The Red Lines of Justice, Equity and Ambition – Press Briefing

On Thursday December 6th, Angeline Annesteus, Trudi Zundel, Nathan Thanki and Katie O'Brien spoke about the state of the negotiations and what needs to be done in a press briefing. Anjali Appadurai monitored the briefing. 


Trouble viewing? Watch here.

Angeline Annesteus

We came to Doha optimistically expecting a climate deal to limit warming to 1.5 degrees or below, but with only two days left, what we see on the table is a very weak package with the potential to cause irreversible damage to the most vulnerable people.

The LCA track, which is the Long-term Cooperative Actions under the Bali Action Plan, is set to close down this year in Doha. Under the LCA there are many crucial yet unresolved issues. Finance, technology, adaptation and capacity-building are crucial for developing countries to be able to deal with climate change. But what we have got on these issues is blank pages! These crucial issues are slipping through the cracks.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, parties will agree to a second commitment period, but with extremely weak pledges. The second commitment period includes carbon markets with gaping holes that can actually allow for emissions increases. And non-parties to the Kyoto Protocol want access to these markets even while they don’t commit to obligations under the Protocol itself.

The Durban Platform, or ADP, is a new negotiating track but there is a huge issue with it! It does not come into effect until after 2020! The science has told us that if global emissions don’t peak by 2015 we have less than a 40% chance of achieving a 2 degree world, thus 2020 is far too late. Furthermore, some parties are pushing for a voluntary “pledge and review” legal system for the ADP, which is not science-based and cannot be implemented if we are really to address climate change.


Trudi Zundel

Developed countries are pushing for the pledge-and-review system that Angeline mentioned. As a group, we do not stand for this approach. The only approach that will achieve the emissions reductions mandated by the science is a rules-based, top-down approach. We can illustrate this with an analogy:

Imagine that a flood is coming and we have to build a dam. The logical steps to take would be to calculate how high the dam needs to be and equitably deciding how many bags each person should bring. Pledge and review is like asking everyone bring as many sandbags as they can and hoping it will be enough to hold back the water.

This conference has shown us that the divide between North and South is deeper than ever. As the LCA comes to a close we have almost inevitable failure as an outcome. Developed countries are negotiating in bad faith. The implications of the US/EU’s refusal to compromise or even address the most important issues to developing countries have some major implications; these are:

1. Important issues will slip through cracks – that is, if they dont have a direct mandate coming out of Doha, these issues will not be implemented

2. Developing countries aren’t guaranteed to get the support they need (and that they are mandated to receive) in order to fulfil the commitments that developed countries are trying to bind them with.

3. Voluntary pledges and a lack of support is going to lock in a decade of inaction, and as Anjali said, that is time we simply do not have.

The Doha decision will be the basis of negotiation for the next eight years, and we are very worried. A strong second commitment period is politically out of our grasp, developed countries are refusing to compromise on their vested interests. At this point, a "politically possible" outcome from Doha is a failure.

And it is a failure on many counts.

Developed countries have failed us by outrightly ignoring the urgency of the science, by repeatedly failing to fulfil the commitments they made under this Convention, and by blocking and stalling progress on these talks for the last decade. They have failed us by making false promises, by continuing to congratulate themselves on incremental progress while climate change induced disasters unfairly wrack the developing world.

Developing countries are feeling the worst effects of climate change and will continue to do so. Their biggest strength against the richest countries in the world is in their numbers. Developing country constituencies (blocs) must not allow their united position to be fragmented on the basis of yet another year of false promises. Our strength, the strength of future generations, lies with their strength. No deal is better than a bad deal on the table.

We support developing countries in standing behind their red lines.  My colleague Nathan will talk more about these red lines.


Nathan Thanki

These are red lines for what we can get in the UNFCCC and not red lines for what the planet needs. And red lines really indicate a minimum ask, so anything beyond that is completely unacceptable. A lot of red lines are outlined in the letter, which we will distribute. [Linked here]

Science says we need to peak by 2015, that’s clear. But the deal in Doha is going to lock in eight years of really low ambition and it offers little in the way of compensation and other areas.

Our demands, to spell them out but they are in the letter, are a strong Kyoto Protocol second commitment period. That means 40% below 1990. That means no hot air. That means no carry-over of surplus AAUs. That means no market access for parties who are not involved in the second commitment period. See what some parties are trying to do is have their cake, eat it too and then eat everyone else’s cake—and that’s kind of unfair.

Those parties, those non-second commitment parties really have to do comparable efforts in order to meet an aggregate target. But it’s also the developing countries that are eventually going to have to move away from a destructive, rapacious model of development. But that has a caveat to it–They can’t do that without implementation tools. You simply just don’t have implementation without the means of implementation. That indicates finance, technology transfer and capacity building. In tech transfer you need to deal with the IPRs.

This is because of prior failure, 20 years of failure to mitigate from the North. Climate change is already a reality. And so adaptation finance is absolutely necessary. We need to adapt to the impacts of climate change we already locked in.

Climate finance, it can’t be scraps, it can’t be individual pledges, it can’t be vague promises of one day in the future you will get some money. It has to be a total target, there has to be a plan for how to get there. It has to match the need, which is far greater than any pledges, far greater than the 100 billion that’s elusive in the future. The finance needs to be new and additional, it cannot be repackaged, dressed-up development assistance, it can’t be in the form of loans. It has to be subject to measuring, reporting and verification. It has to be in the text it can’t just be said in press conferences. And this isn’t just a moral obligation this is a legal obligation in the convention and in the decisions of the COP over the past 20 years to do this.

Even with that adaptation finance being forthcoming, adaptation has limits. So one of our key red lines for Doha is that they establish an international mechanism for loss and damage.

Anything else is really unacceptable, these are our red lines.


Katie O'Brien

It’s important to remember that this convention was built on Historical Responsibility, Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Intergenerational Equity. The ones who have contributed the least are the ones who will face the most impacts. We are not the ones delaying a solution. The youth are the ones who will deal with food and water shortages, conflict, climate migration, and more unpredictable, severe weather.

We must bring this back to a moral issue.

We, the youth, have been told we are not angry enough. We are angry. We are angry about this ineffective process. And we are angry when we see our future we see climate deaths and dirty industry and it's because of this process.

We don't see a future of peace, prosperity and happiness.

I am angry and so are youth around the world. Youth are putting their lives on the line, physically blockading the development of dirty industries, and this is because we are angry and we demand a livable future for all.

Youth stand with developing countries. We are supporting the G77 and the Philippines standing strong against inaction. Yesterday we stood with the Philippines singing our support against a weak deal. Today, we stand with other developing countries and reaffirm our support for them to stand behind their red lines.

The letter we have been talking about from civil society has an unequivocal stance. We need an equitable solution and we will condemn any solution that denies equity.

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