Monday, December 13, 2010

127. UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun Concludes

The United Nations Climate Change Conference tool place in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10, 2010.  No party expressed high expectations that this conference will lead to any decisions proportionate to the scale of the planetary crisis posed by climate change.  The mainstream media, at least in the U.S., mostly ignored it.  However, the conference organizers managed to put together a number of measure that the representatives from 190 countries voted for.  For the text of these agreement click here. For the main text of agreement click here.  Even the New York Times evaluated the out come as "moderate deal on emissions." It is no secret that the UN scientific committee on climate change has been calling for dramatic lowering of carob dioxide emissions because the warming process can become self-sustaining in short term.  The Cuban delegation warned that "adoption here in Cancun [of] concrete decisions on a second period of commitments of Kyoto."  But Meena Raman of the Malaysia-based Third World Network protesting in Cancun noted: "The mitigation paradigm had changed from one which is legally binding--the Kyoto Protocol with an aggregate target which is system based, science based--to one which is voluntary, a pledge-and-review system."  How was this done? The smaller governments were “bullied, hustled around, lured with petty bribes, called names and coerced into accepting the games of the rich and emerging-rich nations”, says Soumya Dutta of the South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy. “Many debt-ridden small African nations are seeing the money that they might get through the scheming designs of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), and have capitulated under the attack of this REDD brigade. It’s a win-win situation, both for the rich nations, as well as for the rich of the poor nations. The real poor are a burden in any case, to be kept at arms length - if not further.” WikiLeaks just exposed how "diplomatic" relations actually work and the UN climate change meeting in Cancun is no exception.  Climate change policy requires ecocenterism (Earth-centered) policy to drive national priorities, not the interests of corporations, ruling classes, and the elites. 

Below is the statement of the Bolivian delegation that decided to vote against the measures adopted. 


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The Bolivian delegation, Cancun, December 11, 2011

The Plurinational State of Bolivia believes that the Cancun text is a hollow and false victory that was imposed without consensus, and its cost will be measured in human lives. History will judge harshly.

There is only one way to measure the success of a climate agreement, and that is based on whether or not it will effectively reduce emissions to prevent runaway climate change. This text clearly fails, as it could allow global temperatures to increase by more than 4 degrees, a level disastrous for humanity. Recent scientific reports show that 300,000 people already die each year from climate change-related disasters. This text threatens to increase the number of deaths annually to one million. This is something we can never accept.

Last year, everyone recognized that Copenhagen was a failure both in process and substance. Yet this year, a deliberate campaign to lower expectations and desperation for any agreement has led to one that in substance is little more than Copenhagen II.

A so-called victory for multilateralism is really a victory for the rich nations who bullied and cajoled other nations into accepting a deal on their terms. The richest nations offered us nothing new in terms of emission reductions or financing, and instead sought at every stage to backtrack on existing commitments, and include every loophole possible to reduce their obligation to act.

While developing nations - those that face the worst consequences of climate change - pleaded for ambition, we were instead offered the “realism” of empty gestures. Proposals by powerful countries like the US were sacrosanct, while ours were disposable. Compromise was always at the expense of the victims, rather than the culprits of climate change. When Bolivia said we did not agree with the text in the final hours of talks, we were overruled. An accord where only the powerful win is not a negotiation, it is an imposition.

Bolivia came to Cancun with concrete proposals that we believed would bring hope for the future. These proposals were agreed by 35,000 people in an historic World People’s Conference Cochabamba in April 2010. They seek just solutions to the climate crisis and address its root causes. In the year since Copenhagen, they were integrated into the negotiating text of the parties, and yet the Cancun text systematically excludes these voices. Bolivia cannot be convinced to abandon its principles or those of the peoples we represent. We will continue to struggle alongside affected communities worldwide until climate justice is achieved.

Bolivia has participated in these negotiations in good faith and the hope that we could achieve an effective climate deal. We were prepared to compromise on many things, except the lives of our people. Sadly, that is what the world’s richest nations expect us to do. Countries may try to isolate us for our position, but we come here in representation of the peoples and social movements who want real and effective action to protect the future of humanity and Mother Earth. We feel their support as our guide. History will be the judge of what has happened in Cancun.

Other sources:
President Evo Morales' speech at the UN climate change conference
12. "Don't Change the Climate, Change the System"

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