By Anne Petermann
Several interesting developments at the Funny Farm today and yesterday.
The Subsidiary Body on Implementation, or SBI (dontcha just love that UN-speak) met yesterday to address the question of “civil society” (their term, not mine) participation. Sounds reasonable. Opening the process to increased civil society participation has long been a demand of climate justice groups working in this process—considered the most closed and restricted of the various UN processes.
That wasn’t quite the purpose of the agenda item. The topic was not raised to increase participation, but to try to avoid the “problems” of Copenhagen. They discussed, among other things, how to prevent unpermitted protest at the Climate COP in Cancun this coming December; how to restrict the participation of civil society groups in the negotiations; and how to ensure that no Parties (participating countries) include civil society groups on their delegations. The question of corporate representatives being included in Party delegations, however, was not an issue. Surprise, surprise. And as the final slap in the face, the civil society representative that had been selected by Climate Justice Now! to present an ‘intervention’ (short statement) regarding civil society’s thoughts on the question of participation was prevented from giving the statement they had been promised. The Chair of the session simply refused to call on them.
This is a clear signal to those of us comprising so-called “civil society” that we shall have no role, not even a symbolic one, in the “official” process defining the way forward on climate change mitigation. While the lack of meaningful participation by NGOs and social movements is nothing new, the blatant-ness of the anti-civil society attitude among the FCCC is revealing indeed, and helps set the stage for how we will be able to “participate” during the climate COP in Cancun.
Slap in the Face Number 2: Cochabamba vs Copenhagen
This UN Climate Meeting follows on the heels of the historic Cochabamba Climate Summit that took place in Bolivia in April. This summit was called by Evo Morales as a response to the dreadful outcomes of the official Copenhagen UN climate summit where Barak Obama waltzed in with his so-called “Copenhagen Accord,” that was negotiated in secret with a small cabal of countries, subverting the many months of negotiations by 190+ countries leading up to Copenhagen. It was roundly denounced by numerous Southern countries and never adopted by the Conference of the Parties.
The Cochabamba Summit, on the other hand, came out with very strong climate-justice based statements including a condemnation of the unjust and market-based REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, a call for repayment of climate debt, the establishment of a world tribunal on climate and environmental justice, and many other proposals to move forward with real and meaningful action on climate change. These consensus agreements were made by 35,000 people over three days in various working groups. Their outcomes were presented here in Bonn as official submissions to the negotiating text by both Bolivia and Venezuela.
The new draft negotiating text, however, ignores these Cochabamba agreements and instead incorporates ALL of the components of the Copenhagen Accord.
This absurdity was addressed by Climate Justice Now! through an intervention read by Camila Moreno, who represents Global Justice Ecology Project in Brazil with a GJEP desk in the Porto Alegre-based Friends of the Earth office.
Oh yeah, yet another slap in the face—while the Parties are allowed to blather on for 5 or 10 minutes each with essentially unlimited interventions, Climate Justice Now!—an network of some 200 organizations from around the world—was given exactly 60 seconds, and warned that their microphone would be cut off at exactly that. 60 seconds incidentally is about 160 words.
The upcoming Cancun Climate Conference, it seems, is beginning to look more and more like it will be a repeat of the WTO (World Trade Organization) meeting there in September of 2003, where there were massive protests on the outside and disruptions on the inside. Between the increasing focus of the UN climate talks on trade and market-based mechanisms to “address climate change” [read: make lots of money] and the almost total exclusion of civil society, the UN Climate Convention has truly become the new World Carbon Trade Organization.
Copenhagen was not the climax of the climate justice movement, but rather its launching pad. Or to paraphrase the motto of Redwood Summer back in 1990: “This decade is going to make the 1960s look like the 1950s. Wouldn’t that be nice…