International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Climate Change
lack of urgency in Bangkok?
Marianne de Nazareth
How much more death and devastation does the world need to sit up
and realise that the catastrophic effects of Climate Change are
already upon us? There has been heavy flooding in several states
in India, typhoons devastating the Philippines, Vietnam and parts
of Thailand. Asia seems to be bearing the brunt of climate change.
And yet, here in the Bangkok negotiations, the developing nation
representatives complain, that there is a lack of urgency in the
stance of the developed nations, in coming to a quick and amicable
Quamrul Islam Chowdhury
of the Bangladesh delegation said, " We are facing a sea level
rise which requires a scaling up of financial resources and technology
transfer by the Annex 1 countries at a much more rapid speed. A 45 percent
cut in emissions by Annex 1 countries by 2020 is imperative."
We are just two months away from Copenhagen and the Annex 1 countries
wish to put an end to the Kyoto protocol, stalling the very process
we have worked towards, for all these years," states Qingtai Yu
special climate change envoy for China.
"There are several funding opportunities available like imposing
levies on the emissions caused by passengers of international shipping
and aviation," advises David Lesolle from the Botswana delegation.
"Everyone who flies should be able to take on this critical levy
and pay towards their impacts of travel on climate change."
Pershing of the US delegation said the US is working on a hub and
spokes method of bringing technology to each country. "The
new government is working towards a new policy but it will take
time", he said, "but the strongest part of the whole process
is what each country does at home. A national action plan in each
separate country, is what will make things work over the next 50
nations felt that the US was not helping sort the issue instead as David
Lesolle stated, "we are like two elephants fighting in a room and
if the fighting continues there will be a lot more problems happening
for poorer countries to contend with. We have one planet and we all
need to live on it."
Yu from China said " What we are fighting for is the right to development.
The problem of climate change was created by unrestrained emissions
over centuries by the developed nations since the industrial revolution.
We are the victims and so the Annex 1 countries have to pay for that.
Look at the percapita emission levels of developed nations. The per
capita emission levels in China per person is 1/3 the per capita emission
levels in developed countries.
Dessima Williams of the Grenada delegation firmly asserted that, "Adaptation
is the here and now and we need to build resilience for the present
and the future. Commitments that are legally binding are needed. We
all can see climate change empirically unfolding on the ground today.
We cannot look at 50 years hence we have to look at the problem of immediacy
now. Modalities are not a substitute for substance and 1 percent of
the GDP of Annex 1 countries for adaptation is necessary, for the developing
Karl Falkenberg of the European Commission felt that REDD (Reducing
Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) was one of the mechanisms
which could help to alleviate the problem. "But fossil based energy
development in poor countries, is not alleviating poverty, but only
causing its growth."
"The current Arab position is mainly focussed on protecting the
oil trade rather than saving the planet from the adverse effects of
climate change," says Wael Hmaidan, the executive director of IndyACT,
taking the problem to a whole new dimension. "Saudi Arabia has
utilized its political weight in the region to dominate the Arab voice."
NGOs are concerned about Saudi Arabias obstructionist role
among developing nations and this will affect the poorest nations who
are reeling under the impact of climate change.
It looks like a caudron of problems which are on the boil here in Bangkok
and hopefully negotiators can work towards some amicable decision with
Copenhagen just 60 days away.
As Jonathan Pershing of the US delegation said on a positive note, "
A year ago my country was not even interested in an agreement. Today
there are startling changes and tremendous growth."
"What we are trying to define is a robust, international way forward.
Developing countries by and large are dissastisfied with the financial
architecture in place. Leaders of developed countries must provide the
political greenlight on industrial countries targets on emission reductions
and commited financial packages. We are trying to put real meat on the
bones of the Kyoto protocol as I do not believe in throwing away old
shoes, before we have a new pair. Unless we see an advancement on ambitious
targets, it is very difficult to continue the good work of the negotiators.
We have a clear indication from science as to the rate of emission cuts.
If what we achieve in Copenhagen is not strong enough, then we have
no option left but to reconvene to gain more ambitious targets,"
said Yvo de Boer the UNFCCC Executive Secretary.
nations are certainly concerned with the attitudes of the developed
nations, here at the Bangkok negotiations. Meenakshi Raman who is
a legal advisor of the Third World Network, showed her annoyance
by baldly saying "there is a lot of hollow rhetoric by the
political leaders at these negotiations. Look at the actual negotiating
stance and you will see its just business as usual,"
said they are going back on their commitments made under the UNFCCC
by shifting their responsibility to the markets, thereby weakening their
obligations made. "Developed countries do not talk about the amount
of atmospheric space taken by them during the industrial revolution.
But now those same nations say to the developing world, sorry guys,
your limit is up, your atmosphere is constrained, " she added.
Mauritius, Egypt, Venezuela and the Philippines said they were concerned
that there was an attempt by the developing nations to kill the Kyoto
Protocol. They also felt there was an effort being made to divide
and rule like in the days of colonialism. The countries were concerned
that the main principles of the protocol were being distorted and they
were not willing to agree to a new structure that they could no longer
Developed nations owe an adaptation debt to developing countries for
their historic overuse of the earths atmosphere for which developing
nations are suffering. Therefore it is imperative that developed nations
undertake deep emission reductions in order to leave the remaining atmospheric
space to developing countries. The money being paid out to developing
nations is not charity but simply that the polluter pays. However now
its being used by flipping the coin and saying the one who pays may
pollute, say developing nations.
speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) was concerned
that there were such a few days left for Copenhagen and failure
there was not an option for the small island states. They would
all definitely go under.
At Bangkok one sees that the youth have decided to be more forceful
in pushing for a deal which is more transparent and equitable. A
declaration of "No Confidence in the Road to Copenhagen"
was announced today by the International Youth Delegation attending
the UN climate change talks.
The delegation cited
the failure of reaching a commitment from developed countries on strong
targets and a lack of guarantee for protection of Indigenous peoples
rights and interests, in its declaration. The current text of the draft
climate deal is so weak and so full of "false solutions,"
measures like offsetting that actually make the problem worse, are unacceptable.
"The youth are sounding the alarm. These talks have been polluted
by self-interested corporations and countries looking to profit off
of our crisis," said Joshua Kahn Russell from the U.S. and Rainforest
Action Network. "We cannot allow rich countries to use U.S. inaction
as an excuse to kill the Kyoto Protocol. Our future cannot be held hostage
to the politics and interests of the United States or any other single
country. We see Copenhagen as a beginning, not an ending. We will not
accept a dirty deal."
The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting due to climate change, said
Anil Rimal from Nepalese Youth Climate Action. "This is happening
today, not in 2050, and people are losing their lives, homes and livelihoods
due to GLOFs (Glacier Flood Outbursts)."
Gemma Tillack from the Australian Wilderness Society said, "We
will never give up, because it is our future at risk."
With less than two weeks of negotiations remaining before the Copenhagen
meeting, the pressure is on developed countries to commit to providing
finance and at least a 40percent reduction in emissions by 2020. "If
they do not, we will witness the derailment of this climate deal in
Copenhagen," said Grace Mwarua from Kenya.
© Marianne de Nazareth Oct 10th 2009
(The writer is a fellow with the UNFCCC and teaches a module on Climate
Change in Bangalore, India)
50 days left for the final negotiations in Copenhagen, one hopes
that countries find a working solution out of this political wrangling,
which has the fate of our planet and all our lives at stake.
Marianne de Nazareth
in Nepal recognize that Climate Change has become possibly the greatest
development challenge of our times...'
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