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Friday, December 9, 2011

“Get It Done” — Youth rep. Appadurai at COP17

Protests at COP 17 
Global climate movement on course of real solutions Michael Dorsey
Editing by Carolyn Bennett

Representing youth delegates, Anjali Appadurai, a student at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, spoke today [Democracy Now rebroadcast] at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban.

“I speak for more than half the world’s population,” she said. “We are the silent majority. You’ve given us a seat in this hall but our interests are not on the table.

Anjali Appadurai
Democracy Now image
“What does it take to get a stake in this game — Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money? You’ve been negotiating all my life. In that time, you have failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises. But you’ve heard this all before.

“We are in Africa, home to communities on the front line of climate change. The world’s poorest countries need funding for adaptation now. The Horn of Africa and those nearby in KwaMashu needed it yesterday.

“But as 2012 dawns, our Green Climate Fund remains empty. The International Energy Agency tells us we have five years until the window to avoid irreversible climate change closes. The science tells us that we have five years maximum. You are saying, ‘Give us 10.’”
Youth protest at Durban

The starkest betrayal of your generation’s responsibility to ours is that you call this ‘ambition.’

Where is the courage in these rooms? Now is not the time for incremental action. In the long run, these moments will be seen as the defining moments of an era in which narrow self-interest prevailed over science, reason and common compassion.

There is real ambition in this room, but it has been dismissed as radical, deemed not politically possible.

Stand with Africa. Long-term thinking is not radical. What is radical is to completely alter the planet’s climate, to betray the future of my generation, and to condemn millions to death by climate change. What is radical is to write off the fact that change is within our reach.”

Movement Now

“Two thousand eleven [is] the year in which the silent majority found their voice, the year when the bottom shook the top.

“Two thousand eleven [is] the year when the radical became reality.

Common but differentiated and historical responsibilities are not up for debate.
Respect the foundational principles of this convention.
Respect the integral values of humanity.
Respect the future of your descendants.

 “‘It always seems impossible,’ Mandela said, “until it’s done.’

Protests at Durban
Distinguished delegates and governments around the world, governments of the developed world — deep cuts now. Get it done!

Mic check!
ANJALI APPADURAI: You’ve run out of excuses!
HUMAN MICROPHONE: You’ve run out of excuses!
ANJALI APPADURAI: We’re running out of time!
Protests at Durban
HUMAN MICROPHONE: We’re running out of time!

Kumi Naidoo
Published at Common Dreams, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo writes about super powered obstruction of binding agreements at UNFCCC

“Here in Durban, the U.S. is once again trying to kill off the global climate talks by eviscerating the mid-summit draft agreement. On Saturday, the U.S. axed a whole section of the draft agreement that would have offered real protection to those who are being hardest and fastest hit by global warming.

“During the talks, the U.S. is fond of insisting that they want to be involved [and] at the same time makes derailing demands and announces commitments that barely survive the plane trip home.

“All of this wastes valuable time we can ill afford to waste as the most vulnerable citizens, economies, and habitats reel under the increasing impact of global warming.”


“It has not always been so. 

“With the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the first Earth Summit in 1992, the world agreed that human-caused climate change was an important enough global issue that it deserved its own international law, like issues such as trade, war crimes, and human rights. 

“The U.S. signed and ratified that treaty, which also included a plan for later Protocols and legally-binding targets to reduce climate pollution. 

“Over the next several years, the U.S. delegation pushed aggressively for a treaty that included a pollution-reduction regime on greenhouse gases and a compliance mechanism ... and then it hit them — if the U.S. ratified Kyoto Protocol, they would have to deal with being the largest climate polluter!”

Bush to Obama governments trend backward

“It is deeply depressing that signing the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 was the beginning of U.S. climate treaty obstructionism, although U.S. neglect of treaties is par for the course. It’s been downhill ever since. The next step in bludgeoning any progress was when the U.S. ‘unsigned’ the Kyoto Protocol.“

U.S. President George W. Bush

“President George W. Bush made history by being the first to un-sign a treaty, which is possibly unprecedented in international law. Before Bush left office, his delegation at the Bali climate talks agreed to negotiate on the main issues that needed global cooperation, culminating in a controversial outcome two years later, in 2009, in Copenhagen. But, in Copenhagen they went on to play a huge part in making that conference possibly the most disappointing and controversial out of all 15 up to that point.“

Protests at Durban
U.S. President Barack Obama

“Team Obama picked up where Bush left off, introducing words and concepts into the negotiations in an attempt to mask that the U.S. was not prioritizing the climate. One of the first bombs was announcing that 2005 would be the new base year for a U.S. pollution target, and to speak as if any increase in emissions since 1990 was irrelevant. At the time, 2005 was the year of highest recorded U.S. climate pollution.

“The U.S. implied that EU efforts to reduce emissions between 1990 and 2005 were no longer a factor of the negotiations. This allowed the U.S. to argue that ‘comparability’ demonstrated the U.S. was as tough on climate pollution as the EU. The nearly business-as-usual U.S. target was 17 percent under 2005 levels by 2020. It would be 32 percent by  2020 if they were in compliance with the U.S. Kyoto commitment.

Obama’s team was now disparaging Kyoto as a method of shirking fair and equitable commitments.

“Anyone can have an ambitious goal for 2050, forty years away. In Copenhagen the U.S. delegation did everything they could to undermine the importance of a legally binding agreement. They rolled out phrases such as ‘politically binding’ (meaning not legally binding) and ‘pledge and review’ (meaning not legally binding).

“We also know, because of Wikileaks, that the U.S. was strong-arming countries behind the scenes, with undiplomatic threats and tactics to bolster their bargaining power in the climate talks.“

COP17 protests
Now obstruction, COP 17 Durban

“Durban is not seeing any change in the carnage caused by the U.S.’s participation in these talks.

The negotiating position of the largest historical polluter has reached a new low in refuting that scientific consensus demands urgent and rapid pollution reduction. Leading up to Cancun, a year later, the U.S. was already backing away from weak commitments made in the Copenhagen Accord. It contained an agreement by the U.S. to contribute long-term finance, some portion of $100 billion per year by 2020.

The U.S. had also agreed to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the entity with intended responsibility for this long-term finance — No longer for the U.S. Some of their contribution would go to GCF — maybe; some of it would be public finance.

The U.S. raves about ‘leveraging private finance’ and includes loan guarantees and funding to U.S. companies as part of their contribution. 

Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation together are the largest sources of its ‘fast-start finance,’ or $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, Export-Import provided over $4 billion to fossil fuel projects last year alone.

“While it is true that the personalities, egos, and IDs of individual delegates affect overall progress, for the United States, it is the basic negotiating position that is tarnishing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] process now and for the last thirteen years.“

Therefore, Naidoo concludes —

“The time has come for the U.S. to stand aside. If it is not willing to save lives, save jobs and save whole ecosystems then it should get out of the way and let those who are willing move on. Any failure to move beyond U.S. obstructionism will be measured in lives.“

Politics, U.S.-led Regression

Friends of the Earth policy analyst Kate Horner today with Democracy Now spoke about the U.S. killing the only legally binding instrument that we have to address climate change: the Kyoto Protocol.

Horner and Dorsey
Durban DN discussion
The United States, she said, “has a long history in multilateral affairs of weakening and delaying international deals where they don’t have domestic legislation in place.” The U.S. position at COP 17 is shaped substantially by polarized politics and its failure to secure legislation at home. “First they refused to commit to the Kyoto Protocol; then they led [and continue to lead] an exit strategy from the Kyoto Protocol.

“They are proposing a far weaker system called a pledge and review wherein pledges countries submit are determined merely by their domestic action — not by the global community’s determination of what will keep the world safe.”

Solutions rising not from State but from Global Justice Movement

Michael Dorsey, a professor in environmental studies at Dartmouth College,  hears the loud-mouthed climate change-denying politicians and focuses on the real movement. He suggests voting out the irrational climate change deniers.

 “The American people,” Dorsey said in that Democracy Now interview, “are sick and tired of sinister, mindless [denial of climate change] talk. The fact is that what is going on is a global climate movement, now grown beyond itself into a movement about climate justice.”

It is a “global outreach — putting people together to collaborate around the world on tackling this problem. Unlike the delayed diplomacy that we see coming out of the State, it is a global climate movement taking us on the course of real solutions.”

Sources and notes

“‘Get it done’: Urging Climate Justice, Youth Delegate Anjali Appadurai Mic Checks U.N. Summit,” Democracy Now, November 9, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/12/9/get_it_done_urging_climate_justice

“U.S. Obstructionism Is Hurting Climate Talks” [Kumi Naidoo, published on Thursday, December 8, 2011 by The Huffington Post]; also at http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/08-6

Kumi Naidoo is Executive Director of Greenpeace International,

“Obama Admin Denounced for ‘Startling Level of Obstructionism and Defeatism’ on U.N. Climate Deal,” December 9, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/12/9/obama_admin_denounced_for_startling_level


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