Monday, December 10, 2007

Kyoto: More Harm Than Good. Where next?

Almuth Ernsting

One week at the Bali Climate Conference has cured me of any illusion that UNFCCC will solve the climate crisis, or that the annual gatherings of governments, industry and some NGOs will even remotely move us in the right direction.

This is not about saving the planet. It's quite simply a trade show, and all the different proposals are about making carbon trading more efficient or getting this or that industry or government to profit a bit more whilst we move ever faster towards mass extinction. I wonder if, in years to come, we'll look back on UNFCCC meetings as climate change profiteering conferences.

Outside the main conference, the Indonesian Civil Society Forum, supported by NGOs from many different countries, are holding their events and protests for climate justice and against false solutions. Those false solutions is what UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol are about: Carbon trading, now to include the proposed carbon trading in forests (REDD), agrofuels, etc. We will all pay the price for losing our last chance of preventing runaway global warming, but in the short term it's the people of the global South who are paying the highest price. At a side event organised by the Transnational Institute last night, speakers said that the Clean Development Mechanism is now widely called the Criminal Development Mechanism in countries like India. It funds not clean or sustainable development, but some of the most polluting and destructive industries in the South.

"I have read widely about CDM and carbon finance and looked closely at some
of the methodologies and I have seen nothing to suggest that destructive hydro
projects, payments for palm oil companies, industrial tree plantations, toxic
landfill sites, and polluting factories are anything other than the norm. This
carbon finance is all that Kyoto has brought us. Another 'stronger' Kyoto
Agreement will bring us even more of the same."

A representative of indigenous peoples organisations from Oceania told me of his distress that the governments of the Small Island Nations now ask for nothing but carbon finance to get some money for their drowning countries. They no longer even ask for real policies to reduce emissions. 15 nations in Oceania are about to drown. I asked the person whether he thought people would get out. Some, he said, will get to New Zealand, but for most there is no way out - nobody will take them. They will just drown. He said that several hundred people drowned in PNG just a few days ago, and on one of the islands, after a tropical storm one or two years ago, the whole lagoon was full of dead bodies and they just pushed them into the deeper sea because there were too many to retrieve and bury.

Just before the COP opened, I went to a Climate Justice conference organised by Friends of the Earth Indonesia and Via Campesina. A speaker from Sobrevivencia, Paraguay called for action and demonstrations - but to be very clear what we demonstrate for. If we hold up banners saying climate change kills and we want more govenrment action, the very power groups driving the destruction, she warned, will cheer and might give us even more carbon finance or agrofuels. Instead, she suggested, we need to mobilise against the false solutions and for real, meaningful actions that will actually cut emissions and deliver climate justice. I agree with her. The time for marching for 'global action on climate change' without denouncing the false solutions and the drivers of climate change is over.

There will be no magic bullet, no convincing framework proposal drawn up in offices of the Nothern countries which will save us. Greenhouse gas reduction targets will remain meaningless without realistic ways of delivering them.

"We need to engage with the climate justice movement of
the global South, learn about their reality and realise that, without climate
justice there will be no chance of slowing the pace of the climate

And climate justice is not just about finding a framework that is fair on paper, but about stopping the carbon traders, the agrofuel companies, the trade mechanisms which are ensuring the ever faster destruction of forests and other ecosystems, the large hydro dams, etc. - and, of course, pushing for real and immediate reductions in emissions and consumption in the UK.

After Bali, we need to get together and decide where, as climate campaigners, we want to be going. Do we want to continue getting ever more people onto the streets calling for no particular solutions and, even worse, by implication lending legitimacy to the false solutions? Or will we reflect on what Kyoto and UNFCCC now stand for, engage with climate justice campaigners in other countries and start calling for the action which we need to stand any chance of not following the fate of the people in Oceania who have already lost their future?

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At 2:05 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

First of all: study the science - try to find the link between CO2 concentrations and global atmospheric temperatures - I can't find solid science supporting a link anywhere - the IPCC TAR's go around it. Don't believe what you read, do your own research.

At 12:39 AM, Anonymous A.D. Salo said...

Well said, Mike. I agree completely. Do your own research, stay informed, make your own decision.


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