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The United Nations Climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa lost to the power of industrialized nations and transnational corporations that set the direction of a work against the climate crisis that is becoming weaker and more unfair, warns Friends of the Earth International (FoEI).
Amid tricks and pressure by the developed nations, the very principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of “shared but differentiated responsibility”, “equity” and “historical responsibility” are under serious threat, believes the organization.
“Developed countries, led by the United States, accelerated the demolition of the world’s international framework for fair and urgent climate action. And developing countries have been bullied and forced into accepting an agreement that could be a suicide pill for the world,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International in a press release issued Tuesday.
The environmental federation with 76 groups around the world, which had tens of representatives at the Climate COP in Durban, made a summary of the outcomes of the conference.
FoEI said the “Durban Platform” agreed at the COP will delay climate action a decade. The Durban Platform is a new process to launch negotiations for a new treaty in 2015 at the latest, but the agreement will actually be implemented in 2020. The agreement would include developing countries (which had no obligations under the Kyoto Protocol as they are not historically responsible for climate change) and it will be based on “pledges” and “voluntary targets” to reduce emissions, instead of obligations like Kyoto. FoEI believes there was a “substantial weakening of the Kyoto Protocol in Durban” and the agreement on a second commitment period of the Protocol is not yet secured.
The environmental federation explained that the Kyoto Protocol is the only existing international framework for legally-binding emissions reductions by rich industrialised countries. “These countries are responsible for three quarters of the emissions in the atmosphere despite only hosting 15% of the world’s population”.
FoEI highlighted the “drastically insufficient targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions” on the table. Besides, Durban opened up increased opportunities for carbon trading, which allows rich countries to buy carbon bonds from projects in the global South to avoid domestic emissions reduction.
FoEI believes there has been a “shift of the burden for climate action to developing countries”. It especially blames this disastrous Durban outcome on the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Russia and the European Union. The US has been key in trying to dismantle the legally binding framework and the EU worked hard to achieve the Durban Platform.
On Climate Finance, the Green Climate Fund was approved “but with no means by which to fill the coffers and a provision agreed to that could allow multinational corporations and private financial actors to directly access the fund”, said FoEI.
“The huge influence of corporate polluters and other corporate and financial vested interests over the positions of governments is the underlying reason why Durban’s outcome was so disastrous”, said the environmental federation. Several government official delegations at the COP included representatives of big corporations that are responsible for high levels of pollution around the world.
“Developed country governments have connived to weaken the rules that require their countries to act on climate whilst strengthening the rules that allow their corporations to profit from the crisis” said Bobby Peek of groundWork / Friends of the Earth South Africa in the press release.
Meanwhile, Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Climate Justice Coordinator at Friends of the Earth International said “Ordinary people have once again been let down by governments”. She blamed “corporate polluters and the disproportionate power of the rich developed world” for the failure in Durban.
“It is clear that right now our governments cannot do the job we need them to do”, she continued.
Clifton believes that hope for climate justice in Durban was outside the International Convention Center, where the UN official negotiations took place. “In our universities, our workplaces, and on the streets, vibrant movements are coming together to build a fair and better world”, she said. “It is in this growing movement – of workers, women, farmers, students, Indigenous Peoples, and others affected by this greedy economic system – where we can find hope of solutions to the climate crisis” she concluded.
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