10 things that are wrong with this approach to “equity”

Ever since our own Anjali Appadurai stood before world leaders at the 2011 Durban climate talks to demand “equity now,” echoing a longstanding demand of climate justice movements across the world, there has been an increasing use of the word in discussions on international climate change policy. The idea of equity is contested, as everyone from social movement leaders to former Heads of State tries to get a slice of the action. Everyone is touting their vision of how equity, and therefore climate justice, can be operationalized at the international level in the negotiation of a new global clime agreement. They’re trying to put in practice in 2015 what the Convention set out in principle in 1992. What many academics and advocates are attempting, at least nominally, is to figure out how to fairly determine each countries’ responsibility for emissions reductions in order to meet an aggregate global goal of emissions reductions that limits the planet to a safe[1] level of warming. Read more…

Against all odds: first social preCOP in Venezuela

by Maria Alejandra Escalante 

(Spanish version here)

Venezuela’s government, controversial and criticized by many in the international arena, made the effort to do something that not many other governments would do today: invite more than 130 groups both of Venezuelan and international social organizations and representatives of social movements to Margarita Island for a week (full list of guests). Besides enjoying the sun, the seafood, the ocean and salsa bands, all those who flew across the world to be together, social activists and environmentalists both from grassroots groups and NGOs who carry the banner of climate justice in their fights, devoted their days to work on the construction of a new vision of society, a more egalitarian one, less consumerist, less destructive of all around us.

Photo credit Zack Embree - see www.zackembree.com

Photo credit Zack Embree – see www.zackembree.com

Photo credit Zach Embree - see www.zackembree.com

Photo credit Zach Embree – see www.zackembree.com

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Changing the System, Not the Climate: July Social PreCOP begins

by nathan thanki

Greetings from Las Islas Margaritas, the site of the first ever social preCOP on climate change. Over the past few years on this website you may have read many dispatches, reports, polemics, and laments from the prefabricated halls of various UN climate change negotiations. We have watched and written as the process to negotiate a new global climate treaty (or whatever) was launched in 2011 and stumbled clumsily forward ever since.

photo credit Zack Embree

In case you didn’t notice, those writings have become increasingly frustrated. The “international community” of diplomats has, with only a few notable exceptions, back-slapped itself towards the edge of a climate cliff. We are now faced with the scary reality that collectively, but especially among rich industrialised countries, the ambition level is so low that keeping further warming below dangerous levels is essentially impossible. The unfairness (the inequity) of the situation is also a sore point and the cause of much of our frustration—large parts of the “developing” world are already struggling with the concurrent forces of increasing poverty, energy and food shortages, and privatisation of the commons—consequences of unfair international trade rules. Now they must also suffer the impacts of a changing climate, impacts they had relatively little hand in producing. As far as we’ve seen, the negotiations are going off down the wrong track of doing nothing more than establish new carbon markets, as if that would address systemic problems. We can and do write a lot about the many reasons behind this, but largely it is due to powerful lobbies and an imbalance of geopolitical power—exemplified by last year’s preCOP in Warsaw, which was exclusively for the (mainly fossil fuel) private sector. Read more…

The way here and the way forward: negotiating a new climate agreement

by nathan thanki

At the end of an unseasonably warm week in Bonn, the sun set on yet another round of UNFCCC (climate change) negotiations. The session, quieter than the end of year COP (Conference of the Parties) jamboree, has only dealt with one negotiating track—the “ADP.” The ADP, or Ad-hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (there’s a reason we use acronyms), is a negotiating process established in 2011 in Durban that is supposed to come to a close before COP21 in 2015, which you should note happens to be in Paris. What exactly the ADP is meant to come to a close with is still a matter of debate among countries and observers. The exact language in the decision (1/CP.17) which mandated these talks is a feat of creative ambiguity: the ADP is meant to conclude with “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.”  The term “applicable to all” has been subject to much debate, too.

In short, the ADP negotiations have not gone well to date.

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US submits views on future climate agreement

by nathan thanki

Since the Durban round of UN climate talks in 2011, governments have been struggling towards an eventual global agreement to address climate change (ideally, some say they’re just negotiating the establishment of more markets). The negotiation process, named the “ADP” (the D stands for Durban) is mandated to conclude in Paris in December 2015 with some kind of outcome. The exact language is a feat of amazing creative ambiguity: the ADP is meant to conclude with “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.”

Todd Stern of the USA

So far the negotiations have not gone well, with fundamental ideological differences being masked over by procedural fights. The most recent meeting in Warsaw didn’t result in any great progress, mostly making vague references to prior vague commitments. The Warsaw outcome mentions for the first time “nationally determined contributions” to reducing GHG emissions, reflecting a step away from a global budget approach (whereby we say that the supposedly “safe” temperature increase of 2 degrees could only be achieved if we emit X amount of carbon, and the game is to then decide who can emit what share) to a “pledge and review” approach (Whereby countries “pledge” to do what is “nationally appropriate” given their circumstances).

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