The final plenary session got underway at 9.30pm in a hall packed to capacity. The President of the conference, Patricia Espinosa, in response to emotive calls from outside the hall, allowed far more people into the room than was probably safe – but we all wanted to be there, not just watch on a screen outside! She herself received a standing ovation as she came into the room.
We expected some countries to be negative about the new text, which was evidently a huge compromise in some areas – for us NGOs as well as for countries. And, true to form, Bolivia spoke passionately and at length about how the text did not recognise the need to keep global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees, and that current pledges on emissions cuts nowhere near achieve this.
But after Bolivia, every other country spoke out to say that yes, they had compromised, but the process to reach this text had been open and transparent, and of course negotiations mean compromise.
Speaker after speaker said the same, to loud applause. And the text was finally gavelled through around 3 am, with Bolivia still very unhappy. I
I feel so different from the numbness after Copenhagen – but very tired, and ready for a few days off – before I attend the meeting in Cancun of the Adaptation fund Board next week.
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Just 24 hours ago civil society, press pundits and a number of
negotiators were anticipating the failure of the UN climate talks (and
no hopes for a deal to meet the needs of the worlds poorest people).
There was talk of “the death of multi-lateralism” and yet, at (quite
literally) the last minute the Parties took a gamble.
All bets were off … The stakes were incredibly high … And the
unexpected winners look to be developing countries …
It may not be the “jackpot” ( no fair and binding global deal was
reached) but there were some real winnings to be shared out.
Perhaps the biggest prize is the new global climate fund which has
been announced- it will have a board made up of more developing
countries than developed countries (hurrah!) and should be the one
stop shop for climate funding.
Now we just need to make sure it doesn’t end up as an empty fund and that a large amount is earmarked for adaptation – the need of poor
women, men and children right now.
So we leave Cancun with restored faith in the process and a renewed
energy that change (not just climatic) can and must happen.
There is real concern that sufficient progress is not being made at the UN climate change talks in Cancun. If things don’t take a serious turn for better we coudl reach the situation where by 2012 (when the first period of the Kyoto Protocol ends) there will be no international, binding agreement with regard to climate change.
One thing that has been agreed upon however was put through with the help of over 100 young people around the world from various youth groups including the UK Youth Climate Coalition. Their slogan ‘No decisions about us, without us.’ must have hit a chord.
Article 6 ensures that ‘education for sustainable development is supported, especially outreach by youth nongovernmental organizations. The policy also ensures equity, sustainability and opportunity to young people and women from all backgrounds and cultures’.
Helen Marsh, Practical Action’s climate change campaigner is at the talks
‘It’s fantastic to see real progress on the issue of climate change education here in Cancun. In fact, this is the one area where Parties are showing real ambition and flexibility – accepting all of the asks put forward by the youth delegation and achieving a decision in a record-breaking 90 minutes! Let’s hope this sets a strong marker for other areas of the negotiations in the remaining few days’.
So Mr Gove, when you sort out the details of the new curriculum please do take note of your colleagues in the UN and ensure sustainable development has its rightful place at the heart of our British education system.
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Yesterday though, I felt relatively proud to be a ‘Brit’.
- Firstly, the UK Committee on Climate Change called for the UK to raise the global bar – by setting the target of reducing UK emissions by 60% by 2030. It’s bold and ambitious but let’s hope our government listens to the advice from the Committee set up to … advise them on climate targets.
- Secondly, having attended a session with the UK’s Sir Nicholas Stern – an inspiring tour de force in the field – I’m more clear than ever that the neccessity to cut carbon emissions is also hugely desirable.
In his words,’ … we are talking about a new industrial revolution, transforming the way we see and do things. It’s time we started looking at the opportunities rather than the costs’.
The task is huge – essentially to almost halve the carbon emissions of each person in the next decade (from 7 tonnes to 4) - but it’s this change of spirit, focusing on the positives, which will be the power behind the new industrial revolution.
I’m a romantic and an optimist.
I don’t believe you should settle for second best and I hold the same principle for the UN climate talks.
We all desperately want Cancun to be a success – it’s in the best interests of every one of the 6 billion of us on the planet.
So, Practical Action, with over 200 other NGOs is pushing to ensure that, at the very least, a fair ‘Global Climate Fund’ is launched during the negotiations. A tangible sign of progress.
However, in the rush to see the Fund established it’s crucial that it delivers in the best way possible for poor communities. The spirit of ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with’ cannot apply here.
The Fund has to be fair and should therefore cover the following:
1) The Fund needs to be managed under the UN process
2) It should be the ‘one stop shop’ for the vast majority of funds for climate change
3) 50% of all money through the Fund must be for climate adaptation
4) Its Board cannot be donor dominated – developing country voices must be heard
A fair Fund is overdue. Now is the time to deliver for the world’s poorest people.
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Zombie films are scary.
So are zombie negotiations.
As we enter the second, and crucial, week of the UN climate talks we need to see a step-change in the ambition and commitment of all 192 countries here in Cancun.
If not, there are fears that we could see a ‘zombie scenario’ – where talks continue but are effectively dead.
We can’t afford for this to happen. Nor can the millions of women, men and children living uncertain futures on the front-line of climate change.
We need to encourage and applaud those groups and countries, such as the EU, Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand, openly showing their support for a second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol (setting binding emission targets).
And we need to cast a light on countries such as Japan, Canada and Russia who are unlikely to do the same, effectively meaning that after 2012 (when the first period of the Kyoto Protocol ends) there will be no international, binding agreement with regard to climate change.
Just like in a zombie movie, failure to make real progress this week will ultimately result in death and devastation.
It’s time for negotiators to wake up and put their politics to one side, for the sake of the world’s poorest people.
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Yes, that’s right, I’m alluding to the popular Saturday night gameshow, ‘Family MISfortunes’.
Communications giant, Ogilvy, commissioned a survey on the attitudes of attendees at the UN Climate talks in Cancun. The results made for interesting reading so I thought I’d share a few with you:
- 56% of people interviewed believe that irreversible climate harm has now been caused
- The majority of people interviewed believe that efforts to limit human influence on climate change are at a standstill
- 83% of those questioned agree that climate change will only be addressed once countries are suffering real consequences
It’s the last statistic which startled me most.
Countries are suffering real consequences, right now.
Farmers in Sri Lankan paddy fields, Alpaca herders in the high Andes and fisherfolk in Bangladesh (to name just a few) are feeling the effects of our changing climate and have done for a number of years.
In fact, Practical Action only started focusing on climate change because the communities we work with made us take notice and challenged us to help them to adapt.
So it’s time for us to get real and start recognising that the time to act on climate change is now. Sod the survey results – the women, men and children across developing countries cannot wait â€¦
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So, I hear it’s snowing in the UK.
Well, there’s a chill in the air here too.
Outside, the Mexican sun is pushing temperatures to a heady 28c but inside, around the negotiating tables, it must be feeling a bit frosty.
Yesterday we heard that Bolivia (the poorest country in Latin America, one of the lowest global CO2 emitters yet hard hit by climate change) is taking a tough stance.
In many senses this is nothing new – Bolivia stood firm at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen and are pushing for the most dramatic ceiling on the global temperature rise.
The Bolivian delegation feels that the Copenhagen accord (the non-binding ‘statement of intent’ from last year’s climate talks) is so weak that it’s not worth them supporting.
Developing countries have failed to uphold their pledges so many times that the Bolivians are holding out for THE ‘fair and binding’ deal.
Having visited Bolivia earlier this year, and seeing for myself the harshness of the climatic changes and communities’ determination to maintain and adapt their culture – for the sake of their survival – I personally can’t condemn the Bolivians for their position.
Why shouldn’t we hold out and demand for the international deal that will make the difference needed?
HelenNo Comments » | Add your comment
… no, that’s not a cue to start dancing to the sounds of 80s synchroniser pop music.
It’s a cue to face up to the reality of the impacts of climate change.
Yesterday at COP16 (the UN Climate talks in Cancun), experts from the Royal Society reported that we should expected an average rise in global temperatures of 4c. Not by the end of the century but by 2060.
Just 50 years before our planet and the lives of its people are changed unimaginably and irreversably.
And who will be hardest hit? The poorest communities – least able to adapt to the changes.
This kind of news can’t depress us. It needs to spur us to action. For us it’s about pushing for more and better funding for adaptation right now. Perhaps it can push you to take action too?
Still feel like dancing?
Helen – Campaigns
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The G2 dilemma is dominating much of the conversation in Cancun.
‘G2′ refers to China and the USA – locked (in fact, dead-locked) over crucial climate change issues.
The G2 relationship reminds me of my childhood. For years I was secure with my sibling ‘super-power’ status when, without me noticing, up crept my younger sister – suddenly stronger, leaner and more ambitious than before.
The same has happened with the USA and China – whose rivalry could end up holding the whole process hostage.
The USA criticise large developing countries, including China, India and Brazil for not submitting their carbon emissions for international monitoring and China, India and Brazil criticise the developed countries for exactly the same thing (despite the fact that for us these targets are legally binding).
This may sound like a childish game but its consequences are severe – the USA are refusing to support the creation of a new climate fund unless China et al agree to serious monitoring and mandatory targets.
The G2 need to realise that the process is bigger than them – there are over 190 countries involved and billions of lives at risk if they fail to make progress.
P.s Years later, my sister and I are now the best of friends – care to take a gamble on whether the real G2 relationship will develop the same way?!1 Comment » | Add your comment