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Climate Change: Hollow Rhetoric

By Marianne de Nazareth

09 October, 2009

Developing nations are certainly concerned with the attitudes of the developed nations, here at the Bangkok negotiations. Meenakshi Raman who is a legal advisor of the Third World Network, showed her annoyance by baldly saying “ there is a lot of hollow rhetoric by the political leaders at these negotiations. Look at the actual negotiating stance and you will see its just business as usual,” . She said they are going back on their commitments made under the UNFCCC by shifting their responsibility to the markets, thereby weakening their obligations made.” Developed countries do not talk about the amount of atmospheric space taken by them during the industrial revolution. But now those same nations say to the developing world, sorry guys, your limit is up, your atmosphere is constrained “ she added.

Mauritius, Egypt, Venezuela and the Philippines said they were concerned that there was an attempt by the developing nations to kill the Kyoto Protocol. They also felt there was an effort being made to ‘divide and rule’ like in the days of colonialism. The countries were concerned that the main principles of the protocol were being distorted and they were not willing to agree to a new structure that they could no longer recognise.

Developed nations owe an adaptation debt to developing countries for their historic overuse of the earth’s atmosphere for which developing nations are suffering. Therefore it is imperative that developed nations undertake deep emission reductions in order to leave the remaining atmospheric space to developing countries. The money being paid out to developing nations is not charity but simply that the polluter pays. However now its being used by flipping the coin and saying the one who pays may pollute, say developing nations.

Barbados, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) was concerned that there were such a few days left for Copenhagen and failure there was not an option for the small island states. They would all definitely go under.

At Bangkok one sees that the youth have decided to be more forceful in pushing for a deal which is more transparent and equitable. A declaration of “No Confidence in the Road to Copenhagen” was announced today by the International Youth Delegation attending the UN climate change talks. The delegation cited the failure of reaching a commitment from developed countries on strong targets and a lack of guarantee for protection of Indigenous peoples’ rights and interests, in its declaration. The current text of the draft climate deal is so weak and so full of “false solutions,” measures like offsetting that actually make the problem worse, are unacceptable.

“The youth are sounding the alarm. These talks have been polluted by self-interested corporations and countries looking to profit off of our crisis,” said Joshua Kahn Russell from the U.S. and Rainforest Action Network. “We cannot allow rich countries to use U.S. inaction as an excuse to kill the Kyoto Protocol. Our future cannot be held hostage to the politics and interests of the United States or any other single country. We see Copenhagen as a beginning, not an ending. We will not accept a dirty deal.”
The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting due to climate change, said Anil Rimal from Nepalese Youth Climate Action. “This is happening today, not in 2050, and people are losing their lives, homes and livelihoods due to GLOF’s (Glacier Flood Outbursts).”

Gemma Tillack from the Australian Wilderness Society said, “ We will never give up, because it is our future at risk.”

With less than two weeks of negotiations remaining before the Copenhagen meeting, the pressure is on developed countries to commit to providing finance and at least a 40percent reduction in emissions by 2020. “If they do not, we will witness the derailment of this climate deal in Copenhagen,” said Grace Mwarua from Kenya.

(The writer is a fellow with the UNFCCC and teaches a module on Climate Change in Bangalore, India)


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