Dec 11, 2009
Kate Horner from Friends of the Earth US provides analysis of the climate negotiations on Democracy Now!
Todd Stern, the US Special Envoy for Climate Change doesn't think rich nations owe a climate debt.
Speaking at a press conference about the USA's role in creating climate change he said:
"The sense of guilt or culpability or reparations, I just categorically reject that."
Instead he wants the poorest subsistence farmer in Africa to have the same responsibility for tackling climate change as an American with a
With President Obama, the US has a unique opportunity to take the lead on tackling climate change. But Stern is threatening Obama's chances.
Call on Todd Stern to think again
The EU were discussing reductions targets today and so Friends of the Earth greeted delegates with a call for EU leaders to UP their targets to 40%.
We also called on our cyberactivists to email the Canadian Prime Minister to urge the Canadians to up their targets after being voted Fossil of the Day the day before.
Amid the chaos of the conference centre a press conference was held by Kim Nguyen who had cycled from Australia all the way to the climate conference collecting messages for delegates on the way.
Kim's journey began in East Timor where the people he met people had first hand experience of the devastating effects of climate change.
"For three years the seasonal rains never came and then one year they came all at once and were deluged. The few crops they have were destroyed" he said.
He met people in the Gobi desert who told him that every year the desert expands and more and more lakes and rivers dry up.
It was in the same desert that he saw a working example of renewable energy at a local level.
"All the tents they lived in had solar panels on the top."
Throughout his travels he collected messages for the world leaders at the climate summit in video, photo, illustrations and letters.
Today Friends of the Earth took part in a number of events at the Kilmaforum - the civil society event in Copenhagen. The day began with a briefing from Young Friends of the Earth and ended with the first day of the People's Tribunal on Ecological Debt and Climate Justice.
In recognition of 'young and future generations day' at the climate conference, the daily briefing in the Klimaforum - the civil society summit - was carried out by members of Young Friends of the Earth and other young people attending the summit.
There are around a thousand young people following the negotiations in Copenhagen and the role youth can play in these negotiations is now being formally recognised.
The panel was split into regions and Mauro Ramos from Friends of the Earth Uruguay talked about the position of Latin America, particularly when it comes to climate debt.
Firstly he spoke about Bolivia and the strong position they have taken in the region.
"They are one of the few countries that propose to maintain and preserve oil reserves in their territories"
He talked about the discussions around climate debt and how it can be paid; two options being direct payments to countries and technology transfers from developing country to non developing country.
On the subject of renewable energy he was positive but cautious:
"Many private companies are seeking new business opportunities. We say it's important to keep this energy at the reach of local people."
He ended by calling on negotiators to listen to indigenous people. "Native populations are not heard… these people are totally forgotten. We have to bear them in mind for a fair world."
the feminist struggle
The first talk of the afternoon was 'feminists struggling against climate change and the privatisation of the environment' organised by the World March of Women and supported by Friends of the Earth International.
Meena Raman from Friends of the Earth Malaysia began by updating us on the climate talks from the perspective of developing countries and women.
She said how great it was to be at the Klimaforum," a place of passion, inspiration, spirit and hope and justice" and went on to say how women's closeness to the earth mean they are at the forefront of the climate struggle:
"They see what contamination does their bodies, what pollution does their children."
She spoke with passion detailing the spin the developed countries are putting on the talks.
"They say there needs to be a new treaty to replace Kyoto which runs out in 2012. It doesn't."
She criticised the Danish government for their back room talks and other countries for invoking intellectual property rights when it comes to green technology transfer.
"These same rights were used to deny Africans life saving AIDS drugs" she said.
It's hard to get a crowd fired up on the finer points of the Kyoto Treaty yet Meena had no problem in generating whoops, sighs and cheers.
Thuli Mahama from Friends of the Earth Swaziland spoke in advance of the event saying the face of poverty is always that of a woman or a malnourished child yet these same people are adapting without attending any conferences."
They have no choice but to find ways to survive:
"In Swaziland some women scrape some sand from the ground and if they wait long enough, perhaps two hours, a small pool of water may appear. This is how women are adapting to climate change" she said.
ecological debt and climate justice
As feminist struggles continued, over the corridor, the 'People's tribunal on ecological debt and climate justice' was taking place. There, a panel including Angela Navarro one of the Bolivian negotiators, the author Naomi Klein and Ricardo Navarro from Friends of the Earth El Salvador gave their thoughts on the pursuit of climate debt and reparations - an essential element to climate justice.
Angela Navarro began by talking about the kind of climate agreement Bolivia wants. One that takes into account the fact that developed countries and their pursuit of ever greater profits caused the mess that we're in today.
"Developed countries have forgotten what a healthy relationship is with Mother Earth. In the south we are still listening to her" she said.
She then went on to offer developed countries capacity building on being more in tuned with the earth.
Finally she ended with some news on the negotiations:
"Our President is preparing a surprise for us. We need your help to make this process inclusive from the bottom up. Thirty nations don't have a right to impose a solution"
Having spent a few days in the convention centre where the official climate talks are taking place, Naomi Klein observed that the talks resembled "the final scrabble for the remaining resources of a planet in peril"
She gave encouragement to the movement calling for reparations comparing them to the people who asked for reparations for the slave trade:
"They will laugh until there is a movement... We are that movement."
Finally it was Ricardo Navarro's turn.
He spoke of a new paradigm of development that needs to take place where it's not the economists who have the final word. He urged people to resist any project that contributes to climate change and transform the system; "small scale agriculture and energy sovereignty is part of the solution."
Naomi Klein had the last word when she said:
"A common phrase in American is 'let's press the restart button.' The earth doesn't have a restart button."