COP15 ARTICLES: A feeble climate deal


“Every country is able to destroy the earth system in order to respect their own national sovereignty and the interests of their nationals, in spite that we live under the same physical system and we breathe the same air.” This should be the first article that should be draft from the conclusions of the COP15 in Copenhagen during December 2009.
As sad as it is. The classic 19th century European nation state definition has marked the guidelines of a decision that will affect the earth system, its life and its human population without distinction of their nationality, origin, religion, gender, race, or age, among those different factor that make the humans different from each other.

The summit has finish with a feeble climate deal. Big expectations for a decision that everybody knew that it was going to be cooked in the last hours. A massive movement of UN staff, country delegates, NGO´s activists, media, and the rest of devote professionals for a final unsatisfactory decision that, in fact, could have be taken in a, for example and in order to be climate friendly, videoconference between the leaders of the main polluters countries and blocks.
We, the frog, are still boiling. The issue was and is complex and one choice had to be made between two alternatives that can be explained in this way:
  1. To live with the 100% of the privileges, that can be enjoyed in our carbon dependent modern society for the next, for example, two years and after that decided what to do if climate get worst or;
  2. To adapt, NOW, our way of life by taking the risk of reduce our carbon emissions by 40% for the next 10 years with the trade-offs that this could suppose for our carbon related comfortable lives and the cost that this could suppose for our economies, jobs, political systems, etc., even with the safety that this decision will better assure the right of our descendants to live in a healthy planet.
Final question: From these two, what was the decision taken by world leaders last Friday night in Copenhagen?
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COP15 ARTICLES: If climate were a bank, sure its was already save

Climate change negotiations in Copenhagen are part of a learning process that humanity is taking now after years, decades or, why not, centuries of misuse and look down on the earth system.

The result of this behavior can be compared with the boiled frog story: If we place a frog in boiling water, it will jump out when feeling the heat. But, if it’s placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. True or false, (do not try this at home, please) this anecdote it’s very useful when we analyze the human reaction when facing climate change and in general, the inability of people to react to significant changes when they occur gradually. In Copenhagen we (the frog) have tried to jump out of the saucepan.

The expected crisis unleashed at the COP15 during the morning and afternoon of Thursday 16th, reminds us again that too much has to be done in the future in order to lay the foundations of a learning process that can assure the future and well-being of next generations.

President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, reminded on his press conference that “earth can live without humans, but humans cannot live without earth.” Thus, “Not just human beings have rights, but the planet has rights”. “We are all interdependent. We now must begin to realise that the Earth does not belong to us,” he said. “It’s the other way around. We belong to the Earth.”

It could be a nice starting point for the future. Meanwhile, negotiations continued on Thursday in deadlock. The claims of developing countries are not being heard by developed countries. Just a last remark: 75-100 billion US dollars a year is needed to help poor nations to fight climate change. Iraq war has cost between 1.3 and 3 trillion dollars. $515.4 billions are the 2009 of the US Department of Defense.

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COP15 ARTICLES: Queues, protests and ministers


Bella center is a small representation of the world and the mankind. Countries cooperating and arguing, people sharing their fears, dreams, hopes, interests or hates. Economic interests surrounding most of the conversations. Politicians, activists, journalist, celebrities, students, policemen, waiters, cleaners, etc., who care or not about the final result of the Conference.
In the world there also queues, as those since Monday are blocking the Bella Center, with participants just arriving being forced to spend between six to eight hours in registration lines at 0°C. At this stage of the Conference the total number of people requesting accreditation had hit more than 40,000, thus far exceeding the 15,000 capacity of the convention center, so entrance limitations have just started and more are expected for the high-level segment set to begin on Wednesday. Mayor restrictions will be applied to NGOs which reacted angrily to this and complained about being excluded from the process breaking one of the main principles repeated during the conference, “accountability, transparence and the role constructive and vital of civil society.”
Meanwhile, negotiations continue with the same pattern as the days before, with fear, mistrust and suspicion having come to rule – particularly between industrialized and developing countries. Substantive work on the long-term cooperative action (LCA) issues has been suspended at different stages due to the “deadlock” between these two main blocks.
With Ministers already involved in negotiations, protests raised again among developing countries as only LCA issues were to be discussed at the ministerial level while Kyoto Protocol commitments by develop countries were not planned to have enough attention at the ministerial level. This was solved by the presidency leading to an agreement to hold informal consultations on “crunch issues” under both negotiations tracks. “It looks like rich countries wanted to wash their hands with regard their commitments” criticized a delegate of the African Union.

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COP15 ARTICLES: Drivers for Arab Involvement

The 2009 report on climate change of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development found that greenhouse emissions in the Arab World contribute merely 4.2% to the global emissions. However, the impact of climate change on the fragile environment of the region and its people is expected to be immense as its been experience in Syria:  change in natural weather patterns, scarcity of food and water, loss of coastal areas, disruption to ecosystems, and adverse effects on human health are just some of the direct threats.
In spite of this, and the related social and political consequences that climate change can have over the region, climate negotiations have been over the years underestimated by Arab countries, with the exception of the Arab oil producer’s countries which followed the negotiations in order to defend their own economic interests.
The small number of journalists, civil society organizations or clean energy specialists from the Arab and Middle East world, together with the weakness of the positions of most of their delegations does not look to be counteracted with the assistance of some of its top leaders: Mubarak, Bouteflika or Ahmadinejad together with Salam Fayyad from Palestine, Abbas El Fassi from Morocco, Prince Hamzah from Jordan, Hariri from Lebanon and the Ministers of Environment of Syria and Turkey among others, are expected to come to Copenhagen.
However, COP15 has to be a turning point. The Arab world cannot ignore a problem that will affect directly its whole 500 millions population. So the real work starts after the end of the conference: creation of special units at the top levels of governments with enough executive capacities to put countries on the track of low carbon sustainable systems; establishment of public-private partnerships aimed to implement the different financial mechanism that will be decided in COP15; training of senior staff in the different environmental, financial or political areas affected; awareness and education campaigns for the whole population, etc…  Are we ready?
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COP15 ARTICLES: There is not Planet “B”


With the support of different events organized in other parts of the world, an estimated number of 100.000 demonstrators marched on Saturday from the Copenhagen city centre to the heavily fortified Convention centre where climate talks have been celebrating. The gathering was mostly festive in spite of different groups that tried to alter the peaceful sense of the march.
Most of the participants bore slogans related to global warming and calls for action of world leaders in other to resolve the vast differences that until now have been expressed in the different meetings. Clear messages, full of sense and love, oriented to raise a common concern that could change the negotiations and the way the world is moving towards an unprecedented climate crisis.
Meanwhile, and with no meetings scheduled for Sunday, talks will restart on Monday with delegations completely structured around their top officials. Until now, parties had mainly repeated their “well-known positions”. The European Union is one of the negotiating blocks that defend a single agreement. Developing countries defend a two tracks agreement – Kyoto Protocol with deep emissions cuts for the rich countries and a less binding accord for the poor- differing of the European proposal as they consider that this could mean an evasion of the historical responsibility by developed countries as mayor emitters of greenhouse gases since the XIX century. On the other hand, and as the United States will not ratified Kyoto Protocol with the rest of develop countries, most of the developing countries are not willing to assume binding commitments, especially emergent economies as China, India or Brazil, without a clear leadership of industrialized countries.
With little movement during the first week on some of the key issues, many delegates were thinking about the way forward: “We must work hard so that by this time next week, we can celebrate a fair and ambitious agreement: the momentum generated for this conference is simply unprecedented and far too valuable to lose,” commented one slightly concerned but determined party.
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Let’s imagine that climates change talks are an envelope, in which its forehead it’s written “environment”, “climate change” or lets say “the future of human civilization”. But, when we open it, surprisingly it can be see that what is inside the envelope is a full range of figures, commitments and financial agreements that are, in fact, talking about world economy and trade.
Because may be, climate talks are just that, economy talks and may be is the only way by which humankind is currently able to face its self-inflicted damage to the earth system. However, understand the future of earth as a single economic issue is causing a deep distrustful and unenthusiastic feeling among participants in the conference.
Thus, and after one week of meetings, a perception among the different participants of the conference, parties, non-governmental organizations, journalist or academics, is the existence of many gaps that impede to give a sense of totality to the negotiations and the whole issue of climate change. A gap between what science says and policymakers; between politicians and society; between what is been saying outside the plenary of the conference and the negotiating parties; between what developed countries offer and developing countries claim. Something is missed. Dessima Williams, Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) expressed her concerns on this regard: “We must rebalance the way we live… in the field of economy, ecology, ethics… a shift must occur…”
As we wait for the second week and the expected arrival of more than 100 heads of government who own the key for a successful financial agreement in the fields of adaptation, mitigation or technology transfer among others, voices of developing countries start to launch messages that make more understandable the aim of this conference, to improve life of poor people under a sustainable environment: “while you are meeting, I am working in a evacuation plan for my island”, “the grassroots of climate change is the historical responsibility”, “Africa is dying… my house is leaking… we appeal to you to discuss…”, “we appeal to President Obama to act, as President of the Americans,… and the Africans”.
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