Dispatches from Durban - ALERTNET

Dispatches from Durban

AlertNet Climate and its network of experts and organisations share their insights on the U.N. climate talks

  • Watching - #UNFCCC #COP17 Webcast - #Climate Change Media Partnership Clinic: Meet the negotiators bit.ly
  • Preparation for climate displacement too slow, experts say bit.ly #climate #displacement #refugee #COP17 #UNESCO
  • @alertnetclimate accompanied by an adult, I hope.
  • Of course!
  • “In some countries, there is no space (to resettle migrants), some countries might even go down under the water (and) in others, population pressure is so high that people cannot move (elsewhere in the country),” noted Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, a Bangladeshi economist and contributing author to several Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

    “Therefore, it’s extremely important we find ways of moving them out of the country and into regional countries if possible, or into countries where the number of people is small and there is huge land area,” he said. He admitted that “this is a difficult subject”. www.trust.org
  • “We are good at emergency response but bad on progressive, gradual phenomenon,” UNESCO’s John Crowley said. “And climate change will be largely a progressive, gradual phenomenon. There won’t be anything to launch an appeal for, no specific event. There will just be growing pressure to migrate.”
  • “Migration isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We have to recognise migration as an adaptation strategy, and make it an option available to the most vulnerable," says UNESCO's John Crowley.
  • “Migration isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We must recognise it as an adaptation strategy, and make it an option" bit.ly #COP17
  • Reading - Robert B. Semple Jr.: Remember #Kyoto? Most nations don’t (@NYTimes) #cop17 #climate nyti.ms
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Kashmiri Farmers Left High and Dry: Sammad Sheikh of Tangchekh village in north Kashmir cannot ... bit.ly
  • Follow World Bank's VP Rachel Kyte as she shares her perspectives on #COP17 in Durban: bit.ly
  • Today #COP17 Durban sessions on biz, youth, and a dialogue with Indigenous Peoples leaders. Microcosm of the p'ships necessary for action. bit.ly
  • Reading @guardianeco - Desmond Tutu & Mary Robinson: #Climate change is a matter of justice #cop17 bit.ly #environmentnetwork
  • Watching - #UNFCCC #Climate #COP17 Webcast - Six global cities to be recognized for innovation, excellence bit.ly
  • RT @tadegnon: 6 Greenpeace activists arrested during a protest outside a Durban hotel on Monday 5 December, 2011 #COP17

  • #ecomonday - WRI tweeters in #Durban - @climatemorgan @MoncelWRI @tarynfransen @LutzWeischer @michaeloko #cop17 #climate
  • Rumors abound among #COP17 delegates that #SouthAfrica is not doing a very good job as conference chair, process not "intensive" enough. - @kristinpalitza
  • #China's happy with a legally binding treaty that includes it - but not til 2020, and not without 5 conditions. #COP17 - @NastasyaTay
  • Watching - #UNFCCC #Climate #COP17 Webcast - World Bank and Italy: @Connect4Climate photo/video awards bit.ly
  • REDD is a complex initiative for African countries since you can not separet the local communities and their forest, to African local communities forest means life, it is their survival.
  • REDD is a complex initiative for African countries since peoples life in the continent depends on forests, it is their survival. In order for the initiative work in African countries priority should be energy, ie local communities should be able to access cheap electricity as is the case with developed nations. Developed nations should direct support African countries on environmental friendly energy technologies.
  • With the current weather trend, as per IPCC report launched in Uganda recently, 2020 is very far!
  • Citizens' groups are losing faith in #climate talks, lament focus on protectionism and horse-trading ow.ly #COP17
  • Nauru's UN ambassador manages to stay positive despite delays in UN #climate talks ow.ly #COP17 #nauru
  • RT @geoffbarnard: Knowledge broker get together at #cop17 tonight. Join us 6-8pm at Oasis Centre. Contact Lisa +27 833648082 for info # ...
  • Week 2 in #Durban #Climate talks: The clock is ticking bit.ly #unfccc #cop17
  • Indigenous peoples participating in the UNFCCC negotiations are calling for a moratorium on REDD+.

    In a statement to be released to the press on Tuesday, the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD and for Life declares: "REDD+ threatens the survival of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities and could result in the biggest land grab of all time. Based on in-depth investigations, a growing number of recent reports provide evidence that Indigenous Peoples are being subjected to violations of their rights as a result of the implementation of REDD+-type programs and policies."

    They will be holding a press conference to provide more information on Tuesday morning at the Durban talks.
  • In the second week of climate talks in Durban, ministers from over 50 African countries will be pushing for an ambitious second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, effective action under the Bali Action Plan and scaled-up finance.

    "Developed country Parties to the Kyoto Protocol must honour their commitments through ambitious mitigation commitments for a second and subsequent commitment periods. They must reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40 per cent during the second commitment period from 2013 to 2017 and by at least 95 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, as an equitable and appropriate contribution," Seyni Nafo, spokesperson of the African group of negotiators, said after a weekend meeting of ministers.

    Minister also said they were concerned about "insufficient transparency and slow disbursement" of fast start funds, and indications that only a small proportion is "new and additional" money.

    And they reiterated Africa's position that developed countries should by 2020 provide scaled-up financial support based on an assessed scale of contributions that constitutes at least 1.5 per cent of their gross domestic product.
  • Family planning is an 'effective' but unpopular #climate change solution, experts say at Durban ow.ly #COP17 #population
  • Proximate causes of deforestation in the Bolivian lowlands: Forests in lowland Bolivia suffer from severe defore... bit.ly
  • Recent Pub: Oportunidades y desafíos para el manejo forestal comunitario: bit.ly
  • Recent Pub: Institutional perceptions of opportunities and challenges of REDD+ in the Congo Basin: Tropical fore... bit.ly
  • Recent Pub: Synergies between adaptation and mitigation in a nutshell: bit.ly
  • Recent Pub: Les synergies entre adaptation et atténuation en quelques mots: bit.ly
  • Recent Pub: Proximate causes of deforestation in the Bolivian lowlands: Forests in lowland Bolivia suffer from s... bit.ly
  • Here's the statement delivered by Sprent Dabwido, President of the Republic of Nauru on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, at the U.N. climate conference in Durban on Tuesday.

    Durban, South Africa
    Dec. 6, 2011

    His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa,

    His Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

    Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

    I have the great honor to speak on behalf of the fourteen Pacific Small Island Developing States, namely Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and my own country, Nauru.

    Let me express our deep appreciation to you, President Zuma, and the people of Durban for your warm hospitality.

    Mr. President,

    Our conversation about climate change, and the challenge that addressing this growing crisis entails, has entered its third decade.

    This audience is certainly aware of the worst consequences of inaction, though they are still worth repeating, so that we do not forget the magnitude of the task before us.

    I am from the Pacific, and the fourteen island nations in our group are often said to be on the “frontlines” of this struggle. The combat metaphor is apt, because it is not an exaggeration to say that climate change is, for us, a matter of life and death.

    Already, communities in our islands have been forced to flee their homes to escape rising seas, and unless bold action is taken, much of my region could be rendered uninhabitable within our grandchildren’s lifetimes.

    On a recent trip to our region, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was not until a young girl from Kiribati described her fear that the sea might wash her away while she slept that he fully appreciated the gravity of the situation we face.

    It should not come as a surprise that, this past July, the United Nations Security Council recognized that the impacts of climate change are a threat to international peace and security. This crisis could not be more real.

    Mr. President,

    As members of AOSIS, we have consistently offered proposals based on the latest scientific and economic understandings of climate change and guided by the principle of fairness. But the time for small, incremental steps ended long ago, and great strides must be made in a very short amount of time. This effort must begin here, in Durban, and three outcomes are absolutely essential:

    First, we must refocus the negotiations on mitigation and immediately begin a process to ratchet up the ambition of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level that ensures the viability and survival of all nations.

    Next, we must have a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol with an enhanced set of rules to strengthen its environmental integrity. Some may think we have the luxury of waiting until we build a new regime. We do not. The Pacific most certainly does not.

    And finally, we must have a “Durban Mandate” for a new, legally binding protocol to complement Kyoto, with binding mitigation commitments for non-Kyoto Parties and mitigation actions for developing countries, as well as the conclusion of all other elements of the Bali Action Plan.

    Along side these three key priorities, we must complete the work begun in Cancun, notably the Green Climate Fund, the Adaptation Committee, and the work programme on loss and damage.

    Mr. President,

    We may be the vanguard of climate change, but we are by no means the only ones suffering. The past year alone has witnessed unprecedented extreme weather on nearly every continent and, according to scientific projections, provides only a glimpse at what the future may hold.

    Climate change is an international crisis too big for any country to tackle alone. We will succeed together, or we will fail together. So also at stake here in Durban is our confidence that, together, we can resolve the global problems that characterize our era.

    If the United Nations was created for anything, it was to respond to a challenge such as this. The drafters of its charter, still reeling from the devastation of the Second World War and fearful that civilization could not afford another, recognized that multilateralism was our best hope for addressing the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world.

    The stated purpose of the UN Charter is to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and the achievement of world peace.

    Our present challenge involves all those things. But our collective goals will be impossible to achieve unless we come to see that our own health and prosperity is closely connected to that of our neighbors.

    This is a difficult lesson for all of us. The temptation is great to focus on our perceived national interests and turn inward. To see the world as no more than a finite stockpile of resources that must be locked away for the benefit of the few.

    We reject this conception of the world, because history has shown that it leads us to tragedy.

    Mr. President,

    The Pacific is taking the lead and putting our words into action. Tuvalu is aiming to provide 100% of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2020, and Tonga expects to reach 50% by next year. Green Energy Micronesia, a plan for Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau, is well underway. And my own country of Nauru has set a target of 50% renewable energy by 2015.

    And as members of the Alliance of Small Island States, we have joined other highly vulnerable countries to consistently offer fair and ambitious proposals at these negotiations, always guided by science.

    However, delay has left us short on time and vanishingly little to compromise.

    Mr. President,

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the untimely death of Dag Hammarskjöld, the U.N.’s second Secretary General and one of its most dynamic leaders. He described the Charter’s fundamental principles as, “expressions of universally shared ideals which cannot fail us, though, alas, we often fail them.”

    The Pacific Nations did not come to Durban to fail.

    Thank you.
  • From Policy to Practice: Summary of Forest Day 5 #FD5 #COP17 blog.cifor.org
  • Innovative Climate Finance || Julian Koschorke || Speak Your Mind || www.symnews.org

    As climate change worsens and the solutions continue to develop commercial feasibility, why does climate financing still lag behind?
    Climate financing in developing countries is one of the key issues at this year’s UN climate change negotiations in Durban. The last sixty years of development aid have shown that classical means of finance; such as loans, grants, equity and technical assistance have their limits and that new models of finance are necessary.
    Innovative instruments play an increasingly more important role in climate finance, as a recent report entitled Innovative Climate Finance, presented in Durban reveals. These instruments include green credit lines, risk sharing instruments, support for carbon markets and combining grants and loans; a tool called ‘blending’. They need to be “effective, efficient and transformative,” Murray Ward, a GTripleC consultant, presenting the study said. “The goal of these instruments is to get private investors on board.”
    Stanford professor and climate change consultant, Thomas Heller believes that it is crucial to include the private sector in financing the fight against climate change. “We should learn how to take advantage of the different kinds of financial engineering structures that have evolved in the private sector,” he said. However, he believes that government still has to play an important role. “The risks are often too high for the private sector. So the state has to provide security and take certain risks,” he underlined. “As a private investor you sometimes want to have the state on board. Because you don’t want to be in a situation where you have a legal argument with the state that is hosting you.”
    However, it is not clear how climate financing money flows actually work. The Bilateral Finance Institutions Climate Change Working Group of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) have tried to assess the various money flows within the climate financing framework. These flows are difficult to follow, since they pass through not only bilateral, but also multilateral institutions, appear in various budgets at the same time and don’t have a common denomination. The main objective of the working group therefore was to identify the nature and the scale of these financial flows. By following the various ways through which money reaches mitigation and adaptation projects, UNEP researchers were able to account for financial flows of 15.7bn USD in 2010. This is an increase of 22% compared to 2009.
    According to the report, classical means of finance still make up the majority of the instruments.
    For successful financing of mitigation and adaptation in developing countries an increase in the use of innovative financing tools is crucial. The Green Climate Fund, agreed upon in Cancun and to be discussed in Durban, is a chance to institutionalise these new and innovative financing tools.
  • African Group wants Kyoto Protocol Second Commitment Period || Willemien Calitz || Speak Your Mind || www.symnews.org

    The African Group’s official position at COP17.
    Ministers from over 50 African countries met on Monday to reinforce their position at the United Nations climate talks (COP17), demanding an ambitious second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding international climate change document. “We keep the African position as ambitious as possible, because we need to keep one billion people safe,” Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, the chair of the African Group of negotiators said.
    During the ‘high-level’ segment of COP17 which starts on Tuesday, the African Group will present the African Common Position on Climate Change as agreed to in Mali, earlier this year in September.
    Mpanu-Mpanu announced that with adaptation as a priority, the African Group’s strategy will ensure that the outcomes of COP17 are comprehensive enough to protect Africans from the worst effects of climate change. “People in African countries have to walk further and further for access to water. We need to adapt to prevent conflict over these issues.”
    According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Africa will be the hit first and hardest hit by global climate change, and is among the least equipped to adapt to its adverse effects. “The impact that current and historic greenhouse gas emission is having on agriculture in Africa needs to be better understood in order for African negotiators to negotiate effectively, armed with the right kind of information outlined in this report,” Seyni Nafo, spokesperson of the African Group said.
    More than one billion people in Africa, and millions of others living in small islands or vulnerable communities will bear the potentially catastrophic effects of land loss, food and water shortage, crop reduction and flooding. “We need to put emotions aside and focus on what the science tells us,” Mpanu-Mpanu said.
    “Africa contributes the least carbon emissions, but is willing to do its fair share in emission reduction. We all have a responsibility to reduce emissions, the only difference is the historical position.”
    “We want developed countries that have enjoyed a certain kind of life to show climate leadership. They have shown us economic leadership, human rights leadership, political leadership and sometimes even military leadership.”
    According to Nafo, developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol should honour their commitments and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent from 2013 to 2017, which marks the second commitment period to Kyoto. “We stress the urgency of agreeing to a second commitment period in Durban and of elaborating measures to avoid a gap between commitment periods,” he said.
    Mpanu-Mpanu added that the African Group is concerned because “the Kyoto Protocol makes provisions for people who don’t want it, to get out of it.” According to Mpanu, the European Union has suggested a politically binding second commitment. “We understand legally binding, but politically binding will be too unclear.”
    Additionally, the group finds it incomprehensible that Japan, the motherland of where the Kyoto Protocol came to life, is backing out of the agreement. “Where’s the sense of honour of the agreement? It has created a really bad precedence. It takes a certain level of trust to ask developing countries to go into a legally binding commitment.”
    “If you like the mango, you need to like the mango tree as well. Carbon markets, Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) and the Kyoto Protocol go hand in hand. It’s a matter of supply and demand.”
    Mpanu-Mpanu said the African Group is concerned that projects under CDM has been achieved at the lowest possible cost. “CDM was marketed to us as a wonderful tool to help Africa mitigate emissions. Unfortunately the mechanism goes into a perverse incentive scheme which benefits have not been pursued,” he said. “We should ensure that the rules are fairer and access to funding is easier.”
    Securing the necessary climate finance forms a critical part of the official African position. “We’ve heard great things about the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Now some countries want to step back from it. It’s unacceptable. They have to walk the talk – we need the finance to cope.” Developed countries have pledged to jointly mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020.
    “You have to be responsible if you commit to a legally binding instrument. If your country doesn’t keep its word, it shouldn’t be trusted.”
    Mpanu-Mpanu stressed that they didn’t want ‘empty shells’, because the GCF can really make a difference in African countries.
  • Listen to the People, Not the Polluters || Awa Momtazian and Julian Koschorke || Speak Your Mind || www.symnews.org

    “We are with you,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, reassured the crowd that gathered at the Global Day of Action Rally on Saturday morning.
    Police estimated over 6,500 people – from civil society groups, labour and trade unions, faith-based organisations and local residents – flooded the streets of Durban for the rally, united in calling for climate justice and urging leaders who assembled for the UN climate change negotiations in Durban to take action.
    Flags, banners and homemade placards floated above an energetic crowd as it moved towards the Durban’s International Conventions Centre, where the negotiations are held.
    For many it was a key opportunity to voice frustration about lethargic climate action. “We want the multi-national companies to stop their anti-climate action campaigns,” local resident Hilek Prapahan asserted. “We want our government to become a green government, and start acting for the people, not the polluters.” Senzo Mchune, Skills Village 2030, added, “Instead of creating solutions, the government is just adding to the problem.”
    Prince Wilondja, a young student from the Democratic Republic of Congo, insisted people need to have a say in how their money is spent. “The problem is that our people do not profit from the United Nations funds. It is important that I am here to fight for justice.”
    Many participants also showed up to fight for their jobs. “Some activists here are calling for coal mining companies to be shut down. But we don’t want that! If you close down these companies, people will lose their jobs,” Njabulo Ntlovu from the Trade Unions Office said. Nina Larrea from the Swedish International Trade Union Development Cooperation came to support Ntlovu in his struggles. “Issues around climate change are not just ecological. There are social dimensions,” she said. “We feel they have already achieved great solutions and proposals for a just transition to a greener economy and we are actively working with them to formulate alternatives that would create more jobs instead of losing jobs.”
    Uniting their divergent agendas, was an underlying concern for the environment. Frans Monye, representing the South African Waste Pickers Association, explained, “I am here to stop the government building the waste incinerators they are planning in South Africa. As a waste picker, these facilities threaten my livelihoods. It’s bad for the environment, and its bad for our workers.”
    Halting at the entrance to the ICC, representatives from key groups gave speeches and collectively handed over a position paper to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Figueres. Figueres commended the crowd warmly on their participation. “I thank you for raising your voice for millions of people around the world who have no responsibility for climate change.” COP17 President, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane also accepted the statements promising to “read this very carefully.”
    Local resident Richard Parker summarised his feeling at the rally, “It’s great to see the range of people who care about climate change and feel the need to take action now.” Drawing attention to the links between climate activism and social justice he observed, “People have been singing the songs of the apartheid struggle, to show that the injustice of the apartheid struggle match the injustices of climate change.”
    For more photos, click here.
  • Youth Carry the Burdens and Solutions of Climate Change || Willemien Calitz || Speak Your Mind || www.symnews.org

    Youth across Africa, through non-formal education programs, are being educating on the burdens and also opportunities of climate change.
    Every day when Beatrice Omweri returns from work tired she walks a considerable distance to fill up to eight containers with water for her and her family. “I rarely get any sleep, and some nights are extremely cold.” The water, which her middle class Kenyan family, simply can’t live without is not clean and very bad for their health.
    A bad drought has recently hit Kenya, costing the lives of several people. “It broke my heart to see men leaving their women and children behind in a time of need, instead of owning up to the role of breadwinner,” Omweri said. Omweri now eats only twice a day and she and her sister have to be satisfied with getting smaller portions of food than her brothers. “Climate change has affected how I eat and drink and my role as a young woman,” she said.
    To ensure girls’ voices are heard, she is representing the World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts’ 10 million members at the UN climate talks (COP17) in Durban. “I have to come to COP17 to be part of the solutions. I can’t imagine going back to Kenya without COP having produced a good outcome,” she said with a breaking voice. “We are not just victims, we are agents of change.”
    Alphonse Karenzi grew up as the son of a small-scale farmer in rural Rwanda. From a young age he has been concerned with local community issues such as lack of access to electricity, water shortages and poverty. “Hunger in our community was caused by soil erosion and delayed rainfall,” he said.
    In 2009 Karenzi was the only one in his village to receive a scholarship to study at university. Because he had seen the effects of environmental changes on his community, he decided to pursue a degree in environmental studies, which his peers – like many people in Africa – thought to be the study of tree planting. “When I ask my friends about climate change they say that perhaps God is hungry.”
    He was so moved by what he was learning that he founded Sustaining Rwanda Youth Organisation (SRYO). SRYO is building improved cookstoves across Rwanda and teaching communities how to use them. “The cookstoves, of which 39 have been installed, reduces 85% of the firewood needed to cook food.”
    Last year, Karennzi was asked by the Power On/Off project to share best practices with students in Europe. “All you need is people who are committed to making a change,” he said. He has just been awarded second place in Connect4Climate’s Energy competition for 18-24 year olds.
    Throughout COP17 African youth have been actively illustrating how climate change directly affects their lives.
    Similarly, a group of South African children gathered with the help of UNICEF to voice their concerns about climate change.
    “When I was younger we used to see animals herding along streams from which they could drink clean water. Now, I see dry deserts. It’s painful, I wanted to share that with my children,” said Mokgali Seemolo from Limpopo Province.
    “We want government to say ‘these children have young minds, but great ideas’. Decisions you make on a daily basis make me who I am,” he added.
    “People are losing their lives in the name of development,” said Stuart Mbanyele from Mpumalanga Province. “Officials should dedicate one week of their time to go to rural communities to educate people and to see what’s really going on there.”

    Boineelo Molokoane from the North West Province wants funding for solar panels in schools and food gardens. She believes that climate change needs to be taught. “Climate change should not only be studied by science students, but should be a compulsory subject for all kids.”
    According to Stephanie Hodge, education specialist at UNICEF, education today needs to be relevant and empower students. “Children are at the centre of schools, cities, communities and the debate around climate change. Educating children is for the benefit of our environment and sustainable development.”
    The participating scholars came to learn about climate change in different ways.
    “I heard something about global warming on television in 2008, I Googled it and started educating my family and friends. It’s not invisible, I told them we are all part of climate change,” Molokoane said.
    Mbanyele learned about climate change through school, together with UNICEF and government programmes, because his school only provided climate education for science students.
    “Most of my climate education comes from this conference [COP17], but I already know what’s to be done to stop the effects of climate change,” said Monyombo Nomphelo from Limpopo Province.
  • Climate Wins || Awa Momtazian || Speak Your Mind || www.symnews.org

    Tonight at the UN Climate Talks (COP17), the UNFCCC Secretariat will launch a new initiative, “Momentum for Change” as supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
    Momentum for Change aims to showcase efforts that have proved effective across communities in developing countries, either in increasing resilience to the effects of climate change, or in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    Opening statements are expected from South African President Jacob Zuma, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.
    The event will present ten exemplary adaptation and mitigation projects from different regions around world that will act as models that can be replicated in other countries, and can be scaled up into larger frameworks for action.
    Projects showcased will vary from simple solar bottle light projects in the Philippines, to larger scale micro-insurance schemes for crop farmers across the Horn of Africa, and will be open for question and answer by the audience and press.
    Nicholas Stern who will be moderating the discussion supports showcasing on the ground development initiatives in the lead up to the final negotiations.
    “The confidence of where things are going, are crucial for decision making. You are more likely to get an agreement at the top, if people are able to see visible results on the ground,” he explains. “Often negotiators and policy makers become disengaged with what has really being agreed upon. They commit to a 2°C target as a maximum global average, but do not curb emissions that are necessary to reach that goal.”
    Stern published ‘The Stern Review’, a report on the economics of climate change in 2006, where he urged for an international response to climate change built on a shared vision of long-term goals and agreements on frameworks that will accelerate action over the next decade.
    Tonight’s launch will be the first of a series of platforms launched by the UNFCCC Secretariat that recognise and encourage opportunities that benefit people directly whilst simultaneously contributing to global efforts to control emissions and enhance adaptive capacity.
  • China, Annex I or Annex II || Julian Koschorke || Speak Your Mind || www.symnews.org

    Can China still be considered a developing nation? This frequent question in international relations has far reaching consequences, especially at the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Depending on what it is considered, China’s responsibility to contribute towards international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions changes. As a developing country, China insists that the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ be continued in any global treaty. The principle states that the industrialised nations are historically responsible for emissions causing climate change, having used fossil fuels for economic growth over the last two hundred years. This is unlike developing nations, who have not had the chance to take advantage of this cheap technology. Developing nations assert that they have a moral right to grow their economies and lift their population out of poverty.
    Recently, China has had spectacular economic growth, having overtaken Japan as the second biggest economy in the world. Its status as a developing nation is under scrutiny.
    At the November APEC Summit in Hawaii, US President Barack Obama reportedly told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao now that China has “grown up”, it has to act more responsibly. This includes having to bear international obligations, like emission reduction targets to combat climate change.
    American chief climate negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, said that the simple separation of rich and poor countries as a concept originated in 1992 is now irrelevant. “Since then the world has radically changed,” and there is no point in arguing on this basis, he said.
    British Energy Secretary Chris Huhne agrees, “China clearly cannot say it’s a small developing country. It’s so big, it is a global player.”
    China, however, fiercely defended its status as a developing nation. Chinese chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua told the press that, “China remains a developing country. Per capita GDP is only $4,300, and we have 128 million population living within $1 a day.”
    In fact, looking at economic indicators per capita, Xie does have a point. The per capita GDP is less than a tenth of that of the US which stands at $47,184.
    Outside the economic factors, other measures also render China a developing country. The UN Human Development Index, which includes factors like literacy, life expectancy and education, ranks China 101st in the world.
    However, in terms of CO2 emissions, the numbers tell a different story. Chinese per capita emissions are 5.3 tons compared to America’s 17.9 tons. Conversely they are only approximately half a ton off France’s per capita emissions. China is fast approaching developed world standards.
    China is statistically far away from being a developed nation. “China is definitely still a developing nation,” Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre, claimed. He added,”Asking developing nations to contribute to green house gas emission cuts is unfair.” This argument leaves out a very important consideration. China’s GDP per capita may be small, but its geopolitical power is immense; a fact that China has not been shy about.
    In recent years China has aggressively increased its military spending. A recent Pentagon report warned of China’s rising military power, claiming that China had closed “key gaps” between it and the US. Furthermore, China has nuclear power and was recently testing its own stealth fighter. When Obama announced the creation of an American military base in Australia, China didn’t hesitate to counter Obama’s advance with strong rhetoric, not leaving any questions about China’s quest for dominance in the region.
    The strong Chinese economy also increases its international power. China finances more than a trillion US dollars of American debt and is the world’s biggest holder of American currency.
    China clearly has a schizophrenic self-perception. While the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were a perfect stage to show its development and economic power, at the climate change negotiations China insists on its backwardness.
    Khor argues that an engagement of China, and other emerging economies Brazil and India, in a binding international regime would pressure other developing nations to do the same. “China’s fight to retain its developing country status is of interest to other developing countries, for they will be next if China loses that fight,” he wrote in a recent article. A definition of China as a developed nation would open the door to arbitrary discussions.
    Yet no other developing country in the world has China’s enormous power – economically nor militarily.
    It is true that China is still a developing country in economic terms, but not so in geopolitical terms. It is time for China to fully engage in its status as a rising world power. Durban can be the first stop.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is today only marginally profiting from climate funds, but could become a major recipient.
    The Heinrich Böll Foundation, Germanwatch as host of the Adaptation Fund NGO Network and African partners
    will discuss the prospects for adaptation funding in Africa on Wednesday in the Indwe River room at 4:45 pm
  • CDKN live at CoP-17!: Read CDKN's live feed reporting from CoP-17 in Durban. We will be posting updates, videos ... bit.ly
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