Feb 04, 2008

UN climate change meeting - an analysis

by DebraBroughton — last modified Feb 04, 2008 05:00 PM
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Friends of the Earth International and WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia had a large team of local and international activists campaigning in the lead-up to and throughout the United Nations climate change negotiations in Bali, December 2-15, 2007.


civil society in Bali


Climate change is now an international environmental and social justice issue with increasing active engagement from social movements and citizens, particularly affected peoples. In Bali there was an unprecedented civil society presence that highlighted the impacts of climate change and proposed solutions. Friends of the Earth believes that a global climate justice movement is necessary to ensure that the responses to climate change are socially and environmentally justice, and that demand a high level of ambition, commitment and action from political leaders.


foei side eventFriends of the Earth took part in the development of the so-called "Solidarity Village" in coordination with La Via Campesina and Focus on the Global South. This space allowed communities affected by climate change to build relationships among themselves. They also had the opportunity to express their motivations behind their struggle for climate justice. The issues – ranging from the enforcement of land rights for forest conservation, food and energy sovereignty, privatization, trade liberalization and agrofuels – have had a common theme of corporate globalization taking over the climate agenda and the need to resist this with an alternative agenda that leads us towards sustainable societies.


Alliance-building work in Bali culminated in the establishment of a network of organizations such as the Durban Group, Third World Network, Via Campesina and World Rainforest Movement and Indigenous peoples organizations called Climate Justice Now! The purpose of this new coalition is to ensure that justice is put at the heart of the climate agenda – not only in UNFCCC meetings but in other spaces such as the G8 and WSF. This involves, for example, exposing false, corporate-driven solutions such as agrofuels, offsetting and carbon finance for forests and demanding massive North to South financial transfers for adaptation and mitigation, clean renewable energy, a dramatic shift in production and consumption patterns.

During the Global Day of Action (December 8 2007) Friends of the Earth International Climate and Energy Coordinator Hildebrando Velez was a speaker at the People’s Assembly before going to join the mobilization for climate justice. Hundreds of people marched in the hot afternoon sun in Denpasar with organisations such as SPI (Indonesian chapter of Via Campesina), WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia and Friends of the Earth International – chanting and waving banners. Jubilee South had fantastic oversized puppets of political leaders that are spearheading the privatisation of lands, ecosystems and services at the cost of people and the environment.


Friends of the Earth recognizes that overconsumption of resources and production of pollution of the atmosphere by the North that is manifests in global climate change, has its roots in economic and social injustice. It is imperative that the global community recognise that the effects of these injustices are suffered most by communities who are already living in highly vulnerable environments due to excessive resource exploitation to meet the market demands of the North. These facts make our main task the consolidation of the Climate Justice movement in which we are already working. Friends of the Earth accepts the task of articulation of the organizations and affected peoples, in particular provide spaces to raise their voices to the decision makers.



inside negotiation halls

Strategically Friends of the Earth chose to focus on lobbying and media work on the obligations of the Annex I (global North) of both emission reductions, finance for technology sharing, deforestation and adaptation. Over the past year there has been an exceeding amount of pressure on non Annex I (global South) to accept 'contributions' of emission reductions mostly because of the international desire to have USA in future climate change agreements, as well as from IPCC reports which state that global emissions reductions are required to keep temperatures even to 2.4 degrees (which is far too high for the most vulnerable peoples and ecosystems). There is very little recognition that this is blatantly inequitable – especially since Annex I countries have failed for over ten years to fulfill their finance obligations to the South for mitigation and adaptation.


In Bali we saw major players of the Group of 77 developing countries (G77) and China extremely well-organised and united. China presented a very comprehensive proposal for a multi-lateral fund for technology transfer, which was supported by the G77. The G77 were also outspoken throughout the COP about the bullying tactics being applied - such as threats of trade sanctions. The EU were less strong than in the past and while they managed to retain emissions reductions of 25-40% by 2020 in one of the two main decision texts, they failed to support the proposal for a technology fund.


Overall, Bali delivered two main decisions which are the timetable for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I, and the Bali Action Plan which is a collection of many different aspects of UNFCCC obligations of mitigation, technology, finance and adaptation. Both are really short on content, and negotiating timetables for the next two years. This is expected to deliver a final decision on Copenhagen in 2009 which will become the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.


The Bali Action Plan was the decision taken first in the last plenary and was achieved after a not-seen-before backlash against the USA in which the USA was forced to reverse their position and accept that they had obligations to reduce emissions and to take special consideration of the national circumstances of non Annex I to not all be signing up for emission reduction mitigation actions – i.e. least developed countries and small island developing states who have comparative low emissions and are extremely vulnerable to climate change. This was widely reported as the 'Bali outcome' and by itself is a really weak decision because it has emissions’ reduction ranges of between 10-40% in a footnote.

However - this decision text has to be considered alongside the second major decision of the workplan of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments of Annex I - which does actually have emissions reduction ranges of 25-40% by 2020 for industrialised countries, global peak and decline of emissions by 2015 and keeping temperature below 2 degrees. This is a Kyoto Protocol decision so doesn't apply to the USA - but theoretically provides an 'in' for the USA once there is a change of administration and predicted change of policy on Kyoto. Hence Friends of the Earth International final press release of a weak 'deal' (http://www.foei.org/en/media/archive/2007/kyoto-afloat-after-attempted-sabotage/)




Useful links:


a. Interviews available at Real World Radio http://www.radiomundoreal.fm/rmr/?q=en

b. Third World Network news bulletins www.twnside.org.sg/climate.news.htm
c. Focus on the Global South www.focusweb.org and http://www.focusweb.org/players-and-plays-in-the-bali-climate-drama.html?Itemid=1

d. International Forum on Globalism www.ifg.org/baliblog.htm

e. Transnational Institute http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17794&username=guest@tni.org&password=9999&publish=Y