By : Kaushik Das, Asst. Teacher, Nilnalini Bidya Mandir
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The sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are open to Parties of the Convention and Observer States (Governments), the United Nations System and observer organizations duly admitted by the Conference of the Parties. In addition, accredited press is allowed to cover the proceedings of the Convention.
Participation in COP15 is restricted to duly nominated representatives of Parties, observer States, admitted observer organizations and accredited press/media. The sessions are not open to the public.
COP 15 comprises a number of sessions of the subsidery bodies of convention, its Koyoto Protocol, bilateral and multilateral meetings as well as side events and exibits.
COP15 : Where India, US, China stands?
The European Union stated on 23rd October, 2009 that it will consider cutting its greenhouse gas emissions 95% by 2050 and 30% by 2020 if a climate change agreement is reached at Cop15, which begins in a month.
The region's ministers also agreed to cut aviation emissions 10% on 2005 levels and shipping emissions by 20%. The E.U. finance ministers also agreed on a funding package for developing countries yesterday.Many E.U. countries are split on the deal, with detractors unhappy about subsidize the climate plans of China, whose economy is growing at a much faster rate than the region in general. Countries such as Norway have already outpaced the E.U. announcement, claiming a 40% emission reduction in the same time period.
The outlook for a deal being reached at COP15 has diminished lately, as many countries such as China, U.S. and India are reluctant to release specific targets or figures to move a deal along. There is also debate about whether the announcement of more aggressive targets by the E.U. actually weakened their negotiating position. In spite of this, developed nations have been working very hard this month to woo large, growing nations such as China and India into a deal, with the U.S. and E.U. claiming they will remove the tariffs and fees on sustainable goods if an agreement is met.
Koyoto Protocol: Effects on Nations
The recent Bangkok negotiations of Kyoto Protocol Conference of Parties functionaries confirmed that Northern states and their corporations won't make an honest effort to get to 350 CO2 parts per million. On the right, Barack Obama's negotiators seem to feel that
the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is excessively binding to the North, and leaves out several major polluters of the South, including China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
Kyoto's promised 5% emissions cuts (by 2012, from 1990 levels) are impossible now. Obama's people hope the world will accept 2005 as a new starting date; a 20% reduction by 2020 then only brings the target back to around 5% below 1990 levels. Such pathetically low
ambitions, surely Obama knows, guarantee a runaway climate catastrophe - he should shoot for 45%, say the small island nations.
The other reason Kyoto is ridiculed by serious environmentalists is its provision for carbon trading rackets which allow fake claims of
net emissions cuts. Since the advent of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, the Chicago exchange, Clean Development Mechanism projects and offsets, vast evidence has accumulated of systemic market failure, scamming and inability to regulate carbon trading.
[I suggest the readers to view the website www.350reasons.org ]
Market-oriented approach is that devastation caused by climate change will hit the world's poorest, most vulnerable people far harder than those in the North. Reparations for the North's climate debt to the
South are in order. The European Union offered a pittance in September, while African leaders are stiffening their spines for a fight in Copenhagen reminiscent of Seattle a decade ago.
Since discussing this threat in a ZNet column, by some anonymous personality, subsequent Bangkok negotiations and web traffic offered him a sobering reminder of Northern stubbornness, on two fronts - those whose interests are mainly in short-term capital accumulation, but also the mainstream environmentalists who are only beginning to grasp the huge strategic error they made in Kyoto.
In the first camp, Obama's people are hoping non-binding national-level plans will be acceptable at Copenhagen. But their case is weaker because at home, the two main proposed bills - Waxman-Markey which passed in the US House of Representatives and Kerry-Boxer which is under Senate consideration - will do far more harm than good.
Don't take it from me; the best source is Congressman Rich Boucher, from a coal-dominated Southwestern Virginia district. Boucher supported Waxman-Markey, he told a reporter last month, precisely because it would not adversely affect his corporate constituencies. The two billion tons of offset allowances in the legislation mean
that 'an electric utility burning coal will not have to reduce the emissions at the plant site,' chortled Boucher. 'It can just keep burning coal.'
Boucher was one of the congressional rednecks who wrecked Obama's promise to sell - not give away - the carbon credits, and then bragged to his district's main newspaper, the Times News, that 'this helps to keep electricity prices affordable and strengthens the case for utilities to continue to use coal.'
Boucher and co are also working hard to disempower the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating CO2. This was accomplished in Waxman-Markey, and upon introducing his legislation, Senator John Kerry gave the game away by noting EPA regulatory authority is not gutted in his bill now, only so that it can be gutted later, so as to provide 'some negotiating room as we proceed forward.'
The Senate bill has all manner of other objectionable components, which hard-working activists from Climate SOS, Rising Tide North America, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, Biofuelwatch and Greenwash Guerrillas have been hammering at.
Hence in the US, the balance of forces is fluid. On the far-right, the fossil fuels industries are intent on making Obama's climate legislation farcical - and have so far succeeded. In the centre, the
main establishment 'green' agencies - such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defence Council - are plowing ahead with carbon trading strategies, hoping to salvage some legitimacy for Obama, because these bills are a 'first step' to more serious emissions reducation, they claim.
Yet US negotiators will go to Copenhagen (as they did in Bangkok, Barcelona) with the aim of smashing any residual benefit of the Kyoto Protocol - such as potential binding cuts with accountability mechanisms - and then allow these US dynamics to play out in a manner that locks in climate disaster.
So just as in 1997, when Al Gore introduced carbon trading into the initial deal - and subsequently broke an implicit promise by failing to get the US (under both Clinton and Bush) to ratify the Protocol -
there is every likelihood that if an agreement in Copenhagen were reached, it would be as worthless as Kyoto.
which brings us to quandaries faced by two other forces: the ordinary environmentalist in the US - perhaps a typical fan of useful www.grist.org blogs - and activists based in the so-called Third World who have to deal with the most adverse impacts of climate chaos in coming decades.
Grist's Jonathan Hiskes recently reacted to the first dilemma by characterizing Goddard Institute for Space Studies director James Hansen - the most celebrated US climate scientist - as 'especially troublesome.' Hansen not only put his body on the line this year in a high-profile arrest at a West Virginia coal generator, and testified
repeatedly against carbon trading, but also endorsed Climate SOS, to Hiskes' dismay.
Regardless, core principles of the progressive movement are non-negotiable. In advance of Copenhagen Bella Center protests, here are demands articulated by Climate Justice Action:
* leaving fossil fuels in the ground;
* reasserting peoples' and community control over production;
* relocalising food production;
* massively reducing overconsumption, particularly in the North;
* respecting indigenous and forest peoples' rights; and
* recognising the ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of
the South and making reparations.
If the center is not holding, that's fine: the wave of courageous direct-action protests against climate criminals in recent weeks - and the prospect of seattling Copenhagen on December 16 - is an inspiring reflection of left pressure that will soon counteract that from the right. It's our only hope, isn't it.
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