Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Oxfam: An ambitious deal in Copenhagen is still possible

The conference in Poznan was meant to be a key milestone between the start of negotiations in Bali last year and their conclusion at Copenhagen next year. But it has exposed a shameful lack of progress. By Poznan, developed nations (“Annex 1”) were meant to have submitted proposals on emissions reductions, finance and technology; they have failed to do so. They have tried to delay, shift the blame, and in the case of Canada, renege on their climate change obligations. In contrast, many of the developing countries came to Poznan with clear proposals, a willingness to show flexibility, and, in the case of countries such as South Africa, Mexico and China, national action plans to reduce climate emissions.

An ambitious deal in Copenhagen is still possible, and is needed more than ever, but it will need far more rapid progress than over the past year, says Oxfam in its analyses of the outcomes of COP-14 in Poznan. Specifically, it will need Annex 1 countries to come to the negotiations early in 2009 with far more political will and flexibility in negotiations. The only area of progress in Poznan was on adaptation. In response to the recognition that climate change is already impacting on the lives of millions of people, the conference agreed to start up an Adaptation Fund. However, after exhaustive negotiations, the developed countries rejected the strong push for additional funds. This was condemned vehemently by developing counties, citing the urgent needs of vulnerable people suffering from a crisis they did not cause.

The following provides an overview of the Poznan negotiations and what is needed to reach Copenhagen with the required preparation and political will.

Setting the long term goal

There was no agreement on a long term goal to avoid dangerous impacts of climate change…
* New scientific evidence shows an ambitious goal will be needed to avoid massive suffering.
* Tuvalu and other small island nations called for urgent action and a goal of below 1.5°C.
* The lack of proposals for intermediate emission reduction targets from Annex 1 countries meant that no agreement was possible.

A deal in Copenhagen will need a goal to keep global warming well below 2°C…
* Strong and ambitious proposals on the goal need be put forward as soon as possible.

Emissions reductions

Targets for emissions reductions were not agreed…
* Instead of proposals, Annex 1 countries arrived pleading for their special circumstances.
* They tried to shift the blame through calling for cuts by developing countries.
* The IPCC has called for Annex 1 countries to make cuts of 25-40% from 1990 levels by 2020; this should have been agreed in Poznan.
A deal in Copenhagen will need proposals by February and then expedited negotiations.

Adaptation finance

Developing countries failed to push through key measures to secure more adequate funding on favorable terms…
* In the face of bitter resistance from rich countries, an Adaptation Fund was finally agreed.
* Annex 1 countries failed to live up to their moral obligation to provide increased adaptation funding through new mechanisms, such as proceeds from auctioning emissions permits.
* At last, over a decade after negotiations started, an Adaptation Fund that is actually responsive to developing country needs has been given the go-ahead.
* This is an important step: it will help cut through red tape and ensure poor countries have a greater say in the terms under which funds are provided.
* Voluntary contributions of funds announced by Sweden and other countries are welcome, but no substitute for arrangements that guarantee adequate and predictable sources.

A deal in Copenhagen will need agreement on massively scaled up funding for adaptation.
* The funding needs to be delivered through mechanisms under the UNFCCC (such as the Adaptation Fund), with transparency, democratic accountability and civil society involvement.

The Adaptation Fund was established under the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and rules were agreed in the 2001 Conference of Parties (COP) in Marrakech. The principles for operation for the fund were agreed at the 2006 COP in Nairobi and the Fund was formally established in Bali at the UNFCCC COP last year. The Adaptation Fund Board has met three times in 2008 and will meet again immediately following the Poznan COP. Oxfam has made a proposal for adaptation funding in its briefing paper “Turning Carbon into Gold” entailing the auction of allocated emissions.

Technology transfer and finance

There was no progress towards developing and sharing clean technology or finance…
* Developing countries submitted new proposals in August 2008, but there has still been no constructive response from developed nations.
* A deal in Copenhagen will need proposals from Annex 1 countries by February to help developing countries to move towards a low carbon development path.


Negotiations on avoided deforestation were held but are causing deep concern…
* Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US opposed provisions to protect indigenous peoples’ rights.

A deal in Copenhagen will need major changes to the draft agreement on deforestation…
* The agreement will need to respect the rights of indigenous peoples, local people and communities, protect biodiversity and address the causes of deforestation.

The road from Poznan to Copenhagen

Progress has been slow over the past year and little has been achieved in Poznan …
* The work program calls for proposals in February and a negotiating document by June.
* Heads of State will meet in September at the opening of the UN General Assembly.

A deal in Copenhagen will need a step change in the level of urgency and political commitment …
* The role of the UN Secretary-General will be crucial, working with Heads of State who are committed to an ambitious agreement, including vulnerable countries.
* If there is not significant convergence in positions by March, there will need to be a Conference of the Parties around mid-year, in order to finally agree the political mandate.
* Annex 1 countries must change their approach to negotiations to accept their responsibilities to move first and furthest and support efforts by developing countries.
* The aim must be to agree a full negotiated text, not merely a political declaration.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Rich countries still need to prove that poor countries are not being left out in the cold

The international community’s decision to convene a UN Conference to discuss the financial crisis and its impacts on development is important. However, it will only prove its value if it receives the support of all eco-political power blocks, especially the G20. The convening of a UN Conference on the financial crisis and its impact on development in 2009 was a key decision made at the three-day International Conference to Review the Monterrey Consensus which concluded in Doha today.

According to the Catholic network IDSE, the UN Conference on the Financial Crisis to be convened in 2009 will be the first test of political commitment to the outcomes of the Doha Financing for Development Conference. Industrialised countries and particularly the new US Obama administration will be under close scrutiny. Serious and high level participation in the Conference will be fundamental to achieve an outcome that reinforces the Monterrey Consensus’ commitment to ‘promote sustainable development as we advance to a fully inclusive and equitable global economic system.’

The political will to see this Conference succeed is all the more significant in the face of the general weakness of the Doha Conference’s outcome. "Poor deals on trade, debt, to concretely reach ODA targets, and to follow-up on the Monterrey Consensus have been the casualties of the long and discordant negotiations during the Doha Conference. It is at least fortunate that tax evasion, a curse for poor countries’ revenues, has been recognised for what it is," observed Jean Saldanha, Policy Officer in CIDSE. The Conference’s failure to strengthen efforts to gear political support for innovative resources for development, and especially the glaring absence of a mention of a Currency Transaction Tax sets back the progress in demonstrating its feasibility and value since the Monterrey Conference in 2002. The Conference’s feeble outcomes fly in the face of the plea for urgent action made by many countries in Doha who have been hard hit by the financial crisis. For CIDSE the big question now is whether the UN Conference on the Financial Crisis will be able to succeed to turn around the fundamental problems of global architecture that is perpetuating today’s financial crisis.

A human rights approach is the only way to overcome the current crisis, argues the new Social Watch Report

The unusual combination of financial crisis, food crisis, energy and climate crisis requires a new approach based on human rights, argues the international Social Watch coalition in its 2008 report, launched during the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development in Doha. Next 10 December, as the report remembers the 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be commemorated and the title of the new report is, precisely, “Rights is the Answer”. The report documents how governments are falling short in their commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve gender equity through the testimony of civil society groups in 59 countries. Its main message is that the multiple crises currently affecting the world require a “rights-based approach” and provides examples on how the current financial architecture has ignored or openly violated those rights and triggered spiralling inequity all around the world.

The growing income inequalities both within and between countries spurred by capital flight, tax evasion, and privatization have slowed down the progress on key social indicators to a near halt over the last two decades. According to the Social Watch calculations, universal compliance with the Millennium Development Goals is now an impossible feat, if the world governments maintain a “business as usual” attitude. The grassroots activists and civil society analysts from around the world that contributed to the report show how the pervasiveness of extreme poverty and gender inequity is intimately linked to the immediate effects of the current triple crisis and to longer term structural issues ingrained in the global financial architecture. The report documents the widespread, haphazard implementation of policies promoting economic liberalization and deregulation having provoked the curtailment of peoples´ economic and social rights around the globe. That liberalization and deregulation now curtail the ability of many governments to comply with their international commitments to end poverty and achieve gender equality.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Trade unions demand new effort to successfully conclude Doha conference

As negotiations reach an impasse at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Doha, Qatar, the ITUC has expressed its concern that crucial commitments to mobilise financial resources for development could be compromised. “At the current stage, the trade union delegation is working hard to convince official delegations at all levels not to back down on core issues pertaining to Decent Work and to ensure that there is a strong follow-up mechanism under the auspices of the United Nations,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

Key questions, including, the impact of international trade on development, the future of the international financial system and the urgency of confronting climate change are provoking major debate between the G77 group, the US, the EU and Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. There are three major issues on which disagreement persists: First, opposition was voiced by the US and to a certain extent by the EU to strong draft language on the way trade policies affect development. Second, there is no consensus among governments on the way forward to review the international financial and monetary architecture and global economic structures. Third, a number of countries, such as the US and Russia, contend that the issue of financing climate change belongs to the UN’s climate change (UNFCCC) process and should be excluded from the discussions.

“It is of the utmost importance that the world listens to the aspirations of the developing world, because they suffer the worst impact of the current crises: job losses, downward pressure on working conditions and deterioration of living standards,” Ryder added. Apart from actively lobbying government officials at this critical point, the ITUC delegation together with the other members of the Decent Work, Decent Life Campaign hosted a parallel side-event “Financing Decent Work – An Imperative for Sustainable Development” at the Conference.