform, and policy coherence. Prior to joining Friends of the Earth in 2006, Kate held positions as a political campaign manager, a health and labor researcher and as an editor.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing

“Deep cuts now. Get it done!” —Youth delegate, Anjali Appadurai, reprimands COP17 delegates

No 358 Posted by fw, December 10, 2011

On December 9, 2011, Anjali Appadurai, a student at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, challenged the COP17 conference delegates: “Deep cuts now. Get it done”. She spoke on behalf of youth delegates. At the conclusion of her biting rebuke, the chairperson likely surprised not a few in the room when he said –

Thank you, Miss Appadurai, who was speaking on behalf of half of the world’s population, I think she said at the beginning. And on a purely personal note, I wonder why we let not speak half of the world’s population first in this conference, but only last.

TRANSCRIPT OF ANJALI’S “GET IT DONE!” REPRIMAND

I speak for more than half the world’s population. We are the silent majority. You’ve given us a seat in this hall, but our interests are not on the table. What does it take to get a stake in this game? Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money? You’ve been negotiating all my life. In that time, you’ve failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises. But you’ve heard this all before.

We’re in Africa, home to communities on the front line of climate change. The world’s poorest countries need funding for adaptation now. The Horn of Africa and those nearby in KwaMashu needed it yesterday. But as 2012 dawns, our Green Climate Fund remains empty. The International Energy Agency tells us we have five years until the window to avoid irreversible climate change closes. The science tells us that we have five years maximum. You’re saying, “Give us 10.”

The most stark betrayal of your generation’s responsibility to ours is that you call this “ambition.” Where is the courage in these rooms? Now is not the time for incremental action. In the long run, these will be seen as the defining moments of an era in which narrow self-interest prevailed over science, reason and common compassion.

There is real ambition in this room, but it’s been dismissed as radical, deemed not politically possible. Stand with Africa. Long-term thinking is not radical. What’s radical is to completely alter the planet’s climate, to betray the future of my generation, and to condemn millions to death by climate change. What’s radical is to write off the fact that change is within our reach. 2011 was the year in which the silent majority found their voice, the year when the bottom shook the top. 2011 was the year when the radical became reality.

Common, but differentiated, and historical responsibility are not up for debate. Respect the foundational principles of this convention. Respect the integral values of humanity. Respect the future of your descendants. Mandela said, “It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” So, distinguished delegates and governments around the world, governments of the developed world, deep cuts now. Get it done.

Source: Get It Done”: Urging Climate Justice, Youth Delegate Anjali Appadurai Mic Checks U.N. Summit, Democracy Now! December 9, 2011. For a full transcript of this segment of the program, click on the title.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing

Is Canada’s “commitment” to a new global climate deal just more hot air?

No 357 Posted by fw, December 8, 2011

“Central to bridging differences and bringing countries together into a new agreement is the need for flexibility and creativity. It’s no coincidence that the countries bringing these attributes to the talks are the ones finding the compromises necessary to move forward. Canada’s hard and inflexible positions (such as on the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and elsewhere) have made little contribution to this effort in Durban, leaving our country watching from the sidelines. The positive steps on short-term financing do not make up these weaknesses in our negotiating positions, or for the lack of progress on actions in Canada.” P.J. Partington, Pembina Institute

Thanks to Pembina for providing Canadians with concise, objective, weel-researched  reports on Canada’s performance and positions at COP17 in Durban, South Africa. P.J. Partington’s December 6 piece, which includes the above passage, is a gem. Here’s a reposting of his account –

Canada’s Performance and Position in Durban by P.J. Partington, Pembina Institute, December 6, 2011

What Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent says –

The second and final week of the UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa is now underway. Canada’s priorities in the talks are captured pretty well by the following quote from Minister Kent:

Our fixation, our commitment is on Copenhagen and the Cancun agreement. We believe that ultimately a new agreement that includes all of the world’s major emitters in both the developing and the developed world is the only way to materially reduce annual megatonnage to the point that we can work to prevent global warming hitting or exceeding two … degrees.

What Canada doesn’t do

On the surface, this sounds like a pretty reasonable fixation to have. We should all want a global agreement that gets us on track to avoiding the worst-case climate change scenarios. But to what extent do Canada’s actions actually contribute to meeting this goal? In our view, a wealthy country such as Canada that is serious about reaching such an agreement, would be doing three things:

  1. Taking action at home to ensure the country is on track to meet its own climate commitments;
  2. Helping to make progress on the financing needed to support climate action in developing countries;
  3. Seeking solutions to close the ambition gap between the nation-by-nation pledges and the agreed upon objective of avoiding 2˚C or more of warming.

Let’s take a look at where Canada stands on these points. Based on comments from representatives of other countries (including delegates from South Africa and other African nations), it’s clear that many leaders don’t see Canada as stacking up very well. A new global climate performance assessment released today, ranking Canada in 54th place out of 61 spots internationally, suggests not all of the criticism leveled at Canada is overblown.

Canada’s gaping credibility gap

In order to have credibility in any negotiation, others must believe that you will actually keep your word. The climate talks are no different: countries expect to see evidence that we stand behind the commitments we have made. Canada’s complete disregard for our Kyoto commitments means that the credibility gap we face on our current commitments is understandably wider than for most.

Regrettably, we don’t seem to have learned from the lessons Kyoto is offering us. Two years after committing to our current target in Copenhagen, Environment Canada’s projections show that Canada’s current federal and provincial policies will achieve only a quarter of the reductions needed by 2020- leaving 75 per cent of the work as a question mark is not exactly a big trust-builder!

Canada has committed $1.2 billion to climate financing but there are BIG “BUTs” to the promise

In Cancun, developed countries affirmed two main commitments related to climate financing that were initially agreed to in Copenhagen:

  • An amount “approaching” US$30 billion in “new and additional resources” from 2010 to 2012, “with a balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.”
  • A goal of “mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, “with the funding coming from a variety of sources (including “alternative” sources).

These commitments are important because without them, developing countries will not have the resources needed to reduce their emissions or adapt to the climate-related changes that are already happening.

Canada has committed to provide $1.2 billion over 2010 to 2012, which reflects a fair share of the $30 billion total. A June 2010 announcement followed through on the first $400 million and, while there was certainly room for improving the ways in which that money was being provided, it was generally seen as a positive step. The government has reiterated its commitment to the $1.2 billion over three years but has not provided the details that would be needed to assess the contribution in 2011 and 2012.

Canada could also be playing a leadership role on longer-term financing. Specifically, by pushing for a prompt start to the Green Climate Fund and supporting continued climate finance contributions beyond 2012, scaling up to meet the $100 billion goal by 2020. Instead, Canada has joined the U.S. in flagging concerns about the Green Climate Fund, which could delay its launch in Durban, and has not put forward or supported any constructive proposals for scaling up climate finance after 2012. 

Canada has adopted a “take-it-or-leave-it approach to setting an ambitious path to the 2˚C target

Many organizations, including the International Energy Agency, the OECD, and the UN Environment Program, have warned recently that there is a major gap between the 2˚C goal and the pathway set by current pledges under the Copenhagen/Cancun agreements. Existing commitments (assuming they’re all met) deliver only half of the reductions needed to get on a 2˚C pathway by 2020, and risk locking us into a dangerously warmer world well beyond the limit.

Strong supporters of the Copenhagen/Cancun agreements, like Canada, must demonstrate how countries can collectively increase their ambitions to the levels needed to meet the 2˚C goal. But instead of setting a stronger target or laying out a plan to meet our current one and take bolder steps afterwards, Canada has adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach. We have not offered to take more ambitious action if others do the same. Nor has Canada proposed any means by which parties can work together to scale up their ambition or close loopholes to bring us closer to the maintaining the 2˚C goal. 

Is Canada’s “commitment” to a new global climate deal just more hot air?

Central to bridging differences and bringing countries together into a new agreement is the need for flexibility and creativity. It’s no coincidence that the countries bringing these attributes to the talks are the ones finding the compromises necessary to move forward. Canada’s hard and inflexible positions (such as on the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and elsewhere) have made little contribution to this effort in Durban, leaving our country watching from the sidelines. The positive steps on short-term financing do not make up these weaknesses in our negotiating positions, or for the lack of progress on actions in Canada.

Saying we’re fixated on a global agreement that will limit warming to 2˚C or less is a good end-point to be striving towards. But if Canada’s actions continue to create roadblocks towards our professed objective, it’s hard to take those words with any more than a grain of salt.

Let’s hope that with some extra flexibility, and a whole lot more ambition, Canada can make a positive contribution this week.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing