What Next -- Climate Watch

The inconvenient truth

The inconvenient truth
Sunita Narain, Centre for Science and Environment, February 1, 2012

Many years ago, in a desperately poor village in Rajasthan, people decided to plant trees on the land adjoining their pond so that its catchment would be protected. But this land belonged to the revenue department and people were fined for trespass. The issue hit national headlines. The stink made the local administration uncomfortable. They then came up with a brilliant game plan—they allotted the land to a group of equally poor people. In this way the poor ended up fighting the poor. The local government got away with the deliberate murder of a water body.

I recall this tragic episode as I watch recent developments on climate change.
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Post-Durban, India has its task cut out

Interesting analysis and reflections on what happened in Durban and India's role.
Hindu_5 jan 2012
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Major Clash of Paradigms in the Durban Climate Talks

South Centre bulletin 58
Here is a detailed account and analysis by Meena Raman of Third World Network of what happened in the dramatic end of the Durban COP17 negotiations, and implications for the future. The article was originally published in South Centre's South Bulletin (

Download a pdf-version of the whole issue here. Link to South Centre web page here.

Major Clash of Paradigms in the Durban Climate Talks
[South Bulletin 58 Article]

By Meena Raman

The main outcome of the two-week Durban climate change conference was the launching of a new round of negotiations known as the Durban Platform aimed at a new regime (whether a protocol or other legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and involving all countries.

The draft decision on this was provided at an informal plenary late on the night of Saturday 10 December long after the Conference was scheduled to end and when many Ministers and senior officials had already left Durban.

It was given to participants as part of a package of four decisions on a take-it-or-leave it basis with little time for the members to consider or discuss among themselves in an unusual and unprecedented set of procedures.
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Time out: Analysis of Durban and its outcome by Centre for Science and Environment

Down to earth_post Durban_shadow_186 pxl
What really happened in Durban? Check out this extensive coverage by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India, in their magazine Down to Earth, 31 December issue.

The 17th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Durban in December 2011. Negotiations were heated and acrimonious, as the world desperately searched for new ways to avoid the toughest of questions -- how to drastically reduce emissions to keep the world somewhat within safe levels and how to do this while ensuring equity. With uneasy answers, the easy solution was to push the world to another round of messy negotiations for a new treaty, protocol or legal instrument or something like that. But one move of the developed world was to change the nature of the original treaty that differentiates between past polluters, responsible for the first action, and the rest. The aim at Durban was to erase equity as the basis of any global agreement to cut emissions. Ironically, the world chose the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela to set the scene to build a new apartheid in climate talks. Down To Earth and the Centre for Science and Environment bring you an analysis…

To continute read, download the 17-page pdf-version of the thorough feature story with graphs, boxes and explanations. Or click here to find the original story at the CSE website.

You may also want to read this prophetic reflection by Sunita Narain of CSE, only a few hours before the COP finally ended.

And -- here's a link to a Guardian article by Sunita Narain "The EU's climate evangelism has got us nowhere: Europe must stop trying to bend developing countries to agree to a legal deal in the hope that this will bring the US on board", published 9 December.
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Equity: The next frontier in climate talks

Down to Earth Editorial:
Equity: The next frontier in climate talks
by Sunita Narain

In 1992, when the world met to discuss an agreement on climate change, equity was a simple concept: sharing the global commons -- the atmosphere in this case -- equally among all. It did not provoke much anxiety, for there were no real claimants. However, this does not mean the concept was readily accepted. A small group of industrialized countries had burnt fossil fuels for 100 years and built up enormous wealth. This club had to decide what to do to cut emissions, and it claimed all countries were equally responsible for the problem. In 1991, just as the climate convention was being finalised, a report, released by an influential Washington think tank, broke the news that its analysis showed India, China and other developing countries were equally responsible for greenhouse gases. Anil Agarwal and I rebutted this and brought in the issue of equitable access to the global commons. We also showed, beyond doubt, that the industrialised countries were singularly responsible for the increased greenhouse gases.
In 1992, it was accepted
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Third World Network: News Updates from COP17 Durban


For detailed coverage of all the key discussions sessions and negotiations at COP17, Durban, the 28 (!) Third World Network News Updates are indispensable. Links to pdf versions in reversed chronological order below. For Third World Networks homepage with News Updates and Briefing papers from other negotiations sessions, go to: http://www.twnside.org.sg

TWN News update 1_Durban_shadow_186 pxl

Update No. 29: Movement of Technology Mechanism in Durban Outcome
by Elpidio V. Peria (21 Dec 11)

Update No. 28: Kyoto Protocol "second commitment period" remains uncertain
by Chee Yoke Ling (16 Dec 11)

Update No. 27: Decision on Green Climate Fund adopted
by Meena Raman (15 Dec 11)

Update No. 26: AWGLCA Chair transmits report for adoption despite strong protests
by Meena Raman (14 Dec 11)

Update No. 25: Major clash of paradigms in launch of new climate talks
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Sivan Kartha on the Durban outcomes: "Deeply worrying"


We have a glass, and time will tell whether it is half-full, half-empty, or purely decorative. We will see whether the yet-to-be-negotiated "protocol, legal instrument, or agreed outcome with legal force" is actually be capable of ramping up global ambition.

And on that score, I'm deeply worried. Yes, Durban gave us (something like) the "legally binding" language that we wanted. But, as far as I can see, Durban also took us several LARGE steps backward in terms of "trust-building", which many of us have believed for a long time is inexpendable if a real global solution to the crisis is to be found. And this further undermining of trust makes it less likely that the dearly sought language on "legally binding" will actually lead to something meaningful.

Specifically, here's how I fear trust has been undermined:
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On the "Durban Platform for Enhanced Action"

The decision to establish an Ad Hoc Working Group on the "Durban Platform for Enhanced Action" (DPEA), i.e. the controversial "Durban Mandate", was a remarkable show of bad process in the last hours of the conference -- already on 30 hours overtime with many Ministers (particularly from developing countries) already on their way home.

The implications will be felt for a long time to come…

We are likely to see an erosion of the science-based "top-down" (i.e. starting with emissions reductions as deemed required based on science) principled climate regime of the Kyoto Protocol -- with a further shift towards the US-championed voluntary, bottom-up "pledge" system where countries just notify what they intend to do: currently this amounts to only 13-18% cuts by the rich countries (which could in reality amount to zero cuts due to the extensive "loopholes" that the rich countries refuse to remove). It's naive to believe that pledges will be sufficient to ramp up commitments towards the 40-50% that is needed by 2020, and the the 90-100% needed by 2050!

The mandate for the new agreement is remarkable open, which paves the ground for endless negotiations with little prospect to reach anywhere near the regime -- the Bali Action Plan -- that was still the basis for negotiations when the Durban meeting started. There are also reasons to be very worried from an equity and climate justice perspective -- although the new platform is placed under the Climate Convention with its fundamental principle of "common but differentiated responsibility", USA and other Annex 1 countries will press hard to erode any equity related mechanisms.

In short, by opening up for the Durban mandate, the world has given a blank check to the US and others to effectively stall and weaken the future climate regime -- while squandering the relative firm basis that already existed: the Bali Action Plan. Considering the effectiveness of the US negotiations since Copenhagen (they have likely attained most of their stated goals), and the dismal domestic political situation (with climate change denying Republicans dominating Congress, and Obama acting more destructive than George W Bush as he actively steers the world onto the wrong path rather than just standing aside), it is naive to believe there could be anything meaningful coming out of open-ended negotiations on the DPEA over the next few years.
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Friends of the Earth International: Diastrous “Durban Package” accelerates onset of climate catastrophe.


13 December 2011

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, 13 DECEMBER 2011 – The UN climate talks in Durban were a failure and take the world a significant step back by further undermining an already flawed, inadequate multilateral system that is supposed to address the climate crisis, according to Friends of the Earth International.

Developed countries engaged in a smoke and mirrors trick of delivering rhetoric but no action, failed to commit to urgently needed deep emissions cuts, and even backtracked on past commitments to address the climate crisis, said Friends of the Earth International.

  • The outcome of the Durban talks, heralded by some as a step forward, in fact amounts to:
  • No progress on fair and binding action on reducing emissions
  • No progress on urgently needed climate finance
  • Increased likelihood of further expansion of false solutions like carbon trading
  • The further locking in of economies based on polluting fossil fuels
  • The further unravelling of the legally-binding international framework to deliver climate action on the basis of science and equity.

While there was resistance from developing countries to the destructive proposals on the table in Durban, the final Durban outcome amounts to:
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Christian Aid Press release: "Durban Climate Talks: A disastrous outcome for poor people"

Sunday 12th December 2011

Christian aid press release
'This Durban outcome is a compromise which saves the climate talks but endangers people living in poverty,' said Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's expert on the UN negotiations held this year in Durban, South Africa.

'It is a disastrous, profoundly distressing outcome - the worst I have ever seen from such a process. At a time when scientists are queuing up to warn about terrifying consequences if emissions keep rising, what we have here in Durban is a betrayal of people across the world.
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UNFCCC press release on Durban

UNFCCC Durban press release

Here's the UN press release immediately following the conclusion of the Durban COP17 negotiations. Quite a different conclusion than the many critical assessments of civil society.
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Naturskyddsföreningen om Durban

Läs Naturskyddsföreningens kommentarer om Durbanmötet.
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INDIA - 'Grim Reaper' of Durban -- Really?

As increasing pressure and preparations for a nasty blame game was mounted against India principled refusal to abandon the Bali Action Plan -- from both rich countries, several island states, as well as major parts of the mainstream environmental CSOs -- Stockholm Environment Institute's Sivan Kartha felt the need to set the record straight. Read this important and revealing note with facts that should constitute the basis for any conversation about India's role and responsibility in relation to other countries.

INDIA - 'Grim Reaper' of Durban -- Really?
By Sivan Kartha
The common wisdom is that we've come here to save Africa. Africa, we hear every day, is a continent populated with poor people on the front lines of climate change, where immediate adaptation is a priority and climate delay means death. India, we hear, is the grim reaper. And the purpose of COP17 is, in large part, to compel India to step back from the brink and help save Africa. India should stop being an obstructionist like the US, and should come to the rescue of Africa.
Well... some comparisons are in order.
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Globally funded Feed-in tariffs in focus at Durban COP17

The bold, visionary idea of establishing a system of globally funded feed-in tariffs to simultaneously tackle climate change and poverty/energy access gained lots of traction during the Durban COP17. Several side events highlighted the approach with numerous researchers, civil society activists as well as government representatives pointing to the unique effectiveness of feed-in tariffs to rapidly drive massive investments in renewable energy.

Flyer SSNC feed-in side event_shadow_186pxl
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) organized a well attended side event on 2 December with the International Network for Renewable Energy (INFORSE) and Helio International. The INFORSE presentations provided a number of concrete, successful cases of renewable energy initiatives on the ground, while the SSNC presentation (by Niclas Hällström) focused on the idea of enabling local, bottom-up initiatives through global financing in line with common but differentiated responsibility.

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Here' are Niclas and SSNC's powerpoint presentation on the idea of globally funded feed-in tariffs.
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Climate justice policy briefs: Loopholes, pledges and the Bali Mandate

Below three One-page Climate Justice Policy Briefs that highlights key issues at stake in Durban:

CJ Policy Brief_pledges_shadow_186pxl
A comparison of pledges: Who plans to Act?

There is a serious lack of emissions reductions ambitions by the rich countries. There has so far been NO discussion or negotiation in Durban about increasing ambitions form the paltry Copenhagen "pledges" – which amounts to only 13-18% reductions by the rich, Annex 1 countries, compared to 1990. The Policy Brief "A comparison of pledges: who plans to act?" summarizes the Stockholm Environment Institute overview study from June 2011 which shows that four independent studies come to the same conclusions: Developing countries have committed to MORE reductions than the rich countries!

CJ Policy Brief_Loopholes_shadow_186 pxl
Targets could disappear into loopholes

On top of these shamefully low pledges by the Annex 1 countries, these countries refuse to remove the current loopholes from excess allocations to the former Eastern European countries ("hot air"), disingenuous accounting of forests, and double counting of off-sets. Research shows that all of the current Annex 1 pledges could be covered by loopholes, negating any pressure to really reduce emissions -- and possibly even allowing for net increase of emissions by the rich countries.

CJ Policy Brief_Bali_shadow_186 pxl
Building on the Bali Mandate
The controversy about whether to allow a new Durban Mandate or insist on the fulfillment of the current Bali Mandate through the Bali Action Plan constitute a fundamental crossroads.. At the core, this controversy is about the very nature of the climate regime: whether to open up for a voluntary "pledge and review" system with less clear equity concerns, or to keep a principled, top-down, binding approach with clear differentiation between developing and developed countries.

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Press release: African Group sets out key demands as talks enter final stages

African Group sets out key demands as talks enter final stages

COP17, Durban, South Africa - The African Group of negotiators have set out their five key demands as UN climate talks in Durban move into the high level stage of negotiations today.

The Group, which represents 54 African countries and is chaired by Mr. Tosi Mpanu Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are demanding:
  • A multilateral agreement that respects the principles and provisions of the Convention, and matches the ambition and substance set out in the Bali Action Plan
  • A second and subsequent commitment periods under the Kyoto Protocol with ambitious, science-based mitigation targets for developed country Kyoto Parties and provisional application to avoid a gap in the legally binding regime; and comparable efforts by developed country non-Kyoto Parties (United States) under the Convention, including ambitious, legally binding, economy-wide emission reduction commitments;
  • Agreement on long-term sources and scale of finance commencing in 2013, including a process for determining the levels of finance necessary for implementation of the Convention in a predictable and identifiable manner;
  • Full operationalization of the outcomes and institutions agreed in Cancun including the Green Climate Fund
  • Agreement on a work programme on adaptation to establish an international mechanism on loss and damage from climate change for developing countries.
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Dale Wen: Reality Check on India and Climate Politics

Reality Check on India and Climate Politics

Dr. Dale Jiajun Wen

Martin Khor, the Executive Director of the South Centre, recently published an article titled “Is China still a developing Country?” After laying out all the facts and numbers in per capita terms of indicators including GDP, Human Development Index, and carbon emission, etc all of which unequivalently showing China is still a developing country, he finished the article with following sentence “China's fight to retain its developing-country status is of interest to other developing countries, for they will be next, if China loses that fight.” The politics of the ongoing Durban climate negotiation seems cannot wait to confirm his prediction.

Media reports are starting to portray India as the blocker. There are headlines like “Durban climate talks 'roadmap' held up by India”, “China readies big climate offer, India mulls support”. And some NGOs are calling leadership from India. Let us have some reality check.
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Brev till Lena Ek från Naturskyddsföreningen och dess internationella partners

Klicka här för brev till miljöminister Lena Ek med gemensamma synpunkter och krav inför Durban från Naturskyddsföreningen och fyra av dess internationella samarbetspartners i Syd: Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens, Brasilien, Third World Network, Centre for Science and Environment, India och Environmental Monitoring Group, South Africa.

Några citat:
"Principen om gemensamt men olika ansvar måste sättas i förhandlingarnas centrum. De rika länderna har överlägset högst utsläpp av växthusgaser, både per capita och historiskt. Det är därför naturligt att dessa länder tar sitt fulla ansvar och kraftigt minskar sina egna utsläpp, samtidigt som de måste hjälpa fattiga länder att ställa om till fossilfritt och bekämpa fattigdomen. Det är de som gjort minst för att bidra till klimatförändringarna som drabbas värst av dem."
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ETC Group Media advisory: Technology!

What needs to happen on Technology in Durban? Check out this report by ETC Group.
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At stake in Durban: A climate deal for the 1% or the 99%?

Durban assessment cover
Crucial read -- a critical assessment of what's at stake in Durban and what has led us here.
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Niclas funderingar inför Durban

Ur min horisont är ser det rätt mörkt ut – framför allt USA och Japan, Ryssland och Canada beter sig fullständigt oansvarigt, och har den absolut största skulden. Deras positioner är orättfärdiga och ytterst provocerande för alla andra.

Europa får därmed en nyckelroll. Med rätt strategi skulle EU kunna visa vägen mot en konstruktiv väg framåt – där USA och Annex-1-länder som inte tar sitt legala ansvar isoleras, medan grunden för samarbete med u-länderna, och inte minst Kina, stärks. Detta ger grund för att i senare skede ytterligare skärpa ambitionerna och regelverken (enda sättet att få USA att verkligen ändra sig är nog att stressa dem genom att de hamnar efter i omställningen mot en grön, klimatsmart ekonomi).

Vad som krävs nu, i Durban, är ett verkligt säkerställande av andra åtagandeperioden – utan att låsa fast de låga "pledges" – och ett tydligt åtagande att fullfölja Baliplanen (som ju faktist täcker 100% av världens utsläpp), dvs INGET Durbanmandat om något nytt heltäckande avtal. När Baliplanens frågor ger tillfredsställande resultat (teknologi, finansiering, osv) får man bedöma vilken legal form detta ska ha – COP-beslut eller LCA treaty eller någon mellanform.

EUs och Sveriges nuvarande linje med en starkt villkorad andra åtagandeperiod för att få med stora u-länder på något "nytt" leder endera till krasch därför att t.ex Indien och andra u-länder på goda grunder inte kan acceptera detta (och en upprepning av "scapegoating" Kina och nu också Indien) – eller, om det mot förmodan skulle tryckas igenom, bryter väg för ett nytt "single treaty" som sannolikt blir ett pledge and review system utan ambitioner eftersom USA då är med och effektivt sätter villkoren och leder ett race to the bottom, precis som man gjort sedan Köpenhamn.
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Climate Justice Media Background Note for COP17, Durban

26 November 2011
For Immediate Release
Alex Rafalowicz

Media Background Note
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Durban, South Africa, between 28 November and 9 December 2011, represents a critical moment in the international climate change negotiations.

The Conference should confirm whether the world continues with the Kyoto Protocol and its binding international emission commitments or instead rejects binding commitments and moves towards a non-binding approach that risks 'climate anarchy' with no set limits on climate pollution.

Durban is also the deadline for agreement on details of climate financing, particularly the 'Green Climate Fund' which has been the focus of intense negotiation throughout 2011.

This note provides further background on:
- Durban in the context of what the science requires and past promises.
- The importance of the Kyoto Protocol to the negotiations.
- The fault lines in the climate finance negotiations.
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Call-out for 'Occupy COP17'

Below is the Call-out for a General Assembly from www.occupycop17.org


#OccupyCop17: Climate Justice General Assembly

Governments of the world are, for the 17th time, assembling to discuss how we react on an international scale to a changing climate. During these last 16 years a sane response to an unsustainable global culture has not been found.

Inside their assembly and inside their declarations the needs of the 99% are not being heard. Private corporations are occupying our seats in the UN climate talks and governments corrupted by corporate influence are claiming to represent our needs.They are abusing and pillaging the consensus process, once put in place to ensure even the smallest and most vulnerable had a say.

We, as a planet, have been shown we can no longer rely on the same structures that have allowed for famines, floods, hurricanes and massacres to escalate relentlessly. There is a historic responsibility, and a global necessity for action.
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Vulnerable countries consider 'occupying' Durban talks

Diplomats from some developing countries may "occupy" the UN
climate negotiations that begin on Monday in Durban by staging
sit-ins and boycotts over the lack of urgency in the talks.

See full article in The Guardian.
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Is China still a devleoping country?

Below an article that provides perspectives on one of the most critical and contested issues in connection to the climate negotiations: that of China's role and responsibility. See also material from the What Next seminar China's Action on Climate Change and Possibilities for EU-China Collaboration (scroll down to 6 September).
China_map_topography_shadow (202pxl height)

The article is written by Martin Khor, Director of the South Centre, and originally published by South Centre in SUNS #7265, 22 November 2011.

Is China still a developing country, or has it joined the ranks of the advanced developed countries?

This has become a topical question, especially after US President Barack Obama reportedly told the Chinese President Hu Jintao last week that China had to act more responsibly, now that it has "grown up."

This interesting one-to-one conversation took place at the APEC Summit in Hawaii. And when Obama met Chinese premier Wen Jiabao at the East Asia Summit hosted by ASEAN in Bali last week, he must have said something similar, in between scolding him for not allowing the Chinese currency to shoot up.

By telling China that it has become a grown-up adult, Obama meant that China should now be treated just like the US or Europe in terms of international obligations
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Say no to soil carbon markets@COP 17 sign-on letter to African Ministers

There's increasing heat around the issue of soil sequestration in agriculture linked to off-set carbon trading markets (see also this post). Below a link to a sing-on letter directed to African Ministers that lays out the arguments against carbon trading in soil sequestration.

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Ashton: There is no plan B

Ashton no planB_shadow

Here's an op-ed/commentary from UK government representative, published in The Guardian 14 November 2011. Note the support for the Kyoto protocol as a principle, but also the way a Kyoto second commitment period is made conditional on agreement on a new treaty. This is however much less articulated here compared to the later speech by the UK Minister of Environment Chris Huhne on 24 November.

Some notable quotes from the piece below. Full article here.
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Caravan of Hope: From Burundi to Durban

Did you know 300 African climate justice activists are travelling through the continent for the Climate talks in Durban? And stopping along the way to engage with politicians, media and the public in every county they pass. Check out this inspiring story from the road – published in The Guardian.

And check out the homepage of the organizers: the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) here.
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Time for Climate Justice: Christian Aid's Durban positions

Here is a six-page Durban position paper from Christian Aid -- Time for Climate Justice. Also, check out their new report Low-carbon Africa: Leapfrogging to a green future
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Guardian article: World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns

Here is a must-read article from the Guardian, referencing Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, who concludes that the world is getting locked into a scenario where, within five years, it will be impossible to avoid dangerous climate change. There needs to be a dramatic transformation of our energy systems, and it needs to begin immediately, so that further "locking-in" of destructive fossil fuels are avoided.

The analysis thus speaks in favor of the idea for a global investment programme -- a "Marshall plan" -- for a Global system of national Feed-in Tariffs financed by a global climate fund that an increasing number of organizations are calling for.

Link to full article here.

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Canada -- Terrible position ahead of Durban

Below is an official statement from Canada ahead of the Durban climate negotiations. As rightly acknowledged, this position will cause "turbulence" in the coming weeks. The rejection of taking on a second commitment period target under the Kyoto protocol is an act against Canada's legal obligations, and an outright provocation to developing countries.

Basically, the Canadian position (and that of so many other "developed" (Annex 1) countries) is a rejection of the fundamental equity principle of the climate convention itself: "Common but Differentiated Responsibility". The whole point of the Kyoto protocol is that it put higher demands on the countries with historical responsibility and capability to take the lead, while the other components of the Bali plan from 2007 include all the other emissions: the US agreeing to deliver "comparable efforts" to the Kyoto countries, and the developing countries doing their fair share enabled by appropirate finance, technology, capacity building etc.

The Bali plan thus includes 100% of global emissions. Annex 1 countries must take the lead; only then can they put legitimate demands on others (see an excellent short reflection on this by Sivan Kartha, Stockholm Environment Institute). There may be a case for reconsidering the division of the world into two Annexes, but that can not be done now, with the developed countries shifting goalposts and escaping their obligations and unfulfilled promises since decades.
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A compilation of material on Climate Justice

CJ compilation for Bonn_cover_shadow
This compilation (available as pdf) includes 13 climate justice briefs and a 7-page document, originally produced for the World Social Forum 2011, with a narrative of the the politics on climate change – including exposure of the Copenhagen and Cancún failures – as well as elaboration of climate justice principles and the need for major popular mobilization. The material was developed through collaboration among many climate justice oriented organizations and provides a valuable departure point for looking ahead towards the Durban negotiations.
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BASIC nod to India's stand on climate talks

The Times of India article on BASIC

BASIC nod to India's stand on climate talks

Nov 2, 2011, 01.03AM IST TNN & Agencies
By Nitin Sethi

NEW DELHI: Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan notched a victory at the BASIC talks in Beijing with China and other countries cutting across groups strongly backing India's demand for centre-staging discussions on equity, IPR and trade in UN climate change negotiations on Tuesday.

While noting that the emerging economies, along with other developing countries, had committed more to fight climate change than the rich countries, India's restored stance on climate change also found support from China and Brazil.
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On the EU 2015 climate 'roadmap'

Below an AFP account of the EU 2015 climat 'roadmap'. When reading it, do note the following:

  • Although the EU has changed rhetoric/strategy to now endorsing a second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol (contrary to the 'single treaty' line that what was pushed under the Swedish presidency ahead of Copenhagen), it is essentially a very similar strategy: EU says it will only accept a second commitment period if there are guarantees all major economies will be included with binding commitments in a new roadmap (essentially a 'single treaty'). However, this is clearly shifting the goalposts, and includes no guarantees for adequate financing and technology for enabling developing countries to meet the huge adaptation neeeds and move to low-carbon societies. EU needs to fulfill its obligations to enter a second commitment period with ambitious targets unconditional of what other countries do. Only then can it begin to legitimately discuss other arrangements for subsequent periods – which needs to be based on clear equity principles.
  • According to the AFP citation, Hedegaards says the "Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012". This is a blatant error that has been repeated innumerable times by Western journalists, politicians and even in official UNFCCC communications. The Kyoto protocol does NOT expire. Period. The first commitment period comes to and end, and should be followed by a second commitment period according to the legally binding provisions in the protocol.
  • See also the arguments around the "limited scope" ("only a third of global emissions") of the Kyoto protocol in this related post. The Kyoto protocol is part of a package of mechanisms that together cover 100% of global emissions. 
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How to rewrite the Durban script

Another good editorial by Sunita Narain, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi, now reflecting on the upcoming Durban negotiations.


By Sunita Narain
How to rewrite the Durban script
It’s that time of the year again. Climate change talks are heating up, with the next conference of parties scheduled in Durban in end-November. There is heat but no light. The negotiations are stuck despite the clear signs of climate change: dangerous and potentially catastrophic extreme weather events.

Not much is expected in Durban, except the usual shadow-boxing. The European Union is leading the pack of climate champions. It wants the world to fast track negotiations for a single, legally binding treaty on cutting emissions. It does not say (loudly) that its real plan is to junk the Kyoto Protocol, which demands that industrialised countries cut emissions marginally, roughly 6 per cent below the 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The agreement in this Protocol is that rich countries, major historical and current emitters, go first, creating ecological and economic space for the developing world to grow. In time, the rest would follow. To facilitate actions in the developing and emerging world, technology and funds would be committed. All this done well would lead to a real deal. But it was not to be.
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CAN Durban positions

CAN expectations_Durban
Short version (2 pages) of the Climate Action Network (CAN) expectations for Durban.
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Soil carbon and carbon trading -- controversy heating up!

One of the major controversies in Durban will be the issue of soil sequestration in relation to carbon markets. The World Bank is heavily promoting the idea of linking agricultural soil sequestration to off-set carbon markets under the banner of 'climate smart agriculture'. It sees the Durban negotiations as an opportunity to open up for such a development by getting agriculture back in the texts.

An increasing number of organizations are however mobilizing against this, on the grounds of environmental integrity and climate justice. They argue that off-sets effectively opens up for increased emissions, as permanence (what happens with the carbon stored in the soils over time?), additionally (how can one know the carbon would't have been stored in the soils in any case due to e.g .government action or civil society and community efforts?), and inherent difficulties in measuring soil carbon makes the whole set-up extremely risky.

In addition, the economics is shaky, with farmers projected to only earn one or a few dollars a year, while private interests in the north gets cheap carbon credits to avoid and delay own actions to cut emissions.

At the spotlight is the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project, run by the Swedish NGO Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC)/Kooperation utan gränser.
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What happened in Panama?

TWN Panama_18_cover_shadow
What happened at the climate talks in Panama -- the last negotiation session before COP17 in Durban 28 Nov -9 Dec 2011? Check out the Third World Network detailed reports from the negotiations through their 18 (!) TWN Panama News Updates. Downloadable as PDF-documents from the TWN website.
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G77 Pushes USA To Be Honest


4 October 2011

G77 Pushes USA To Be Honest -- Inaction at home and at UN climate talks
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA - Today - As UN climate talks continue, developing countries redoubled efforts to build bridges to find agreement in time for the annual UN climate summit in Durban this November (CoP 17).

Jorge Arguello, Chair of the Group of 77 and Chna (G77) said: "We want to stop hearing about red lines and start hearing about what the developed world are prepared to do."

"Climate change is not the kind of problem you can just wish away. The US and others have to stop explaining why they won't take action and face the consequences of what their inaction entails." Argüello said.
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