Archive for the ‘UNFCCC Durban’ Category

Like a Dull Knife: The People’s Climate “Farce” (Quincy Saul, Truthout)

Friday, September 19th, 2014

By Quincy Saul, Truthout

In the lead-up to any large-scale protest, it is useful to bear in mind the potential dangers and drawbacks of such an endeavor. On the eve of what is being advertised as “the biggest climate march in history,” we might reflect on Malcolm X’s experience of the March on Washington, as recounted in the Autobiography of Malcolm X:

“Farce in Washington”, I call it. . . . It was like a movie. . . . For the status-seeker, it was a status symbol. “Were you there?”. . . . It had become an outing, a picnic. . . . What originally was planned to be an angry riptide, one English newspaper aptly described now as “the gentle flood”. . . . there wasn’t a single logistics aspect uncontrolled. . . . They had been told how to arrive, when, where to arrive, where to assemble, when to start marching, the route to march. . . . Yes, I was there. I observed that circus.

Of course, not everyone present concurred with Malcolm X about the March on Washington – and even in a top-down format, one hopes the upcoming march could draw much-needed attention to the climate movement. The question is: At what cost? In this vein, what follows are a few reflections on the buildup to the September 21 People’s Climate March in New York City, to provide some concrete analysis of concrete conditions, and propose some solutions.


The climate justice movement has an expiration date. If the tipping points in the earth system are passed, and the feedback loops begin their vicious cycle, human attempts at mitigation will be futile, and climate justice will become an anachronism – or at worst a slogan for geo-engineering lobbies. Thousands of scientists have come to consensus on this point, and many years ago gave us a deadline: A carbon emissions peak in 2015 followed by rapid and permanent decline.

In other words, we have roughly four months to work for climate justice. The world is literally at stake; all life on earth is at risk. Never has there been a more urgent or comprehensive mandate.

Even the guardians and gatekeepers of the ruling class, from politicians to scientists, are forthcoming on this point. Listen to Al Gore: “I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers, and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants.” He said that in 2007. It is in this context that we must seek to better understand and analyze the People’s Climate March.

“An Invitation to Change Everything”

The People’s Climate March has a powerful slogan. It has world-class publicity. But the desire to bring the biggest possible number of people to the march has trumped all other considerations. The results are devastating:

No Target: The march is a U-turn through Times Square, beginning at a monument to genocide (Columbus Circle) and ending . . . in the middle of nowhere. Here in New York City where the ruling class of the whole world has made their diverse headquarters, the march will target none of them. The march will not even go near the United Nations, its ostensible symbolic target.

No Timing: The United Nations will convene leading figures from all over the world – several days after the march. The march does not coincide with anything, contemporary or historic.

No Demands: Again, to attract the largest number of people, the march has rallied around the lowest common denominator – in this case, nothing. Not only are there no demands, but there is in fact no content at all to the politics of the march, other than vague concern and nebulous urgency about “the climate,” which is itself undefined.

No Unity: While a large number of people are sure to converge on Columbus Circle on September 21, the only thing they will have in common is the same street. The revolutionary communists will link arms with the Green Zionist Alliance and the Democratic Party, and compete with Times Square billboards for the attention of tourists and the corporate media.What is the binding agent for this sudden and unprecedented unity? Fifty-one years later, the words of Malcolm X still ring true: “the white man’s money.”

No History: Instead of building on the momentum of a decades-old climate justice movement, this march appears to be taking us backwards. Here’s what Ricken Patel of Avaaz, one of the main funders of the march, said to The Guardian: “We in the movement, activists, have failed up until this point to put up a banner and say if you care about this, now is the time, here is the place, let’s come together, to show politicians the political power that is out there on there.”

It is as if the massive mobilizations outside the United Nations meeting in Copenhagen (2009), Cancun (2010) and Durban (2011) never took place, let alone the literally thousands of smaller, more localized actions and gatherings for climate justice. At all of these gatherings, activists convoked the world to demonstrate the power of the people, under banners which were far more radical and transformative than anything we have seen so far for this march.

No Integrity: The invitation to change everything has been permitted and approved by the New York City Police Department. This permit betrays a lack of respect for the people who will be making sacrifices to come all the way to New York City to change the world, and a lack of integrity among those who want to change everything, but seek permission for this change from one of the more obviously brutal guardians of business as usual. This lack of integrity sets up thousands of earnest souls for an onset of depression and cynicism when this march doesn’t change the world. This will in turn be fertile soil for everyone and anyone hawking false solutions.

No target, no demands, no timing, no unity, no history and no integrity amounts to one thing: No politics. The whole will be far less than the sum of its parts. The biggest climate march in history will amount to something less than Al Gore.

In discussions over the past month with a wide range of people – UN diplomats, radical Vermonters, unionists, professors, liberal Democrats, etc. – the same thing has been repeated to me by everyone: “If we get a huge number of people, no one will be able to ignore us.” “The mainstream media will be forced to cover it.”

So what is being billed and organized as The People’s Climate March, and An Invitation to Change Everything, turns out to be a massive photo op. The spectacle of thousands of First World citizens marching for climate justice, while they continue to generate the vast majority of carbon emissions, brings to mind the spectacle of George W. Bush visiting New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

So what are we left with? James Brown knew, when he said: “You’re like a dull knife; Just ain’t cutting. You’re just talking loud; And saying nothing. Just saying nothing. Good luck to you; Just allow you’re wrong. Then keep on singing that; Same old money song . . .”

So What Are We Going to Do About It?

This is not the place to complain, but to propose solutions. If we are unsatisfied with this march and its leadership, we have to provide an alternative. As James Brown knew, we “have to pay the cost to be the boss.” Here are some suggestions for starters:

We are going to stop lying to the people. This is the primary and cardinal rule of revolutionary politics. To invite people to change the world and corral them into cattle pens on a police-escorted parade through the heart of consumer society is astoundingly dishonest. From now on, we will stop lying to people. Climate justice requires nothing less than a global revolution in politics and production; it requires a historic transition to a new model of civilization, which will demand great sacrifice and creativity from everyone.
We are going to stop making demands of anyone or anything but ourselves and each other. The powers that be are deaf, dumb and deadly, and we will waste no further time trying to pressure or persuade them. We are going to stop speaking truth to power and start speaking truth to powerlessness. Either we are going to become the leaders we have been waiting for, starting now, or we are going to resign ourselves to the inevitability of catastrophic climate change and the sixth mass extinction.
We are going to return to the source. This means three things: (A) Return to the common people from the delirious heights of symbolic protest politics, with dedication to concrete local work, to divorce food, water, shelter and energy systems from capital. (B) Return to the livelihood and wisdom of our ancestors, the indigenous peoples of every continent, who have lived for thousands of years in harmony with nature, and who still possess the knowledge and skills to restore balance. (C) Return to the sun – a second Copernican revolution and a heliocentric energy policy. Either we return to a subsistence perspective that has prevailed for the majority of human history, or all future development of productive forces must be based exclusively on solar energy.
We are going to get arrested! The only thing that we can do to meet the deadline for climate justice is to engage in a massive and permanent campaign to shut down the fossil fuel economy. But we have to do this strategically, not in the symbolic cuff-and-stuffs that are a perversion and prostitution of the noble ideals of civil disobedience and revolutionary nonviolence. So we are going to shut down coal plants; we are going to block ports, distribution centers and railway hubs where fossil fuels are transported; whatever it takes to keep the oil in the soil. We’re going to put our bodies between the soil and the sky.So let’s make sure that the call to “Flood Wall Street” on September 22 is the “angry riptide” it should be, and not “the gentle flood.”
We are going to join the rest of the human race. For 200 years too long, citizens of the United States have been parasites and predators on the rest of the world. To prevent climate catastrophe, we are going to leave our imperial hubris behind, and join with the revolutionary ecosocialist uprisings that are sweeping the global South.

Berlin: Aufruf zur gemeinsamen Teilnahme an der Klimademo am Sonntag, 21.9.2014

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Liebe Mitstreiter,
gemeinsam mit Tausenden von Demonstranten in New York, London, Paris und weiteren Städten auf allen Kontinenten wollen wir die Politiker, die am Klimagipfel 2 Tage später teilnehmen, an ihre Verantwortung für diese Welt erinnern! Die Filmaufnahmen dieser Demos werden auf der Konferenz gezeigt werden.

TREFFPUNKTE am 21.9. um 14:30 Uhr
14 Uhr – Alexanderplatz – Fußgänger Demo mit Silent Climate Parade.
14.30 Uhr – Mariannenplatz Kreuzberg – Fahrrad-Demo
16.30 Uhr – Potsdamer Platz/Ebertstraße (Vor ‘Vapiano’) – Kinder- und Familiendemo

All drei Demozüge führen zum MAL SCHNELL DIE WELT RETTEN am Brandenburger Tor.

In Richtung Straße des 17. Juni wird es eine eine Schnippeldisko-Vokü geben, Upcycling-Events und Workshops sowie Infos und Diskussionen mit Umwelt- und Klimagruppen.

Wir sammeln uns an den angegebenen Treffpunkten. Abmarsch Richtung Brandenburger Tor – Ankunft Brandenburger Tor: ca 17 Uhr. Dort beginnt dann eine große Kundgebung mit vielfältigem Programm bis in die späten Abendstunden. Wir sollten dort noch eine Weile beieinander bleiben. Zwischen 17:30 und 18:00 Uhr werden Luftballons auf den Weg nach New York geschickt.

Die Demos sind als Silent Climate Parade konzipiert: das heißt für die Fußgänger TANZEND zum Brandenburger Tor zu ziehen. Die Musik dazu kommt über Kopfhörer, die man sich individuell am Neptunbrunnen bei den Hauptveranstaltern ausleihen kann (Ausgabe ab 13 Uhr, Personalausweis dabei haben!). Abgabe der Kopfhörer ab 17 Uhr am Brandenburger Tor.

Weitere Informationen:
Alle Aktionen auf dieser Demo sind umweltfreundlich, Musik wird über Kopfhörer gehört, auch die Luftballons, die zwischen 17.30 Uhr und 18.00 Uhr am Brandenburger Tor auf den Weg nach New York geschickt werden, sind biologisch abbaubar.

Bitte auch Information in Englisch lesen: Like a Dull Knife: The People’s Climate “Farce” (Quincy Saul, Truthout)Klick hier

Again: Civil Society representative Anjali Appadurai locked out of Climate Change negotiations in Doha ! Twitter campaign #UNFCCCpress

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Hi all,
As some of you may know, Anjali Appadurai has been locked out of the negotiations based on the whim of the head of UN security, after polite and diplomatic negotiation with the secretariat and UN security, the final decision has been bumped up to Figueres. It’s time to turn the heat up on her. Earthinbrackets is here to work on substantive issues, our capacity is severely reduced because of this and we are sick of ours and others’ time being wasted. We’d appreciate a push on this so that we can get back to work.

Anjali Appadurai protesting at UNFCCC in Durban (Photo˙ College of the Atlantic)

Civil society Youth delegate Anjali Appadurai protesting at UNFCCC in Durban (Photo˙ College of the Atlantic)

Figueres has tweeted this: To put a question to me at Fri webcast #UNFCCC press conference (12:30 Doha time), use the hashtag #UNFCCCpress

She is practically begging for a twitter (and human) storm here, please tweet using these hashtags asking tough questions about how the role of civil society is to be taken seriously if we’re locked out of rooms, conferences, not allowed to give substantive interventions, etc…
If you are here in person and can, show up and do the same!

For a sample tweet, feel free to alter:
@cfigures how are we supposed to drive progress in negotiations if you lock our members out when they speak up? #UNFCCCpress @anjaliapp

READ Article from Charlie Butts, and watch videos from Anjali Appadurai speeches

Is the UN process thoroughly illegitimate at this point?

Saturday, May 26th, 2012
Is the UN process thoroughly illegitimate at this point?
Statement by EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard on the conclusion of the climate change talks in Bonn

Parties to the UNFCCC met in Bonn over the last two weeks for its mid-year climate change talks. Commissioner Hedegaard made the following statement as the session concluded:

”The European Union is almost the only player taking a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and so keeping it alive. Because we believe climate change needs to be addressed in a legally-binding international framework, we are willing to do this, even when other major economies are at present only willing to enter into voluntary commitments.

But – and it is a big but – we need other major economies and significant emitters to play ball. The world cannot afford that a few want to backtrack from what was agreed in Durban only five months ago. Durban was – and is – a delicately balanced package where all elements must be delivered at the same pace. It is not a pick and choose menu.

It is very worrisome that attempts to backtrack have been so obvious and time-consuming in the Bonn talks over the last two weeks. Regrettably, only procedure, no substance was discussed.

This week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported that global emissions have reached their highest ever level. At the same time, in Bonn, some of the world’s largest emitters have wasted too much energy in trying to move backwards rather than in securing progress. This is not just irresponsible. It is untenable for a UNFCCC process that wants to remain relevant – the only process the world has that everybody says they support.

It is good that a significant group of developed as well as developing countries that share a wish to secure and deliver ambition in the end broke the deadlock in Bonn. But it is frankly too little and it is getting very late. Given the urgency of the problem, it is disturbing to watch climate negotiations moving at a pace that is clearly not going to deliver the necessary results in Doha. This is clearly in nobody’s interest”

Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change and Against REDD

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Article by Hortencia Hidalgo, Autonomous Aymara Council, Chile

To read the entire Global Forest Coalition newsletterclick here

During the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP-17 in Durban, South Africa, the voice of indigenous peoples and local communities against REDD was raised as the constitution of a Global Alliance was formed; representatives from the different regions of the world called for a moratorium on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

NO REDD!  Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local communities in Durban, 2011 (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

NO REDD! Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local communities in Durban, 2011 (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

The call for a moratorium is based on the precautionary principle which states that: “When any activity threatens to affect human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be adopted even if some cause-effect relationships are not scientifically established”. The moratorium demanded is based on implementing the precautionary principle in order to secure our rights, since most of the world’s forests remain in indigenous areas and territories.

REDD+ threatens the survival of forest dependent indigenous peoples and local communities and could result in the biggest land grab ever. We, the indigenous peoples, are having our rights violated as a result of REDD+ policy and program implementation, as well as suffering forced displacement, involuntary relocation, loss of land and territory, food sovereignty and food security, loss of traditional knowledge, and the absence of Free, Prior and Informed Consent as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

We do not speak out about the safeguards set out in the Cancún agreements, since they do not establish legally binding obligations nor mechanisms able to guarantee our rights.

NO REDD! Alliance preparing for their press conference calling for a REDD moratorium (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

NO REDD! Alliance preparing for press conference in Durban, 2011 - calling for a REDD moratorium (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

REDD+ and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) promote and privatize forests, trees and air through forest carbon trade and offsets, and the potential extension of these to include soils, agriculture, and, maybe even the oceans. This could jeopardize our relationship to what is sacred and undermine the rights of Pachamama (Mother Earth).

We denounce carbon markets, they will not stop climate change.

Carbon markets and REDD+ turn our territories and forests into carbon wastelands while those most responsible for the current climate crisis refuse to accept binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and continue to profit from their use of fossil fuels.

REDD+ promotes industrial tree plantations and could include genetically modified trees. Perverse incentives such as these are already increasing deforestation and the substitution of native forests with monocultures.

The future of humanity is in jeopardy as well as Mother Earth’s equilibrium, because fossil fuel usage continues to dominate, even though it is the main cause of today’s climate crisis. Every time that a community signs an agreement regarding REDD+ in a developing country, that provides credits for others to pollute; the project developers are being allowed to destroy the environment.

There are problems with the baselines used for calculations of how much deforestation has actually been prevented, and with leakage, permanence, monitoring, reporting and verification. But those in charge, both in the policy arena and in terms of designing specific project methodologies, cannot resolve those problems; REDD+ is undermining the climate change regime and violating the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities established by the UNFCCC.

NO REDD! Alliance press conference in Durban, 2011 (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

NO REDD! Alliance press conference in Durban, 2011 (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

During COP-17 we made an urgent call to the United Nations, the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Indigenous Issues, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and human rights organizations, with respect to researching and reporting on violations caused by REDD+, and its policies and projects, as well as preparing reports, issuing recommendations and establishing preventative methods and reparations in order to guarantee the implementations of UNDRIP and other international measures.

El Paquete de Durban: 
 “Laisser faire, laisser passer” (dejar hacer, dejar pasar)

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

La Conferencia de Cambio Climático terminó dos días después de lo previsto aprobando un conjunto de decisiones que recién se conocieron horas antes de su adopción. Algunas decisiones no estaban completas el momento de su consideración. Les faltaban párrafos y algunas delegaciones ni siquiera tenían el texto de las mismas. El Paquete de decisiones fue puesto por la Presidencia Sudafricana con el ultimátum de “Tómalo o déjalo”. Sólo a la Unión Europea se le aceptó modificaciones de último momento en plenaria.

Varias delegaciones hicieron duras criticas a los documentos y manifestaron su oposición. Sin embargo, ninguna delegación objeto de manera explicita y consecuente la adopción de estas decisiones. Al final el paquete entero se adoptó por consenso sin la objeción de ninguna delegación. Los elementos centrales del Paquete de Durban se los puede resumir de la siguiente manera:

1) Un Zombi llamado Protocolo de Kioto

· Un muerto viviente sin alma: Las promesas de reducción de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero para el segundo período de compromisos del Protocolo de Kioto representan menos de la mitad de lo necesario para mantener el incremento de la temperatura por debajo de los 2ºC.

· Este Zombi (segundo periodo del Protocolo de Kioto) recién se adoptará el próximo año (COP 18).

· No se sabe si el segundo periodo del Protocolo de Kioto será de 5 u 8 años.

· Estados Unidos, Canadá, Japón, Rusia, Australia y Nueva Zelandia estarán fuera de este segundo período del Protocolo de Kioto.

· Esta será conocida como la década perdida en la lucha contra el cambio climático.

2) Nuevo régimen del  “Laisser faire, laisser passer”

· El 2020 entrará en vigencia un nuevo instrumento legal que remplazará el Protocolo de Kioto y afectará seriamente los principios de la Convención Marco de Cambio Climático de las Naciones Unidas.

· Los elementos centrales de este nuevo instrumento legal ya se los puede apreciar por los resultados de las negociaciones: a) promesas voluntarias en vez de compromisos vinculantes de reducción de emisiones, b) mas flexibilidades (mercados de carbono) para que los países desarrollados cumplan sus promesas de reducción de emisiones, y c) un mecanismo de cumplimiento aun mas débil que el del protocolo de Kioto.

· El nuevo instrumento legal abarcará a todos los Estados borrando la diferencia entre países en desarrollo y países desarrollados. El principio de “responsabilidades comunes pero diferenciadas” y establecido en la Convención de Cambio Climático irá desapareciendo.

· El resultado será la profundización del régimen del “Laisser Faire, laisser passer” que se ha inaugurado en Copenhagen, Cancún y Durban y que lleva a un incremento de la temperatura de mas de 4ºC.

3) Un fondo Verde sin fondos

· El Fondo Verde tiene ahora una arquitectura institucional en la que el Banco Mundial es un actor clave

· Los 100 mil millones son sólo una promesa y NO serán provistos por los países desarrollados.

· El dinero vendrá del mercado de carbono (que está colapsando), de la inversión privada, de créditos (que habrá que pagar) y de los propios países en desarrollo.

4) Un salvavidas para los Mercados de Carbono

· Los mercados de carbono existentes vivirán independientemente de la suerte del Protocolo de Kioto.

· Además se crearán nuevos mecanismos de mercado de carbono para cumplir con las promesas de reducción de emisiones de esta década.

· Es un intento desesperado por evitar que desaparezcan los mercados de carbono que están colapsando debido a que los Bonos de carbono han caído de 30 euros la tonelada a 3 euros la tonelada de CO2.

· Los países desarrollados reducirán menos de lo que prometen porque compraran Certificados de Reducción de Emisiones de los países en desarrollo.

5) REDD: un incentivo perverso para deforestar en esta década

· Si no talas árboles no podrás emitir certificados de disminución de la deforestación cuando entre en funcionamiento el mecanismo de REDD (Reducción de Emisiones por Deforestación y Degradación de bosques).

· CONSECUENCIA: deforesta ahora si quieres prepararte para REDD.

· Las salvaguardas para los pueblos indígenas serán flexibles y de aplicación discrecional según cada país.

· La oferta de financiamiento para bosques se posterga hasta la próxima década debido a que la demanda de Bonos de Carbono no se incrementará por las bajas promesas de reducción de emisiones.

De los procesos de negociación de cambio climático no podemos esperar un resultado que salve a la humanidad y a la Madre Tierra. Los gobiernos anteponen la economía de las transnacionales frente a la necesidad urgente de emprender un nueva forma de vida en armonía con la naturaleza. La clases dominantes no van subvertir el capitalismo que es la causa de fondo del calentamiento global. Lejos de traer el capitalismo a la naturaleza a través de la “economía verde” es necesario emprender el camino del reconocimiento y respeto a los Derechos de la Madre Tierra.

¡Amandla! ¡Jallalla!

En las acciones y eventos de los movimientos sociales en Durban dos gritos se fusionaron: “Amandla” y “Jallalla”. El primero es un palabra Xhosa y Zulu del Sur de África que quiere decir “poder”. La segunda es una expresión aymará que significa “por la vida”. “¡Amandla! ¡Jallalla!” significa “¡Poder por la Vida!”.

Ese es el “poder por la vida” que trascendiendo fronteras debemos construir desde nuestras comunidades, barrios, centros de trabajo y estudio para frenar este genocidio y ecocidio que esta en curso.

(*) Pablo Solón, analista internacional y activista social. Fue Embajador en las Naciones Unidas y Jefe Negociador de Cambio Climatico del Estado Plurinacional del Bolivia.

COP17: The Durban Package: “Laisser faire, laisser passer”

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

The Climate Change Conference ended two days later than expected, adopting a set of decisions that were known only a few hours before their adoption. Some decisions were even not complete at the moment of their consideration. Paragraphs were missing and some delegations didn’t even have copies of these drafts. The package of decisions was released by the South African presidency with the ultimatum of “Take it or leave it”. Only the European Union was allowed to make last minute amendments at the plenary.

Several delegations made harsh criticisms to the documents and expressed their opposition to sections of them. However, no delegation explicitly objected the subsequent adoption of these decisions. At the end, the whole package was adopted by consensus without the objection of any delegation. The core elements of the Durban Package can be summarized as follows:

1) A Zombie called Kyoto Protocol

· A soulless undead: The promises of reducing greenhouse gas emission for the second period of commitments of the Kyoto Protocol represent less than half of what is necessary to keep the temperature increase below 2°C.

· This Zombie (second period of the Kyoto Protocol) will only finally go into effect next year (COP 18).

· It is not known if the second period of the Kyoto Protocol will cover 5 or 8 years.

· United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, Australia and New Zealand will be out of this second period of the Kyoto Protocol.

· This will be known as the lost decade in the fight against climate change.

2) New regime of “Laisser Faire, Laisser Faisser”

· In 2020 a new legal instrument will come into effect that will replace the Kyoto Protocol and will seriously impact the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

· The core elements of this new legal instrument can be already seen due to the results of the negotiations: a) voluntary promises rather than binding commitments to reduce emissions, b) more flexibilities (carbon markets) for developed countries to meet their emission reduction promises, and c) an even weaker compliance mechanism than the Kyoto Protocol.

· The new legal instrument will cover all the States, effectively removing the difference between developing and developed countries. The principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” already established in the Climate Change Convention will disappear.

· The result will be the deepening of the “Laisser Faire, laisser passer” regime inaugurated in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban which will lead to an increase in temperature of more than 4°C.

3) A Green Fund with no funds

· The Green Fund now has an institutional structure in which the World Bank is a key player.

· The 100 billion is only a promise and will NOT be provided for by the developed countries.

· The money will come from the carbon markets (which are collapsing), from private investments, from credits (to be paid) and from the developing countries themselves.

4) A lifesaver for the Carbon Markets

· The existing carbon markets will live regardless of the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.

· Also, new carbon market mechanisms will be created to meet the emissions reduction pledges of this decade.

· It is a desperate attempt to avoid the loss of the carbon markets, which are collapsing due to the fall of the carbon credits, from 30 Euros per ton to 3 Euros per ton of CO2.

· Developed countries will reduce less than what they promise because they will buy Emission Reduction Certificates from developing countries.

5) REDD: a perverse incentive to deforest in this decade

· If you don’t cut down trees you won’t be able to issue certificates of reduction of deforestation when the REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism comes into operation.

· CONSEQUENCES: deforest now if you want to be ready for REDD.

· The safeguards for indigenous peoples will be flexible and discretionary for each country.

· The offer of funding for forests is postponed until the next decade due to the fact that demand for Carbon Credits will not increase until then because of the low emission reduction promises.

¡Amandla! ¡Jallalla!

In the actions and events of the social movements in Durban, two battle cries emerged: “Amandla” and “Jallalla”. The first one is a Xhosa and Zulu word from South Africa which means “power”. The second word is an expression in aymara which means “for life”. “¡Amandla¡ °Jallalla!” means “¡Power for life!”

This is the “power for life” that we must build, that transcends borders, from our communities, neighborhoods, workplaces and place of study in order to stop this ongoing genocide and ecocide.

(*) Pablo Solón, international analyst and social activist. United Nations Ambassador and Chief Climate Change Negotiator from the Plurinational State of Bolivia.


Monday, December 12th, 2011

TO WATCH VIDEO CLICK HERE: Hundreds of Activists Protest Inside COP17 demanding CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW!

This video filmed by Rebecca Sommer (© Sommerfilms) shows parts of the CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW! (CJN!) movement’s press conference, and our protest inside the halls at the last day of the UN Climate Change negotiations COP17. Kumi Naidoo , executive director of Greenpeace (member of CJN!) was banned from UN premises after leading this protest. Many others, such as Anne Petermann (member of CJN!) have been thrown out as well., their UN badges revoked because they participated ion the protest. Background why the people protested: A central piece of what is being negotiated here at COP17 is the Green Clmate Fund, with a goal of raising $100 billion for adaptation and mitigation projects, but most of the funding is being linked to programs like carbon markets and offsets (REDD+, CDM), which allows companies to continue polluting and ignores the need to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels, and not simply try to offset them with other projects.
Protesters have said they want that their voices are heard.
They are calling for the World Bank to be taken out of climate finance, a reference to the predominance of private financing and market mechanisms in all funding solutions for climate change reduction projects being discussed at the conference. A central piece of what is being negotiated is the Green Clmate Fund, with a goal of raising $100 billion for adaptation and mitigation projects, but most of the funding is being linked to programs like carbon markets and offsets, which allows companies to continue polluting and ignores the need to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels, and not simply try to offset them with other projects.
Protesters are also calling for a recognition of historic climate debt: that developed and Northern countries have predominantly been the cause of man-made green house gas emissions, and that they have the responsibility to take a frontline position in cleaning up the problem. This historic reality was included in Kyoto Protocol, but Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent recently called such demands “guilt money”

Climate Change negotiations: Durban’s Platform for [Potential] [In]Action

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

By Alex Lenferna

At 5am this morning, the final session of Durban’s COP 17 came to a close over a day and a half  behind schedule, with some delegates having not slept for close on 40 hours after two weeks of grueling negotiations. Many decisions have been rushed through in the last minute, and while there is a self-congratulatory air among those key to the design of the architecture of what is now being referred to as the Durban Package, there is much dismay in the air as well. The Durban Package has come to a number of rather controversial decisions around many of the major issues carried over from the Cancun Agreements, but many of the elements have also been postponed and unfulfilled. Furthermore there is an air of confusion around the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), as many aren’t sure what was just signed onto, as many of the final decisions involving relatively new texts were rushed through at such a fast pace that understanding was hard to attain.

While I was assured by the South African lead negotiator, Alf Wills, that the Durban Package is a comprehensive deal that has taken into account the necessary compromise and has produced a credible outcome, I am not sure I am convinced. The decisions that were passed, despite the COP president’s constant insistency on a transparent and inclusive process, were decried by numerous parties as being one of backdoor intimidation and marginalization guided by the interests of a few parties, with many pointing or alluding towards the USA. In the final plenary discussions on both the Kyoto Protocol and Long Term Cooperative Action, disagreements were gaveled past and disputed texts were forwarded to the main COP plenary despite objections. In the COP plenary decisions were pushed through at an incredibly quick rate, so much so that it was not clear that all parties understood what was going on and many objections from the earlier sessions were not dealt with. At one stage the Russian ambassador declared, that although he did not know what was going on, or what was being passed, he would nevertheless not block progress. Just how many other parties were similarly confused as decisions were gaveled through remains to be seen. So what did they actually decide on, and how is it going to affect our future? I think many of the negotiating teams are going to be spending the next few days figuring out just that, but here is what I have been able to decipher throughout the rushed process.

Firstly, one of the major objectives of the conference was to secure a 2nd commitment to the Kyoto Protocol (KP). While parties were successful with this in so far as we now have a 2nd commitment to the Kyoto Protocol (KP2C), the KP2C is weak and unambitious and does not include many of the major polluters. As far as the legal form of the emission reduction targets under KP2C is concerned, it was decided that quantifiable emission reductions targets, which are only set to be decided on in May 2012, will be “an agreed outcome with legal force”. This statement while seemingly politically potent does not necessarily mean that the targets are legally binding, and is has varied meaning depending on the context. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, simply referred to the implementing reduction emissions in a “legal way”. According to Wills, ambiguity in the text is necessary in order to ensure agreement among divergent parties, but to me because of the ambiguity that means that parties are agreeing to disagree at a later stage, and thus are not really agreeing at all. This will most certainly be a hot spot of controversy in the climate negotiations to come.

Furthermore, the USA, Canada, Japan and Russia are all not party to KP2C and because of lack of ambition in emission reduction targets the KP2C will cover less than 15% of global emissions. Unless ambition is increased drastically at some point then KP2C could potentially lock us onto a pathway to dangerous climate change to the tune of 3.5 degrees, as opposed to the 2 degrees currently aimed for and the 1.5 degrees many claim is necessary for a safe climate future. This, however, is where tonight’s establishment of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (AWG-DPEA) comes in to play. According to the Durban Package, the results of a review set to take place from 2013-15 will inform a work plan to raise ambition. Given the resistance of many nations to increase their reduction ambition targets, the AWG-DPEA will have its hands full trying to raise ambition to the necessary level.  Furthermore, there are serious problems 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. Given that current LULUCF loopholes in forest management would allow developed countries to increase their emissions by up to 6 gigatonnes by 2020, the fact that these loopholes weren’t properly addressed remains worrying. What is clear is that the KP2C as currently proposed is weak, lacks much ambition and, as it isn’t legally binding, gives much room for countries to wangle out of their already flexible emission reduction targets.

With a weak KP2c in place this puts a lot of pressure on a post-Kyoto global climate change regime. Decisions on that rather controversial topic, however, have been postponed until COP 18, which is set to take place in the rather controversial Qatar. Throughout COP 17 there has been a stand-off between most developing countries and the EU, who want the new regime to come into place as early as 2015, and developed countries plus China and India, who would like it to only come into force in 2020. The new regime, it is hoped, will be a global climate regime that brings all parties into a legally binding ambitious framework that aims to bridge the ever-increasing gigatonne gap. One thing is clear, if we lock in the low ambition of the KP2C until 2020, the possibility of halting climate change below 2 degrees becomes increasingly difficult, if not politically impossible.

One of the other major outcomes that was expected from COP 17, was the establishment and, so it was hoped, a plan to fill, the Green Climate Fund (GCF). There has been progress on this front, however, nowhere close to the hopes going into COP17. The GCF has a structure in place, however, who will oversee the fund and how they will do so, as well as it’s legal status remains highly controversial, with many (mostly developing) nations vehemently opposed to the Global Environment Fund (which falls under the World Bank) operating the fund because of issues of manipulation that are associated with the World Bank, as well as its perception as being a puppet of the first world. Other countries, unsurprisingly within the developed world (especially America), are more in favour of the proposal.  This is not the only shortcoming, for reliable sources of long-term finance for the GCF are yet to be secured. The much called for financial transactions tax and maritime and aviation tax were hoped to be secured as potential sources, but all that is secured is a reference for a working group to work on securing innovative sources of finance from both the public and private sector. The GCF thus, apart from a few noble pledges from Germany and Norway, remains a largely empty shell, and it’s not clear how funds are going to be scaled up to provide the agreed upon $100 Billion by 2020. Many are unhappy with the progress and Nicaragua, a bit more upset than most, went a step further and argued that by waiting until 2020 we are squandering a crucial window period for meaningful action on climate change. Their spokesperson decried our inability to bail out nature, when we so readily bailed out banks in 2009, as being indicative of a skewed sense of priority.

One of the more worrying developments that was also passed last night, was the inclusion of carbon capture and storage underneath the clean development mechanism. This inclusion, because of the possibility of encouraging and subsidizing further fossil fuel developments that lack environmental integrity, will certainly be an issue of much contention among environmental groups for years to come. Another disappointment was that the programme on National Adaptation Plans is another decision that has been postponed until COP18. Furthermore the heavily contentious issues of hot air or assigned amount units has also been delayed until COP 18. There were many other decisions that were made and not made at COP 17, but to go into them all would get too “wonky” (i.e. too deep in policy), these, however, were the major decisions that were made at COP17.

Given these decisions, how do we go about assessing the progress that was made? Alden Meyer from the Union from Concerned Scientists had the following to say:

“While governments avoided disaster in Durban, they by no means responded adequately to the mounting threat of climate change. The decisions adopted here fall well short of what is needed. It’s high time governments stopped catering to the needs of corporate polluters, and started acting to protect people.”

I am very much in agreement with Meyer. The decisions made under the Durban Package lack much needed ambition, and the gap between political will and scientific dictate is massive. Legal and other ambiguities abound, which will provide fertile soil for disagreement as well as ducking and hiding from responsibilities, both political and ethical, in the future. What we have in Durban is a roadmap, but if the Bali Road Map is something to learn from, we need strict rules and guidance, as well as adequate provisions and will power, in order to ensure we get to the end of the road. The Durban Package so far lacks most of that, and if we are to salvage the road map we are going to have to work incredibly hard to ensure that the correct turns are taken along the way. We need to increase ambition and ensure that it is enforceable, and the sooner the better. For as Faith Biriol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, points out, “delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent to compensate for the increased emissions.”   The Durban Package hasn’t delivered much on the need for immediate action, and thus unless we can drastically alter the rules of the road map or the direction thereof, we may be heavily locked into Biriol’s false economy, complete with the suffering, food insecurity, displacement and global instability that is set to come with climate change above 2 degrees Celsius.

The Durban Package for the moment has created a very loosely bound not-quite-global climate regime, which grants many nations the ability to not contribute to their fair share under a view of climate change guided by the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and equity. During the final hours, the Indian Environment Minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, even went so far as to say that equity had been forsaken and CBDR inverted. A compromise was reached after she said so, but for a large part, her statement is still relevant. Our climate regime is far from a just one and the major polluters with the greatest historical responsibility as well as some of the major emerging polluters are under little pressure to change that.

Having arrived at this point the importance of domestic pressures in order to establish the building blocks of a truly just climate regime is of utmost importance, for we cannot deliver a more ambitious package unless civil society acts more decisively to pressure their governments into more meaningful climate action and to take more meaningful action themselves. An important step in order to do this, is an increased recognition of the inextricable link between environmental and social justice, which is fueling movements the globe over. It’s time to reinvent, redefine and grow the global climate movement and work together, globally and locally to ensure that our governments do not use the Durban Package to lead us to disaster. It is ambiguous and flexible enough that they may be able to do so, but it is also ambiguous and flexible enough to provide the climate movement with a few grapples upon which to hoist their movement to the next level. Durban has shown us that we cannot rely solely on international governance to answer our calls for climate justice, we need to take a more active role in doing so ourselves in order to avoid looking back and blaming a faulty international governance system for runaway climate change, when true power for change, lay within our own hands.

It’s 09h30 and I’ve been awake for longer than I care to think about, but I know that rather than allow Durban to drive me to despair, having met truly great people who are fighting for social and environmental justice, I am inspired I am disappointed with our current global governance systems, but I have seen youth stand bravely against the most powerful entities in the world in order to fight for their future and progressive thinkers of the older generation stand with them. Having seen all of this, I aim to continue to fight for climate justice never forgetting inextricable link between social and environmental justice. I will play my part in defining what the Durban road map will actually take us. Will you heed the call for justice and do the same? Because we the people of the world, the rich and the poor, the vulnerable and secure, the present and the future, everyone needs you, I implore you to do so.

Alex Lenferna is the lead tracker of the South African Government during COP 17 under, as well as chairperson of the South East African Climate Consortium Student Forum ( Follow Alex as he tracks South Africa’s progress within COP 17 on Twitter (@al_lenferna), Facebook/Alex Lenferna or (

By far the best interview out of Durban – If only everyone spoke the truth like Tom Goldtooth in this interview

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Climate Change, the Big Corrupt Business?

By Khadija Sharife in Durban

Tom Goldtooth, head of the Indigenous Environmental Network talks to The Africa Report about the manipulation of carbon trading data and the double standards assumed by richer countries.

“The carbon certificate, that says one corporation somewhere in the world now controls and owns what in our culture cannot be owned – land, air, the trees”- Tom Goldtooth/Photo/Reuters

Goldtooth expresses his misgivings about agriculture being included as part of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD). Arguing that “REDD is going to be the largest legal land grab the world has ever seen”, the indigenous North American warns of colonialism and forced privatisation. And according to him “those with the most money and power can – by remote control, lock up the largest land areas in developing countries”. “They are happiest to work with the most corrupt because it is easiest that way,” he says.

to read entire interview: