With just three negotiating weeks left before Copenhagen, we ask “what do the developing countries think a fair deal would look like?”
At the latest round of UN Climate Talks in Bonn, G77+China bloc (representing 132 developing countries) said that historical responsibility should be part of the global deal’s shared vision and should be used as a guide for future action on climate change.
At the previous set of talks in June in Bonn, developing world countries shared their perspectives on what “historical responsibility” might mean in practice. An increasingly popular view is that countries should get equal access to the total safe emissions budget across time. This would mean that the rich world is already in debt. Rich countries must therefore rapidly decarbonise their societies and fund low carbon development in poor countries.
This idea goes beyond Contraction & Convergence which divides up only the remaining emissions budget on a fair basis. A version of this idea has recently been formulated by the German Advisory Council on Global Change and endorsed by the German government’s chief advisor on climate change, John Schellnhuber who says: “Our basic principle is that all humans have equal rights to the to the atmosphere. This is a basic right.”
The Scottish camp supported a local campaign against the expansion of open-cast coal mining in an Area of Great Landscape Value. This landscape-destroying form of mining also seems to be linked high rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer amongst local residents. The Scottish government’s enthusiasm for expanding open-cast coal mining is incompatible with its ostensibly world-leading Climate Change Act which commits the country to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42% and producing 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
The Irish camp focussed on the issue of peat-burning in three power stations. Peat is more carbon-intensive than even coal and the strip-mining of peat bogs is destroying a natural carbon sink as well as impacting on biodiversity. A nine-day Camp ended in actions which shut down two of the power stations and helped to restore the peat bogs.
A list of Climate Camps around the world follows…
Another negotiating week on the road to Copenhagen has come and gone. We try and tell you as much as we can in plain English about where the talks currently stand, now that there are just 100 days left to go to Copenhagen. Our focus here, is on the overall “shared vision” element of the agreement.
- The Association of Small Island States and Least Developed Countries (together representing over 80 countries) now support both the 1.5°C maximum temperature target and reducing greenhouse gases to a concentration level of 350ppm CO2e in the atmosphere
- More countries now support the 1.5°C target than the 2°C target that Europe and the Obama-convened Major Economies Forum (representing only 39 nations) support
- European Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas agrees that 2°C is no longer safe and that the upper threshold should be 1.5°C maximum temperature rise
- The Africa group of around 50 countries won’t support even a 2°C target until they see stronger commitments from rich nations on domestic action and finance
- UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair, Rajendra Pachauri, has come out in support of the 350ppm target
It is the fatal flaw at the heart of both the EU and US climate policies which threatens to make a scientifically robust and fair climate deal in Copenhagen impossible. It is the reason that when the EU says it is cutting greenhouse gases 20% by 2020 or 30% if there is a global deal in Copenhagen, they are in fact putting a cut of just 10 or 15% on the negotiating table. And it is the reason why when the UK says it is cutting greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 it is actually committing itself to a cut of only 40% within the UK.
This week we take a look at the creative accounting mechanism which makes this sleight of hand possible – carbon offsetting under the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism – more commonly known at the CDM.
We take the argument against large-scale carbon offsetting under the CDM to the head of the Market-Based Instruments Unit at the European Commission, Yvon Slingenberg; and we hear from Tom Picken, Head of the International Climate Change at Friends of the Earth, who is co-author of the most accessible report yet on the case against carbon offsetting under the CDM, “A Dangerous Distraction.”
With this year’s Camp for Climate Action in London fast approaching we revisit our report on last year’s Camp at Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent. The programme provides a window on the gaping gulf between mainstream reporting on the event and the reality of the Camp itself. Includes interviews with some of those involved in some of the associated direct actions. Links and references
- the historic Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change and its implications for the UN climate talks in Copenhagen at the end of the year
- the Arctic’s central position in the climate tipping point story and
- the rush to exploit the fossil fuel resources in the Arctic opened up by the sea ice melt
We also hear from Vietnam vet and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge campaigner, Robert Thompson, about the potential impacts of an oil spill and about the oil company tactic of bribery that has attempted to split and buy-out local opposition to oil drilling.
The first of two episodes featuring Jess Worth – a co-editor of New Internationalist – who has recently finished editing an issue of the magazine focusing on the Arctic which uncovers the largely untold story of how climate change is impacting already on indigenous peoples and their traditional subsistence lifestyles.
We hear from Gwich’in activist Faith Gemmill (co-odinator of REDOIL) about how indigenous peoples are fighting back against fossil fuel developments on their lands. A recent string of successful legal challenges suggests that indigenous peoples could end up playing a critical role in the fight against climate change. REDOIL have won important victories over Shell, the US government and the Environmental Protection Agency.
We get a majority world perspective on the climate emergency from Goldman Prize winner Ricardo Navarro. Navarro won the Goldman prize for sustainable development back in 1995 for his work as founder and director of the El Salvador Centre for Appropriate Technology and he is a former director of Friends of the Earth International.
Here he talks about how a new regional Movement of Climate Change Affected Peoples is responding to the pressures of climate change with awareness raising, permaculture techniques and low-level technologies as well as putting up resistance to inappropriate development. He also gives us his wider perspective on the United Nations climate talks which he has been attending since 1992.
The global deal on climate change has two main requirements. That it is guided by the latest science and that it is fair. Without fairness there will be no deal, as 192 countries need to agree and most of these countries are poor. We take a look at Oxfam International’s proposal for a fair deal that could break current deadlock in the talks, in an interview with Oxfam researcher Richard King . Like the proponents of Climate Debt and Greenhouse Development Rights, Oxfam says the rich world has a “double duty” to both make radical cuts at home and to pay for the poor world to adapt to climate change and develop in a low carbon way. Oxfam’s key recommendations are:
- Copenhagen must deliver a fair and adequate climate deal: one that keeps global warming as far below 2°C as possible, and that reflects the historical responsibility for emissions and the economic capability of developed countries
- Rich countries must agree binding individual country targets that cut greenhouse gas emissions to at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
- A UN Fund should be established by raising $150bn per year as an absolute minimum from the sale, auction or levy of rich country emissions allowances (AAUs). $100bn of this would fund low-carbon development in poor countries and $50 would fund adaptation measures in poor countries
- Additional funds would be raised from fines if rich countries fail to meet their targets; and from the purchase of “premium reductions” which would replace the Clean Development Mechanism and ensure that poor countries rather than rich countries take advantage of the cheapest low-carbon options first
Is Oxfam’s idea of “premium reductions” a possible solution to the problems with the Clean Development Mechanism? We aksed Richard King to expand on this idea and how it relates to the CDM in the explanatory note which follows…
At the end of the UN Climate Talks in Bonn we get a close reading of the state of play from Third World Network’s Meena Raman. While the elements of a possible successful Copenhagen global climate deal are on the table and mainly come from developing countries, rich countries continue to ignore their responsibilities and offer weak cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that scientists have concluded are virtually certain to guarantee dangerous climate change.