Posts Tagged ‘Rio+20’

Updates from NYC at the UN Rio+20 Negotiations, April 24, 2012

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

By Anil Naidoo, Blue Planet Project, Council of Canadians

States just finished negotiating para 67 on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation and Canada, is now the only country that is still demanding that para 67 be deleted.

Other UN Member States explicitly supported recognition, these included, Switzerland, the Holy See and Norway – Norway said, “where Canada suggests deletion, Norway wants retention of the sentence recognizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation”.

The US, previously calling for deletion along with Canada and Israel, suggested changing ‘recognize’ to ‘ reaffirm our commitments regarding’… Israel was silent and therefore accepted the human right.

Overall, this is a major and positive development!

If this recognition is retained in the text, it will be the first major document where there is consensus and will put to rest any question regarding the legitimacy of this right, some who abstained are still trying to undermine this human right to water and sanitation.

There were other suggestions by Member States, they are important, but are not critical….safe instead of clean (US), splitting of some sentences so human rights and management issues separate (G77), adding of agriculture into the para 67 (Switzerland and Holy See)… and others.

US also wanted removal of ‘as essential for the full enjoyment of life’ which some would say is problematic as this references which of the UN Covenants this right falls under, those who want the right weaker would only like it under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, not the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is stronger and includes the Right to Life.

Ominously the EU suggested that they might want to suggest concrete targets and goals on water, and Republic of Korea reserved its position on the use of ‘progressive’ realization of the right.

Again, this is a major victory for our long journey to implement the human right to water and sanitation!!!!

Our work continues and the struggle continues, but the July 28th, 2010 resolution gives communities and activists a powerful tool to use as they fight for water justice. Human rights are far too narrow to take us to where we want to go, but it does provide a safeguard against those who would control and commodify our water with only regard for profit.

Retaining the human right to water and sanitation is important, and we need to retain and expand safeguards and rights in the text; the bigger fight is to ensure that we challenge the neo-liberal, market-based Green Economy. If we do not stop implementation of this agenda, being promoted in this document and through other venues, it would mean that human rights, sustainability and the rights of nature would become marginalized and under severe attack from this corporate Green Economy.

We also need to retain the Rio Principles such as Common but Differentiated Responsibility, the Precautionary Principle, Polluter-Pays Principle etc. Our next goal has to be to ensure Equity, Human Rights and these Rio Principles are not undermined by  a vague Green Economy.

Bolivia no lleva propuestas para Río+20

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

LA PAZ/OPINIÓN | 22/04/2012 |

El Gobierno boliviano se marginó totalmente de la próxima Conferencia Mundial sobre la preservación del planeta tierra, denominada Río +20 que se realizará en julio próximo, al extremo de que el documento oficial que discutirán delegados y gobiernos ni siquiera incluye el término Madre Tierra, acuñado y promovido por la administración del presidente Evo Morales.

Mother Earth Rights defender Pablo Solón (Photo © Pueblos de la Tierra)

Mother Earth Rights defender Pablo Solón (Photo © Pueblos de la Tierra)

La denuncia la hizo a OPINIÓN el exembajador del gobierno de Morales, ante las Naciones Unidas, Pablo Solón, quien también fue parte del equipo y proceso de negociación de Bolivia en las anteriores Cumbres sobre Cambio Climático, tanto en Durban (2011) como en Cancún (2010).

El exembajador calificó esta situación de “preocupante” para Bolivia, ya que existe un documento consolidado de todas las propuestas que hicieron llegar los países y grupos negociadores que asistirán a la Cumbre y que se constituirá en la Declaración de Río. El límite para la presentación de propuestas venció el 29 de febrero y el país no presentó ninguna.

El documento presentado por países y grupos negociadores, según explicó Pablo Solón, no incluye ninguna de las posiciones que se discutieron en la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos y Derechos de la Madre Tierra realizada en Tiquipaya (2010).  Lamentablemente, dijo Solón, no es que no se haya recogido la posición boliviana, sino que el país no la presentó.

El exembajador Solón afirmó que el actual negociador para Río +20, René Orellana, trató de justificar la ausencia boliviana señalando que la estrategia será presentar la propuesta en el G77 + China (grupo de países en vías de desarrollo). Solón aseguró, sin embargo, que bajo el nombre de G77 tampoco se podía encontrar las propuestas de Bolivia, “al extremo de que ni siquiera la palabra Madre Tierra figura en el documento consolidado”.

Los países industrializados llevan la delantera.

En Río +20, al parecer, no se debatirá sobre los derechos de la naturaleza sino cómo mercantilizarla.

Según explicó Solón, los países más industrializados del norte presentarán la propuesta de la “economía verde” que si bien es un término “naif” y aparentemente inocuo, es en realidad una serie de mecanismos para llevar adelante procesos de mercantilización de las funciones de la naturaleza. Es esa propuesta que los países industrializados pretenden que se apruebe en Río + 20.

“Lo vemos en la propuesta consolidada que está en mesa, hay una clara propuesta de los países industrializados, la solución es más capitalismo, un capitalismo ‘verde’ que incorpore a la naturaleza”, advierte el exembajador.

Pablo Solon (Photo @ Rebecca Sommer)

Pablo Solon (Photo @ Rebecca Sommer)

Y la respuesta, agrega, es solamente defensiva. Los países en vías de desarrollo aglutinados en el G77 + China, tienen en su propuesta defensiva el lenguaje acordado en el marco de Naciones Unidas: derecho al desarrollo, soberanía, no intervención en asuntos internos, derecho al agua, todos de importancia “pero no hay una nueva propuesta para decir queremos esto o proponemos esta otra visión”.

La propuesta redondeada y que será defendida por los países industrializados parte de la afirmación de que hay un desequilibrio con la naturaleza debido a que ésta no se ha incorporado como parte del capital. “Proponen que haya un capitalismo tridimensional, que tenga un soporte físico (maquinarias, insumos), un soporte humano (los trabajadores) y una tercera que sea la naturaleza, y solo en la medida en que se incorpore la naturaleza a los procesos de mercado –como objeto material y como procesos y funciones que cumple- se podrá preservar ese equilibrio porque tendrá un precio”, explicó Solón.

Antes, agrega Solón, hubo procesos de mercantilización de la naturaleza, por ejemplo los árboles, madre, de plantas, “pero nunca antes hasta ahora hubo un proceso de mercantilización de las funciones”. En otras palabras, ya no se trata de la madera del árbol, sino de la capacidad de absorción de gases de efecto invernadero del bosque.

Perdimos la oportunidad.

Sin una propuesta alternativa, que Bolivia tuvo la oportunidad de presentar hasta el 29 de febrero y no lo hizo, el resultado de la conferencia no es el más esperanzador.

Previa a la reunión de julio, los movimientos sociales se reunirán en mayo para debatir qué se hace, pero Solón advierte que sin una propuesta alternativa, se puede prever el resultado de las negociaciones.

El gran error, según Pablo Solón, es haber tratado a la naturaleza como un objeto y ponerle precio a todo, cuando lo sensato es respetar las leyes intrínsecas de la naturaleza, sus ciclos vitales y reconocer que los seres humanos son parte de esa naturaleza, y no está por encima de ella.

Por su parte, el mercado capitalista debe reconocer que la actividad económica tiene límites, uno de ellos es cuando se empieza a afectar los ciclos vitales y la capacidad regenerativa del planeta.

La visión trabajada en Tiquipaya –reconocer que se vive en un sistema interdependiente- está ausente del documento de Río + 20. Pese a que el negociador boliviano señaló que se iba a incluir este fin de mes en la ronda que se inicia en Nueva York, esa posibilidad es muy remota o inexistente, según Solón. Bolivia perdió su oportunidad.

Datos.

Dióxido de carbono

El negocio “verde” tiene además una cadena de intermediación. El costo de una tonelada de dióxido de carbono depende de la demanda. Si ésta es mucha el valor de la tonelada puede ser de 40 a 50 dólares americanos. En algún momento la tonelada se cotizaba a 30 dólares, pero hoy está entre tres y siete dólares, según explicación del exembajador ante la ONU, Pablo Solón.

Fracaso

La baja de estos precios obedece al fracaso de la Cumbre de Durban (Sudáfrica 2011), en la que los compromisos de reducción son tan bajos que las empresas de los países industrializados no están ni presionadas ni obligadas a efectuar grandes reducciones.

Mecanismo ficticio

Así, resulta en un negocio ficticio. Si en un mercado de maderas se produce mesas o escritorios, en el caso de los certificados de emisiones no se produce nada, el bosque siempre ha absorbido dióxido de carbono.

Lógica perversa vs realidad

Entrar a una “economía verde” no garantiza recursos para una gestión integral del bosque, por ejemplo. El exembajador de Bolivia ante la ONU, Pablo Solón explica que con el mecanismo de los certificados de emisión, generaría recursos de acuerdo al costo de la tonelada de dióxido de carbono, sin embargo lo que realmente llegaría a la comunidad o país no supe-raría el 25 por ciento del total, “tres cuartas partes de ese dinero se van al sistema de intermediarios”.

Una opción real, planteada originalmente hasta el año pasado, es lograr recursos reales que provengan no de un mecanismo de mercado sino de un impuesto a las transacciones financieras internacionales, afirma Solón.

El exembajador hace referencia a un estudio de la CEPAL, que señala que de aplicarse un impuesto del 0.05 por ciento podría recabarse 680 billones de dólares, mientras que el mecanismo de mercantilización de los bosques, a través de su capacidad de absorción de dióxido de carbono, solo lograría 10 billones de dólares.

El negocio de la economía verde

La llamada –economía verde- que impulsan los países desarrollados y las propias Naciones Unidas y que constituye la propuesta central de la Conferencia de Río +20 de julio próximo, propone poner un precio a la capacidad de absorción de dióxido de carbono de los bosques y venderlo a las industrias que contaminan, y pagar para que no se deforeste, en lugar de pagar para que se preserve.

Según la explicación de Pablo Solón, exembajador del actual Gobierno ante las Naciones Unidas, es un mecanismo perverso la reducción de emisiones por la deforestación. “No es el pago por la conservación del bosque”.

Negocio ficticio, le llama Solón, porque no se produce nada. El bosque siempre ha estado absorbiendo el dióxido de carbono, de lo que se trata, agrega, es de introducir el tema a un sistema financiero que generará una gran ganancia pero al mismo tiempo especulación, por lo que será insostenible en el tiempo.

Para explicar esto de la economía verde, el exembajador al afirmar que se trata de otra lógica, ejemplifica que una empresa en el norte para disminuir sus emisiones de dióxido de carbono tiene que bajar mil toneladas. Tendría dos opciones. Una, cambiar maquinaria, chimeneas, etc., o, la otra, comprar certificados de reducción de emisiones de un bosque en algún país del sur. Así, la empresa podría asegurar que hizo la reducción de emisiones porque compró los certificados de determinado bosque.

Pero la empresa hará un cálculo de beneficio, prosigue explicando. Si para bajar mil toneladas debe invertir una cantidad que resulte mayor al costo de comprar los certificados, seguramente optará por comprarlos y podrá seguir contaminando el medio ambiente.

En última instancia, dice Solón, los certificados de reducción de emisiones se convierten en un permiso de contaminación para la empresa del país industrializado.

We need to consider some serious heart surgery in Rio…. or say goodbye to forests.

Friday, April 6th, 2012

By Rachel Smolker

Below is an announcement from FAO re their event on forest for Rio. I believe they have it largely correct in recognizing the extent to which forests lie directly at the heart of – or in the crosshairs of – “green economy”.

Wood is the new oil – to be refined into liquid fuels for transportation, burned for electricity and heat, converted (via synthetic microbes and other) into biochemicals, bioplastics etc. The aviation industry, the US military – expect to get access to lots and lots of forests.

All of it will of course be “certified sustainable” and provide “green jobs”.

For some perspective: The UK has approved plans for burning of over 60 million tons of wood per year for electricity generation. The UK domestic wood production is only about 6 m tons per year. This does not even include some proposed conversion of coal plants to burn – partially in mix with coal, or entirely substitute for coal – massive facilities such as the DRAX facility which plans now for 20% cofire, (an additional 8 m tons per year), and two new facilities (an additional 6 m tons) and is speaking of complete substitution of wood in future for their massive, near 4000 megawatt power station.

Beyond the paltry domestic contribution of wood to supply these vast demands, most of the wood burned for electricity in UK is imported from other countries. Some companies are setting up wood pellet manufacturing facilities in other countries, to export back to UK to burn as “clean, green, certified renewable energy”, to the tune of subsidies and incentives.

The air emissions from all of this shipping and burning add to the insanity

Forests are indeed at the “heart of the green economy” – I believe we need to consider some serious heart surgery in Rio…. or say goodbye to forests.

Meanwhile, the push for a UN “Sustainable Energy For All Initiative” – (SEFA) mentioned in Zero Draft – will open the floodgates for more forests as fuel – in fact the cochair of that (hand picked) high level group, Charles Holliday announced how this will create a new “roadmap” for biofuels (including forest-fuels and well as food-fuels). Please see our briefing on SEFA available in English and Spanish
here:

JOURNALISTS =====>> Regarding researching / writing articles / journalism on Rio+20 – here are some issues you might want to cover:

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

(more…)

CSOs to remain vigilant to protect and advance the gains of Rio

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

CSOs to remain vigilant to protect and advance the gains of Rio

Bangkok – Some 50 civil society representatives from around Asia gathered in Bangkok on August 17, 2011 to exchange knowledge, experience, views and strategies on the issues around sustainable development and the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, also known as the Rio+20 Summit.

At this strategy session, internationally-renowned environmental and social justice advocate Dr. Vandana Shiva urged civil society organizations (CSOs) to continue to exercise creativity, vigilance, and solidarity to defend the gains made at Rio twenty years ago and promote alternatives from below.

The inputs from Wanhua Yang of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Neth Dano (ETC Group), Paul Quintos (Ibon International), Uchita de Zoysa (Center for Environment and Development ) stimulated the sharing of critical analyses of the green growth paradigm and the current infrastructure for sustainable development.

In addition to critiquing the still neoliberal underpinnings of the green economy approach as promoted by multilateral institutions including the UN, the CSOs present highlighted the importance of indigenous and grassroots knowledge in saving the planet.  Participants also expressed grave concern over the incoherence and market-oriented bias of the current infrastructure for sustainable development.  They challenged the United Nations to give more space for CSO participation in the Rio+20 process.

After a set of workshops and a plenary debate, the participants came up with a statement that will feed into the official regional preparatory meeting for Asia and the Pacific in Seoul in October; an action plan to raise awareness and strengthen engagement with policy makers on sustainable development issues from the community up to the national, regional, and global levels; and a working group that will promote the Bangkok statement and action plan up to Rio+20 and beyond.

The regional strategy session was organized by the Asia Pacific Research Network, Ibon International, and the Reality of Aid-Asia Pacific at Suan Dusit Place Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.#

Nothing More than Hot Air

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

By Daphne Wysham

It started in the dog days of August, 1996, when Washington becomes a

ghost town. That was when the World Bank revised its energy efficiency
standards for thermal power plants, weakening them dramatically. Why
would the primary institution entrusted with the task of financing
clean energy development at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 suddenly
lower its standards for fossil fuel power plants, essentially
incentivizing more pollution? It turned out it had a lot to do with
carbon offsets.

But it took us a few years to figure that out. The first piece of the
puzzle came together in 1997 when the project I direct, the
Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, issued a report finding that the
World Bank had been ramping up its investment in coal, oil, and gas.
Our report found that, in the five years since the Earth Summit, the
bank had funded projects that would add about 2 gigatons of carbon to
Earth’s atmosphere every year. The Bank had failed in living up to the
mandate entrusted to it in Rio, and instead was taking the planet
toward climate catastrophe.

It wasn’t until a year later that the puzzle came together. In a
second report, we found that the World Bank was poised to embark on
trading in carbon offsets. Bank officials said they were merely
“learning by doing” and would only “help” the UN set up carbon
markets, then exit, stage right. Fourteen years later, carbon offsets
have gone from a boutique business to a booming industry, and our
worst fears have been realized.

Ever since the World Bank lowered its energy efficiency standards,
power plants have been able to raise them again to where they were
before August 1996, and count that as a carbon offset. It works like
this: A polluter in the North buys a certain quantity of carbon
offsets emissions from the World Bank, at a cost cheaper than reducing
those carbon emissions at home. A coal burner in a developing country
gets paid to do what it was previously required to do as a condition
of World Bank lending — burn coal more efficiently. The World Bank
charges a 13 percent brokerage fee on the transaction. The net result:
The Bank is richer for expanding fossil fuel and carbon finance in the
global South, the global climate is more unstable with additional
carbon dioxide, and some corporation in the global North can claim
fake emission reductions and carry on polluting. Weakened energy
efficiency standards, we came to find out, are the least of our
worries. As my co-director at the Sustainable Energy and Economy
Network, Janet Redman, wrote in our 2008 report, “World Bank: Climate
Profiteer,” the World Bank launched a whole new market in some of the
most perverse incentives for increasing greenhouse gas emissions ever
imagined.

For example, the bank’s “Global Gas Flare Reduction Partnership,” is
now poised to push Nigeria, the second largest emitter of CO2 from
poisonous gas flares, to gain carbon offset credits for ending gas
flaring. Sounds great, right? Well, gas flaring is already illegal in
Nigeria. Has been since 1984. By providing carbon offsets for ending
gas flaring, the bank is actually incentivizing oil companies to obey
the law and stop poisoning communities only if paid. Some people call
that bribery. A better word might be extortion. If Chevron Nigeria
ends gas flaring, for example, Chevron in Richmond, California could
actually increase its emissions and claim a “reduction” with these gas
flare offsets.

Similarly, in 2005 the bank helped broker carbon offsets for one of
the most potent global warming gases on the planet – HFC-23. The end
result: Rather than phasing out the production of these
ozone-destroying and global warming gases in China as required under
the UN’s Montreal Protocol, there was a sudden jump in the production
of HFCs – in order to reap millions to then turn around and destroy
them. Thankfully, that trade has now been banned by the European
Union.

The World Bank’s perverse incentives to pollute are now something of
the norm when it comes to greenhouse gas mitigation efforts. In
California, for example, the state’s cap and trade with offsets scheme
allows companies to use carbon offset credits to fulfill a percentage
of their emissions compliance requirements. Some California
environmental justice communities have recently filed a lawsuit to
stop it. The reason? Offsets allow pollution to continue, even
increase, in their communities, so long as the polluter buys some
other carbon offset elsewhere.

The US Government Accountability Office has issued repeated reports
claiming that carbon offsets are virtually impossible to verify,
warning: “The use of carbon offsets in a cap-and-trade system can
undermine the system’s integrity, given that it is not possible to
ensure that every credit represents a real, measurable, and long-term
reduction in emissions.” But that hasn’t stopped people from pushing
to expand carbon offsets to include large tracts of forests in the
global South under the proposed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation
and Degradation (UN REDD). An inevitable conflict is now playing out
between the future “owners” of the carbon in the trees in the global
North and Indigenous peoples who have inhabited and protected these
forests for generations.

There is a better, more principled way forward, and it does not
involve destroying things we value if we save or “offset” the same
quantity of that natural resource elsewhere. It involves
internationally recognized principles like “polluter pays.” It
involves strong national laws like US EPA authority to regulate
greenhouse gas emissions within our national boundaries and
enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. It involves cutting
subsidies, like World Bank loans or cheap oil, gas, and coal leases
handed out to mining companies by the Department of Interior. It
involves providing predictable finance for clean, renewable energy –
just as Germany has done with great success while simultaneously
phasing out nuclear power.

We need not entrust the unstable global climate to the derivatives
traders at Goldman Sachs and the neoliberal schemes of offset brokers
at the World Bank. We know how to value nature without putting a price
on it. Indeed, something as priceless, and unpredictable, as our
planet’s carbon cycling capacity – a critical foundation of all life
on Earth – should never be cheapened with a price tag.


Daphne Wysham
Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies
Co-Director, Founder, Sustainable Energy & Economy Network www.ips-dc.org/seen
Host, Earthbeat Radio/TV www.earthbeatradio.orgwww.therealnews.com
twitter.com/daphnewysham
202-787-5208
skype: daphne.wysham