June 2011, Week 2


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Thu, 9 Jun 2011 19:57:51 -0400
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The UN Climate Negotiations Kick Off - Sort Of 

The UN Climate Negotiations Kick Off - Sort Of
Bolivia Criticizes Market Mechanisms in the Cancún Agreement
and REDD

by Tina Gerhardt

Earth Island Journal
News of the World Environment

June 8, 2011


Bonn, Germany - On Monday, a two-week long round of UN
climate negotiations, lasting from June 6 to June 17, 2011,
kicked off in Bonn, Germany. The talks will prepare for the
way for the COP 17, which takes place November 28, 2011 to
December 9, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.

Over 3000 participants from 183 countries, doing their best
to avoid the E. Coli scare currently sweeping Germany, are
in attendance.

The work before the group is clear. Last week, the
International Energy Agency announced that emissions
continue to increase unabated. Emissions released in 2010
were the highest in history, despite the economic recession.
The report stated that the "prospect of limiting the global
increase in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius is getting

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
announced that the level of CO2 emissions released in May
2010 set another record high.

UN member nations have gathered to set emissions reductions
for developed and developing nations; to secure funding and
technology to help developing nations adapt to climate
change; and to decide how emissions reductions will be
measured, reported and verified.

The future of the Kyoto Protocol forms a topic of
considerable concern at this meeting. It is currently the
sole legally binding international treaty that establishes
targets for reducing emissions. And it needs to be signed up
for a second renewable period post-2012.

To date, no meeting is scheduled subsequent to Bonn and
prior to Durban, South Africa at the end of the year, so
time is of the essence and the pressure is on.

Delegates representing the majority of countries - including
the G77, the EU, the Alliance of Small Islands States
(AOSIS), the Least Developed Countries, the Africa Group,
and ALBA - support a second renewal period. Canada, Japan
and Russia, by contrast, have announced that they will not
sign on to renew.

Talks Stall: Bolivia Criticizes Cancún Agreement, REDD and

The preparatory negotiations take place on two tracks: the
ad hoc working group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the
ad hoc working group on long-term cooperative action (AWG-

On Tuesday, these two working groups were to kick off their
work. But the beginning of each meeting was deferred again
and again, as negotiators met behind closed doors, trying to
agree on the agendas.

A number of countries expressed concerns about different
agenda items, including Canada and New Zealand; Saudi
Arabia; Papua New Guinea; Bolivia; and Ecuador. Most of
their concerns were quickly addressed.

Pablo Sólon, Bolivia's lead climate envoy, criticized the
stalling, calling the previous meeting in Bangkok in April,
the $6 million agenda, underscoring that all that was
discussed was the agenda and no headway was made on
generating a draft text for negotiation in South Africa.

Given that there is no time to draft a new binding agreement
before Durban, Sólon told journalists, there were two
options heading into the COP 17: "Move forward in a second
commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or have a repetition
of Cancún."

"From Cancún," Sólon told journalists, "we have come out
with commitments of emissions reductions that leads us to a
scenario of  [a temperature increase of] 4 degrees Celsius.
And that is absolutely unacceptable. We need to come out of
South Africa with commitments of emissions reductions that
will put us in a scenario of [temperature increases] between
1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to preserve our planet and
life as we know it."

Additionally, Sólon took a strong stance against Reducing
Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Sólon
stated that the main objection resided in the approach to
forests. "There is a proposal in the Cancún agreement that
focuses everything on ...guidelines in the capacity of
forests to capture CO2 ," he said. "We must not focus on how
to prepare forests for a market mechanism ...We must fight
deforestation now."

He stated: "We cannot spend the money that we have now
...trying to measure the amount of carbon that a forest
stores, in order to prepare the conditions for a future
carbon market on forests. What we need do is to spend the
small amount of resources that we have to preserve forests

"In the case of Bolivia, but it is also the case in many
other countries," Sólon said, "one of the main drivers of
deforestation is forest fires. In Bolivia, we usually have
forest fires between July and September. Are we going to
spend the money, the aid that we receive, measuring the
capacity of our forests when it comes to capture of CO2 or
are we going to direct all those resources to the
implementation of a plan that we have developed to fight
those forest fires that have an impact over 350,000 hectares
every year?

A new proposal has been developed to address these concerns.
Sólon said he hoped that it would form part of the official
negotiating text.

Funding Climate Aid through Financial Tax

Lastly, Sólon proposed the creation of an international tax
to fund climate aid, underscoring that the $30 billion in
fast track funding pledged by 2008-2012 has not been
provided yet, not in new funding.

A tax of 0.01 percent coming into a country from abroad
could go towards this fund and be used to address climate
change. According to Bloomberg News, this proposal "picks up
on one [made] by a UN panel last November. The group, which
included billionaire investor George Soros and Larry Summers
...said an international financial transactions tax could
generate $27 billion a year."

[Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist who covers
climate change, international negotiations and energy
policy. Her work has appeared in Alternet, Earth Island
Journal, Environment News Service, Grist, In These Times,
The Nation and The Progressive.]


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