Thursday, December 02, 2010

Cancún farce puts the world at risk

Government officials meeting in Cancún, Mexico, have begun what the annual round of delay and betrayal that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) has become.

There is absolutely no sign of any compromise between delegates representing nearly 200 countries on the key issues that led to Copenhagen’s failure last December.

"We will not be able to negotiate a new treaty in Cancún, that much is clear," host nation Mexico's chief delegate Fernando Tudela admits. The best he hopes for is to “dispel mistrust”, “end the standoff”, “achieve confidence, unity and effectiveness”.

In other words – good public relations and image-building but absolutely no commitment to reductions in carbon emissions. The only area where progress may be made is in throwing money at the governments of poorer nations, supposedly to offset and mitigate the impacts of climate change. So politicians and officials will be bribed, whilst ordinary people will pay the price.

All hope of achieving an agreement on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at these, or any other talks, has now been abandoned. This was confirmed when Japan stated its outright opposition to extending the Kyoto protocol – the binding international emissions cuts treaty signed in 1992.

Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Pablo Solon, condemned proposals known as REDD+ that would set up a market-based system to pay poorer nations to protect tropical forests. "Now they want to put a value on nature ... this is what got us here in the first place," he said adding that rich nations were claiming to take part in negotiating a successor to Kyoto without ever having even lived up to their legal commitments under the existing treaty.

At the summit in Copenhagen last year, the rich nations hi-jacked the meeting and transformed the FCCC process from planning a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, to be instead a forum for implementing a market-driven increase in global temperatures by 2ºC. Such an increase will lead to:
 complete destruction of the world’s coral reefs
 26 million people displaced by rising sea levels, hurricanes and cyclones
 300 million people at risk of hunger due to failing crops
 2.8 billion people without access to clean water.
 Spread of diseases such as malaria and Dengue Fever to new areas
 Mass extinctions in the Arctic with only 42% of the Arctic tundra stable.
 Greenland ice cap melted
 Loss of the majority of the remaining major forests of China, Europe and America.

And as meteorologists have recently explained, temperatures are rising even faster than previously predicted, and a 4ºC increase is entirely on the cards in the case of capitalism being permitted to continue business as usual. That would mean:
 Sea levels rise swamping some island nations entirely and 70% of Bangladesh, Florida, Netherlands and the south of England
 40 million people round Shanghai and 60 million around Calcutta displaced
 Melting of the Siberian permafrost, releasing millions of tons of greenhouse gases and speeding up the warming process even further.

Bolivian President Evo Morales will attend the final week of the meeting, to promote the Cochabamba Accord on Mother Earth Rights, which stated that capitalism is the structural cause of climate change, and is inherently unsustainable.

He is quite right to do so, but perhaps he’s is doing it in the wrong place. NGOs and campaigners have launched a campaign calling for “ten thousand Cancúns”. That’s the last thing we need! Instead we want 10,000 people’s assemblies, in every country, challenging the right of undemocratic governments and global corporations to continue driving the eco-system to the tipping point where life on earth becomes unsustainable.

Penny Cole
Environment editor

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