Sunday, December 16, 2007

Climate Change Road map Agreement Reached in Bali Meeting

Climate Talks concluded in Bali with the United States caving in under pressure of the European Union and the developing world and agreeing to a compromise text in the preamble of "Deep cuts in global emissions will be required" to avoid dangerous climate change. The guideline that rich countries should cut emissions by 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 as recommended by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was moved to a footnote at the US delegation's insistence.

Photos: Transnational Institute | Oxfam | Greenpeace | Related: FoE: Kyoto afloat after attempted sabotage


Australia's new Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and her Argentinean counterpart brokered 11th hour talks late on Friday and Saturday morning to prevent the collapse of the Bali conference. The United States wanted any mention of specific figures for a short term targets removed altogether. Developing countries including China, India and Pakistan claimed the US was trying to pressure developing countries to commit to cutting their emissions while evading its own responsibilities in setting targets to cut emissions. For much of the two week conference the US delegation has been isolated in its stances among the 12,000 people in attendance at Bali. As Australia ratified the Kyoto protocol during the conference, the USA is now the only industrialized country not to have ratified the Kyoto protocol.

One of the major disagreements was inclusion of a requirement for developed countries to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 as recommended by scientists in the IPCC reports. The European Union wanted inclusion of these targets for developed countries with the United States, Japan and Canada opposing those targets. Another sticking point between the developing world and the US was financial and technical assistance with technology transfer to reduce emissions in developing countries.

So the conference met for an extra day (Saturday) and in a day of exhausting talks and hard negotiations which saw the conference head Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), break down in tears and leave temporarily and American delegates booed and jeered. Head of the US delegation Paula Dobriansky initially rejected the compromise plan that had been worked out which had substantially watered down the preamble text as they were "not prepared to accept this formulation." The US cited that developing countries needed to do more to cut emissions.

With the talks on the brink of collapse due to the intransigence of the US delegation, a brief impassioned speech by a delegate from Papua New Guinea challenged the United States to "either lead, follow or get out of the way." Just five minutes later the USA agreed with the compromise plan: "We will go forward and join consensus," said Paula Dobriansky to the 190-nation meeting to widespread cheers and applause from delegates.

The Bali conference has agreed on a decision to launch negotiations with a time bound negotiation by the end of 2009. The agreement includes all nations and is the road map to a new treaty beyond the Kyoto protocol to come into effect in 2012.

Climate negotiations: Canada destructive, Australia constructive

While the US delegation was plainly obstructive, the Canadian delegation's negotiating instructions, leaked to climate activists in early December, focused on demanding binding targets for developing nations while Canada lags substantially behind schedule with achieving their own targets. Canada has taken over from Australia as a country sabotaging negotiations. Canada had the fourth worst performance in 2007 for combating emissions, with the United States second worst.

Australia's new Government initially would not commit to intermediate emission reduction targets of 25 to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020. New Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said no targets could be agreed to until the Garnaut Review is handed down during 2008. However, during the final debate Australia actively supported the targets being actively pushed by the European Union, while Canada only accepted this range.

"It's good to see Australia starting to take a more progressive role on climate change. We had concerns that Australia would play a wrecker role in Bali, but at the very end they did the right thing," said Stephen Campbell, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigns Director.

"Canada played a destructive role for the whole two weeks in Bali. But in the end they had to cave to domestic and international pressure and accept the emission reduction targets that science requires" said Claire Stockwell, political advisor to Greenpeace Canada. "If Canada were serious about fighting climate change, they would scrap their abysmal national 'climate plan' and forbid the development of the tar sands oil fields." she said.

"We’ve got a road map that recognises the science – now comes two years of crucial negotiations on which the very future of our children depends," said Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry. "Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and Prime Minister Rudd’s presence in Bali played a part in shaping the outcome," he said.

"We will need continued strong people power in Australia and around the world to ensure our governments act with the urgency and scale needed to get on top of climate change before it is too late. The Bali road map also includes solid progress on helping developing countries make the switch from dirty to clean technologies, funding for vulnerable nations to adjust to a changed climate and protecting forests as crucial carbon sinks." said Don Henry.

Forests continue to suffer with World Bank

On December 11 World Bank president Robert Zoellick launched its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to provide incentives to developing countries to protect their forests. According to Friends of the Earth (WAHLI) statement the initiative, which would allow tropical forests to be included in carbon offsetting schemes, fails to combat climate change, because it allows industrialised countries and companies to buy their way out of emissions' reductions. Between 18-20 percent of annual global carbon emissions are caused by deforestation, and Indonesia is the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter as a result of deforestation.

“Plantation industries are always the winner in any situations. They take benefits not only from government promotion and privilege treatments, they go further by making profit in combating their destructive practices,” said Rully Syumanda, Forest Program Manager of WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia.

While the World Bank press conference was taking place in the plush surrounds of the Grand Hyatt hotel, activists from a coalition of about 50 environmental, indigenous, and women groups, and social movements staged a demonstration outside to oppose the venture, according to a Friends of the Earth blog:


Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project had this to say: “FCPF is merely the World Bank up to their old tricks. They’ve packaged up their carbon trading agenda under the guise of forest protection, when in fact this will result in more forest destruction, more displacement of indigenous peoples and more carbon emissions. It’s a lose-lose-lose proposition for everyone but big business,” she added.

Researcher Janet Redman of Sustainable Energy and Economy Network said while World Bank was pretending to be concerned about climate change and poverty, it has continued to fund fossil fuel exploitation to `the tune of $8 billion since 2000’.

“At the same time, they’ve done virtually nothing to bring clean energy to the 1.6 billion people without electricity,” she added. Anna Pinto of Center for Organizations, Research and Education said: “The World Bank is channeling over $2 billion from the most polluting industries in the industrialised north to the most polluting companies in the global south, while profiting handsomely from so-called ‘overhead’. The FCPF is merely more of the same. It is also violating the rights of indigenous peoples to prior and informed consent as laid out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”


Looking forward to change of Leadership in the US


Arieta Moceica from Fiji commented on the Greenpeace Climate Weblog:


Sheepishly, the US fell into line. As the room applauded, I did not want to waste my energy applauding because for me as a Pacific Islander, I ask " what took it so long to get to this point and why did it have to be kicked in the rear end to get in line?" I will wait to see what the US gets up to in the coming 2 years. It is the hope of those of us who witness first hand the impacts of climate change that as the will of the people in Australia changed the arrogant government of Howard; that the same will happen in 2008 in the USA.

In the last few minutes - the text adopted under the Kyoto Protocol had the ranges Greenpeace has been fighting hard for (25-40% reductions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels). Australia's support was particularly welcomed with rounds of applause. As a Pacific Islander, this gesture on the part of Australia is much welcomed and we look forward to more positive relations.


Sources:

* The Age, December 15, 2007 'Your work is not over'
* Greenpeace International, December 15, 2007 Home on the range: 25-40% emission reductions by 2020 agreed by Australia and Canada
* Greenpeace Climate Weblog, December 15, 2007 US marginalized - but will it be enough?
* Australian Conservation Foundation, December 15, 2007 Bali roadmap adopts strong guidance on targets
* Climate Action Network Canada, December 8, 2007 - Leaked Negotiating Instructions Show Canada Set to Block Negotiations in Bali
* Friends of the Earth International, December 14, 2007 - World Bank: Forest Disasters Revisited
* Friends of the Earth (WAHLI) statement, December 10, 2007 - World Bank Hands Off Forests
* Friends of the Earth (WAHLI) statement, December 12, 2007 - Plantation Industries, Pay Off Your Carbon & Social Ecological Debt!