Wednesday, October 22, 2014

IBON International Decries Lack of Leadership at COP18

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Climate talks on shaky ground at COP18. Photograph by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

The following blogpost is a statement by IBON International, who are present at the COP18 climate talks in Doha:

IBON International demands that developed countries show ambition, equity and agree to binding commitments during COP18. 

Article 3.1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) states that “the developed country parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.”

But climate negotiations in Doha are stalling – along with the hope of averting a temperature rise that will have catastrophic impacts on the world’s poorest. As ministers from across the world arrive in Doha, developed countries are backing away from committing to ambitious reductions in carbon emissions as well as meaningful and immediate transfers of funds and technology to developing countries.

The US, EU, and negotiating blocs including the “Umbrella Group” (Australia, New Zealand, Russia, the Ukraine, Kazahkstan, Norway, and Japan), and the “Environmental Integrity Group” (Switzerland, Korea, Mexico), are blocking the demands of developing countries for the Kyoto Protocol – the expiring cornerstone treaty of emissions reductions – to be extended and legally enforced. Likewise, while they make vague acknowledgements of the need to help developing countries, wealthy countries are avoiding concrete commitments on climate finance and technology transfer.

Both the EU and Australia are sticking to low targets (for emissions) that they will not increase without greater international action. The US claimed its “enormous” efforts on climate change should be recognised, but has pulled out of an extended Kyoto Protocol and achieved a meagre 3% reduction in emissions to date. The US candidly said its positions are not based on “what is needed”, rather what can be “sold at home”.

Indeed, developed countries stand united against new, legally binding commitments on emissions reductions in line with science.

Developing countries say that the supposed $30 billion in “fast-start financing” from 2010-2012 has actually been conflated with existing aid and loans. While developing countries have demanded a doubling of financing from 2013-2015, there remains no commitment. The “Green Climate Fund” was agreed to ensure long-term financing of $100 billion a year from 2020. Again, while developing countries have sought firm assurances of public funding from developed countries, there remain no real guarantees.

The paralysis in climate negotiations threatens the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest. Developed countries, led by the US, must live up to their rhetoric by taking action now on climate change.

IBON International makes the following demands:

An ambitious deal

Calculated on a basis of reducing global emissions to the needed 50-80% of 1990 levels while sharing global atmospheric space equally, industrialised countries like the US, Germany and the UK must reduce their emissions by 88 to 98%; China must also reduce its emissions by 47-79% in comparison to 1990 levels.

An equitable deal

Historic responsibility should be measured by cumulative emissions. There is a need to respect the Right to Development of people in poorer countries which have to prioritise meeting the basic needs of populations as well as dealing with the immediate effects of climate change in the immediate future.

An accountable deal

Parties should make legally-enforceable commitments with transparency monitoring and reporting systems, characterised by accountability with multi-stakeholder governance. The UN must widen space for civil society participation in negotiations with an enhanced civil society role in monitoring COP outcomes.

Genuine sustainable development

As the climate crisis is rooted in unsustainable modes of production and consumption, the real challenge is ushering in a new model of sustainable development, shifting away from an obsession with an exclusionary, top-down growth model geared towards excess consumption for private profit, towards new modes of production, consumption and distribution, and a rights-based framework centered on the principles of equity, justice, democratic ownership and respect for nature.

Some Northern NGOs have incorrectly portrayed the negotiations paralysis at COP18 as due to a “superpower” conflict between China and the US. Rather, the divide at COP18 is between developed countries with a historic responsibility for the climate change the world is now experiencing, and developing countries that suffer the loss of lives and livelihoods resulting from this climate change.

IBON International director Antonio Tujan Jr commented, “as developed country ministers arrive in Doha, they must show the leadership necessary to avert catastrophic climate change through their adherence to ambition, equity and legally binding commitments. Developing country ministers must continue to unite in pushing them to this end”.

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