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Disappointing Inaction by Industrialized Countries at the Climate Talks

Posted Dec. 12, 2008 / Posted by: RConnors

Kate HornerFriends of the Earth International came to Poznan hoping that industrialized countries would signal to the world that they would commit to steep emission reductions without offset loopholes and to finance developing country mitigation and adaptation. Thus far, they have failed dismally to live up to these most basic obligations.  As the talks come to a close today, the outlook for the intense year of negotiating ahead seems nothing short of dire. 

We are thoroughly disappointed with the outcomes of the talks thus far, and worry that  a post-2012 agreement could finance socially and environmentally damaging practices, sell off tropical forests, and undermine rights to allow annex-1 countries to continue business as usual pollution.

The responsibility for the lack of achievement here in Poznan falls squarely on the shoulders of the rich industrialised Annex I countries, who after 16 years are still failing to take the climate crisis seriously and realize their obligations under the convention. We saw that Annex I countries are spending the majority of precious negotiating time crafting get-out-clauses, loop holes ad offsetting schemes at the expense of agreeing to genuine means and measures to reduce industrial, transport and lifestyle emissions globally. 

If these countries had spent half the time wasted on the get-out clauses actually trying to address the objectives of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, we would not be on the brink of catastrophe. The delay in Annex I emissions reduction commitments and the demonstrative disregard for the importance of adaptation and technology sharing is shameful.

Annex-1 countries should immediately commit to at least emission reductions of 40 % below 1990 levels by 2020 and additionally provide finance and clean technology to allow developing country to make a just-transition towards low-carbon economies.

We must draw attention to the absurdity of industrialized countries doing so little and yet managing to shift the blame onto developing countries by focusing exclusively on a handful of developing countries, like China and India, and their role in long-term global emissions reductions scenarios.

This week, the negotiations on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) have taken a very troublesome turn by failing to ensure the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Further, by failing to distinguish monoculture tree plantations from natural forests or to recognise the biodiversity benefit of forests, a REDD mechanism stands to fail dismally. 

If REDD is to proceed it must be fund-based mechanism that enforces the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities with direct reference to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Any REDD scheme must first and foremost benefit those who have been the guardians of forests for generations rather than reward those responsible for forest destruction.

We need all countries to recognise that we stand at a crossroads. We must see a complete shift in the direction of these talks to keep forests out of carbon markets, to have rights recognised and plantations excluded. We need to see meaningful levels of finance for adaptation and mitigation and steep emission reduction targets with no offsetting.

Anything less with be a failure for people and the planet.

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Kate Horner gave a closing statement at the end of the UN Climate Talks as a representative of Friend of the Earth International. That is a version of this statement.  Click here to see it (at counter mark 04:51:36).

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