Sunday, 11 October 2009

AOSIS States: No Backsliding in climate deal

The world’s threatened island states last week expressed alarm at suggestions that the Copenhagen Climate Summit will not produce legally binding outcomes to build on the current international climate regime. Speaking at the conclusion of climate talks in Bangkok, Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations in New York and current Chair of the 43-member Alliance of Small Island States, said her group was deeply concerned with the "divisive rhetoric" that had characterised some of the discussions in Bangkok.

Williams addressed the growing divide by proposing two separate and legally binding outcomes in December. Island states joined with other developing nations in calling for deeper emission reduction commitments by industrialised countries under the Kyoto Protocol for the period after 2012. She also called for a second, multilateral and legally binding agreement to define action for all countries, including the United States, sufficient to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Responding to a push by some industrialised countries to move forward without the Kyoto Protocol, Williams said: "It is essential that we build upon, and do not weaken, the existing legally binding framework". She added that "now is not the time for backsliding. The failure to deliver ambitious legally binding outcomes in Copenhagen will threaten the survival small island states." – Williams also noted that Bangkok had seen Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and Sri Lanka join AOSIS and the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in calling for global warming to be limited to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. The AOSIS targets are now supported by close to 100 countries, more than half the UN membership.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Statement of the UNFCCC Women’s Caucus at the Bangkok Climate Change Talks

Bits of "women" for a chunk of the earth's population? We, women representing women`s organisations from around the world, appreciate UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's recognition of women as stakeholders in this process. We are grateful for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat led by Yvo de Boer in recognizing us as a possible constituency. However women's leadership and participation in the discussions and ultimately, in the implementation of climate change solutions have yet to be clearly articulated.

While the documents mention "women" at least 20 times, "women" mostly appear in the lists of vulnerable groups. Yet women have made significant contribution in solving the climate crisis through their leadership, experience, perspectives and ideas. We deserve to be included as stakeholders with interests that outstrip individual governments and corporate entities particularly those that refuse to consider the gendered impacts of climate change.

The strong integration of gender dimensions in the discussions would have enabled a more comprehensive analysis of the causes of climate change. Until today, patriarchal politics and corporate greed are the helm of the UNFCCC process as it is held hostage by most developed countries that have been unconscientiously messing up the planet and are not showing any signs of restraint.

Women represent half of the world's population. Often through our unpaid labour, we provide up to 90% of the household's food and other needs. Many of us walk a long distance just to fetch water. Sometimes some of us are raped as we set out to gather firewood.

Yet we continue to venture outside, if only to feed and shelter our families and communities. We significantly make up small-scale fisheries which is far less intrusive to the marine ecosystem. Despite the deep relationship we have established with nature as resource managers, especially in ancestral domains, a majority have yet to be accorded land rights, credit, information and a string of even the most basic human rights.

This situation even worsens as access to natural resources becomes scarcer
due to climate change.

In times of displacement because of extractive industries such as oil exploration, mining, rising sea levels, droughts, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and others, women and girls constitute more than half of the death toll because of cultural restrictions, lack the necessary know-how and resources to protect themselves While tired and lost, we continue to perform our reproductive roles as providers and nurturers wherever and however we settle.

As women's empowerment primarily comes from women themselves, we need the opportunities to meaningfully engage the process, whose framework so leaves much to be desired especially in terms of transparency, accountability and equity. Women's participation will be fundamental for realization of a gender integrated approach to climate change. It is for this reason that we urge governments to include the following paragraph in the Shared Vision, which serves as the outcome document's preamble:

"The full integration of gender perspectives is essential to effective action on all aspects of climate change, adaptation, mitigation, technology sharing, financing, and capacity building. UNFCCC processes must ensure compliance with existing women's rights standards and best practice as enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 [Women and Peace-Building]. The advancement of women, their leadership and meaningful participation and engagement as stakeholders in all climate related processes and implementation must be guaranteed."

Bangkok, 8 October 2009

Friday, 9 October 2009

Climate negotiations stuck: US becoming key obstacle

The rift between rich and poor countries has intensified because rich countries have not put serious money on the table to help poor countries adapt to the escalating impacts of climate change and develop on a low carbon pathway, international aid agency Oxfam said on the last day of UN climate negotiations in Bangkok. Oxfam senior climate adviser Antonio Hill said a continued lack of political will from rich country leaders also meant there was no movement on the emissions reduction targets that would help safeguard billions of the world’s poorest from death and suffering.

“The millions of people facing greater floods, droughts and failed harvest after failed harvest will be the real losers if the US, Canada, EU, Japan and Australia continue as blockers to the UN negotiations,” Hill said. The US in particular was becoming the biggest obstacle to a fair and safe global climate deal in Copenhagen. “The US has been silent on the scale of finance it will commit to, and has yet to adopt an ambitious emissions reduction target by 2020, giving negotiators none of the political clout necessary to unblock negotiations in make-or-break areas.” He said the desire of the EU, Japan, Canada and Australia to accommodate the US and abandon the Kyoto Protocol was an example of the poor leadership on show by all these countries these past two weeks.

According to Oxfam, Bangkok has been a warm-up session for negotiators who have shown their skill in trimming text, but in political terms, when the starting gun fired it became a race to the bottom, with rich countries weakening existing commitments under the international framework. The poorest, most vulnerable countries looking ahead to Copenhagen now face an impossible choice - to accept an agreement that fails to reduce the life-or-death risks they face, or to hold out for a safe and fair deal but risk walking away from Copenhagen empty-handed. “It is useful that the US is prompting a debate on who does what under a global agreement, but if it really hopes to have a constructive dialogue with developing countries it has to up the ante first by tabling an offer of finance and emissions cuts commensurate with its historic emissions and economic weight,” Hill said.

“The US’ endorsement of a new fund for developing countries is an encouraging step forward, although big questions remain on how it will operate.” Hill pointed to other areas of useful progress in the areas of agriculture, mitigation action from developing countries, and aviation and shipping emissions over the past two weeks. “But what we have seen in Bangkok was a cosmetic procedure, when what was required was major surgery,” he said.

Developing countries came to Bangkok willing to negotiate. China is a world leader in renewable energy investment, has committed to reduce emissions in line with its economic growth path, and has offered support to help developing countries, including small island states and African nations, adapt to the impacts of climate change. Last week Indonesia committed to deep cuts below business as usual.

For developing countries, another disturbing development in Bangkok has been a hardening of rich country positions on the issue of finance: they are now openly insisting climate finance should come from existing aid budgets. But aid must be increased, not diverted, say NGOs. If promised aid increases are plundered for climate purposes, it could mean that 8.6 million fewer people have access to HIV and AIDS treatment, 75 million fewer children will be in school, and 4.5 million more children die than would otherwise be the case.