Don’t railroad climate talks, climate justice activists told United States, Annex I parties
MANILA, Philippines – Days before the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) and the 7th Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP7) in Durban, South Africa, around 800 activists here massed in front of the United States embassy protesting US officials' attempts to railroad climate talks and demand accountability from the world's industrialized countries for causing the climate crisis with their excessive greenhouse gas emissions.
The US is the highest emitter of greenhouse gases but refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding treaty that obliges rich, industrialized nations to take primary responsibility for the adverse consequences of their fossil-fuel use. Lately, other rich countries that are party to the Kyoto Protocol have been moving to hedge their responsibilities under the treaty.
The protesters also called for climate justice and reparations from the world's major polluters, particularly the US and the 40 other developed countries. Placards and streamers further scored the gross injustice in making developing countries pay through climate-related project loans for the damage from a global crisis that they did not cause.
Led by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), and Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD), the protest is part of the "Week of Global Actions for Climate Justice". From Nov. 20-26, 2011, coordinated actions by more than 100 international, regional and national organizations will raise the call for climate justice and drum up protests against their respective governments in North America, Europe, South America, Africa and Asia and the Pacific.
Milo Tanchuling, PMCJ lead convenor and FDC secretary-general, said the Philippines and other poor countries are the least responsible for the climate crisis, yet they suffer its worst effects and are deprived of the means to respond.
"What is even worse is that instead of honoring their historical responsibilities and legal commitments, these governments are throwing their weight around to evade their commitments under existing agreements," said Tanchuling, also a JS-APMDD coordinating committee member.
"We are enraged by the sheer arrogance of the US government and its allies to ignore the 2007 Bali Road Map Action Plan and put forward a document, the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding agreement without real targets for reducing emissions and an attempt by Annex 1 countries to shift the burden of responsibility to developing countries," he said.
The Bali document lists key areas state parties must include in a new climate agreement that will be adopted in the 178th Conference of Parties to be held in Durban, South Africa this November. These include adaptation, mitigation, technology and financing.
Meanwhile, the US and allies are seeking to impose a domestic "pledge and review" system, deregulate multilateral climate rules and promote false solutions such as the expansion of carbon markets. These moves thwart the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and the precautionary principle.
Tanchuling cited a study of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body of more than 2,000 scientists, showing the US as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) since the industrial revolution more than a century ago. High fossil fuel use of the US and other industrialized countries has led to concentrations of GhG in the earth's atmosphere and is speeding up global warming. This rise in the earth's surface temperature causes catastrophic events such as super typhoons, the melting of polar ice caps and rising sea levels.
The Philippines' share in total GHG emissions worldwide does not amount to even one percent, but because of the climate crisis, the risks posed to an archipelagic nation have been multiplied by several fold. It currently ranks sixth in the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, and the third most vulnerable country to disaster risks and natural hazards in the World Risk Index 2011, next to the island nations of Vanuatu and Tonga.
"Time is of the essence. These rich industrialized countries must accept their historical responsibility on the climate crisis and undertake drastic emissions cuts without offsets. They must cover the full costs of enabling peoples of developing countries, like the Philippines, and other affected communities to deal with the impacts of climate change," said Tanchuling.
Over a hundred organizations signed the statement "Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice" pressing five major demands from all governments, especially the industrialized countries listed as Annex I parties in the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change, as part of a broader struggle to achieve climate justice, reparations for climate debt and a far-reaching global transformation. All governments must deliver outcomes that will:
1. Prevent catastrophic climate change and ensure just and fair sharing of drastic emission reductions. Limit temperature rise to well below 1.5º C and bring it down to 1º C as fast as possible. Rich industrialized countries to fulfil their existing legally binding commitments and undertake drastic emissions cuts without offsets in line with their fair share of the global carbon budget that takes into account historical per capita emissions. Offsets and other loopholes must be removed. The US must commit to comparable targets, based on its historical responsibility;
2. Stop false solutions. Stop the implementation and pursuit of false solutions such as carbon trading, market-based approaches to forests, soil and water, large-scale geo-engineering and techno-fixes, nuclear energy, mega hydro dams, agro-fuels, and clean coal;
3. Ensure adequate and appropriate finance on the basis of countries' responsibility for climate debt and obligation to make reparations to all affected peoples. Rich, industrialized countries to cover the full costs of enabling peoples of developing countries and other affected communities to deal with the impacts of climate change (including past, present and future losses), as well as the costs of enabling developing countries to shift to equitable, post carbon sustainable systems. Climate finance must not be in the form of debt-creating instruments and should be channelled through a democratic and accountable global fund that is independent of other international financial institutions and upholds the principles of direct access and country-determined, participatory decisions on the use of funds;
4. Ensure appropriate technology transfers without intellectual property barriers. Developed countries must ensure free sharing of safe, appropriate and ecologically and socially sound technologies; and,
5. Advance the transformation to Equitable, Democratic Post Carbon Systems. Take decisive steps towards the profound transformation of the system based on equity, science and the rights of peoples to live well in harmony with and respect for Mother Earth. Transform social and economic structures and technologies and re-orient policies to move away from profit-driven, growth oriented, high-carbon, elite-dominated exploitative systems and instead ensure a just transition to people-driven, equitable, democratic, post-carbon sustainable development.