COP18: Do we recognize that it is the latest in a series of failed climate talks?
Since 2007 when the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP13) adopted the Bali Pan of Action as a hopeful effort to put the climate talks back on track the talks have been going backwards. A gullible observer might not know that. Fed with a stuffing media campaign that that puts a happy face on the most tragic outcomes there seems to always be progress.
First, the Bali Plan of Action (BAP) adopted at COP13 in Bali, Indonesia was already a recognition that the climate were bogged down and needed something new. While climate talks have already been going on for well over a decade and half the main thing that had been recognized was that the ambition was too low. Even at the time of the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992 it was agreed that we needed to do more. It was also agreed that let's at least get a foot in the door with a widely ratified legally binding treaty that establishes agreement on some basic principles and some very basic commitments.
COP14 was merely a housekeeping exercise to really get the BAP bodies, the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA operating fully. They had already met, but the climate talks in Poznan was the really chance to roll them out to the world. Even as the meeting was underway the sights for action were set of COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark and the fanfare around a high expectation for action at COP15 was underway. There were only very limited expectations for COP14 and no one really cared if they were met or not as most were more administrative or procedural rather than substantive. We did see however that th BAP worked, although with plenty of substantive kinks than needed to be ironed out. The Danish set the expectation, already in Poznan, that they would facilitate this.
Indeed, no COP has had the enthusiasm and expectation for action that is required by law and science that COP15 created. The Danish government used it lavish resources and relatively good logistic infrastructure to draw almost 50,000 people to COP15 with the allure of an expectation of real action on climate change. More than a hundred heads of States pledged to attend COP15 before it started. More, including newly elected US President Barak Obama, fresh from winning both an election and the Nobel Prize for Peace, also agreed to attend as COP15 opened. All the enthusiasm vanished however when it quickly became apparent that what the Danish and their Western co-conspirators had in mind was not a climate agreement based on science and law, not even one based on negotiations, bit one based sole on the interest of the rich and the powerful and those who did not have the courage to stand-up against them. In the end, COP15 was a farce, adopting a set of empty promises that with every passing years seem more and more likely mere lies. The biggest one was probably the bribe that Annex I countries put on the table. They offered 30 billion in fast track financing and 100 billion per year in the future to all States that would sign-on to the Copenhagen Accord. Never mind that we already knew that at least 1 trillion a year would be needed for adaptation and mitigation and an indeterminate, but likely equal amount for technology transfer. But even the 30 billion has not materialized. In absolute numbers about 10 billion has materialized, but most of that old and repackaged rather than the new and additional money that is required by the UNFCCC and the Copenhagen Accord. Less than 4 billion is new an additional. Moreover it all should have been made available by now and it has not been. Developing States were duped. COP15 was doomed to be an even bigger failure every year. Nevertheless the Danish publicity machine painted the Copenhagen Accord as an achievement.
COP16 in Cancun, Mexico was no exception. There was much fanfare, although lower expectations and mainly questions. We moved back to the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP tracks, almost admitting that the Copenhagen Accord was a failure, even if few said it. In the end nothing much happened in Mexico again the hatching of a closed door set of decisions that were given to delegates just minutes before they were suppose to shut up and approve them. Some delegates protested, they were ignored. The Cancun decisions got us nowhere, but the UNFCC Secretariat, the Mexican government and the States behind the failed Copenhagen Accord claimed the meeting was a success merely because it made some decisions. No one seemed to care that the principle of consensus decision making had been trampled into the ground by the same States that had hide behind it to prevent climate action based on the law and the science.
COP17, held in Durban, South Africa, gave some renewed hope to activists and States that wanted meaningful climate action based on the law and the science. They hopes were based on low expectations, but maybe at least the Copenhagen Accord and the forced Cancun decision cold be put to rest and we could all get back to the arduous, but slowly progressing task of negotiating AWG-LCA and AWG-KP texts. The AWG-KP urgently needed a text as the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period was expiring fast and waiting until COP18 to renew it would mean a period of no legally binding commitments. Nevertheless the ambition was so low that even getting back ontrack was not achievable. Once again rich Annex I countries derailed any type of ambitious action saying that the terms of the UNFCCC, which they were all legally bound to observe, meant nothing to them. They attempted to extinguish the common but differentiated responsibility principle despite the fact that it was part of international law, both the UNFCCC treaty and likely customary international law. The rich and Annex 1 countries seemed to care little for the fact that the planet was dying and the future of future generations was being squandered while the COPs failed to take meaningful action. COP17 ended with the worse fears being met. Developing countries capitulated to allow the AWG.LCA and AWG-KP tracks to be closed, abet with a weak promise to finish their work. They were warned by a outcry from civil society that they were selling short the future of their very own people, but they had been coerced to such an extent that they appeared incapable of sanding up for their own people. COP17 was an embarrassment and right in the backward of the very continent whose people will suffer the most, dying by tens of millions because of inaction on climate change. Once again, however, wit the help of well-paid journalists from rich Annex 1 countries, the host country spun COP17 into something of a success.
COP18 has been no different. Rich Annex 1 countries again refuse to recognize the law and the science and like spoiled children don't want to give up the advantages that they have obtained by over-exploiting the planet's atmosphere. Rich Annex 1 countries again refuse to agree to meaningful mitigation obligations, in fact, they generally won't agree to any obligations to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time they are even more stingy refusing to provide any new and additional funding or even pay the fast track funding they should have already paid. COP18 looks to be the latest in a series of failed climate talks. No doubt they will agree to a meaningless new Kyoto Protocol commitment period that locks in such a low ambition that it has almost already been achieved and will have very little impact on our planet's climate. And no doubt once again the host will ensure that the well-paid press from rich Annex 1 countries spin COP18 as a success so that we can all go to COP19 in Warsaw and claim another success, so that we can all go to COP20 … The story seems to be continuing infinitely a circular nightmare from which we need to one day wake up and recognize the great damage we have already caused our planet's atmosphere, the very air that we breath and the environment in which we live.
Youth and Climate Change
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
International-Lawyers.Org urges States to put in the bank (in this case the Green Climate Fund) the money that they promised more than two years ago and which they are legally obliged to provide under the terms of the UNFCCC.
To date developed States, despite numerous pledges, have provided only insignificant financing. The financing provided has been to funds that do not serve the most urgent needs of developing countries. While more financing has been provided to sustain the commodification of planet's atmosphere by supporting carbon markets and REDD+ projects, the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility have remained without adequate funding.
The failure of Annex I States to live up to their pledges, which contradicts their international legal obligations under the UNFCCC, has detrimental impacts on the human rights of the most vulnerable people on the planet. This failure prevents developing countries from being able to protect themselves from the adverse impacts of climate change and hinders their ability to contribute to ensure their future development is climate friendly.
International-Lawyers.Org believes that the obligation of Annex I States to immediately provide new, additional and adequate funds is inseparable from their obligation to prevent violations of human rights resulting from climate change. The time for pledges and broken promises is over. Unless a realistic level of funding is provided immediately, the most vulnerable people in the world will suffer widespread and serious interferences with their human rights.
If such a situation occurs, Annex I States that have failed to provide new and additional and adequate funding will bear the legal (State) responsibility for the violations of human rights resulting from this failure.
For further information contact International-Lawyers.Org at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bolivia again distinguishing itself as a climate champion
While other States have pushed to include oceans and agroiculture in themarket mechanisms of the UNFCCC/Kyoto Protocol regimes, Bolivia has deended nature against this enhanced commoditization.
In the closing session of subsidiary body for scientific and technological advice (SBSTA) developed States tried to include agriculture in the carbon market mechanisms. This would mean that eventuiall agricultural removals of carbon coudl be converted to carbon market credits.
Bolivia protested claiming that such a move interferes with food securtiy (the human right to food) especially of indigenous peoples, peasants, and small farmers.
PRESS RELEASE: COP18 FALLING SHORT OF THE ACTION NEEDED TO PROTECT OUR CLIMATE
International-Lawyers.Org expresses its serious concern about the state of the climate talks at COP18. States have lost their way towards achieving the action that needs to be taken to address the most serious adverse impacts of climate change for the most vulnerable people in the world.
In part this failure is due to a lack of commitment to the basic values that are necessary for protecting our planet. International-Lawyers.Org is especially concerned that little progress has been made on agreeing to the guiding principles or Shared Vision of all States for addressing climate change in the draft outcome of the AWG-LCA track. Agreeing to guiding principles is a conditio sine qua non for taking adequate international action on climate change.
The Shared Vision should reiterate the principles of the UNFCCC, including the principles of equity, precautionary action and common but differentiated responsibilities. The shared vision should also acknowledge that a reason for State action is to ensure human rights and that international human rights law requires States act in a manner to ensure human rights. In the UN Human Rights Council it has been repeatedly stated that climate change poses the greatest threat to human rights in this century. Ensuring human rights must therefore guide international action on climate change.
International-Lawyers.Org calls on all States to support language in the LCA text that recognizes their existing human rights obligations.
For further information contact International-Lawyers.Org at email@example.com.