Jan 1, 2010

We are not done yet

The deal spells disaster for people in countries already suffering the impacts of climate change

By Irfan Mufti

The Copenhagen climate summit has ended without the fair, ambitious, and legally binding agreement that millions of citizens around the work demanded. Despite the calls from millions and millions of voices all over the world demanding action and moral leadership, the 120 world leaders gathered for the last two days of the summit were unable to resolve issues blocking the road towards a just outcome.

Hopes have been dashed. Despite a mandate from citizens around the world, and over 120 world leaders attending the Summit, the bickering continued and the leaders did not lead, they did not act. The summit has failed to produce anything that could be called a fair or better deal. The city of Copenhagen shows a climate crime scene, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport in shame. World leaders had a chance to change the world, to seize the day, and put the world on a path way to peace and prosperity, to embark on a path of climate justice. In doing so, they could have banished the spectre of catastrophic climate change. In the end, they produced a poor deal full of loopholes.

As a result, world leaders have failed the millions of people all over the world who are living on a daily basis with the very real impacts of climate change. One positive outcome from Copenhagen has been the appearance of a new movement, touching millions of people in hundreds of countries around the world that saw civil society cooperating on a single issue as never before. Three days of global action broke records with climate demonstrations, and movements -- perhaps the most diverse ever seen -- stands united as the people still look to the future. Millions of people around the world look to the future and see hope, justice, and opportunity. The groups gathered in Copenhagen made a strong promise that they will continue to speak out to get the real deal that the world needs in 2010. The most marginalised and vulnerable people need to be heard by leaders if a climate deal is going to meet their needs.

The Copenhagen Accord is based on a proposal tabled on Friday 17 December by a US-led group of five nations -- China, India, Brazil and South Africa. The accord includes recognition to limit temperature rises to less than 2 oC and promises to deliver $30bn aid for developing nations over the next three years and outlines a goal of providing $100bn a year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change. The accord was not universally agreed upon by all the negotiators attending the summit. In fact, a number of countries have objected to it, in particular a number of South American countries who opposed the undemocratic way in which it has been tabled by the US. The most critical reaction came from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who called the deal as undemocratic. He said that the poor countries will not accept any text other than that which comes from the working group for the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention, which are the legitimate texts that we have been so intensely negotiating for these past two years."

African delegates also expressed their outrage at the draft text with Group of 77 and China calling it the worst deal in the history of climate negotiations. This deal will definitely result in massive devastation in Africa, Asia and small island states. It has the lowest level of ambition and nothing short of climate change scepticism in action and will locks countries into a cycle of poverty for ever.

A poor deal full of loopholes the accord spells disaster for people in countries already suffering the impacts of climate change. For example:

There is no reference to a legally binding agreement,

There is only a recognition to limit temperature rises to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels (despite strong statements from African and Small Island Nations that anything over 1.5C was suicide)

There was no further commitment from the European Union to adopt a more ambitious position on reducing carbon emissions, groups were calling for a 30pc reduction compared to the 20pc committed by the EU.

While $30 billion in aid for combating climate change has been promised immediately for the period 2010-2012 -- not only is it not clear where this finance is going to come from but the commitment falls short of the amounts.

The voice of people especially those from the under-developed countries were also presented by forum that organized climate hearings in more than 27 countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The aim of these hearings was to allow those who have been impacted by climate change to share their stories, voice their concerns, and demand a space in the policy debate around climate justice. A number of these were presented in Copenhagen but without any favorable consideration from the negotiators. There were also strong protests and actions outside the conference venue involving the symbolic burning of accreditation badges to send a strong message to world leaders that any agreement reached would not be legitimate as the voices of the communities directly affected by climate change had not been heard.

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence, and massive popular support from citizens in countries North and South, world leaders chose national political self-interest over the fate of future generations and failed to resolve the issues blocking the road towards a just outcome. While this deal cannot be judged as a success, it is impossible to be without hope. Millions around the world look to the future and see hope, justice, and opportunity.

The next Conference of Parties (COP 16) will take place in Mexico in 2010 to further monitor the enforcement of the deal and negotiate other points. The world's leaders will have another chance to get things right in Mexico. They must realize that world expect, and will not accept, anything less. They're not done yet. Neither are the people of the world.

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