O le Siosiomaga’s view on Cancun

Fiu Mataese Elisara is one of Global Justice Ecology Project’s New Voices on Climate Change participants.

Fiu  joined O le Siosiomaga Society as its Executive Director in February 2002. He came to the organization after spending over eight years (1993 – 2001) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Samoa, six and a half of those years as Assistant Resident Representative (1996 – 2001). Fiu was given overall responsibilities for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and environmental programmes throughout much of his eight years with UNDP Samoa, and was closely involved with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programe (SPREP) and other environmental partners, including OLSSI, in the implementation of environment programmes around Samoa and the Pacific Island countries.

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Cross-posted from the Samoa Observer

Fiu Mataese Elisara, the Executive Director of O le Siosiomaga Society Samoa attended the COP16 of UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico. This is his report about the event:
The CBD Alliance provided financial support that enabled me to participate in the series of Cancun meetings, and would like to acknowledge at the outset this generous assistance with much appreciation. In conjunction with the Global Forest Coalition (GCF), the Climate Justice Now (CJN), the Global Justice Ecological Project (GJEP), the Indigenous Environment Network (IEN) and the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), my time in Cancun was shared to follow some of the important activities and related substantive issues pursued in Cancun by these respective organizations, partners, and associated networks both inside and outside the confines of the conference center in the Moon Palace, the Cancun Messe, the exMex, the Klimaforum, and the Villa del Cambio Climate Change Village. 

As chairman of the GFC Board of Directors, I was registered under GFC for these meetings and registration on Saturday and Sunday were quite straight forward and quick, unlike some of the past meetings. The concerns about the traffic jam on the first day, Monday 29 November, which saw many delegates stuck in buses for close to 3 hours, was quickly remedied the second day returning to the normal half an hour ride to Cancun Messe from the hotels along the Hotel Zone each day.

For Cancun, I went with the expectation that the failure of Copenhagen must make parties take a serious approach about progress on shared vision, post 2012 reduction targets on emissions, serious assistance to deveoping countries to address adaptation, recognition of rights in any mitigation outcomes, adequate resources and appropriate technology transfer from developed countries to build the capacity of developing countries, and an outcome that will be fair, ambitious, and sets a framework for a binding deal out of South Africa in 2011.

Many felt that Cancun must deal with policy areas that generate a clear vision for COP17, agree to global cuts to limit temperatures to 1.5 degrees Centigrade through adequate and hard targets, estabish a climate fund for developing countries, to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation to support low carbon developments, a focus on adaptation, agree to solutions that are environmentaly and socially sound and are not false, agree on robust and transparent rules on LULUCF avoiding deliberate creating loopholes in accounting, agree on safeguards on biodiversity and ecosystems and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, etc.. Sadly, these expectations were not met and yet again after the failure of Copenhagen the parties have failed to give urgency to heed the science, and the outcomes has been a forced ’concensus’ using WTO top down stye of forcing agreements despite the strong objections of some parties to the contrary, there is no secured future of the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries are forced to report on their national emissions every two years and subjected to scrutiny by all parties through MRV and ICA, there is deliberate shifting of responsibiities of liability to developing countries by developed, etc. etc.

My sense is the rich countries are deliberately stalling any progress and everything seem to converge to 2012 which is Rio+20 and end of the first commitment period of Kyoto Protocol and post Kyoto will be subjected to WTO style processes and control sytems.

Indigenous peoples have again been ignored and despite consistently submitting texts to save Mother Earth and respect UNDRIP, FPIC, human rights, save forests from neo-liberal policies, pushing for safeguards for ecosystems and rights of IP/LCs, etc. the parties have continued to heed ony the voices of business and companies that have been the culprits in achieving the objectives of UNFCCC and will continue to gain benefits from the outcomes of these meetings.

Indigenous Peoples:
Preparatory meetings of the IIPFCC on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 November 2020 continued its work from previous meetings this year 2010 held in Bonn Germany and Jinjian China to further discuss their positions going into COP16. IIPFCC also addressed the opening of the conference and in response to the opening remarks of President Felipe Calderon of Mexico who made specific reference to the issue of human rights, and in advocating further their issues and positions developed so far, the IIPFCC issued its press release on the first day of the conference to say that Indigenous delegates, representing over 360 million Indigenous Peoples from around all regions of the world, announced a number of minimum requirements for their human rights to be protected in any climate change accords coming out of the current UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun.

“Indigenous Peoples are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change around the world, whether we are from islands, the Arctic, forests or mountains.

The threats to our survival and the violations of our human rights as a result of climate change are increasing on a daily basis.  Market-based mitigation strategies such as the Clean Development Mechanism and carbon offsets, including forest offsets and REDD, further threaten our human rights, including our right to free prior and informed consent,” declared Adelfo Regino Montes, of Mexico, in the opening session of the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) on Monday on behalf of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC).

Indigenous delegates stressed that any texts adopted in Cancun must respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007. Indigenous delegates welcomed the statement by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who recognized human rights as an important part of the Climate Change negotiations, particularly the right to a clean environment.

“Countries must guarantee Indigenous Peoples’ full, effective and direct participation in all processes related to climate change, at local, national, regional and global levels,” declared Miguel Palacin, of Peru, in an address to the Long-Term Cooperative Action working group, tasked with coming up a global climate change agreement.

“They must commit themselves to a global goal that ensures the planet avoids a one-degree warming, and that preserves glaciers and all forms of life on the world,” he added.

“COP 16 must produce a framework for a legally-binding outcome to be agreed at COP 17. The IIPFCC rejects the Copenhagen Accord as a totally inadequate response to the current climate crisis. We support a binding emissions reduction target for developed countries of at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95% by 2050,” declared Samwel Naikada of Kenya, who was meant to deliver the statement to countries assembled. However, because of a lack of time, Indigenous representatives were not allowed to read their statement to the opening session of the Kyoto Protocol working group.

Opening:
Only a few observers were allowed into the Plenary opening because of limited space, so most of us watched it from the adjoining Azteca out flow conference center.The Mexican President Felipe Calderon, opended the 16th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC and the 6th session of the Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol on Monday 29 November.

This included the work of the two working groups on the Kyoto Protocol and long term cooperative action under the Convention and subsidiary bodies on scientific and technological advice, and on implementation. President Felipe Calderon said climate change is beginning to make us pay for the fatal error that humanity has committed against the earth, and billions of human beings are expecting the Parties meeting in Cancun to speak for all humanity and for the people who are suffering the ravages of climate change.

Patricia Espinosa, President of COP 16 and Foreign Minister of Mexico, warned that the credibility of the multilateral system is at stake. She urged Parties to be flexible and try and make substantive concrete commitments in Cancun as achieving commitment will not amount to giving up of our goal. Rather, it will be a demonstration that dialogue and cooperation are the best ways to face major challenges.

UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres in her remarks urged Parties to achieve a solid response to climate change using both reason and creativity as the tapestry is urgent because concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has reached their highest level since pre-industrial times. The poorest and most vulnerable need predictable assistance to face this serious problem and the multilateral climate change process needs the UNFCCC to remain the trusted multilateral avenue to find global solutions.

There were a number of politically charged issues such as avoiding a gap after the first commitment period for greenhouse gas emissions reduction of the Kyoto Protocol, the mobilisation of long term finance, understanding of fairness that will guide long term mitigation efforts, yet Cancun ‘Can Do’ as there is still an opportunity in Cancun to reach compromise.

Dr Rajendra Pauchari as Chair of IPCC warned that further delaying mitigation actions will increase costs globally and unfairly to some regions in the world where the communities contributed very little to greenhouse gas emissions increase. Limiting temperature rise to 2°Celcius would still mean that impacts would not be avoided and reiterated that the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report clearly estimated that global emissions should peak no later than 2015 and decline thereafter.

IPCC5 has seen 3,000 nominations submitted and 831 selected as lead authors, editors, and the scope of research has been expanded to include focus subject like potential impacts of geo-engineering. He said the next four years will see the IPCC engaged in a lot of intensive work and the report is expected to be ready in Sept 2013, and the synthesis report by November 2014.

A rather disconcerting matter for many of us transpired  when PNG in its top down approch and unhelpful attitude about the multilateral process of negotiating and requirement for concensus, raised its concern about the decision-making procedures, regarding consensus and voting, and said that there were decisions to move forward in Cancun but the exclusion of a certain draft rule 42 was akin to some Parties holding the process hostage. PNG added that as climate change is a challenge the process cannot accept the slow pace it was moving referring to the Copenhagen Accord of COP 15 in Denmark where it said the last day situation could have been averted with voting as required by rule 42.

Rule 42 states: The Parties shall make every effort to reach agreement on all matters of substance by consensus. If all efforts to reach consensus have been exhausted and no agreement has been reached, the decision shall, as a last resort, be taken by a two-thirds majority vote of the Parties present and voting …

I was concerned that Kevin Conrad from Washington USA continues to be driving the voice of the government of PNG and wonder it the two PNG nationals and government officials who flanked him really understand what this meant for the majority of the peoples of PNG. When this same USA adviser to the Prime Minister of PNG was allegedy the origin of REDD in the UNFCCC process, I find it hard to accept that the heavy focus on REDD in a Cancun outcome will ultimately generate REDD engagements in many of the countries in the South that will only result in the rich countries and their companies reaping profits from evictions of indigenous peoples, land crabbing of the worst magnitude, deforestation, and destruction of biodiversity.

Fortunately, Bolivia took the floor to say that the undemocratic outcome of Copenhagen was due to the fact that the rule of multilateralism was not followed and a group of countries tried to impose their views on others and tried to twist our arms at 3 am early morning on December 18, 2009 with the Copenhagen Accord document.

It is now essential that the rule of consensus is preserved. Bolivia was supported by India who said consensus is the paramount principle and basis of decision making. Saudi Arabia reminded parties that consensus didn’t prevent them from adopting the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol in the past.

Representing Group of 77 and China, Yemen called for a balanced outcome between the two negotiating tracks, establish a new climate fund under the Convention, agree on an oversight mechanism for climate financing, and a new institutional arrangements for adaptation and technology transfer.

It reiterating that developed countries must contribute a percentage of their GNP to address climate change in developing countries under  the four components of structure, scope, scale and sources as well as establishing a Standing Committee to be supervised by the AWG-LCA and ultimately by the Subsidiary Body on Implementation.

Yemen also expressed G77 and China concerns on the trends in the report on national greenhouse gas inventory data from developed countries for the period 1990 to 2007 showing an increase of 11% of emissions excluding LULUCF and by 12.8% including LULUCF which goes against their commitments, requiring further actions on their part to fulfil compliance to existing commitments.

Grenada for AOSIS pointed to evidence of climate change with the World Meteorological Organisation describing 2010 as a year with unprecedented sequence of extreme weather events and referring to the hurricane that destroyed 60% of the GDP of St Lucia and the cyclone that hit Cook Islands damaging 80% of houses and urged Parties to heighten a sense of urgency as business as usual must end if the small island states are to survive. To do this it was necessary in Cancun to deliver a legally-binding instrument outcome of the AWG-LCA and a work programme to conclude a new Kyoto protocol in South Africa in 2011.

The Democratic Republic of Congo on behalf of the African Group added its voice towards achieving a legally-binding agreement in South Africa next year emanated from a comprehensive framework priority outcome from Cancun.

This requires developed countries to agree to new obligations and predictable funding that is additional to ODA, and ensure that COP 16 will produce concrete results in areas that advance the global climate change agenda, and ensure  a second commitment period enters into force for the Kyoto Protocol.

Venezuela, on behalf of the ALBA stressed the importance of the Kyoto Protocol and the UN cannot allow it to disappear due to boycot by just one country, the USA. He added that ALBA, G77 and China, as well as other developing countries stand united to ensure a second commitment period to KP as the concrete outcome of Cancun and no legal vacuum is allowed between the first and second commitment periods of the Protocol.

Representing the LDCs, Lesotho, said they cannot accept to see Cancun being made a demise of the UNFCCC as it must provide fresh impetus to remain the central platform to address the successful achievemnet of the spirit of the Bali Roadmap. It said LDCs attached high expectation to the adaptation plan and added their support for a new global climate fund and an ad hoc finance committee to operationalise the fund. They stressed the issue of intellectual property rights being made a barrier to technology transfer be dealt with as a matter of priority.

Australia said the Umbrella Group is committed to legally-binding mitigation commitments by all major economies representing 80% of global emissions as reflected in the Copenhagen Accord pledges and that Parties should anchor these pledges as the basis for future work.

Collectively the contributions for fast-start funding as promised in Copenhagen are already close to the US$30 billion pledged in the Accord and members of the umbrella have published details of the financing through the range of bilateral and multilateral channels including REDD-plus activities.

Belgium for EU said making progress for a post-2012 regime is urgent and is expecting a balanced package in both negotiation tracks and parties must capture progress and make incremental steps needed for all issues including MRV, finance, adaptation, REDD-plus and capacity bilding. It reasured that multilateralism within the UN framework remains in the core of finding solutions and the EU is optimistic and believes Cancun can deliver a substantial and legally-binding outcome in line with the 2°C objective.

PACIFIC TRAINING BEFORE CANCUN
The Pacific country parties joined other members of AOSIS in a SPREP funded preparatory meeting held in Cancun from 21 – 23 November 2010. According to a press release issued by SPREP, the preparatory meeting allowed for negotiations training for the Pacific Island delegates which were coordinated by the highly experienced Tuvalu climate change negotiator, Mr. Ian Fry.

His training programme was to strengthen negotiation skills of officials from the Pacific focusing on the adaptation agenda and the negotiations text to be used as the basis of negotiations in Cancun and a successful one according to him in terms of a negotiations training and helpful as a refresher for negotiators to take a step back and see the negotiations from the perspective of other countries. COP16 was bringing the World together for two weeks of climate change negotiations and SPREP coordinated the meeting to assist Pacific country delegates to prepare them for the two weeks of intense discussions.

The inadequacies of the Copenhagen Accord, violation of human rights from climate change outcomes, false solutions being negotiated by countries in UNFCCC, the disastrous impacts of some of the mitigation initiatives being promoted such as REDD, agro-fuel, bio-energy, and market based deals, the concerns we have about the possibility of forcing a one track outcome thus losing a KP second commitment, ocean fertilization, geo-engineering, plantations and mono culture defined as forests, carbon trading, land grabbing, etc. are not priority issues for the Pacific. Yet these are the very ethical, moral and issues of justice that we need to bring to the negotiations table given the reality of the Pacific Island countries being at the fore front of the terrible and disastrous impacts of climate change.

All the financial resources that SPREP and our Pacific countries can secure from these global processes and avenues will amount to nothing if the net effect is allowing the culprit rich countries to continue to pollute our atmosphere through CDM resources, use forests in the south to fuel the cars of the north, deliver on transport and energy policies of the rich countries through offsets and plantations in the south, allow rich countries to engage many of our countries in the south to invest in trees as being more profitable than growing food, etc.

This scenario makes it even more important that despite there being no capacity in our small non-government organizations to argue our positions against these richly funded organizations and governments in the Pacific, there is an immense moral obligation for the few of our members in civil society throughout the Pacific to push the agenda of climate justice, ethical consideration, rights-based agenda, and moral responsibility to try and take advantage of  every opportunity that is available to us to make our people aware of the real outcomes of these climate discussions.

My sense of the Process to Date:
Since the failure of Copenhagen, I hoped the parties will have a new sense of urgency to deliver on the objectives of UNFCCC in regards curbing climate change and demand real efforts by parties to be committed to both the UNFCCC and KP to ensure that a legally binding agreement is secured from Cancun and Durban.

The analysis of the Copenhagen Accord, however, points to an increase of 4 degrees Centigrade that is not going to save many of our Pacific countries given the IPCC4 report being very clear about a 2 degrees temperature increase as disastrous for small island states. The spirit of the Bali Action Plan is lost in the midst of the hell- bent  pre-occupation of rich parties to renege on their responsibilities to cut greenhouse gases at source, but instead deliberately wrangle their way out through false solutions and profit making initiatives that dominate the horizons of the Cancun discussions.

The mitigations options developed are riddled with market based options that are targeting profits and business interests, the adaptation avenues being proposed are hugely inadequate and many continue to violate the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities as well as penalizing small countries like those in the Pacific many times over through direct  impacts of climate change and loans that financial institutions like the World Bank approve for Pacific countries under their climate investment funds, the intellectual property rights that make technology transfers to small countries inaccessible and expensive,

Climate Justice Now:
Intervention on CDM in the CMP, by Fiu Elisara of OLSSI Samoa, GFC, Climate Justice Now, and CBD Alliance – Delivered at the CMP plenary at the UNFCCC COP16 in Cancun, Mexico – December 1, 2010”Fellow humans, Much of this planet is drying or flooding.

Evidence of ocean outgassing, reduced primary production and the crossing of new ecological tipping points are clear. No one even knows whether we’ve already passed the point of no return for this planet. What we do know is that in my Pacific region, many countries will not survive this century if no deep emission cuts in the order of 50% by 2017 compared to 1990 levels are agreed upon now.

Yet, developed countries are delaying these talks, reforming fraudulent market mechanisms and ignoring fundamental flaws in existing crediting methodologies that result in the issuance of millions of bogus carbon credits. The proposals to change the rules related to LULUCF and the CDM are clear examples. This will cause social and environmental havoc, and place a time bomb under the climate regime.

We call on delegates to thoroughly assess the environmental integrity of all baseline and monitoring methodologies, tools, and address deficits as a matter of utmost priority.

Finally, we demand emission cuts at sources, repayment of the climate and ecological debt, sufficient, equitable funding for mitigation and adaptation, and the estimated 1.7 trillion USD per year spent on military aggression be better used.

Thank you.
Interviews:
I was, on several occasions, interviewed on television and radio as well as part of panels during the launching of publications whilst in Cancun.
•    TV Mexico – Monday 29 November
•    Radio South Africa – Wednesday 1 December
•    Stanley Simpson of Pacific – Thursday 2 December
•    Press Conference on the launching of the UC report of GFC – I gave copies to the Samoa Ambassador to the UN, FSM, Tuvalu, and the ACEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for Samoa.
•    Part of the Panel on REDD discussions on invitation by IEN held in the Exmex venue of CSO parallel meetings

GFC Launch of its Getting to the Roots – Underlying Causes of Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and Drivers of Forest Restoration Report
A press conference was held at 12.00 noon of Tuesday 01 December 2010 in the Luna Room of the Azteca conference center in Cancun Mexico where representatives of GFC launched this timely and important report. Speaking in the press conference were Andrei Laletin from Siberia Russia who is the chairman of the GFC coordinating group, Fiu Elisara from Samoa and chairman of the GFC Board, Simone Lovera from Paraguay and the Netherlands as the Executive Director of GFC, and Rachael of Bio-fuel Watch from USA and member of GFC.

The report talks about 3 years of GFC global program activities in 24 countries around the world as valuable information about forests and targeting those involved in the UNFCCC negotiations to say that in just the same way that a healthy growing tree is rooted in deep and fertile soil our efforts to restore the world’s forests should be rooted in a sound and detailed understanding of both the problems to be dealt with and the many successful examples of forest restoration around the world.

The report points to underlying causes such as

deforestation and forest degradation will not succeed if real underlying causes are not addressed such as the immense demand for wood as evident from many of the 24 countries involved in the program. Increase requirements of plantation land and other forms of agriculture resulting in disputes about ownership of lands in their expansion of monoculture plantations for agro-fuel and bio-energy. Forests are lost by infrastructure development, mining, urbanization, and other development.

There is a lack of alternatives for economic development requiring better integration of forest policies with those of poverty and social concerns. The neo-liberal economic policies and trade liberalization is commoditizing forests and prove disastrous for forests and prove why forest management practices of indigenous peoples and local communities offer success sustainable management way into the future.

It also shows that addressing underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation do not need huge finance impetus, but rather require the re-direction of huge resources now sourced from financial flows from agro-fuels, bio-energy, large scale plantations, and other infrastructure projects.

The current measures to address deforestation are therefore not tackling the underlying causes of forest loss and are doomed to fail, and that global measures, such as the UN programme REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), are likely to fail because they do not address these causes.

Deforestation accounts for almost a fifth of global carbon emissions and programmes such as REDD ‘tackle’ the problem by creating a financial value for the carbon stored in forests.

It offers incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands. In October 2010, the UK Government increased its commitment to the programme as part of a £100 million global forestry fund. The GFC report says focusing on the financial value of the carbon stored in forests rather than the demand for wood is self-defeating.

“Contrary to popular thinking, forests are dependent on the availability of land, not money,” said Simone Lovera, Executive Director of the Global Forest Coalition. “The most effective policies to conserve and restore forests are those that reduce demand for land.”

The high demand for wood, both domestically and internationally, is a “prominent and persistent driver” of deforestation and plantation agriculture, expanding agro-fuel production, and the shift toward a bio-energy economy, are also responsible for the problem.

The report points out that there are no international policies reduce demand for timber as a means of reducing deforestation. To the contrary, it finds, EU and US renewable energy policies currently provide major incentives to increase wood-based bio-energy production, worsening the problem.

As Chair of the GFC Board, I advocated that “There is a pressing need to completely transform the way in which efforts supposed to reduce deforestation, such as REDD, are being developed.

A more effective alternative would be to stop commoditization and monetizing forests, and to look to indigenous peoples to lead the way on restoring forests, on the basis of their knowledge and enduring commitment to them, providing them with appropriate financial and other support as required.”

In sum, real causes are high demands for wood and land, not respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and their rights, the failure to redirect finance investments, lack of political will to build capacity to genuinely conserve forests and curb corruptions, not being able to integrate forest policies into poverty and MDGs, and not being able to see that the neo-liberal economic policies are not working.

We are calling on Cancun to remove subsidies on agro-fuel and bio-energy, no to CDM and expansion of these, address the flaws in the definitions of forests which currently include monoculture tree plantations, stop violation of indigenous peoples and local community rights, avoid false solutions to climate change, etc.

GFC Members Meeting:
I chaired this as Chair of GFC Board and the four hours of discussions was one that was useful to have the members and the GFC Board discuss together the future development of GFC and to have the Board members benefit from the comments, recommendations, and suggestions of members who are the ones implementing real activities on the ground. It was an opportunity to discuss together issues of budget, work plan, challenges that they face in the global work of GFC, regional reports, evaluation of GFC work by independent evaluators, pointers for the future, donor relations, partner networks, finances of GFC and audits, and GFC agenda in the issues discussed in the Cancun meetings.

This important meeting helped set the scene for the equally long four hours meeting of the GFC Board three days later. I felt as the Chair of the GFC Board that these meetings of members and Board held back to back was an excellent strategic approach as GFC will only grow stronger if everyone were working from a clear work plan that is linked to the capacities of its focal points in the regions around the world that GFC works, and a common understanding on processes and policy directions that guide our work. I am confident that the feeling was mutual with the Executive Director, the focal points, the members and staff of GFC.

IEN Panel Discussions on REDD:
Members who participated included Tom Goldtooth of IEN who chaired the panel, Simone Lovera the Executive Director of GFC, Larry Lohman of Cornerhouse UK, Blessing from Timberwatch South Africa, Anne Peterman from Global Justice Ecology Project, Marcial Arias from International Alliance, and myself from OLSSI Samoa and GFC Chair. The meeting was attended by a large audience and ended with a dynamic discussion with questions from the floor which continued afterwards as time was short.

Tom as facilitator of the panel informed the audience that it is unfortunate that many people (over 90%) currently negotiating text on REDD including many of the government officials do not understand what REDD is all about  and how devastating it is going to be for future forests and people who  use forests as their homes and as provider of their sustainable livelihood. He introduced the panelists as experts who will help the audience understand REDD better so they too can make their own decisions on our concerns about REDD (+, ++, +++)

Simone Lovera shared her REDD experience from Paraguay and talked about the lies fed to us in REDD discussions, challenges in LULUCF and its deliberate accounting loopholes, traps in rules and definitions on forests used in global discussions, refer to the GFC launch of its publication of case studies about underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation which shows that there are other better alternatives, lies about preserving forests when they are only talking about trees, plantations, and monocultures counted as forests, Europe meaning tree plantations whenever they talk about forests, R++ as dragging in agriculture as systems of transgenic crops and more monoculture crops, R+++ being about another big lie using bio-char and extraction of more carbon credits for rich companies of the north, and finally about payment of environment services (PES) where they want to pay for the South to conserve these environment services yet only they are going to benefit in the future through the worst land grabbing of all time and claiming property rights over our atmospheric space, etc.

Larry Lohman who authored the famous Carbon Trading publication talked about what REDD is, what carbon markets entail with its history back to the 1960s in the University of Chicago as origin of talks about markets and trade in pollution rights, trade in air, water and other public goods thus the rich countries and companies putting their monies into trade in pollution.

He said that Mexico was the 4th largest exporter of such pollutants to Europe through carbon markets and it is unfortunate to see many international NGOs such as WWF, IUCN, Greenpeace, Oxfam, etc. supporting such a trade mechanism as REDD. Larry talked about ‘racism’ in REDD saying that CO2 in fossil is NOT equal to CO2 in trees and there are many promoting this false assumption which is a lie, not true historically nor true biotically. The issue of racism he argues is with reference to effects this assumption has on peoples lives, the commoditization of natural resources, etc.

Anne Peterman continues the talks on why she knows REDD cannot be fixed as it is rewarding the largest consumers of forest around the world with dangerous genetically engineered trees being used that makes no sense at all. She alluded to some dangerous experiments currently  implemented in the USA propagating a large nurseries of GE trees such as eucalyptus invading a huge area of US forests with invasive species such as this inflammatory and fire prone eucalyptus, and also referring to REDD as the worst land grabbing initiative of all time.

Blessing from South Africa shared his experience on REDD and to inform the audience about why this is a false solutions that have no regard to the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. His country is full of tree plantations that are going to be counted under REDD and market based solutions negotiated in Cancun and they align themselves to the advocacies against REDD (+,++,+++) because these are all about profits for a few rich companies and donor countries of the north at the expense of our developing countries in the south.

Marcial Arias from Panama is a Kuna Yalla Chief and relayed to the audience similar concerns of his peoples about REDD and other mitigation options proposed in the UNFCCC process.

Any REDD outcome from Cancun will have disastrous impacts on food sovereignty and security for all the peoples around the world, and the native forests of many of the countries in Latin America will no longer be safe from the long tendercals of profit making companies who co-opts many governments of the South to enter into dangerous profit making partnerships to exploit forests using market based approaches being negotiated in UNFCCC.

I added my own experience from the Pacific with regards the ethical, moral and climate justice gaps that continue to dictate the discussions of UNFCCC and claim that the outcome of Cancun will again be another huge disappointment. Many small island states in the Pacific consider climate change as a matter of life and death for their peoples and natural resources let alone their continued existence as sovereign countries protected under the UN Charter.

REDD will only exacerbate this and whilst many of the Pacific countries are not forest countries, the impacts of the policies that the parties are negotiating in Cancun will ultimately affect our peoples and the Pacific and this is an issue of accountability and responsibility that those responsible cannot try and run away from.

Divergent views on proposed new protocol – developing countries concerned that a new protocol would undermine or replace the Kyoto Protocol.
At the end of the contact group that discussed this, many countries supported a new treaty instrument under the UNFCCC as the outcome of the working group AWG-LCA but there was no consensus on the form of that outcome, with options including COP decisions and a protocol.

Six new protocols were proposed in the last eighteen months by Japan, Tuvalu, USA, Australia, Costa Rica, and Grenada. AOSIS stressed that this process must be the basis to anchor the legal form for a Durban South Africa outcome and its proposal was an input to the work of the AWG-LCA to enhance the implementation of UNFCCC and stressed that the AOSIS position on the continuation of KP in a second commitment period was very clear.

It covered all the key elements of the Bali Action Plan and referred parties to the access and benefit sharing protocol and the supplementary protocol on liability and redress adopted under CBD and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety respectively, in Nagoya, Japan in October which was based on clear mandate and willingness of parties suggesting that this must reflect on how to take the process forward.

Tuvalu endorsed AOSIS on the way forward and said its proposal does not replace the KP, and is part of the 2-track process towards a global framework to ensure that all Parties play a role and that certain Parties will play a role in the Kyoto Protocol and other Parties, like the US which is not in the current KP, will perhaps play a role in the proposed new protocol. It highlighted three tiers of NAMAs for developing countries those financed internationally, financed nationally, and pledged.

Costa Rica said its proposed Protocol is intended to complement and not to replace the Kyoto Protocol and is consistent with common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities, and the AWG-LCA should work on the legal form of its outcome, and in COP 17 to adopt a legally binding instrument to attain enhanced and long term implementation of the Convention.

Japan, however, said its proposal was to adopt a single legally binding framework that involves participation of all major economies and it was committed to the AWG-LCA for a concrete outcome which was supported by Australia which said its proposal would build on the Kyoto Protocol and take the AWG-LCA process to take decisions that can be the next steps and building blocks for a final outcome, and legal form.

The US said the elements in its proposal almost overlap completely with those at the AWG-LCA and many key issues relate to the way the Bali Action Plan will be given form. It was focused to achieve progress in Cancun and more discussion in the AWG-LCA track need to continue.

Concerns on Agriculture being made a Carbon Commodity:
Agriculture is central to developing countries, as are the millions of smallholder farmers and women who provide the food we depend on, nurture biodiversity, and provide practical, just and affordable solutions to the problem of climate change. It should not be treated as a commodity. It is the most important sector in many developing countries and provides the bulk of employment as a way of life. Some 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas where agriculture is the main economic activity and the World Bank has warned that the agriculture sector must be placed at the center of the development agenda if the Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 are to be realized.
The diversified farming systems of smallholders in developing countries are more productive than large farms if total output is considered rather than yield from a single crop.

A salient feature of these farms is their high degree of biodiversity crucial to ensuring agricultural resilience, which is needed for the adaptation efforts by developing country farmers, who will suffer disproportionately more from the effects of climate change. Small holder farmers in developing countries usually treat their soil with organic compost and green manures, practices that sequester carbon into the soil and rely on organic manures, legume-based rotations and beneficial insect diversity, which allow them to reduce and even forego synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use, hence contributing to climate mitigation in contrast to the industrialized, fossil fuel- and energy-intensive agriculture that characterizes much of developed country agriculture, and for which serious domestic mitigation actions are necessary.

In the search to commodify the planet and atmosphere, carbon traders and those involved in markets are developing methods to create a commodity out of the carbon found in soil as a logical extension of their markets already exist for the carbon embodied in trees.

When farmers adopt certain crop management practices that will increase the amount of soil carbon, they receive payment for the amount of carbon they are able to sequester in the soil.

Those carbon credits purchased as “offsets” can then replace developed country mitigation obligations, or they can be traded as commodities on the speculative market.

Developed countries have legal obligations to provide financial resources for adaptation efforts but are instead looking for means to escape these public financial obligations by transferring the focus of attention from adaptation to mitigation.

Innovations to escape legal and moral obligations through the use of offset projects in the developing world see developed countries of the North paying for mitigation practices in the global South thus avoiding their own reduction commitments, and allow them to continue their unsustainable production and consumption patterns, rather than make the transition to low-carbon lifestyles.

This increases both the adaptation and mitigation burdens of developing countries, when their priorities are poverty eradication and development. Carbon credits generated in this manner could be subsequently traded on a global carbon market, ostensibly to generate money for climate financing. However such markets, with their inherent instability, combined with the complexity of agriculture markets, could mean disaster for food security and livelihoods in developing countries.

Promoters make it seem as if there is easy money for the earning in the soil carbon market. However, quantifying the amount of carbon in the soil is not a straightforward technical matter where baselines must be established, determine how soil carbon concentrations vary with seasons, how surface temperatures behave due to climate change.

Offset credits are more valuable if the mitigation practice can permanently sequester a known amount of commodified carbon and because this is impossible in the case of soil carbon, elaborate accounting systems are constructed to discount the amount of soil carbon that might be sequestered to take into account both impermanence and problems of measurement.

This difficulty in accounting allow developed countries to account for emission reductions when in fact these reductions have not occurred, or are less than what is accounted for.

For the promoters to create marketable soil carbon, the farmers are aggregated into large groups and contracts are signed where the contracts state that farmers will follow a series of prescribed practices most commonly are low-till or no-till weed control practices. However, the practices that are associated with the greatest increase in soil carbon like the addition of compost and manures that actually add carbon to soil are actually not required.

The actual carbon sequestered in current schemes is negligible, providing little to no compensation for farmers who have undertaken these practices and ensuring that carbon credits generated are worth a fraction of other carbon being traded on markets resulting in a marketable commodity that is worth little more than the piece of paper it is printed on.

Proponents of commodifying soil carbon are therefore rewriting the rules of the CDM to expand eligibility to soil carbon sequestration mitigation projects which is a dangerous distraction from the more urgent needs of agricultural adaptation.

This is a fundamental shirking of responsibility of the developed world to undertake mitigation domestically and to provide public financing for the enormous adaptation needs facing the poorest and most vulnerable agriculturalists on the planet. The end of creating an agriculture that is climate-resilient is very distinct from the end of creating a marketable commodity.

This is the essential unresolvable conflict in promoting a market for soil carbon, based on “mitigation” practices adopted by farmers in the developing world.

Farmers in the developing world must receive support for their adaptation efforts and provided without constraint or caveat as tying adaptation support to the exigencies of a carbon market is not only illogical, but given the severity of the climate crisis, it is immoral.

CONCLUSIONS:
Indigenous Peoples have referred already to the outcome of Cancun as the ‘Cancún Betrayal and IEN has referred to it as the UNFCCC being unmasked as the WTO of the Sky and challenges the world that the real solutions to the climate crisis will only come from grassroots movements.

“As representatives of Indigenous peoples and communities already suffering the immediate impacts of climate change, we express our outrage and disgust at the agreements that have emerged from the COP16 talks…. the Cancun Agreements are not the result of an informed and open consensus process, but the consequence of an ongoing US diplomatic offensive of backroom deals, arm-twisting and bribery that targeted nations in opposition to the Copenhagen Accord during the months leading up to the COP-16 talks.

We are not fooled by this diplomatic shell game. The Cancun Agreements have no substance. They are yet more hot air. Their only substance is to promote continued talks about climate mitigation strategies motivated by profit. Such strategies have already proved fruitless and have been shown to violate human and Indigenous rights.

The agreements implicitly promote carbon markets, offsets, unproven technologies, and land grabs—anything but a commitment to real emissions reductions.

The Voices of the People Must be Respected Indigenous Peoples from North to South cannot afford these unjust and false ‘solutions’, because climate change is killing our peoples, cultures and ecosystems.

We need real commitments to reduce emissions at the source and to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Because we are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change, we came to COP-16 with an urgent call to address the root causes of the climate crisis, to demand respect for the Rights of Mother Earth, and to fundamentally redefine industrial society’s relationship with the planet.

Instead, the Climate COP has shut the doors on our participation and that of other impacted communities, while welcoming business, industry, and speculators with open arms. The U.S., Industrialized nations, big business and unethical companies like Goldman Sachs will profit handsomely from these agreements while our people die”.

As I have intimated in the introductory paragraph of this report, I have come away from Cancun terribly disappointed yet again on many aspects of the meetings.

The use of WTO styles of gaveling ‘consensus’ against the deliberate objections of parties point to South Africa in 2011 as another conference of ‘hot air’ stalling the process to converge to 2012 the year for Rio+20 where WTO will finally trump everything.

I am particularly saddened and disappointed to see many developing countries being pushed by few rich countries to agree on taking on liabilities to impacts of climate change they contributed very little to the causes.

The promises of fast track funding made in Copenhagen are repackaged ODA and there seem to be no end on the dictatorial treatment of many developing country parties to succumb to intense pressures from the rich few.

The new funding established will not work without new and additional funds. When a World Bank report this year stated that the world needs USD$600 billion a year to tackle mitigation, USD$600 billion a year for adaptation, and USD$500 billion a year for technology development and transfer, the USD$100 billion a year by 2020 now agreed to for this funding is hugely inadequate and there is no clarity on how this is going to be sourced.

There being no reference at all to IPR in technology is another ploy by USA and other rich countries to continue to exploit and manipulate their commitments in the Bali Action Plan and responsibilities to developing countries on technology transfers.

The Copenhagen Accord still continues to be the baseline for the future climate talks and if it already means a temperature increase of 4 degrees Centigrade, this is insane.

Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as well as some NGOS will have not received favorable expectations in their struggles, but the future will tell and time will reveal the integrity of their arguments and calls to actions that the world of the future will judge all of these current failed processes.
Finally, I wish again to register my sincere appreciation to CBD Alliance for assisting my participation in these meetings.

I have benefitted immensely from these and have shared these experiences with my own peoples, my country, the Pacific region, and find it most encouraging to have been asked to deliver keynote addresses to a number of different and varying audiences because organizers believe that we understand the issues of climate changes much more than those in our respective governments who are there only to seek funds for development regardless of whether the sources are in fact delivering detrimental outcomes and results to many of our peoples in the South.

 

 

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