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On Saturday, at 3:07 am, the Mexican Chair of the COP Patricia Espinosa, passed the text which came out as a result of the Kyoto Protocol working group of the official climate negotiations in Cancun. The text was approved by Espinosa, even though Bolivia had made clear that they didn´t support the document, and therefore there was no consensus, a criterion that must be followed by the UN negotiations.
Bolivian UN Ambassador, Pablo Solon, immediately demanded Espinosa to respect the legality of the process and stated that this was setting a “disastrous” precedent by “approving” an agreement without consensus. Espinosa said that consensus didn´t mean that the countries couldn´t reach an agreement because one country opposed to it.
A few minutes later, at 3:33 am on Saturday, Espinosa approved the text of the working group on Long-Term Cooperative Action, again disregarding Bolivia´s opposition, that had requested to keep debating. The Mexican Chair only said that the position of Bolivia would be recorded.
This way, the Climate Conference in Cancun has just ended with an agreement that doesn´t force industrialized countries to emission reductions, an agreement that strengthens carbon markets, that considers forests as carbon sinks and that disregards the rights of indigenous peoples. The new text does not reflect the urgency raised by science to solve the climate crisis.
With the current levels of emissions and the current cuts pledged, we could be facing an increase of global temperature of up to 5°C, while science warns that if we are to avoid serious climate catastrophes, the rise shouldn’t exceed 2°C.
“This agreement reproduces the Copenhagen Accord reached at the COP15 last year”, said Pablo Solon in a press conference on Friday, when the texts had already been made public.
Just like the document drafted only by a group of countries in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, 2009, the Cancun text is based on a system of voluntary offers, or “pledges” by industrialized countries on emission cuts and other issues. “We are in a complicated situation, and we are deeply worried”, said Solon on Friday.
The new agreement includes some discussions around a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, but does not make any reference as to when these negotiations should be concluded, and does not ensure a second period. On the contrary, it leaves the door open to dismantle Kyoto, the only binding climate agreement that obliges rich countries to reduce their emissions.
On these reductions, the new texts are based on “pledges” without making reference to an exact figure of cuts by developed countries. Even though the continuity of Kyoto is not ensured, the texts do include flexibility mechanisms for rich countries, so that they can achieve their pledges. Carbon trading and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) are among these flexibilities.
The new texts see forests as carbon sinks, and according to Bolivia, they aim to carbon trading and they don´t ensure the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
In terms of climate finance, a green fund was created, but it is not clearly stated how this fund will work, and they talk of a “mobilization” of resources, instead of “providing” resources as the Climate Convention establishes. They don´t establish how financial resources will be provided but they do state that the World Bank will have a fundamental role in climate finance.
With reference to technology transfer, two new institutions to analyze the issue were created, but nothing was said in terms of where the funds for these institutions will come from. They don´t make any reference to intellectual property rights, an issue that worries developing countries that need new technologies but can´t afford patents.
Bolivia demanded legality and to respect the rule of consensus. It was not enough. An agreement that does not recognize that industrialized countries are historically responsible for the climate crisis, a fundamental criterion of the UN Climate Convention, was approved.
Photo: Friends of the Earth International
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