No Magic Bullet to Tackle Climate Change
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres | Credit: UNFCCC
By Jutta Wolf
BERLIN (IDN) - UN's topmost climate official Christiana Figueres has indicated that she is not expecting a single climate agreement that will act as a magic bullet and solve everything straightaway. But she hopes that governments will agree on "a new development paradigm that harnesses the full power of society, science and business".
Figueres, who is Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), made these remarks in run-up to the penultimate round of negotiations in China leading to the landmark conference from November 29 to December 10, 2010 in Cancun, Mexico.
The negotiating session October 4-9 in Tianjin, "is where governments will need to cut down the number of options they have on the table, indentify what is achievable in Cancun and muster political compromises that will deliver what needs to be done at Cancun," she said.
She pointed out that governments from both industrialised and developing worlds have made many pledges to cut and limit greenhouse gas emissions. Also industrialised countries have promised both short and long-term funding to help developing countries deal with climate change.
In fact, "governments are converging on the need to mandate a full set of ways and means to launch a new wave of global climate action."
"At Cancun, they can decide how and when to capture these promises in accountable and binding ways. They can deliver the short -term finance for the urgent needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and they can decide on a package of measures to act," she said spelling out alternatives.
Highlighting the importance of a global climate action, she drew attention to the fact that "this year has presented us with a series of disasters that have illustrated the vulnerability of all humanity to extreme climate events."
Such impacts on society and economies are a mild taste of what science says will come, if we do not continuously raise our ambition to protect the global environment, she added before culminating her remarks into a clarion call:
"There are four major trends shaping the future -- energy supply and security, natural resource depletion, population growth and climate change. And unchecked climate change is the flame that would make the other three burn most seriously.
"Governments can stand together to turn these four threats into a new development paradigm that harnesses the full power of society, science and business -- or they will fail divided.
Let me be clear - there is no magic bullet, no one climate agreement that will solve everything right now. To expect that is naïve -- it does not do justice to the crucial steps already achieved since the beginning of the Convention and it dangerously ignores the need to keep innovating."
She concluded by pointing out: "I am certain the world can do this step by step but only if we keep on walking firmly in the right direction, including at Cancun."
In stark contrast to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary's appeal, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) called a spade a spade and urged "developed countries to stop stalling on deep emission cuts and to collaborate with developing nations to produce a strong, just climate agreement."
In view of the fact that control of climate finance is at the centre of negotiations in Tianjin, FoEI is calling for the establishment of a Global Climate Fund under the UNFCCC -- with no role for existing multilateral development banks.
Asad Rehman, of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who will observe the Tianjin UN talks, said: "The U.S. and other developed countries want the World Bank to control climate finance. This is unacceptable. The World Bank is an undemocratic discredited institution that is far more adept at causing climate change than preventing it. The World Bank is the number one lender to environmentally and socially destructive projects around the globe, and heavily influenced by major corporations and polluters."
"It is time for political leaders to stop listening to the World Bank and these corporate interests and start acting on behalf of people and the planet. There is the potential for real progress to be made in Tianjin if developed countries do their part. Citizens of developed countries should urge their leaders to take bold action that advances the cause of climate justice," he added.
Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth U.S., who will also observe the Tianjin UN talks, said: "It is clear that domestic U.S. politics at this time will not allow the United States to lead global efforts to tackle climate change. The Obama administration must stop pretending it can lead. It must cease its efforts to drag the rest of the world down to its very low level of ambition, when what the climate crisis demands is far higher ambition from all developed countries. The European Union, rather than continuing its strategy of catering to the U.S., could reemerge as a climate leader and take up the cause of binding, equitable, and science-based emissions targets."
In addition to calling for a strong and just agreement that deeply cuts emissions and includes commitments by developed countries to meet their responsibility to provide adaptation and mitigation support to developing countries, Friends of the Earth International is calling for an agreement to:
-- Avoid carbon offsetting schemes, which are loopholes that prevent necessary emission reductions from being made
-- Avoid carbon trading, which is unjust and makes bankers wealthy but prevents needed emission cuts in developed countries
-- Address deforestation in a way that stops deforestation while respecting communities' and indigenous peoples' rights
-- Establish a global climate fund under the authority of the UNFCCC with no role for the World Bank and other multilateral development banks
-- Protect human rights and be consistent with existing human rights treaties and obligations, including the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
-- Ensure that rich countries remain committed to their legally binding obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, where rich countries accept their responsibility for causing climate change by agreeing to cut their emissions first and fastest. New Kyoto targets for a second commitment period for industrialised countries of at least 40 percent reductions -- without offsetting -- is the minimum requirement to provide any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
UNFCCC sources said that the Tianjin talks will have on the table result of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) at its eleventh session in Bonn from August 2 to 6 in a negotiating text for Parties. (IDN-InDepthNews/01.10.2010)
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