"Perfectly just is not going to happen here"

Posted December 9, 2010 by Ben Lilliston   

"The perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. What we needed is 'good enough.' And 'good enough' is not 'perfectly just.' 'Perfectly just' is not going to happen here." These are the words yesterday of Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at an event here in Cancún presenting climate finance options to governments at the U.N. global climate talks.

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Elegant in Cancún

Posted December 9, 2010 by Ben Lilliston   

Women gathered at EsMex: an alternative climate forum in Cancún to discuss REDD+ as a strategy for dealing with climate emissions. A circle of women, surrounded by yet more circles of Indigenous women and men shared their thoughts about forests, life, community and climate change.

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From Cancún to Minnesota: The need for environmental justice

Posted December 9, 2010 by Andrew Ranallo   

On Tuesday night, IATP's Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy (CEED) hosted an event in Minneapolis that connected the need for climate justice in Cancún with local grassroots environmental justice efforts. It was part of the “1000 Cancun’s”, a day of climate justice action around the world.  The event included a local EJ panel as well as a live report back from three members of the National (U.S.) Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change. The event was filmed and webcast by The UpTake and a video is available below (in English).

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US in the hot seat on REDD+

Posted December 9, 2010 by Ben Lilliston   

The event, "Launch of United States Strategy for REDD+ USAID," was held today at COP 16. As U.S. negotiator Todd Stern publicly called upon us to have “measured expectations” for an international climate agreement, officials from U.S. AID  and U.S. Treasury laid out exuberant strategies for implementation of REDD+ projects to protect forests around the world. As of yet, the U.S. has made no commitments for reducing its own contributions to the alteration of the atmosphere.

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Bad process in climate talks, repeat

Posted December 9, 2010 by Ben Lilliston   

Last year in Copenhagen, a handful of heads of state led by President Obama sat in a room and hammered out what became to be known as the Copenhagen Accord. They congratulated themselves, announced an agreement and expected the rest of the participating governments to happily sign on.What followed was an amazing string of speeches going late into the night from countries who had been closed out of the room, decrying the agreement. The result: the Copenhagen Accord is now widely considered a failure—more public relations than reality.

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Measuring the climate: the whether channel

Posted December 8, 2010

IATP's Steve Suppan is blogging from the United Nations talks on climate change in Cancun.

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Marching in Cancún

Posted December 8, 2010

Cancun 2 003 The security is in full force at the global climate talks taking place in Cancún. Negotiators are cloistered in a resort called the Moon Palace. "Official" side events are a 20-minute bus ride away. And self-organized civil society events by various social movements and grassroots organizations are even farther away—up to an hour by bus.

The geographic separation of government negotiators and organizations representing people directly affected by climate change—particularly farmers—is reflected in the actual negotiating text. While governments maneuver to set up carbon market schemes and non-binding pledges, the participants in two large marches yesterday in Cancún urged more immediate action.

Cancun 2 030 Four IATP staffers, plus IATP board member Esther Penunia of the Asian Farmers Association, attended a march led by Mexican civil society groups in downtown Cancún, which included farm, labor and environmental groups from all over the world. An amazing array of signs, costumes and chants zeroed in on the main culprits of climate change: global corporations, who have exploited the world's natural resources, while at the same time steadily increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The groups also targeted international financial institutions, like the World Bank, who have helped finance multinational-led projects around the world that have continued this trend of natural resource exploitation.

Within the confines of the Moon Palace its hard to find any mention of the role of multinationals in causing climate change. Instead, they are often cited as part of solution with a variety of far-fetched technological advances and private finance schemes. If governments are serious about addressing climate change, they should listen to those who marched yesterday in the streets of Cancún, and less to multinational lobbyists who prowl the halls of the Moon Palace.

Cancun 2 041More pictures of the march, and our involvement in Cancún are on our flickr page.

Cancun 2 055

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UN climate talks keep agriculture on the wrong track

Posted December 6, 2010

At the U.N. climate talks this week in Cancún, an unfortunate trend is continuing that could have major consequences for the world's farmers. Agriculture is unique in that certain farming practices can actually sequester carbon to help address global climate change. Within the climate negotiations, governments continue to move forward on efforts to create a market for carbon sequestered by agricultural practices. But such a market would allow polluters to keep polluting and big financial firms to make a bundle.

At a press conference today in Cancún, IATP's Steve Suppan and Karen Hansen-Kuhn, along with Esther Penunia of the Asian Farmers Association, argued that the focus of climate negotiators should be on adaptation for agriculture. Farmers around the world, particularly in developing countries, are urgently in need of support to deal with the effects of climate change and transition toward more climate-resilient, sustainable practices.

You can view the full press conference here.

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Agriculture in the climate talks - new paper

Posted December 2, 2010

At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, governments will decide whether to expand the role that agriculture plays within global climate talks. The fate of these proposals will determine whether agriculture will be used by polluters to offset their emissions and shift the burden of greenhouse gas reduction onto developing countries. The Cancún meeting has the potential to further marginalize small-scale producers and their rights to land and livelihoods, and could also lead to perverse incentives to further intensify industrial agriculture practices.

In a new paper, Agriculture in the Climate Talks, IATP’s Shefali Sharma analyzes how agriculture and food security are treated within the UNFCCC negotiating text, covering issues around mitigation, adaptation and carbon markets. The paper is part of a series IATP has released to coincide with the U.N. climate talks in Cancún. You can find the full series, along with blog reports from IATP staff in Cancún, at: www.iatp.org/climate.

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Will the UN repeat Copenhagen's mistakes?

Posted December 2, 2010

IATP's Shefali Sharma is blogging from Cancún, Mexico where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is being negotiated.

It’s the fourth day of the climate talks in Cancún and the atmosphere in the corridors is hushed. There are six bodies meeting over a two-week period here and already many of the meetings in the daily program are being limited to “parties and observer states.” This leaves most of the civil society organizations—who have travelled long distances to be here—essentially out of the negotiations. This is in contrast to other U.N. negotiations that are supposed to be open and transparent with observer organizations having opportunities to intervene and engage.

Information about what is happening in the key areas of the negotiations is not filtering out adequately. And those of us gathered here are having to resort to personal contacts in government delegations to find out what is going on. At the outset of the meeting, many government delegations also stressed that the number of simultaneous meetings had to be limited because it prevents smaller delegations from being able to participate adequately.

We already see a mushrooming of the number of meetings in the form of contact groups, informal consultations, “spinoff” groups and drafting groups taking place. This is in addition to the numerous side events that are taking place in the official NGO space several kilometers away from the negotiating halls in the Moon Palace, as well as other events outside of the officially accredited spaces. Individuals are having to shuffle from point A to B in shuttle buses as any other form of transport is unavailable along the security strip.

Those who were present in COP 15 in Copenhagen last year say that it is starting to feel as if Cancún will be a repeat of Copenhagen where more and more meetings become restricted to governments only and civil society is shut out from participating in an issue that affects all of humanity. Civil society organizations, for instance, can only meet amongst themselves in the Cancún Messe which is several kilometers away from where the actual negotiations are taking place. We are not even allowed to book meeting rooms to discuss and share information about the talks in the Moon Palace where the drama will unfold in the coming days. And because there has been so much trouble with internet facilities in the negotiating spaces, communicating by email has also proved difficult.

Moreover, though the Mexican government said that it will not repeat Copenhagen by having a select group of heads of states come to Cancún to patch together a backroom deal—it now appears that around 40 governments are being invited for the high-level segment of the talks which begin next week. There is a concern that the elements of Copenhagen’s last-minute deal called the “Copenhagen Accord,” which was instigated by President Obama and created huge fissures in the prospects of a global deal, might be pushed again in Cancún.

Civil society groups, including IATP, have raised several concerns regarding the trajectory of the talks in an open letter to the Mexican Government serving as the president of the UNFCCC conference of the parties in Cancún. The groups state, “The [Cophenhagen] Accord, produced by an exclusive group of 28 countries selected by the Danish Government, and tabled on a 'take-it-or-leave-it' basis in the final hours of the conference, is illegitimate and, even according to the U.N. climate secretariat, has no status. Scientists have confirmed that its pledges could lead to upwards of 4 degrees of warming leading to catastrophic impacts on the world's people and ecosystems and irreversible climactic change.”

Already, Japan has made strong statements wanting to end the Kyoto Protocol—a legally binding protocol under the UNFCCC, which was agreed in Japan itself. Its end would mean the end to the only legally binding treaty that obliges industrialized countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. If the industrialized world wants all countries to take responsibility for urgently reducing and halting the threat of climate change, they will have to take the lead in doing it back home. And doing it now. We will see how the drama unfolds in the coming days.

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