December 2010, Week 2


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Thu, 9 Dec 2010 22:57:09 -0500
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Reporting from Cancun - Backroom Deal? Again? World Bank
Steps in to Save the Day?? (2 posts from Cancun by Tina

Backroom Deal? Again? Bolivia Takes a Stance! 

by Tina Gerhardt

The Huffington Post

December 9, 2010 03:41 PM


Cancún, Mexico - It's crunch time! A draft text emerged this
morning; heads of state and government have arrived and UN
Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is here. There are two days
left for government leaders and their representatives to
come to an agreement. Can they make progress? Can they find
solutions? It seems most likely that there will not be an
international legally binding agreement but will the
foundation be laid for one? Will negotiations have moved
closer to one? Or further way?

On one thing, people at the COP 16 seems to agree: another
climate conference is possible!

Yesterday's late breaking news, revealed by John Vidal in
the Guardian UK,
As Vidal revealed, Europe and small island Pacific states
have proposed a new treaty for consideration.

This proposed agreement would commit developed and
developing nations to reductions in climate emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol stipulates the former, emissions
reductions from developed nations, which the U.S. being the
only developed nation not having signed on and refusing to
do so. The Copenhagen Accord stipulates the later, that is,
emissions reductions commitment from developing countries,
particularly the fastest growing among them, China and

While this move could be read as an attempt to break out of
the gridlock, in which the UNFCCC negotiations are stalled,
it has angered many developing countries, including Brazil,
China and India. Drafted in 1997, implemented in 2005, and
set to expire in 2012, the Kyoto Protocol is the only
legally binding treaty currently in existence. Its
dissolution would allow developing nations off the hook with
regard to emissions reductions.

Given that the United States has not signed on to the Kyoto
Protocol and shows no intention to do so; and given that it
has been seeking to ram through the Copenhagen Accord for
the past year, showing disregard for the UNFCCC process in
various ways, these countries are concerned that this treaty
is an attempt to ditch the Kyoto Protocol, leaving nothing
in its place to ensure commitments to greenhouse gas
reductions, the cornerstone for averting climate change.

According to Vidal, sources close to the talks said that "a
result would be that most of the elements of the
controversial Copenhagen Accord - the non-binding political
agreement pushed by the US in Denmark last year - would be
put up for adoption by the UN, presenting a major victory
for the US and other rich countries." Even using the
backroom negotiations, in order to put the Copenhagen Accord
up for a vote by the UNFCCC majorly thwarts the official

Mexico, eager to see an outcome from this year's talks, is
working to draft a new text for presentation to negotiating
countries. But that process, too, is troubled, since it has
only asked four countries to contribute short texts.

Bolivia, meanwhile, sent an alert yesterday to the chairs of
the parties of the COP. Pablo Solón told The Nation that he
is filing the alter because "in the UNFCCC there is a
process and you have to respect that process. We are not
sure what the structure of the process is currently. It's
necessary to have a formal and conclusive process of
negotiations." Solón added that he expected that a text to
be presented by Friday.

Solón stated "we do not want to go into any process of
finger pointing. We want to find a positive solution." But
he added, "There is a UNFCCC. There are discussions within
the two official working groups. And they produce a text. It
cannot be that the negotiating groups negotiate and come up
with a text; and the informal negotiating groups negotiate
and then come up with a different text."

"You can see it yourself in the agenda," Solón said, "that
there are no meetings of the LCA working group." He added,
"The Mexican chair stated that the formal process continued
to take place, but if it continued to take place, we want to
know where it was taking place because there are no other

Bolivian President Evo Morales arrived early this morning
and addressed a press conference this afternoon, stating
that if nations do not take action, they are committing

President Morales heads on to the La Via Campesina camp this
afternoon to address indigenous peoples and peasants and
their allies, who have traveled here via caravan from
throughout Mexico.

[Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic,
who has covered international climate change negotiations,
most recently in Copenhagen and Bonn. Her work has appeared
in Alternet, Grist, In These Times and The Nation.]


The World Bank Steps in to Save the Day?? 

by Tina Gerhardt

The Huffington Post

December 9, 2010 10:24 PM


Cancún, Mexico - As climate change increases, the World Bank
is stepping up its funding for developing nations. On the
agenda at this year's COP 16, is the development of a proper
institutional financing system, and at the top of the agenda
is setting up of a new Climate Fund. Developing countries
want the Climate Fund to be under the authority of the
UNFCCC, and not to come under the control of the World Bank
with which many of them have had bad experiences.

Yesterday morning, World Bank and the Alliance of Small
Island States (AOSIS) held a joint press conference to
announce funding for clean energy projects in island states.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed between AOSIS,
the Government of Denmark, the World Bank and the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick announced that
funding would be made available to low lying nations, which
are particularly threatened by rising sea levels. A $14.5
million pledge of support form the Government of Denmark
kicks off the initiative, which will help island states in
Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Island regions transition to
low emission and climate resilient development paths.

Last week, an AOSIS delegate warned that five low lying
island states "are facing the end of history. And if that
happens, we are all accomplices."

Because of their size and remoteness, most small island
developing states are heavily dependent on imported
petroleum for their energy needs. Some countries spend an
estimated 25-50 percent of their GDP on imported oil, which
leads to very high domestic electricity costs. The funds are
intended to help them to transition to renewable energy

Not everyone welcomed the news. Yesterday was marked not
only by sessions related to the World Bank but also by
actions against the World Bank. Campaigners from around the
world condemned rich countries' efforts to carve out a
special role for the World Bank in managing these funds.

They are furious that the World Bank is being promoted as
the hub for climate finance. And they insist that because
the institution continues to bankroll dirty fossil fuel
projects to the tune of $6.6 billion last year alone - they
are in the wrong hands for the funds to fight climate
change. They also cite the World Bank's recent history of
imposing climate finance as loans, creating new debt for
already impoverished countries, increasing the role of the
private sector and imposing economic policy conditions that
increase inequality.

The coalition of diverse groups from developed and
developing countries launched a new campaign 'World Bank our
of climate finance' today calling on governments to resist
any role for the institution in climate finance. They are
particularly angry that in an early draft of the negotiating
text, the World Bank has been invited to serve as the
interim trustee of a new global climate fund - and
potentially its secretariat.

Yesterday morning, there was a march organized by a
coalition of groups, including Friends of the Earth, Jubilee
South, and the Freedom From Debt Coalition. It kicked off
with a rally, featuring speakers from World Bank-affected
communities from around the world. They marched and returned
to the Municipal Hall to smash piñatas, which they said
"represent the World Bank."

The organizers stated "The World Bank and other multilateral
development banks must not be given a role in establishing
or governing the new Global Climate Fund nor in managing
climate finance. Their nature, structure, track record, and
policies, stand in contradiction to what should be the
principles of fair and effective climate finance, and the
structure and operations of a new fund."

"The World Bank, they continued, "is a lending institution
that has long been imposing policy conditions and programs
on South countries and peoples through its loans. Giving a
role to the World Bank in climate finance will result in a
significant part of climate finance flowing as loans, and
will very likely come with conditionalities,"

This morning, the World Bank organized a panel dedicated to
agriculture. The panel advocated agricultural related
investments, and focused on policies and programs that would
increase farm productivity and incomes. It lobbied for
making the sector part of the solution to climate change by
sequestering more carbon into soil and business.

Panelists included Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture Cao
Duc Phat; US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; Norwegian
Minister of Environment and Development Erik Solheim;
Uruguayan Tabare Aquerre; and UN Food and Agriculture

World Bank President Zoellick advocated for an integrated
approach to agriculture: "We know that we need to increase
agricultural production by 70 percent by 2050 to feed nine
billion people and that climate changes risk more
uncertainty and potentially serious down-side possibilities.
Agriculture, forestry and land use," he continued, "change
account for more than 30% greenhouse gas emissions. So we
need to make the agriculture sector and soil carbon part of
the solution to climate change."

This afternoon, a press conference action agitated for "No
Climate Debt." Reza Chowdury said, "We do not want the World
Bank in climate financing. It will create debt burdens. We
do not want to see our children in a debt burden." The march
ended in a walkout.

Organizations are increasingly frustrated by how they being
silenced at the UN. They have launched a new campaign "World
Bank out of Climate Finance", putting pressure on their
governments not to impose the World Bank on their
communities, particularly in developing countries, in the
form of climate finance.

Over two hundred organizations from around the world,
including Friends of the Earth International, Jubilee South,
and the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance have signed an
open letter sent to all governments today, calling for
resistance to the World Bank. They urged that the Global
Climate Fund be set up under the authority of the UNFCCC, so
that it has an equitable governance structure, prioritizes
the participation of affected communities, operates with
full transparency and accountability and provides direct
access to funding.

So far, the funding mechanisms within the UNFCCC have not
been nailed down.

[Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic,
who has covered international climate change negotiations,
most recently in Copenhagen and Bonn. Her work has appeared
in Alternet, Grist, In These Times and The Nation.]



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