COP12: The last two days, a plea for action

by Juan

Decisions of different working groups are being forwarded to the supreme body of the convention, the Conference of the Parties (COP) for final approval. Most of the decisions are fancy words plastered on paper, and the ytouth delegation refuses to let minister leave Nairobi without hearing our concerns. These mediocre decisions will affect us, it is our future they are negotiating. For the next two days the youth at COP12 will approach every country member of the United Framework Convention on Climate Change, and express our disappointment and suggestion on each of the issues neglected at COP12. 48hrs, more than 150 countries, our last chance…

In addition to approaching them, we will be handing them out a letter with our views on this meeting and our demands for action for next year. Please find a copy of the letter below, and wish us luck!

Read the letter

Dear Ministers at the COP12/COPMOP2:

As the negotiations of the high level segment of COP12/COPMOP2 come to a close, we, the youth, are concerned that little has been accomplished. The decisions agreed to by this body concern all of us; it is our future you are negotiating. Over the past two weeks, we have been presented with varied excuses for inaction. You made a step forward in Montreal, but that does not justify the stagnation of the past two weeks. The outcomes of this COP must, in the very least, result in a compromise that leads to a tangible, time-bound, and effective decision for a post-2012 mandate at COPMOP3.

Over the next year, action is required on the part of all parties. The principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ must guide the efforts of the UNFCCC while ensuring a long-term vision encompassing short-term goals. Several issues need to be addressed and put into operation.

This conference in Nairobi, in sub-Saharan Africa, has the severity of impacts on vulnerable regions. We know that some impacts of increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations are unavoidable, that human populations will suffer immediately and that natural disasters will be compounded and have lasting effects. We applaud the efforts of delegates to define the principles and modalities of the Adaptation fund that will eventually deliver some of the resources needed to adapt to these effects, but this is just the baseline and greater work lies ahead.

We need an operable fund by COP/MOP3. This requires undertaking a great deal of work in a very restricted amount of time. We ask that you give your negotiators good direction and spur on their efforts. Delegates require the autonomy to move beyond heavily politicized rhetoric to create a strong fund with clear priorities, managed by a fair and transparent institution.

Parties are committed to protecting forests under Article 4.1(d) of the Convention, however this commitment is not enough. Domestic and unilateral initiatives in the conservation and sustainable management of forests have shown progress and provide insight into best practices; yet much more action is needed. Trees are falling, biodiversity is disappearing, ecosystems are failing, access to water is decreasing, the climate is changing: people are suffering.

Tropical forests have repeatedly failed to receive the protection they require. Correspondingly, we now must resort to assigning economic value to the carbon-storing capacity of trees. Compensation for the environmental services of forests must be provided through carbon credits within the Protocol as well as through financial incentives outside of the Protocol. Developing countries already conserving their forests must be rewarded. The integrity of current efforts through the CDM must not be compromised; they must be protected against incentives that would perversely increase deforestation. It is imperative that we take into account socio-economic factors and local variability; we must support communities that rely on forest services and we must compliment other IEAs. In order to create the demand and generate the funds necessary to protect forests, we require immediate, deep and far-sighted emissions reductions.

The decisions of the ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments by Annex I Parties are of utmost importance to us. The post-2012 period not only represents a major challenge for the international community, but also an enormous opportunity – a chance to improve and build upon the Kyoto protocol in order to meet the real and pressing need for climate stabilization. For us, these challenges and opportunities are not abstract. They are very real.

This is our future. As such, we insist that our voices be heard. For the security of our livelihoods, environments and cultures – and those of our brothers and sisters around the world – we demand the following from the immediate post-2012 process:

1. That a firm goal be agreed upon by all parties to remain below a 2˚C rise above pre-industrial temperatures. This level is not without its dangers, but surpassing this point will bring with it significant and irreversible damage. In keeping with this target, we believe that atmospheric concentrations of GHGs must be stabilized at 450ppm CO2e.
2. In order achieve this goal the AWG must complete its plan of work by no later than 2008 to assure that a mandate for the second commitment period can be adopted at COP/MOP5. This will require substantial and sustained efforts commensurate with the task at hand.
3. It is crucial that the review under Article 9 be conducted in a comprehensive and timely manner. The review of Article 9 must allow for the AWG to draw on its conclusions and have a post-2012 mandate by 2008 in order to ensure the absence of a gap between the first and second commitment periods. Therefore, we insist that a broad Article 9 review be concluded by COP/MOP3. To this end, the COP must leave Nairobi with a strong and effective work plan capable of delivering on this rigorous timeline.

The effects of climate change are severe and demand immediate international cooperation to avoid humanitarian and economic crises. We worry that the lack of direction and leadership at COP12 negotiations will delay a timely response to the climate crisis. We urge you, Minister, and your delegations to adopt a spirit of goodwill and cooperation in order to establish a post-2012 mandate. The ongoing process of the Kyoto mechanisms, such as the CDM and the emissions trading system, demand market certainty, made possible by a strong mandate to develop effective tools to mitigate GHG emissions and fund adaptation projects.

The world wants and needs a strong plan to stabilize our climate. We ask that you consider this request now, at the negotiation table next year and in the interim, with of the goal of creating a mandate for a post-2012 regime. We uphold the international youth declaration signed in Montréal 2005.

The world has learned a lot since COP3, and those lessons should help us expedite the process for further action for a regime post-2012. We must avoid getting caught up in politics and rhetoric. The science is clear; we have learned from our mistakes and triumphs, and we know what needs to happen.

The costs of inaction will fall upon your children, it will fall upon us.

This is our future – the time to act is now.

Do not turn your back on us.


-The International Youth Delegation at COP12/COPMOP2

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