To a rapturous applause, Todd Stern, the US negotiator announced to the world “We’re back!” at the first UN climate talks following the election of President Obama. This was just over two years ago; since then how the hopes of millions around the world have been dashed on the anvil of political expediency and lack of leadership!
Todd Stern’s 2009 words conveyed a U.S. Administration that understands the consequences of inaction and of the importance of multilateralism. On behalf of all of us at the Daily Tck to Todd Stern and the U.S. Administration “Come Back!” but keep the science of climate change front and centre and leave that siege mentality in back in Washington.
What has been achieved this week? Panama has certainly given us text, what is now needed is political direction from Ministers to move things forward.
While the U.S. has taken most of the heat, Canada and Japan have hidden behind the U.S. in Panama but that won’t be possible in Durban. Canada was exposed this week when their own internal watchdog questioned how Canada will possibly meet their (meagre) greenhouse gas reduction targets without a plan. The world will not take Canada seriously when they make international promises that they have no intention of keeping.
As for Japan, they made a commitment to cut emissions by 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and it is now time to bring forward legislation to ensure that target is met. Japan played an unhelpful role here, most incredulously when they suggested nuclear be eligible for CDM credits. We hear they are inclined to back off of position in Durban, we will be watching.
It appears that Europe has been constructive. The support for Kyoto (which should be unequivocal rather than with conditions) as well as support for finance has been constructive. The EU Environment Council discusses its position at their meeting this Monday – we will be watching.
Australia has been trying to operate under the radar screen but that too will not be possible in Durban, they will need to be drawn out on the issue of the future of the Kyoto Protocol as will Norway.
There has been progress in the areas of technology and adaptation – and the US did in the end soften their stance on allowing a discussion on long term climate finance. But there can also be no doubt that the difficulties that have been exposed here are fundamental to Durban and those include finance, the future of the KP and the future of the LCA that governments will not be able skate around in Durban.
At their final press conference the US said “The US has not been blocking the discussion on long term finance, but we believe that each country should consider how they raise their finances; the US rejects that view of defining which sources of finance should be used for long term finance.” How far have they fallen in the last two years?
The next stops before Durban include the Capetown pre-COP Ministerial and an opportunity to build support for long term and innovative finance at the G20 in Cannes, France and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth, Australia at the end of October.
What is happening?
Despite the economy climate change remains a key concern for the European public, and a greater one than when the last special climate survey was conducted in 2009. Just over half (51%) of respondents consider climate change one of the world’s most serious problems (and 20% feel it is the single most serious problem). Overall it is seen as the second most serious issue facing the world, after poverty, hunger and lack of drinking water, and a more serious problem than the economic situation.
Read the full report here: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_372_en.pdf
Europe has taken some good steps by implementing a tax on air travel that could begin to provide some much needed financial resources – we need to make sure this extra money is put to good use towards the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries.
Yesterday was the World Day for Decent Work which this year aims at tackling “precarious work” – the deepening trend towards casual, temporary and insecure jobs, often with little legal protection. Young people and women in the workforce are most likely to be affected, with their incomes and earning potential suffering as a result. http://www.wddw.org/-English. There were at least 639 actions in 90 countries
ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said, “People’s rights at work are under attack as never before, and governments lack the vision and commitment to fix a global economy which is failing working people.”
Message for the day
Realise the promise of Cancun which include critical climate finance, renewed commitments on Kyoto and set a deadline for a deal that respects the principles of equity.
7 reasons why we need a robust and comprehensive climate agreement:
New OECD and IEA report on Fossil Fuel Subsidies- essential reading: http://bit.ly/qOL0Ij
About the authorPaul Horsman
Having campaigned for over 26 years on peace and environmental issues in different parts of the world for Greenpeace, Paul now works as the global campaign director for the Global Campaign for Climate Action.