by Gotelind Alber, Sustainable Energy and Climate Policy, Berlin, Germany
Excerpt. Full text is in Harvard's Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter, Jan 2008.
In Bali, you never know how things are going to turn out. The traditional battle between the evil witch Rangda and the monster Barong who is striving for the good, is performed as a dance theatre accompanied by Gamelan music, and its end is always open. In most cases, the Barong prevails, but sometimes it may happen that the evil forces come out on top, at least temporarily.
At UN Climate Conferences, the positive forces have regularly lost to skeptics, procrastinators and impeders. ...eventually, everybody will realize the necessity of drastic climate protection measures. In the meantime, the temporary victory of the evil forces is leading to calamity.
[WCJ's presentation at Bali showed] that not only the impacts of climate change, but also activities to mitigate climate change can be a calamity, in particular for women. [In the Kyoto accord's] market-based Clean Development Mechanism ... industrialized countries generate emission credits through climate protection projects in developing countries. The benefit of the projects realized so far for women in developing countries is very limited, since the bulk of investments went to large-scale power generation or industrial projects, rather than into energy efficiency in the domestic sector, small scale renewable energy projects for rural communities or schemes to improve public transport systems. A number of projects are even harmful to local communities, e.g. large-scale monoculture plantations or landfill gas utilization projects which led to continuing the landfills instead of closing them down.
One of the core questions of COP13 was how to halt the rapid destruction of forests in tropical countries, contributing some 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Proposals ranged from direct aid requested by poor countries, to market-based emission credits for "avoided deforestation" aka REDD. REDD would primarily benefit the companies who are currently pushing deforestation, while forest people would go away empty-handed, particularly the women as the poorest group....
WCJ highlighted that forestry is not only about trees and their carbon content, but also about the ecosystem in a broader sense, and the people who live in and from the forest. Since the social issues are, to a large extent, gender issues, [we] advocated their inclusion in the debate, rather than only focusing on technical and methodological issues... causes of deforestation [also include] over-consumption, agro-fuel expansion, fossil fuel extraction, the replacement of natural forests by monoculture tree plantations, and the lack of respect for indigenous peoples’ rights.
At Bali, the Japanese government proposed to include nuclear energy in the Clean Development Mechanism. As an eligible technology, nuclear power would then receive financial incentives. Whereas large parts of the NGO community remained silent, the women’s group vehemently protested against this revival of nukes, pointing out that climate change should not be combated with technologies involving uncontrollable risks....
Women for Climate Justice is a new network of women and gender experts from all parts of the world. [Founded by Genanet and Energia at COP 9 in 2003, we now fund participation of women from all over the world at such Conferences of Parties to the UNFCCC.] ... However, to really influence the negotiations there needs to be much more work done between sessions such as attending UNFCCC events and submitting positions on specific items under consideration, expansion of the network, and the means to plan and implement adaptation and mitigation case studies on the ground...