Thursday, 1 December 2011

Durban COP-17 news

Headlines so far -- we are headed for 4 degrees of climate chaos with current emissions targets, rich countries failed to fulfil their pledges to climate action funds, and Canada-US-Russia-Japan helped scuttle Kyoto. REDD negotiators approved "forest reference levels", and  safeguards for vulnerable populations ("Guidelines on FPIC"). If these  prove to be enforceable, that will be good news.

Beginning with the most readable reports: the blog by Judy Lumb, QEW delegate to Durban, and the UK Guardian's excellent round-up of Durban articles. I question the latter's hopeful verdict that Durban brings a binding climate treaty "in sight". At best, it is a promise to negotiate one by 2020. But such promises have been broken many times. South Africa's Business Day editorializes, "Depending on your viewpoint, the Durban- hosted United Nations climate change talks (COP-17) were either successful or a complete failure. The negotiations delivered a deal, one that at least allows SA, as COP-17 host, to hold up its head in international multilateral negotiation circles. But from the perspective of saving the planet from what science tells us will be irreversible and damaging climate change, it was a dismal failure."

Detailed critiques along these lines can be found in's compilation. See especially those by TWN, IBON; and Nele Mariel on the loopholes in REDD and climate finance. See also the report to Consultancy Africa Intelligence.

Some personal stories from Africa are in, and in its Resources page:
and side events “ENB on the side reports including:
CC story of honeybush farmers of Ericaville, South Africa, over the last five years
Belize protected areas
REDD projects using a human rights approach
REDD: a comparative survey by CIFOR forestry experts.
Pictures are worth a thousand words: see the stands of corporate lobbies at Durban, S. African waste pickers' protest, the Caravan of Hope by small farmers, women, cooperatives and unions; video of Canada's shameful withdrawal from Kyoto; reactions by Canadian youth delegates (blog and podcasts, videos) and by US youth delegates.

To quote US expert Joe Romm's Climate Progress blog 24 Dec 2011 (whose full text is worth reading): "It is increasingly unlikely that we will adopt the aggressive but low-net-cost policies needed to stabilize at 450 ppm atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, and then quickly come back to 350 — thanks in large part to the deniers, along with their political pals and media enablers. Delay is very risky and expensive." He quotes the International Energy Association: "Every year of delay adds an extra USD 500 billion to the investment needed between 2010 and 2030 in the energy sector”. Rather than being cut, world emissions are even rising faster than previous Business-As-Usual (BAU) forecasts. The IEA's 2011 Energy Outloook says, “rising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change” and “we are on an even more dangerous track to an increase of 6°C."

For policy analyses: see Canada's Climate Action Network and WCCE, Third World Network's climate news, Climate-Connections, the semi-official IISD report Assessing the Outcomes of COP17 ("There is a clear trade-off between the level of ambition and the inclusivity and robustness of a future agreement". The Durban deal gave "flexibility, particularly for major emitters" and "many entrenched divisions remain"). The COP17 Civil Society site's Resources page contains many preliminary reports from the Durban committees. The centrist Wuppertal Institute foresees at best a period of "shifting alliances" on emissions targets, green technology transfer, and carbon trading: "The endgame of the Durban Platform…might be a very substantial share of global emissions being covered by domestic emissions trading systems." WI report On the Road Again, p.38.

"Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us" -- Finnish writer Henrik Tikkanen.

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