Monday, 2 November 2009

Saving Copenhagen? France's plan justice-climat

Lire l'entrevue avec Borloo dans le Journal du Dimanche du 31 octobre.
Jean-Louis Borloo
France is trying to break the logjam of Copenhagen negotiations, according to Agence France Presse and Reuters. On 30 Oct president Sarkozy, and on 31 Oct environment minister J-L Borloo, announced a "plan justice-climat" in which France, Germany, and Austria are trying to convince the EU to make common cause with Mexico, Brazil, small island states (SIDS) threatened by climate change, and poor African and Asian countries, among the 175 haggling parties in COP-15 to save the climate treaty from failure. Main points of the French plan, which has been prepared over many months:
  1. A "wafer-thin" Tobin tax of 0.01% on financial speculation, already proposed in August by the UK's re-regulation chief Lord Hudson. The City and Wall St were "appalled" by his suggestion which means, as seasoned financial journalist Eric Reguly concludes, that it might actually be effective in slowing the computer-driven speculation that has led to repeated market meltdowns. The tax would be a pin-prick in the side of the financial elephant but yield an estimated $20b yearly. About a quarter of this would be for reforestation.
  2. It would provide mitigation funds for solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass and reforestation projects in the poorest countries. A telephone-book-sized overview of such projects country by country (prepared over the last year by Bernard Kouchner's Foreign Ministry*), fills the gap of skimpy or non-existent action plans (NAMA) that poor countries were supposed to prepare. Many have no funds to prepare such plans, let alone carry them out. [*This overview is not yet available online.]
  3. [A warning note about mitigation: Even if the French plan is agreed to, NGOs will have to be extremely watchful that carbon trading and REDD do not permit boondoggles by finance speculators and "free permits" to corporate polluters. Carbon trading and REDD are immense bribes to the corporate world. They should not be giveaways. Most of all, they must reduce real GHG emissions according to science-based targets. France is not renowned for international philanthropy. We must read the fine print. - DM]
  4. It is an end-run around the refusal of rich countries to finance mitigation funds and technology transfer. Their repeated promises in NEPAD, MDGs, PRSPs and LICUS, G20 green stimulus, UNEP's green new deal, reformed CDM, and World Bank carbon finance have proved to be so much hot air. The money to match the promises has never appeared. The G8 plead taxpayers' pockets are empty, but that is just this year's excuse. Trillions were found to bail out banks, stockbrokers and auto companies, and to make "war on terror" while nothing has been forthcoming for global needs or the working poor at home.
  5. [A possible alliance with the G2 (the US and China), who have been working on a secret climate deal in backroom talks that have already lasted several years. The sticking point seems to be US corporate demands for huge profits on "tech transfer". See TRIPS, comments by the French Journal du Dimanche, US ecologists in SEED, and the Sep-Oct 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs.]
  6. Emission reduction targets of 25-40% by 2020 for the rich countries. Real reductions, measured from the Kyoto base of 1990.
  7. A World Environment Organization (with what powers is not yet clear), similar to the World Trade Organization to ensure national actions are "measurable, reportable and verifiable" (MRV).
The English-language media have been strangely silent. Watch this space for updates.
St Andrews, Scotland 9 Nov 09: -- G20 fails on financial reform, climate action, and green economy. The"fossils" win again. The meeting of G20 Finance ministers just ended. The "crisis of capitalism" is officially over, so it's business as usual. No penalties for financial speculators. The US and Canada vetoed a Tobin tax. No mitigation funds for climate change. US-China "coordination" is an empty promise. All of which, the Swedish finance minister bitterly remarked, means “a very difficult situation in Copenhagen.” See the G20 ministers' rogues' gallery and the Nae tae G20 youth protest.
FAO World Food Summit, Rome, 11 Nov 09 -- Billions for banks and automakers, none for the hungry. France, Germany, UK, Italy and Japan are backing out on their $20 billion promise for world food aid made earlier this year.
Beijing 18 Nov 09: US-China deal gives new life to Copenhagen.
Paris 19 Nov 09: -- Environment Minister Borloo has just tabled his "Plan Justice-Climat" (its English title is "A Project for the World". Here is a summary in English by WWW France. The official French plan should be compared with the model Copenhagen Climate Treaty compiled by WWF and other NGOs, 8 Jun 09.
23 Nov 09: British PM Gordon Brown supports Tobin tax; IMF head will "study" it; US opposes it.

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