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PANAMA CITY, PANAMA, October 7, 2011 – Friends of the Earth International has expressed strong concerns over renewed attempts by rich countries to tear up the framework for global action on climate change at the United Nations climate negotiations today.

The UN talks are closing in Panama today and will resume at a key meeting in Durban, South Africa, November 28-December 9.

For the past two years the US, followed by Japan, Australia and Canada have made a concerted attempt to get out of their obligations under the UN climate convention which was agreed almost 20 years ago [1].

The talks in Panama this week have seen a further push by rich countries to scrap the convention and replace it with a new, far weaker climate treaty which would set the world firmly on a path to catastrophic climate change [2].

Kate Horner, Policy Analyst with Friends of the Earth US, said: “The United States is the cuckoo in the nest of the Climate Convention, not satisfied until it has destroyed all the progress made over the last 20 years and a weak agreement that benefits its own narrow, short-sighted interests is in place.”

A focus on short-term economic and financial gains by many governments at the talks is sidelining desperately needed commitments and action to dramatically cut global emissions and to deliver adequate public finance to developing countries.

Speaking ahead of the Durban climate talks, Director of Friends of the Earth South Africa Bobby Peek said: “It is now time to raise the alarm bell about what is going on inside the UN negotiations. The lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and around the world will be devastated if we fail to prevent catastrophic climate change. But the negotiations have been captured by financial and corporate interests, whose voices are more powerful than those of ordinary people.”

Many countries, particularly the European Union, are also pushing for the expansion of the global carbon market, which is a false solution to climate change and is putting the world on course for catastrophic climate change.

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Climate Justice and Energy Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth International said:

“Tackling climate change can go hand in hand with more and better jobs, more secure livelihoods, greater well-being, and of course a safer climate. But to make this a reality we need governments to start acting in the interests of ordinary people and communities, not corporate and financial elites. The UN climate talks are fast becoming a barrier rather than a catalyst for global climate solutions. An urgent and dramatic change in direction is now an absolute imperative.”



In Panama: Kate Horner, Policy Analyst, Friends of the Earth US: +1 360 319 9444, email: KHorner@foe.org

In South Africa: Bobby Peek, Director of Friends of the Earth South Africa: +27 824 641 383, email: bobby@groundwork.org.za

In Europe: Sarah-Jayne Clifton, International Co-ordinator – Climate Justice & Energy Programme, Friends of the Earth International Tel: +44 7912 406510 email: sarah.clifton@foe.co.uk



[1] The governments of the US, Japan and Canada and other rich industrialized countries are seeking to dismantle the Kyoto Protocol – the legally binding emissions reductions framework for rich industrialised countries – and replace it with a ‘bottom-up’, ineffective voluntary system. Under such a system, countries would decide their own emissions targets, there would be no overall cap, and there would be less recognition of the different levels of responsibility for the problem of climate change between countries.

The Kyoto Protocol includes a seriously damaging carbon market mechanism which must be scrapped, but is also the only international agreement for legally-binding emissions reductions for rich, industrialised countries.

[2] Australia, Norway and other countries are also now pushing for a new climate treaty with a narrow focus on cutting climate emissions and new burdens on developing countries to cut emissions with no corresponding provisions for finance, technology, adaptation or capacity-building. This would constitute a clear shifting of the burden of tackling climate change away from the rich industrialised countries which have primary responsibility for creating the problem.