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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRESS RELEASE: STATES MUST CONCLUDE THE WORK OF THE AWG-LCA AND AWG-KP WITH INTEGRITY
International-Lawyers.Org and Nord-Sud XXI urge States to adopt conclusions to the work of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP that are consistent with their international legal obligations to act in accordance with the best available science.
Only conclusions to the work of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP that uphold the principles in the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, as well as existing international human rights law, can provide the action that is needed to address the global threats posed by climate change. Such conclusions must respect the principles of 'equity' and 'common but differentiated responsibilities' in their historical context and in light of existing obligations. This requires Annex I countries to take the lead in both mitigation action as well as to provide new and additional financing to non-Annex I countries.
“Closing the AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP without conclusions that respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in its historical context, is equivalent to developed countries placing the blame for the adverse impacts of climate change on developing countries that have been the victims of centuries of over-exploitation of the atmosphere by developed countries,” said Dr. Curtis Doebbler, President of International-Lawyers.Org speaking at a side-event at COP 18 on 27 November 2012 at COP18 in Doha, Qatar. Dr. Doebbler added that States that block adequate action in Doha could find themselves “legally responsible under international law for massive violations of human rights around the world.”
States have pledged to take action to address the adverse impacts of climate change that threaten billions of people around the world in the UNFCCC and at previous COPs, yet many developed States listed in Annex I of the UNFCCC remain unwilling to uphold in good faith the legal obligations they have undertaken two decades ago.
For further information contact International-Lawyers.Org at email@example.com.
SBI and SBSTA conclude early Sunday morning (2 December 2012) (draft in progress)
Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) at its 37th session (SBSTA37) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) (SBSTA) at its 37th session (SBI37) both closed early Sunday morning, 2 December 2012 with few substantive decisions and much still left to be decided. Overall it seemed that developed countries were pushing for developing to do even more than they are already doing now, which is the bulk of the heavy lifting. At the same time developed countries sought not enhance their currently inadequate efforts. The result is that after the SBSTA37 and SBI37 we are still left with an inadequate commitments or even a plan of action for protecting our planet.
As many of the SBSTA and SBI decisions will now go to the COP and CMP for adoption without much enhancement, while it can be argued that incremental progress is being made to better understand climate change, it is clear that like the action expected from the AWG-LCA, AWG-KP and DPA of the COP/CMP, any suggested action is likely to be too little to late.
The SBI and SBSTA outcomes might be the first sign of the COP and CMP failing as means of implementing the UNFCCC. If this happens State will be forced to forsake these political forums for other means of implementing the obligations in the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. The alternatives will include international legal action and the use of other international mechanisms dealing with the damage caused.
Although States made some progress towards a mechanism on loss and damage it is unlikely that they will agree on a mechanism that excludes other forms of legal redress.
The question of whether or not to include capture and storage as clean development mechanisms (CMD) was considered in a draft conclusion but left undecided (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/L.21).
In relation to guidelines for domestic measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of domestically supported nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) by developing countries (DCs) it was merely agreed that any eventual guidelines should be general, voluntary, pragmatic, non-prescriptive, non-intrusive, country drive, build on existing domestic systems and capacities, recognize domestic measurement and promote cost effectiveness. States may submit additional views on the proposed guidelines by 25 March 2013. (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/L.24).
As concerns research and systematic observation the SBSTA welcomes the technical input of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Committee of Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). It noted the importance of GCOS for the vulnerability assessments and adaptation of developing countries. It agreed to hold workshop on technical and scientific aspects of ecosystems with high-carbon reservoirs not considered elsewhere, for example, coastal marine ecosystems, at SBSTA38 after parties make submissions on what the workshop should cover by 25 March 2013. (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/L.25).
The SBSTA agreed to consider the submission by States and stakeholders on the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation at the next session (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/L.26).
The SBSTA decided to terminate the pilot phrase of the Joint Implementation. (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/L.27).
The SBSTA agreed on a workplan to be completed by COP20 in 2014 to revise the guidelines for the review of biennial reports and national communications, including national inventory reviews for developing countries.
In addition workshops on areas a and h of the Forum on the impacts of implementation and response measures sent for reporting reported, while a summary o views would be issued for area f at the next session, the 38th session. At the 39th session of workshops will be held on areas b,c, d and g. (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/L.23). All stakeholders were invited to participate in the work of the Forum.
Little surprising or moving the work fo the SBI forward was adopted at COP18. The one bright spot however may have been the draft decision on gender and the climate talks.
The SBI adopted a draft decision (CP.18) promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of associated treaty bodies (FCCC/SBI/2012/L.36). This was welcomed by the Observer group on women and gender. It was pushed strongly by the WEOG and reported drafted by a group assisted by former Irish president and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs. Mary Robinson. The draft decision reiterates a decision taken at COP7 (36/CP.7), but enhances it by asking States Parties to adopt “a goal of gender balance" (OP 2) and by adding the issue of gender and climate change as a standing item on the COP agenda (OP9).
Petition calling for a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change
Sign on our petition calling for a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change: http://www.petitionx24.com/Sr_human_rights_and_climate_change
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL- URGENT CALL FOR A SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Petition It is imperative that the international community and all sectors of civil society mobilize to tackle the hurdles that obstruct adequate and equitable international action on climate change and human rights, we urge NGOs, Civil Society movements and government officials to move ahead in the establishment of a SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE.
Building on the calls being made by civil society organizations in 2010 and 2011, the undersigned organizations urge the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change. The mandate should, among others, take stocks of impacts of climate change, mitigation, adaptation on human rights, provide inputs to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and be a focal point for monitoring the impacts of climate change on the realization of rights.
We encourage Human Rights Council members to table such a resolution to be adopted as soon as possible ideally by consensus.
Early this year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organized a Seminar on Human Rights and Climate Change following the September 2011 United Nations Human Rights Council resolution (Res 18/22) which affirmed that “human rights obligations, standards, and principles have the potential to inform and strengthen international and national policy making in the area of climate change, promoting policy coherence, legitimacy, and sustainable outcomes”. This was the third resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council, following, the March 2008 (7/23) and March 2009 (10/4) resolutions. As Resolution 7/23 expressed already “climate change poses an immediate and far reaching threat to people and communities around the world and has implications for the full enjoyment of human rights” while “the effect of climate change will be felt most acutely by those segments of the population who are already in a vulnerable situation”. Furthermore, an analytical study on the 9 between human rights and climate change was conducted (contained in A/HRC/10/6) and the 2010 edition of the HRC Social Forum focused on climate change and human rights. During the 19th Session in March 2012, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Human Rights and Environment (A/HRC/19/L.8) which appointed an independent expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
Requested actions and rationale
Taking note of the recent developments at the Human Rights Council the undersigned organizations strongly believe that more needs to be done. The effects of Climate Change on the full enjoyment of Human Rights must be addressed without delay. The June 2012 session of the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD Rio+20) are taking place almost at the same time. While we are calling for a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change in the context of the Human Rights Council we also urge that the relationship between Climate Change and Human Rights is reflected and becomes evident in the official outcome document of the UNCSD Rio + 20. Such actions would be the most effective to address this urgent matter. Over the last years it has become evident the dramatic effects that Climate Change has on Human Rights. Some of the consequences that populations are facing in various regions of the world are forced displacement, migration, loss of livelihoods and cultures. These threats affect in particular vulnerable peoples that have a strong and direct link to nature such as people living on small islands or indigenous peoples. Our planet and the lives of millions of peoples are at stake.
Sign this petition preferably with your name and the name of your organization Contact the government officials in your country and ask them to take action on this matter in the context of the Human Rights Council.
The Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights
Guillermo Kerber, World Council of Churches: Guillermo.Kerber_Mas@wcc-coe.org
Beatriz Schulthess: Indigenous Peoples Ancestral Spiritual Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
Budi Tjahjono: Franciscans International: email@example.com
Valeriane Bernard: Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University: firstname.lastname@example.org
Negotiator Fatigue? (First week of COP18)
As the first week of COP18 comes to close the pessimism with which it opened seem to have become entrenched. There is still an expectation of a new Kyoto Protocol commitment period, but with commitments that are the least common denominator.
The negotiators from the the Western European and Others Group of countries (WEOG) seem to be intent on ignoring the best available science and their existing international legal obligations as they push for a selfish and shortsighted result.
They continue to refuse to take the lead on mitigation in accordance with their capacities and historical responsibilities. Instead they claim that all States should have comparatively equal responsibilities for mitigation. They seek to ignore the equity of considering their significant overexploitation of the planet's atmosphere during the past two hundred years during which we have begun to do the most damage. Instead they say large developing countries, like China and India, have similar obligations to mitigate. They ignore the fact that these countries are significantly poorer and less developed and that thus mitigation would cost them much more in terms of their peoples' development. They also ignore the fact that twenty yeas ago when they all signed the UNFCCC they agreed to take the lead in mitigation as a legal obligation that they are now seeking to violate.
The WEOG countries also refuse to take the lead in providing new and additional financing. Instead they are telling developing countries to invest money they don't have to prove they need more money or to make their mitigation and adaptation activities profitable. This is in effect saying to people who have been exploited for decades that they should submit to continue to be exploited so that rich WEOG countries can continue to develop beyond their fair share of the planet's resources.
At the other end of the spectrum are countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and their few friends, who have the courage to stand up for what the best available science and the existing international law requires. At past COPs these brave States have shown the only courage and integrity that can save the planet. At COP18 they have stepped back to a safer place joining the consensus of the Like-Minded-Group-of-Developing-Countries (LMG). This has required compromises of their principles. They have made these compromises in the hope of still achieving action that places science and law over selfishness and shortsightedness. There is, however, no certainty that they will be successful even with in the larger LMG that includes the likes of China, India and Russia.
Perhaps most unfortunate of the step back by the bravest States is the fact that many NGOs have followed this pattern. These NGOs have forsaken what they know is right for what they think they can achieve in the current political environment that is dominated by selfish and shortsighted States. These NGOs are joined by a host of business NGOs (coined BINGOs) whose only real interests are profit. The increasingly influential BINGOs wrap their intentions in themes of participation and economic incentives. The BINGOs point out that they are relevant actors, but are silent about the fact that this is so primarily because of their contributions to the pollution causing climate change. They claim they create jobs, but don't mention that this as only the case as long as they can extract profits off the backs follow paid workers and exploitation of States' natural resources. Nevertheless, because they have the resources to offer their views over a cup of cool fruit juice in a air conditioned text or over a luxurious dinner often with other incentives to negotiators, they carry more wait than NGOs who are merely trying to save the world from the adverse consequences that we know with about 95% will occur if we don't take adequate action.
The lack of faith has also translated into unambitious proposals on mitigation, adaptation financing, loss and damage, technology transfer, and just about everything on the table at COP18. The result is that even if agreements are reached they might not really even matter anymore.
States and individuals who now seem destined to suffer significantly from the international inaction on climate change are likely to increasingly ignore the world's only truly global forum and an turn to the last resort of methods they have available to protect their people. These methods include using the existing international law to hold States who have failed to act or who block action responsible for the damages their actions or inactions have caused. Such cases will not be decided, if the rule of law prevails, based on the political views of States, but based merely on their legal obligations. These include the legal obligations of UNFCCC Annex I countries—all the WEOG countries—to lead in mitigation, to provide new and additional financing to non-Annex I countries (developing countries) and to provide for technology transfer. These are all legal obligations that WEOG countries are failing to abide by by failing to act. Developing countries don't have such obligations, and right so as they are poorer and less developed.
If the UNFCCC processes make themselves irrelevant then future generation will blame the current generation of negotiators for having failed so miserably. They will have the list of participants from the COP18 to see who these people are and to seek to hold them responsible for their failures.