Archive for November, 2013

Moving forward from the climate negotiation madness in Warsaw

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Since the beginning there was almost no expectations on the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Warsaw, Poland; held November 11 to 23. Based on previous COPS, from Copenhagen until now, the signs had not been encouraging. Instead of moving forward, the talks have been moving backwards, even dismantling whatever weak climate regime that existed. Moving from “commitments” to only “pledges” for emissions reductions, and softening and shrinking even more the Kyoto Protocol, in COP19 historical emitters like Japan have announced that instead of reducing by 25 percent their emissions they will increase them by three percent by the year 2020 based on their levels of CO2 emissions in 1990. The list of rich countries that have moved out of the Second Commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol now includes Canada, Australia, Russia, and Japan.

The gap between what science and nature are telling us—through repeated and increasingly stronger storms, droughts, out-of-season weather phenomenon—and the ambition, commitments, and implementation under the UNFCCC is widening. The latest, and so far the strongest typhoon that visited the Philippines, is one more messenger. As argued by Philippine Climate Chief Negotiator Lucillle Sering, “it may be the Philippines this year, but it could be your country next.”

Weeks before the talks started, civil society groups already called COP19 the “Corporate COP.” The host country did not even find it peculiar at the least or distasteful, at worst, to hold the International Conference on Coal in a nearby conference venue around the same period as the climate talks. Coal is one of the primary causes of greenhouse gasses that cause climate change and no matter how much spin is done to present the possibility of producing “clean coal,” coal is coal–it will not be clean.

This was supposed to be a “Finance COP” but there were no real commitments to guarantee the US$100 billion as promised by developed countries. They even reiterated that that amount should include contributions from the speculative carbon markets and the private sector. In relation to Loss and Damage that is supposed to be a mechanism to compensate developing countries affected by climate change, the final outcome is weak.

Where do we need to be?

The goal should be to have annual global emissions of 38 Gt of CO2e by 2020 to be on a pathway towards limiting the increase in temperature by 1.5ºC. With the UNFCCC negotiations, there will be emissions of 57 GT of CO2e by 2020, only 1 Gt of CO2e less than business as usual. The new agreement that is supposed to be enforced in 2020 will be very weak if it is based on voluntary pledges as the US wants. Then it will be too late when we are already on a pathway to 4ºC or higher. Scientist are saying that the peaking year of global emissions should be in 2014, but until now no one knows how and when that will happen.

We are living in climate emergency, and therefore all countries should have binding commitments applying the principle of CBDR (Common But Differentiated Responsibility). The US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Russia, and other historical emitters should do emission reductions of 50 percent until 2020 and emerging countries like China, Brazil, India, and South Africa should also establish their peaking years to reach the target of 38 Gt of CO2e by 2020. Developing countries should follow a different path of “development” than historical emitters, redistributing in an equitable way the consumption of energy and avoid overconsumption and waste. The right to development cannot be used to pollute and enrich elites while the rest is submerged in poverty and dust.

Peoples’ power

COP19 was such a big farce that civil society groups walked out of the negotiations. There was nothing that could be done substantially inside the climate talks and it would be unsustainable to keep legitimizing the road to global burning for corporate interests.

This walkout should now serve as a wakeup call. National and global climate policies will change only when strong social movements embrace the fight for justice—across countries, across continents, and along economic, political, and environmental dimensions. The fight must be about concrete goals such as shutting down coal mines, stopping pipeline construction, halting fracking projects, imposing carbon taxes, banning GMOs, stopping free trade agreements, preserving indigenous lands, putting an end to land grabs, sinking carbon markets, and occupying financial speculative markets.

To address climate change, we need to link all kinds of initiatives: legal reforms and civil disobedience, hunger strikes and national consultations, massive protests and creative individual actions, consumers’ actions and boycotts, occupation of banks and road blockages, political pressure, and replication of good practices. We cannot lose energy in sectarian debates. The goal is to always try to go further from the original target, promoting broader and stronger forms of organization and mobilizations of workers, peasants, indigenous, women, youth, faith communities, migrants, intellectuals, artists, human right activists.

The madness in climate talks and the corporate interests behind them can only be stopped through peoples’ power.

UNFCCC COP 19: Over 800 delegates walkout at UN Climate Change negotiations

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

By Uniting African Climate Change Reporters
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Negotiations at the ongoing climate talks in Warsaw took a dramatic turn today as over 800 delegates representing different civil society organisations staged a historic walkout at the conference. The delegates under the umbrella of an amalgam of civil society organisations from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas led by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Greenpeace International, Oxfam, WWF, and ActionAid. Others include the International Trade Union Confederation, Friends of the Earth Europe and 350.org.

Citing frustration and disenchantment with the clear absence of commitment to agreements by developed countries, the groups maintained that their decision to walk out was the best in the circumstances as the Warsaw conference is already primed to arrive at a fruitless pitch. Delegates carrying placards with messages such as “enough is enough,” “Polluters talk, we walk,” and “we demand climate justice now” marched through the stadium before assembling outside to make speeches.

Mithika Mwenda of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) singled out Japan’s goalpost-shifting tactics as well as the “brazenly cold disposition of USA, Canada, Russia and Australia to immediate and deep emission cuts, changes to the development pathways, climate finance and technology transfer, and global emissions budget” as major pointers to the impending failure of the Warsaw conference hence the inevitability of the walkout.

According to Tasneem Essop of WWF, 800 civil society members have walked out believing that “the best use of their time” was now to focus “on mobilizing people to push our governments to take leadership for serious climate action.” In a similar vein, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace declared to the surging crowd “The real hooligans are the CEO’s of fossil fuel companies.”

In its statement of support, 350.org stated that “It’s powerful to see groups from across civil society coming to the same conclusion that in order to keep open any hope of an international climate treaty, we need to challenge the power of the fossil fuel industry. By walking out of COP19, we’re walking into a fight with the real enemies to progress: the coal, oil and gas companies that have a stranglehold over our governments and economy. It’s time to stop sitting in negotiating halls and stand with the Philippines and millions more who are calling for real climate action in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.”

The well-coordinated walkout, which took the Polish national stadium venue of the conference by storm today was greeted with shock and disbelief by the conference secretariat and the UNFCCC. In a swift reaction today, Marcin Korolec, the sacked Polish Envrionment Minister who still chairs the COP in a statement declared, “I regret the fact that some NGOs decided to leave the COP19 climate conference to express their disapproval towards the extending negotiations. The climate conference and non-governmental organizations share common goals – all of us want to ensure effective climate protection. Non-governmental observers have always mobilized negotiators to greater efforts and ambitions.”

Korolec ended his statement on a positive note, asking the CSOs to reconsider their decision as “today in the morning after all-night negotiations, we have achieved considerable progress on climate finance. The talks about the shape of a new global agreement were also held throughout the night. I am convinced that we are getting closer and closer to the final success. I hope that the voice of NGOs will remain present in the discussion on how to solve the most important problems of our planet.”

The 2013 Climate conference in Warsaw has been bogged down by several issues including the sack of the COP President in a Polish government reshuffle on Wednesday, the controversial hosting of the World Coal Summit in Warsaw on Monday, Japan’s declaration of its inability to abide by a previous pledge to emission cuts and the historic action by the civil society organisations.
However, The U.N.’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, believes that the conference would achieve its goals as “Everybody is working very hard; everybody is working through the night; there is nobody here who is lazy.”

Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian  

Chevron, Exxon and BP among companies most responsible for climate change since dawn of industrial age, figures show
To access Interactive map click here:
 Interactive – which fossil fuel companies are most responsible?”

Oil, coal and gas companies are contributing to most carbon emissions, causing climate change and some are also funding denial campaigns.

The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.

The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms.

The analysis, which was welcomed by the former vice-president Al Gore as a “crucial step forward” found that the vast majority of the firms were in the business of producing oil, gas or coal, found the analysis, which has been published in the journal Climatic Change.

All but seven of the 90 were energy companies producing oil, gas and coal. The remaining seven were cement manufacturers.

The list of 90 companies included 50 investor-owned firms – mainly oil companies with widely recognised names such as Chevron, Exxon, BP , and Royal Dutch Shell and coal producers such as British Coal Corp, Peabody Energy and BHP Billiton.

Some 31 of the companies that made the list were state-owned companies such as Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, Russia’s Gazprom and Norway’s Statoil.

Nine were government run industries, producing mainly coal in countries such as China, the former Soviet Union, North Korea and Poland, the host of this week’s talks.

Read the whole story

Interactive – which fossil fuel companies are most responsible?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Visit interactive page at The Guardian

Justiça Federal suspende o licenciamento da mineradora canadense Belo Sun no Xingu

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Atendendo a pedido feito pelo MPF na semana passada, o juiz federal de Altamira obrigou a mineradora a fazer os estudos de impactos sobre os indígenas

20/11/2013 às 15h07A Justiça Federal em Altamira suspendeu o licenciamento ambiental do projeto Volta Grande de Mineração, que a mineradora canadense Belo Sun pretendia instalar na mesma região onde está sendo construída a hidrelétrica de Belo Monte, no rio Xingu, no Pará. A decisão atende a pedido do Ministério Público Federal (MPF) e obriga a empresa a fazer os estudos de impacto sobre os indígenas da região, que são exigidos por lei e até agora não foram apresentados.

“A condução do licenciamento ambiental sem a necessária e prévia análise do componente indígena demonstra grave violação à legislação ambiental e aos direitos indígenas”, diz a decisão judicial. A liminar determina a suspensão do licenciamento e a anulação, caso seja expedida, de licença prévia à Belo Sun, “condicionando o licenciamento à elaboração do Estudo de Impacto Ambiental e respectivo Relatório de Impacto sobre o Meio Ambiente do Projeto Volta Grande de Mineração contemplando o componente indígena, devendo ainda seguir as orientações contidas no Termo de Referência elaborado pela Fundação Nacional do Índio (Funai)”.

Em caso de descumprimento da decisão, o juiz Sérgio Wolney Guedes determinou multa diária de R$ 20 mil. A Secretaria de Meio Ambiente (Sema) do Pará já se pronunciou favorável a emitir a licença para  o empreendimento sem exigir os estudos e chegou a colocar o assunto em votação na reunião do Conselho Estadual do Meio Ambiente (Coema) do último dia 18 de novembro. A representante do Ministério Público do Estado do Pará (MP), Eliane Moreira, pediu vistas do processo e o assunto deveria voltar à pauta no próximo dia 2 de dezembro. Com a decisão judicial, a concessão de qualquer licença para a Belo Sun no Conselho está proibida.

O projeto Volta Grande de mineração foi anunciado pelos empreendedores como o maior do Brasil. O plano é instalar a mina em Senador José Porfírio, a aproximadamente 10 km de distância da barragem de Belo Monte. A empresa Belo Sun, do grupo canadense Forbes&Manhattan, divulgou aos investidores que extrairá, em 12 anos, 50 toneladas de ouro com um faturamento de R$ 550 milhões por ano. Essa semana, após a reunião do Coema, a Belo Sun emitiu um comunicado em seu site informando aos acionistas que já obtivera votos de 11 dos 13 conselheiros (veja o comunicado aqui, em inglês)

Para o MPF, conceder licença para mais um empreendimento de grave impacto sem conhecer os impactos aos indígenas é inadmissível, já que as populações da Volta Grande do Xingu são justamente as que sofrerão o pior impacto da usina de Belo Monte, que é o desvio de 80% a 90% da água do Xingu para movimentar as turbinas. É um dano tão severo que o próprio Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente (Ibama) ao conceder a licença para a hidrelétrica estabeleceu um período de seis anos de testes para saber se a Volta Grande e as populações terão capacidade de sobreviver à construção da barragem e à seca permanente.

O juiz federal Sérgio Wolney Guedes concorda com a necessidade de precaução e afirma em sua decisão que, “em se tratando de direito ambiental, a tutela não se dirige apenas a casos de ocorrência efetiva do dano, pelo contrário, busca-se justamente proteger o meio ambiente da iminência ou probabilidade de dano, evitando-se que ele venha a ocorrer, pois o dano ambiental é, como regra, irreversível”

Para o MPF, ao ignorar todas as recomendações, advertências e preocupações, ao desconhecer os impactos de Belo Monte e permitir que os estudos indígenas sejam apresentados depois da concessão da licença prévia, a Sema estaria cometendo diversas ilegalidades e impondo “aos indígenas duplamente afetados (por Belo Monte e agora por Belo Sun) o ônus que deveria ser do empreendedor, de arcar com as externalidades negativas do empreendimento”.

MPF entra na Justiça para suspender licenciamento de mineradora no Xingu

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

O Ministério Público Federal (MPF) ajuizou hoje em Altamira ação judicial pedindo a suspensão imediata do licenciamento ambiental da mina de ouro que a mineradora canadense Belo Sun quer instalar na mesma região do rio Xingu onde está sendo construída a hidrelétrica de Belo Monte.

O licenciamento é irregular porque está sendo conduzido sem exigência dos estudos de impacto sobre os indígenas que moram na área. O MPF já havia recomendado que fossem feitos os estudos. A Fundação Nacional do Índio (Funai) chegou a pedir a suspensão do empreendimento. E mesmo assim, a Secretaria de Meio Ambiente do Pará (Sema) anunciou a inclusão da licença na pauta da próxima reunião do Conselho Estadual de Meio Ambiente (Coema), na próxima segunda-feira (18/11).

A Funai emitiu, em dezembro de 2012, um Termo de Referência (com as questões a serem respondidas pelos Estudos) para que a Belo Sun fizesse as pesquisas necessárias sobre os impactos aos indígenas Juruna, Arara e isolados que residem na Volta Grande do Xingu. Até agora os estudos não foram apresentados. Para o MPF, os estudos não foram realizados por absoluta negligência da Sema. A Belo Sun alega que não havia uma parte do termo de referência que trata dos índios isolados, mas depois de um ano da emissão dele, ainda não tinha enviado sequer requerimento à Funai para entrar nas terras Arara e Paquiçamba, que já tinham diretrizes de estudos.

Advertida pelo MPF de que é ilegal a emissão de licença prévia para a mineração sem conhecer os impactos sobre os índios, a Sema disse que não pode “penalizar o empreendedor” e que a licença para a Belo Sun está amparada na “concepção da função social da atividade minerária”. O Projeto Volta Grande de Mineração é de responsabilidade da empresa Belo Sun Mineração Ltda., subsidiária brasileira da Belo Sun Mining Corporation, pertencente ao grupo Forbes & Manhattan Inc., um banco mercantil de capital privado, que desenvolve projetos de mineração em todo o mundo.

“É absolutamente irresponsável a atitude do órgão licenciador, de impor ao licenciamento o ritmo do mercado em benefício do empreendedor, vitimando de maneira quiçá irreversível povos indígenas na Volta Grande do Xingu, que terão de arcar com um risco que, por lei, deve ser evitado”, dizem os procuradores Thais Santi, Bruna Azevedo, Ubiratan Cazetta e Felício Pontes Jr.

Os indígenas que vivem nesse trecho de 100 km do Xingu vão sofrer o mais grave e definitivo impacto provocado por Belo Monte, que é a redução da quantidade de água no rio em 80% a 90%. O impacto é tão severo que o próprio Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente (Ibama) ao conceder a licença para a usina estabeleceu um período de seis anos de testes para saber se a Volta Grande e as populações terão capacidade de sobreviver à construção da barragem e à seca permanente.

A Funai chegou a informar a Sema que em virtude dos riscos socioambientais de Belo Monte a licença da Belo Sun só poderia ser emitida após esse período de monitoramento. A própria Norte Energia S.A, responsável pelas obras de Belo Monte, enviou documento ao MPF pedindo atuação e expressando preocupação com a sinergia entre os dois empreendimentos. Os índios Juruna da aldeia Yudjá Muratu também pediram ao MPF que intervisse para garantir-lhes o direito à Consulta Prévia, Livre e Informada prevista na Convenção 169 da Organização Internacional do Trabalho (OIT).

Para o MPF, ao ignorar todas as recomendações, advertências e preocupações, ao desconhecer os impactos de Belo Monte e permitir que os estudos indígenas sejam apresentados depois da concessão da licença prévia, a Sema está cometendo diversas ilegalidades e impondo “aos indígenas duplamente afetados (por Belo Monte e agora por Belo Sun) o ônus que deveria ser do empreendedor, de arcar com as externalidades negativas do empreendimento”.

A afirmação da Sema de que vai emitir licença sem exigir estudos do componente indígena, para o MPF, viola o princípio constitucional da precaução, ofende as normas do licenciamento ambiental e configura negligência do licenciador. Ao deixar para a próxima etapa do licenciamento os estudos de impacto sobre os indígenas, a Sema transforma em condicionante o que é na verdade uma condição de viabilidade do empreendimento, o que não está previsto na ordem jurídica brasileira.

A Sema se escuda em uma portaria interministerial (419/2011) que prevê que impactos de empreendimentos minerários serão obrigatoriamente considerados se estiverem localizados até 10 km de distância de uma terra indígena. Não há consenso quanto à distância exata da mina da Belo Sun em relação à Terra Indígena Paquiçamba, a mais próxima. “O licenciador fala em 10,7 Km; o Instituto Socioambiental afirma que a distância é de 9,6 Km; os indígenas da aldeia Muratu reafirmam a distância de 9,6 Km; a FUNAI afirma a distância é de 12Km e o empreendedor reafirma que a distância é de 12 Km. Dessa controvérsia, a única certeza que resta é a necessidade da precaução.”, diz o MPF.

Tanto é assim que, no caso da Belo Sun, narra a ação, “o órgão indigenista tomou conhecimento do projeto por outros meios, compareceu espontaneamente ao processo de licenciamento e manifestou com veemência a necessidade de estudos prévios sobre os povos indígenas afetados para o atestado de viabilidade do empreendimento”. Para o MPF, “ao insistir na portaria interministerial mesmo diante da manifestação do órgão indigenista, a negligência do licenciador se redefine como opção ardilosa de impor ao processo de licenciamento ambiental o ritmo do mercado de ações do empreendedor”.

Processo nº 0002505-70.2013.4.01.3903

Belo Sun Mining Project Suspended in Brazilian Amazon

Friday, November 22nd, 2013
From XVPS
Suspension of environmental licensing for controversial project reflects omission of impacts on indigenous peoples from faulty Environmental Impact Assessment

Altamira, Brazil – In response to a civil lawsuit filed on November 13th by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s office in the state of Pará (MPF-PA), a federal judge has ordered the immediate suspension of environmental licensing for a massive gold mining project proposed by Canadian-based Belo Sun Mining along the Big Bend (Volta Grande) of the Xingu River until full analysis of effects on indigenous peoples has been carried out within the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). MPF also calls for a process of free, prior and informed consultations and consent among local indigenous peoples regarding the project in accordance with ILO Convention 169 and the Brazilian Constitution.

Judge Sergio Wolney stated in his decision that, “the licensing of the mining project without necessary and prior analysis of impacts on indigenous peoples – a fact confirmed by evidence presented in this case – constitutes a serious violation of environmental legislation and indigenous rights.”

According to Wolney an “undeniable fact” is that the mining project, slated for installation in the immediate vicinity of the controversial Belo Monte dam complex, may lead to devastating and irreversible consequences – including synergistic impacts with Belo Monte – for the quality of life and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and their territories.

For the MPF, granting an environmental license for an additional project with such severe probable impacts without a prior study of its consequences for indigenous populations is inadmissible. The people of the Big Bend of the Xingu will already suffer the worst impacts of Belo Monte as a result of the diversion of 80% to 90% of the Xingu River’s flow to feed the dam’s turbines. The potential impacts of Belo Monte are so severe that the federal environmental agency (IBAMA), when granting a first phase license for the project, established a six-year period to test whether the Big Bend and its people would be able to survive a permanent hydrological deficit and other consequences of diversion of the Xingu river associated with dam construction.

Meanwhile, Belo Sun stated today that it will take all “applicable legal measures to appeal the decision of the Federal Judge and defend the validity and legality of the licensing process.”

“It’s interesting that Belo Sun claims to collaborate with regulatory and legal authorities in Brazil when in practice the company questions these same authorities and disrespects national and international law, refusing to acknowledge the severe potential impacts of their mining enterprise on indigenous peoples of the Xingu.” Said Maíra Irigaray Castro, Brazil Program Coordinator at Amazon Watch.

The Volta Grande Mining Project proposed by Belo Sun aims to become the largest gold mining project in Brazil. The project would be located about 10 km downstream from the Belo Monte hydroelectric complex currently under construction, which will divert an estimated 80% of the flow of the Xingu River from its natural channel on the Volta Grande. The so-called “area of direct influence” of Belo Sun’s Volta Grande project is located 9.5 km from the Paquiçamba Indigenous Territory, home of the Juruna indigenous people.

On November 18th the State Environmental Council in the state of Pará (COEMA) met to discuss whether to grant a preliminary environmental license for the Belo Sun project. One of its members, a state public prosecutor, requested for the decision to be postponed, calling for a more detailed analysis of project documents. The next meeting of the Council is scheduled for December 2nd. However, with yesterday’s federal court ruling, the state council is now legally prevented from approving the controversial Belo Sun project. A failure by Belo Sun or the state government of Pará to comply with the federal court decision will result in a daily fine of R$20,000 (approximately US$16,000).

UN Climate negotiations: Enough is enough

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Enough is enough

We have said we stand in solidarity with the millions impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, and with all climate impacted people. Our solidarity compels us to tell the truth about COP 19 – the Warsaw Climate Conference. The Warsaw Climate Conference, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing. In fact, the actions of many rich countries here in Warsaw are directly undermining the UNFCCC itself, which is an important multilateral process that must succeed if we are to fix the global climate crisis.

The Warsaw Conference has put the interests of dirty energy industries over that of global citizens – with a “Coal & Climate Summit” being held in conjunction; corporate sponsorship from big polluters plastered all over the venue; and a Presidency (Poland) that is beholden to the coal and fracking industry. When Japan announced that it was following Canada and backtracking on emission cut commitments previously made, and Australia gave multiple signals that it was utterly unwilling to take the UN climate process seriously, the integrity of the talks was further jeopardized.

This week saw a “finance ministerial” with almost no actual finance, and loss and damage talks that have stalled because rich countries refuse to engage on the substance of an international mechanism. Warsaw has not seen any increase in emission reductions nor increased support for adaptation before 2020 – on these things it has actually taken us backward. And a clear pathway to a comprehensive and fair agreement in Paris 2015 is missing. We as civil society are ready to engage with ministers and delegations who actually come to negotiate in good faith. But at the Warsaw Conference, rich country governments have come with nothing to offer. Many developing country governments are also struggling and failing to stand up for the needs and rights of their people.

It is clear that if countries continue acting in this way, the next two days of negotiations will not deliver the climate action the world so desperately needs.

Therefore, organizations and movements representing people from every corner of the Earth have decided that the best use of our time is to voluntarily withdraw from the Warsaw climate talks. Instead, we are now focusing on mobilizing people to push our governments to take leadership for serious climate action.

We will work to transform our food and energy systems at a national and global level and rebuild a broken economic system to create a sustainable and low-carbon economy with decent jobs and livelihoods for all. And we will put pressure on everyone to do more to realize this vision.

Coming out of the Warsaw Climate Conference, it is clear that without such pressure, our governments cannot be trusted to do what the world needs. We will return with the voice of the people in Lima to hold our governments accountable to the vision of a sustainable and just future.

ONGS Y MOVIMIENTOS SOCIALES ABANDONAN LAS NEGOCIACIONES DE VARSOVIA (COP 19)

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Ya es suficiente.

Hemos dicho que nos solidarizamos con los millones de afectados por el tifón Haiyan, y con todas las personas afectadas por el clima. Nuestra solidaridad nos obliga a decir la verdad sobre la COP 19 – la Conferencia sobre el Clima en Varsovia.

La Conferencia sobre el Clima en Varsovia, que debería haber sido un paso importante en la transición justa hacia un futuro sostenible, está en camino de ofrecer prácticamente nada. De hecho, las acciones de muchos países ricos aquí en Varsovia, están socavando directamente la propia Convención de Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático (CMNUCC), que es un importante proceso multilateral que debe tener éxito, si queremos solucionar la crisis climática global.

La Conferencia en Varsovia ha puesto los intereses de las industrias energéticas sucias, por encima de los intereses de los ciudadanos del mundo -con una “Cumbre del Carbón y el Clima” celebrada simultáneamente; el patrocinio corporativo de grandes industrias contaminantes estuvieron visibles por todo el lugar; y con una Presidencia (Polonia), que está adherida a la industria del carbón y el fracking (fracturación hidráulica). Cuando Japón anunció que seguía a Canadá, y que daría marcha atrás en sus compromisos de reducción de emisiones acordados anteriormente, y Australia –por su parte- dando varias señales que están totalmente indispuestos a tomarse en serio el proceso climático de la ONU, la integridad de las negociaciones fueron dañadas más aún.

Ésta semana vimos una reunión “Ministerial de Financiamiento” casi sin ningún financiamiento real, y las negociaciones sobre pérdidas y daños se han estancado porque los países ricos se niegan a participar en las discusiones sustanciales sobre un mecanismo internacional. Varsovia no ha visto ningún aumento en la reducción de emisiones, ni un mayor apoyo para la adaptación antes de 2020 -en estos asuntos, en realidad, nos ha llevado hacia atrás. Tampoco se vislumbra un camino claro que nos lleve hacia un acuerdo ambicioso y justo en París 2015.

Nosotros, como sociedad civil, estamos dispuestos a colaborar con los ministros y delegaciones que en realidad vienen a negociar de buena fe. Sin embargo, en la Conferencia de Varsovia, los gobiernos de los países ricos han venido sin nada que ofrecer. Muchos gobiernos de países en desarrollo también están teniendo dificultades y fracasando en defender las necesidades y los derechos de sus pueblos. Está claro que si los países siguen actuando de esta manera, los próximos dos días de negociaciones no proveerán la acción climática que el mundo desesperadamente necesita.

Por lo tanto, las organizaciones y movimientos que representan a personas de todos los rincones de la Tierra, han decidido que el mejor uso de nuestro tiempo consiste en retirarnos voluntariamente de las negociaciones sobre el clima en Varsovia. En cambio, ahora nos estamos enfocando en la movilización de la gente para empujar a nuestros gobiernos para que tomen el liderazgo climático en serio. Vamos a trabajar para transformar nuestros sistemas de energía y alimentos a nivel nacional y mundial, y reconstruir este sistema económico roto, para crear una economía sostenible y baja en carbono, con empleos decentes y medios de vida para todos y todas. Y vamos a presionar a todos para hacer realidad esta visión.

Al salir de la Conferencia sobre el Clima en Varsovia, está claro que, sin esa presión, no podemos confiar que nuestros gobiernos hagan lo que el mundo necesita. Volveremos con la voz de la gente en Lima, para hacer que nuestros gobiernos rindan cuentas y se ajusten a la visión de un futuro justo y sostenible.

UN Climate negotiations: Climate justice groups stage walkout in protest at the direction of UN climate talks, lack of ambition and UNFCCC’s corporate sponsorship.

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Climate justice groups, FoE I, social movements, PACJA, IBON, Jubilee South Asia Pacific, LDC Watch, Earth Peoples, the ITUC and others staged a walkout in protest at the direction of the climate talks, the lack of ambition as well as the corporate sponsorship.

Climate justice, not loans:
World Bank and ADB must “stop the madness”

A few weeks after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) wreaked havoc in the Visayas in central Philippines, afflicting some 10 million people across 36 provinces and is feared to have claimed more than 10,000 lives, multilateral development institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank extended financial assistance mostly in the form of loans for relief operations in areas hit by the super typhoon.

The ADB and the World Bank have offered around US$1 billion in total loans to finance the massive rehabilitation and reconstruction requirement following the devastation in affected areas. The Philippine government said it wanted to take advantage of the available cheap financing, which comes mostly in the form of soft loans. It claims that the two creditors offered very low interest rates, which is well below one percent, and maturities of between 20 and 30 years.[i] The government said it might consider borrowing more from multilateral institutions and less from the international capital market to take advantage of the available cheap financing that has become even more accessible following the calamity.

The Philippines is already the fifth largest borrower of loans extended by the ADB, accounting for 10 percent of disbursed loans or roughly $5.2 billion as of end-2012.[ii] Debts to the ADB alone already amount to more than 10% of the total national government foreign debt. This means that Filipinos, including the very victims of typhoon Yolanda, will have to shoulder the burden of paying for the new calamity loan, which will be added to the country’s external debt.[iii] The Philippines’ foreign debt already stood at $60.3 billion at the end of 2012[iv]. More than 30% of the country’s GDP already goes to debt-servicing, which could have easily been allocated to the provision of much-needed public services by its citizens.

ADB’s loan scheme is a double blow to developing countries like the Philippines, which contributed least to the climate crisis but are the most aggravated when it comes to its impacts. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), developed countries are under obligation to “assist the developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation to those adverse effects.”[v] This means that it is mandatory for developed countries to finance the costs of climate change response in developing countries in keeping with their historical responsibility and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). The climate convention recognized developed countries’ responsibility for emitting the vast majority of planet-warming greenhouse gases that led to the climate crises the rest of the people in the developing world are suffering.

Developing countries have long lobbied and pushed for more ambitious commitments and targets in climate negotiations but is continuously being stalled and watered-down as rich countries increasingly backtrack on their commitments. Yeb Saño of the Philippine delegation recently made a fervent appeal to “stop the madness” and do what is necessary to prevent a future where disasters like this are a way of life.

Disasters are never natural and are a result of inequity and the poorest people of the world are at greatest risk because of their vulnerability and decades of maldevelopment. Taking advantage of the climate tragedy to make more profit through loan interests and using it to push the country already mired in debt further down the drain is madness. To say that it is adding insult to injury is an understatement.

It is no secret that ADB and World Bank projects in the country have mostly led to accelerated privatization of government services and utilities which made services unaffordable and inaccessible to poor and marginalized communities. The market-driven neoliberal policy prescriptions have perpetuated unsustainable consumption and production practices that aggravated the climate problem. It is also no secret that by giving the World Bank large sums for climate action in developing countries, developed countries are able to define and lock the climate agenda in their favor.

The World Bank and ADB should therefore not wash hands if the impacts of climate change worsen, at the expense of the poor and vulnerable people in developing countries like the Philippines who are on the front lines, not when these Banks’ policy prescriptions and practices relentlessly perpetuate the fundamental unequal relations which lie at the root of the climate problem. #

[i] ADB, World Bank offer $1b in loans to PH, http://business.inquirer.net/152853/adb-world-bank-offer-1b-in-loans-to-ph

[ii] PHL is 5th biggest ADB borrower, http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/05/05/938348/phl-5th-biggest-adb-borrower

[iii] Philippine external debt is the amount of money owed by the Filipinos to foreign creditors such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank. This includes the principal amount borrowed from banks and institutions and the interest that had accumulated over the years.

[iv] Phl trims foreign debt to $60.3B, http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/23/922917/phl-trims-foreign-debt-60.3b

[v] UNFCCC, Article 4.4