Tag Archives: COP-16

Mexico can’t see the wood for the trees

Note: This article arose out of the heated debates on REDD (the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme) at the UN Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2010.  GJEP actively campaigned against REDD there and supported the important work of our Indigenous allies who were there to oppose REDD.  As a result, GJEP is quoted opposing REDD in the article below.

Another outcome of our work against REDD in Cancun is a new video documenting opposition to REDD by Indigenous peoples, forest dependent communities and Northern communities all of whom are negatively impacted by REDD.  This video, “A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests,” which we co-produced with Global Forest Coalition, will be officially released on the 16th of January.”

–The GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Le Monde Diplomatique (English Edition)

January 2012 Edition

An indigenous community in Mexico wants to drop protected conservation status for its area because it feels it has lost real control of its land and way of life. Concern about carbon emissions is blinding policy makers to the failures of some of their conservation policies

by Anne Vigna
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“That’s the one,” said Arcenio Osorio, pointing at the huge mountain that towers over the village of Santiago Lachiguiri, in Oaxaca state, part of southwestern Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec. “It provides water to all the towns in the area, and to us, the Zapotec people, it’s sacred. That’s the mountain we wanted official protection for.” Osorio is secretary of the community assembly, a traditional elected body that represents the people of the village. The 8,000 inhabitants of the county have always been involved in the conservation of their mountain, the Cerro de las Flores (“Mountain of the Flowers”). An official from the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) told me it is classed as an area of “exceptionally high biodiversity” due to the “excellent state of preservation of its ecosystem”.

In the valleys at the foot of the mountain, they grow organic coffee. The slopes are covered with little woods and patches of maize, but after several hours of walking and clambering you come to forests of pine trees, under which grow hundreds of species of wild flowers. Because of its altitude (2,200 metres) and the rock it is made of, the mountain acts as a kind of sponge, which stores the greater part of the area’s water supply.

Cerro de las Flores is a textbook case of conservation policy. In August 2003 it became Mexico’s first “voluntary community preserved area”. My source said Conanp defines this as an area protected by a “conservation mechanism put in place at the request of the local community, that protects the area’s natural riches and offers sustainable economic alternatives to its inhabitants”. According to Conanp, 207,887 hectares of land are managed in this way in Mexico. But at the meeting of the community assembly in January 2011, the people of Santiago Lachiguiri voted to drop the area’s “preserved area” status. “The government deceived us,” explained Osorio. “We are still the legitimate owners of the land, but we have lost control of it.”

Osorio was clearly irritated, and with some justification. The village’s land commissioner, Enan Eduardo, explained his choice of words: “We discovered that the certification of the 1,400 hectares of Cerro de las Flores entailed a conservation period of 30 years, rather than the five years we had agreed on when we voted.” Did that imply deception, and loss of control? “The conservation policy means we also have to change our production methods, even if it makes no sense in ecological terms.”

Certifying land involves the establishment of a development plan, preceded by a diagnostic survey; non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government institutions (Mexico’s ecology ministry and Conanp) handle both tasks. The process is supposed to begin with “participatory workshops”, to inform the local inhabitants and allow them to make their opinions heard and take part in decision-making. But in Santiago Lachiguiri this procedure, seen as essential for the success of any conservation initiative, wasn’t followed correctly. Conanp insists the local inhabitants participated and were properly informed. Osorio said: “We went everywhere with them, and answered all their questions. But we had no idea what they were planning.”

Slash and burn

As a result, the conservation area ended up including the flanks of the mountain, where 140 smallholders had been growing maize. A further 517 hectares were included in the “payment for environmental services” programme, under which agricultural activities are forbidden, but the community receives an annual payment of 400 pesos (US$30) per hectare, that is $15,510 a year. It’s not much — and less than they were making from farming the land. The conservation plan also described a range of activities that would supposedly enhance the area’s resources without damaging the environment. The two flagship projects were an ecotourism initiative and a water-bottling plant. Both were abandoned after four years. Two cabins intended to accommodate tourists were never used — this remote area attracts few visitors — and the cost of transporting the bottled water proved prohibitive.

But it was farming that stirred up the most trouble. The local community practised slash-and-burn cultivation (land is cleared, burned and then planted every seven years). The ash serves as a natural fertiliser and the wood is used as cooking fuel. Typical crops are maize, beans, tomatoes and peppers.

Anthropologist Eckart Boege says that, when properly managed, according to strict rules, itinerant cultivation is the best way of farming without destroying the environment; the Mayas were masters of this technique, in both production and reforestation. But Mexican and international institutions have identified this farming method as the latest big threat and they all want a ban on burning, since carbon capture has become the central element of conservation policies. Slash-and-burn has in fact caused environmental damage in Mexico, leading to deforestation, soil impoverishment, water shortages and reduced biodiversity.

But this is not the case with land occupied by indigenous peoples such as the inhabitants of Santiago Lachiguiri, who have established strict community rules (1). “If it’s properly used, the technique can actually increase the biological diversity and mass of the forest. We release CO2 by burning, but we capture more during the regeneration phase,” explained Alvaro Salgado, agronomist and author of a study on slash-and-burn. These facts have been recognised in scientific publications but are denied by Conanp, which is busy imposing another project on the village — agro-forestry, a system that integrates trees into a system of permanent cultivation, in this case apricot trees and maize. The results have failed to convince the locals. In three years, the soil has become impoverished and the trees are scrawny. “Since the maize yields were poor, Conanp advised us very early on to use chemicals to enrich the soil,” said Eduardo. Another result was that most of the 140 smallholders who had lost their land left the village. Some emigrated to the US, some moved to the city, some went to work on a motorway construction site, and the youngest joined the army after a recruitment campaign.

The villagers demanded the removal of the mountain’s protected area status and an end to the payments for environmental services. They also sent two representatives to the Alternative Global Forum that was held at Cancún in December 2010 in parallel with the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16). Their aim was to denounce the conservation policies that were being imposed. Their testimony was of the highest importance: it was COP 16 that approved the agreement on forest conservation proposed at COP 13, in Bali in 2007 — the REDD (Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation) programme.

Unable to agree on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the signatories hoped that REDD would kill two birds with one stone, cutting emissions by 15% while preventing deforestation. Diego Rodriguez from the World Bank had no doubts REDD would enable the world to prepare for climate change.

’We want to be able to say no’

Yet REDD shows little concern for the 300 million people across the world who depend on forests for their living. The programme is based on “compensation”: any business enterprise or country that pollutes can compensate for its greenhouse gas emissions (quantified in terms of tons of carbon) by “protecting” a forest. Advocates of REDD claim this approach is scientific but it does not appear to have convinced everyone. Research by Stanford University in California shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change overestimated the amount of carbon stocked in a forest in Peru by one-third (2).

Anne Petermann of the NGO Global Justice Ecology Project says the idea that carbon can be stocked implies a ban on the felling of trees. Indigenous groups are opposed to REDD, she says, because they believe it will inevitably displace communities or have a serious impact on their way of life, without doing anything to reduce pollution or climate change. Representatives of indigenous peoples, who came to Cancún in large numbers, hoped to impose a requirement that free, prior and informed consent be obtained before the implementation of any REDD project. “We want to be able to say no if a company wants to use our territory to compensate for carbon emissions,” said Onel Masardule, representative of the Kuna people of Panama.

But REDD’s final text merely refers to “social and environmental safeguards”, which have yet to be defined. It mentions the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (which says that “indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources”), but the declaration isn’t binding. Two recent reports (3) on respect for indigenous peoples in REDD programmes indicate that the land rights of local inhabitants and principles of consultation and information have been systematically flouted.

Over the past six years, a range of projects have been financed by enterprises (Shell and Gazprom in Indonesia, BP in Bolivia, and Rio Tinto in Australia), by countries (Norway in Brazil and Indonesia, France in Mexico) and special funds belonging to international institutions such as the World Bank and UN agencies. The Cancún Agreements did not decide how the REDD programme was to be financed but the idea, still championed by the World Bank, of offering REDD carbon credits on the global emissions market already seems less viable.

It is now accepted that the markets have done nothing to help reduce carbon emissions or to promote the financing of a less polluting economy. Kate Dooley, an expert on forests at the NGO Fern, says carbon trading does not encourage people to use less carbon but gives the illusion that it’s possible to compensate for pollution. She fears that if REDD were to become part of the carbon trading market, there could be a wave of land speculation based on assigning a “carbon value” to forests. But the so-called developed nations, which are historically responsible for climate change, have refused to finance REDD alone. A decision on the issue has therefore been put off until COP 17, to be held in Durban, South Africa, 28 November—9 December 2011.

All the World Bank reports stress that public money will not be enough to finance the establishment of REDD; private funding is also needed — estimates range from $15bn to $50bn per year, but the funds currently available amount to only $2bn. And a question remains: what is to be done about the smallholders who want to continue growing maize while conserving some of their land? At COP 16, Mexico’s president Felipe Calderón declared: “We will pay the smallholders to plant trees instead of maize on the mountain, and live on payments they will receive for environmental services.”

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Video: After Cancun–the Climate Justice Movement

Note:  GJEP will be blogging daily from Durban 28 Nov – 10 Dec.  Please stay tuned to Climate Connections.  The following video is in English and Spanish with French subtitles. -The GJEP Team

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Z Magazine: Outrage at the UN Cancun Climate Talks

The February edition of Z Magazine features an article by Global Justice Ecology Project Co-Directors Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle titled, “Activist Outrage at the UN Climate Conference: World Carbon Trade Organization vs. the People and the Planet”


Cover photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

The article describes in detail the positions of many of the climate justice and environmental justice organizations that were present at the UN Climate Convention in Cancún, Mexico.  It also discusses the concerted effort by the UN Climate Convention to shut down dissent as well as the actions taken by organizations and governments to respond to this silencing.

From the article:

During protests against the WTO (World Trade Organization) meetings in Cancún, Mexico in September 2003, Lee Kyung Hae, a South Korean farmer and La Via Campesina member, martyred himself by plunging a knife into his heart while standing atop the barricades at Kilometer Zero. Around his neck was a sign that read, “WTO Kills Farmers.”

At that time, activists around the world were rallying under the umbrella of the global justice movement. Now the umbrella is the climate justice movement. But the root cause of the problem is the same-the neoliberal oligarchy: i.e., the corporate and government leaders bent on ruling the world and running it into the ground.

In 2003, Robert Zoellick was the U.S. trade representative who tried to force unjust trade policies down the throats of so-called “developing countries” under the auspices of the WTO. Today he is the president of the World Bank and is forcing unjust and ineffective climate policies onto the developing world under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Convention (UNFCCC)-aka the World Carbon Trade Organization, as it was called by Silvia Ribeiro of the conservationist ETC Group in an article she wrote for La Jornada, Mexico’s largest leftist newspaper.

The UNFCCC 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen in 2009 exposed the true nature of the UN Climate body as it amassed the forces of the Danish Police to beat down any unpermitted protests against its inaction. When Barack Obama waltzed in with his secretly negotiated Copenhagen Accord after months of UN climate negotiations, developing countries were outraged and the Accord was not adopted.

In November-December 2010 in Cancún, the UN Climate Conference (COP16) took it even further. They laid to rest any notion that the negotiations were either democratic, multilateral, or consensus-based. Countries that had opposed the Copenhagen Accord were bribed, blackmailed, or cajoled into going along with the so-called “Cancún Agreements.” When Bolivia alone refused to go along with a text they saw as ineffective and anti-democratic, they were ignored and consensus was declared.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

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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.

__________________________

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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Changing the Climate on Climate Change

At the UN COP16 climate summit in Cancun, aside from working with the GJEP team and our allies to write dozens of press releases, organize media events, wrangle journalists, and produce blogs, I did a lot of audio recording and conducted a fair number of interviews. Upon return, I shared the recordings, and my perspective on the issues, with the National Radio Project. Thanks to this collaborative effort, this week’s edition of Making Contact, Changing the Climate on Climate, gives significant attention to issues of concern to GJEP and our grassroots allies. (And note the lead photo by Orin Langelle, showing Sun-Young Yang and Joaquin Sanchez leading chants inside the Moon Palace.)

— Jeff Conant for the GJEP Team

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Youth-led march in the hallways of the UN Climate Negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. Credit: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

From Kyoto to Copenhagen to Cancun, the United Nation’s climate negotiations have become increasingly ineffective. Despite increasing awareness about the perils of climate change, those in power don’t seem willing to budge.

On this edition, we’ll hear voices from the streets of Cancun and look at where the world might turn for answers.

Featuring:

Ananda Lee Tan, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives U.S. and Canada coordinator; Jasmine Thomas, Carrier Nation member; Jaime Henn, 350.org communications director; Michelle Chan, Friends of the Earth Economic Project Policy Director; Daniel T’seleie. K’asho Got’ine First Nation member; Melina Laboucan Massimo, Laboucan Cree First nation member; Nicola Bullard, Focus on the Global South Deputy Director; Pablo Solon, Bolivian Ambassador to the UN; Robert Zoelick, World Bank President; Nnimmo Bassey, Environmental Rights Action Executive Director; Kerri Fulton Youth for Climate Justice activist.

Contributing Producers: Andalusia Knoll and Jeff Conant

Click here to listen!

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Cancún Climate Justice Report Back in Oakland

Cross-posted from The Collective Liberation Tour

The Collective Liberation Tour shot the panel discussion at the “Cancun Community Report Back: Climate Justice at Home, in Cancun and Beyond! Looking ahead at 2011″ event. The report back was hosted by Movement Generation, Youth 4 Climate Justice (Y4CJ), Mobilization for Climate Justice-West and Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) on January 20, 2011 at the Oakland office of Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice.

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Lunacy at the Moon Palace: Aka: The Cancun Mess(e)

By Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director

Mexican RoboCop Poses for Photos in Cancun. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Global Justice Ecology Project Co-Director/strategist Orin Langelle (on assignment for Z Magazine) and I arrived in Cancun for the UN Climate Conference the day after U.S. Thanksgiving to a hotel infested with Mexican federales.  “You’ve GOT to be kidding me,” was our immediate reaction.  We dodged their chaotically parked armored vehicles and jeeps to enter the hotel, where we found hoardes of uniformed officers armed with automatic weapons everywhere we went. The breakfast room, the poolside, the beach, the bar.  Walking out of our room (which was surrounded on both sides federales) I literally bumped into one.

Most of them were mere youths who, judging by the way they carelessly swung their weapons around, had not had sufficient gun safety courses…  Orin nearly collided with the barrel of one at breakfast one morning—its owner had it lying casually across his lap as he ate as though the deadly weapon was a sleeping cat.  When we were walking around that first day, we happened upon the bizarre scene above.  A photo shoot of fully armed robocops posing in front of a giant fake Christmas tree.

Absurd?  Yes.  But not nearly as absurd as the events that unfolded at the Moon Palace—home to the UN Climate Conference (COP16)—over the next two weeks.

Once upon a time at these climate talks, organizations and Indigenous peoples’ groups roamed freely.  They could wander around at will—even into the plenary, where the high level ministers were negotiating the fate of the planet.  No more.  The open range is now fenced off.  What precipitated such a radical change?  The overreaction of those in power to that strange and wondrous thing known as protest.

Reclaim Power March in Copenhagen. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

The UN Climate Secretariat and their security enforcers view protest as a bull views a red cape.  They go blind with rage, lashing out at whomever is in their line of sight.  When hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Indigenous peoples and Party delegates marched out of the UN Climate Conference at the Bella Center in Copenhagen in December 2009, the Secretariat responded by stripping every participant of their right to participate in the talks.  But before the protest even started, entire delegations of Friends of the Earth and other groups that had committed the sin of unpermitted symbolic protest earlier in the conference were barred outright from entering the Bella Center.

Since then, the UN Climate Secretariat has been scheming and conniving how to control these rogue factions and cut off any protest before it can begin.  At the interim UN climate meeting in Bonn that I attended last May, they had a special meeting to discuss “observer” participation in the climate COPs.  As a spectacular indication of the absurdity to come, when Friends of the Earth prepared an intervention (a short statement) for this meeting to emphasize the importance of observer participation to the UN Climate Conferences, they were prohibited from reading it…

So in Cancun, the UN Climate Secretariat contrived an elaborate set of demobilization tactics to curtail any potentially unruliness.  In addition to the highly visible force of federales, they devised a complex obstacle course for conference participants.

Anyone not rich enough to stay on the luxurious, exclusive grounds of the Moon Palace resort and (highly toxic) golf course—in other words, developing country parties, most NGOs, Indigenous Peoples and social movements—was treated to a daily bus ride from their hotel to the Cancun Messe (no, seriously, that’s what they called it) that lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how badly the federales had bottlenecked the highway. Once in the Messe, we had to go through a security check point and a metal detector, pass through a building and emerge from the other side to wait for a second bus (bus #9) to take us on another 20-25 minute ride to the Moon Palace.  Then in the evening, the process was reversed.

The Moon Palace itself was split into three sections—the Maya building, which housed the plenary session and the actual negotiations, the Azteca Building, where those not permitted into the negotiations (that is, most of the NGOs, IPOs and all of the media) were allowed to use computers and watch the proceedings on a big screen.

The media were given their very own building—the Nizuk building, which was yet another 10 minute ride from Maya and Azteca.  As you might imagine, it was virtually empty, as most of the media based themselves out of the Azteca to be closer to the action.

I had the pleasure of being a guest on Democracy Now! on the morning of December 9th, which meant finding my way to Nizuk, where the show was filmed live daily at 7am.  I left my hotel at 5:15am to catch a 400 peso cab to the Cancun Messe (no cabs allowed to go to the Moon Palace), then catch a bus to Nizuk.  I got there with 20 minutes to spare.

Democracy Now! and the other live broadcasts (their neighbor was Associated Press and around the corner was Al Jazeera) were filmed outside on the balcony.  While Amy Goodman interviewed me, her hair whipped in the gusty breeze.  A loud generator hummed nearby.  I wondered what they would do if they got a big rainstorm. (By the way, if you’d like to watch that interview, which was all about REDD [the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme], click here)

But all of this nonsense was a mere inkling of what was to come.  One of the first real tests of the Secretariat’s demobilization strategy came on Tuesday December 7th, when Global Justice Ecology Project hosted a press conference that turned into a spontaneous march.  Our press conference was scheduled on the day that La Via Campesina (LVC) had called for the “1,000 Cancuns” global actions on climate, one of which was to be a mass march in Cancun itself.  The press conference morphed into another “1,000 Cancuns” protest inside the very walls of the Moon Palace.

GJEP had made the decision to turn the press conference over to LVC, the Indigenous Environmental Network and youth so they could explain the “1,000 Cancuns” actions in the context of the silencing of voices occurring in the Moon Palace. UN Delegates from Paraguay and Nicaragua also participated to express their solidarity with the day of action.  I moderated the press conference and introduced it by invoking the name of Lee Kung Hae, the South Korean farmer and La Via Campesina member who had martyred himself by plunging a knife into his heart atop the barricades in Cancun at Kilometer Zero during the protests against the World Trade Organization in 2003.  At that time, it was the global justice movement.  Now it is the climate justice movement.  But really it is the same—the people rising up against the neoliberal oligarchy: i.e. the elite corporados bent on ruling the world and running it into the ground.

Mass action against the WTO in Cancun in 2003. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

Back in 2003, Robert Zoellick was the U.S. Trade Representative who tried to force bad trade policies down the throats of so-called “developing countries” during the meetings of the World Trade Organization.  Today he is the President of the World Bank, and is trying to force bad climate policies down the throats of the developing world under the umbrella of the UNFCCC, aka the World Carbon Trade Organization.

Writing this blog post from San Cristobal de las Casas, in the Mexican state of Chiapas brings to mind one of the most hopeful attacks on this neoliberal paradigm—the uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) on January 1, 1994—the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect.  The Zapatistas took up arms against NAFTA saying it would be a “death sentence” to the Indigenous peoples of Mexico.  Indeed, in order to be accepted into NAFTA, Mexico had to re-write Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution.  Article 27 was implemented to protect Mexican communal lands and came out of the Mexican Revolution led by Emiliano Zapata in the early 1900s.  But communal lands and free trade do not mix.  Edward Krobaker, Vice President of International Paper, re-wrote Article 27 to make it favorable to the timber barons.  Then it was NAFTA, today it is REDD—but the point is the same—it’s all about who controls the land.  The Zapatista struggle was and is for autonomy, which has been an objective of Indigenous communities for centuries.

But I digress.  Back to the press conference.  Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s charismatic Ambassador to the UN was supposed to be one of the speakers at the press conference but got tied up and could not get there.  Activists from Youth 4 Climate Justice requested to speak after yet again being denied an official permit to protest, and later turned the press conference into a spontaneous march. If they would not be given permission to protest then they would do so without.  Democracy is a messy thing.

Tom Goldtooth of IEN Speaks to the Media. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

The youth delegates marched out the press conference room chanting “No REDD, no REDD!”  The rest of us joined them but stopped on the front steps of the building when Pablo Solon suddenly joined the group. In the midst of a media feeding frenzy, he proclaimed Bolivia’s solidarity with the LVC march happening in the streets. Behind him people held banners from the press conference.  Following Solon’s speech, Tom Goldtooth, the high-profile Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and one of the most vocal Indigenous opponents to the highly controversial REDD scheme, spoke passionately to the crowd.  When he was done, the youth delegates resumed their chanting and marched toward the Maya building where the negotiations were occurring.

Then UN security moved in.  They had to contain this anarchic outbreak before it spread through the halls and infected the delegates. The three youths, deemed to be the leaders of the unrest, had their badges confiscated and were loaded onto a security bus to be removed from the premises.  Other observers, not understanding the nature of this bus (it looking like all of the other buses), got on believing it would take them back to the Messe where they could then take yet another bus to join the LVC march.  This included three people accredited to participate by Global Justice Ecology Project.  They were removed from the UN grounds and dropped off.

The UN also stripped Tom Goldtooth of his accreditation badge for the terrible crime of giving a powerful interview to a hungry media.  Another of our delegates was de-badged for filming and live-streaming video of the spontaneous protest onto the web.  Another lost his badge merely for getting on the wrong bus.  Others for the outrageous act of holding up banners.

We did not learn that Tom and others had been banned from the conference until the next morning, when they attempted to enter and the security screen beeped and flashed red.  Alarmed and outraged, representatives from Friends of the Earth International, the Institute for Policy Studies, and I took the bus over to the Moon Palace to meet with NGO liaisons Warren and Magoumi.

The encounter was immensely frustrating.  We staunchly defended Tom Goldtooth and his right to speak publicly to the media.  We also defended the right of our delegate to film the protest.  I also spoke up in defense of the three de-badged youth leaders, explaining that this was their first Climate Conference and they should have been given a warning (as was the norm in Copenhagen) that if they continued the protest, they would lose their accreditation.  In one ear and out the other…  Magoumi responded that the youth’s delegation leader should have informed them of the rules, and besides, she pointed out, if someone was committed murder, would they get a warning that if they did it again they would get arrested? (Really… that was her response!)  Our retort that chanting and marching could hardly be equated with murder was waved off by Magoumi as though we were a swarm of gnats.

In the end, Tom got his badge back after pressure was put on the UNFCCC by country delegations.  But he lost one whole day of access to the talks.  Several of the other delegates never got their badges back.  Security had deemed them “part of the protest,” and there was no opportunity for appeal.

For GJEP, the repressive actions of the Climate COP had to be answered with action.  We were prepared to put our organizational accreditation on the line.  Someone had to stand up for the right of people to participate in decisions regarding their future.

Occupation of the Moon Palace. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Six of our delegation (including our Board member Hiroshi) were joined by four more youth delegates plus representatives from Focus on the Global South and BiofuelWatch to occupy the lobby of the Maya building.  We locked arms in a line, blocking access to the negotiating rooms.  All but three of us wore gags that read “UNFCCC”.  Those of us without gags shouted slogans such as, “The UN is silencing Indigenous Peoples!” and “The UN is silencing the voices of youth!”—in both English and Spanish.

Warren and Magoumi were on the scene in a flash and I heard them directly behind me trying to get me to turn my attention to them.  Magoumi was tapping my shoulder while robotically saying over and over, “Anna…Anna…Anna…Anna…is this you ignoring me Anna?  Anna…Anna…” (not sure why she insisted on pronouncing the silent “e” in my name.)  When I continued yelling slogans, she changed tactics and walked directly in front of me.  “Anna, come on, let’s take this outside.  We have a place where you can do this all day long if you want to.  Anna…Anna…Anna…”  I have to admit to being slightly rattled by having to do my shouting directly over Magoumi’s head, but fortunately, she is quite short.

GJEP Board Member Hiroshi Kanno is Manhandled by UN Security During GJEP's Occupation of the Moon Palace. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

The scene had become another feast for the media, but after about 10 minutes, I could sense them tiring of the same old shots, so it was time to move.  As soon as we made a motion toward the door (arms still locked), security was on us in a flash and used pain compliance tactics on the two people who bookended our interlocked line—including our 73 year old Board member Hiroshi.  Surprise surprise, once we got outside we were not escorted to their designated “protest pit” where permitted protests were allowed to occur, as Magoumi had promised, but rather forced onto a waiting bus and hustled off the premises.  Jazzed with adrenaline, we all felt pretty damned good about what we had just done and the coverage we got—even when the UN security guard on the bus pointed out that if we had done that protest in Germany we would have been arrested.  “You’re lucky this is Mexico,” he sneered.  Indeed I have been threatened with arrest by German police for holding up paper signs protesting genetically engineered trees outside of a UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Bonn.  German police have even less sense of humor than UN security.  None-the-less, those of us on the bus felt elated for taking action—for standing up for the voices of the voiceless.

You can view Orin’s photo essay from the Moon Palace Occupation by clicking here

Democracy Now! covered the silencing of voices at the Climate Conference in a feature that included our action and a youth action that followed later in the day.  During the latter, the media nearly rioted when a Reuters photographer was grabbed and beaten by UN security on one of the buses.  DN! ran the feature on Monday, December 13th following the end of the talks.  You can watch that coverage here

I have not yet heard from Magoumi or Warren if Global Justice Ecology Project has lost its accreditation to participate in future UN Climate COPs.  Or if any of us will be allowed to enter its premises in the future.  But those conferences are such energy-sucking, mind-numbing, frustrating clusterf#*ks that if we are not allowed back in, I can’t say I will have any regrets.

Next year’s climate COP will take place in Durban, South Africa, where the UN will face off with the social movements who, against all odds, brought down Apartheid.

Now THAT will be something…

African Country Delegates Protest Unjust Climate Policies in Copenhagen in December 2009. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Signing off from San Cristobal de las Casas, near Zapatista rebel held territory in Chiapas, Mexico.

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RELEASE: Cancun–Activists Occupy Lobby during Climate Talks

Global Justice Ecology Project Press Release     10 December 2010
(GJEP statement follows Release)

Photos: http://climatevoices.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/photo-essay-moon-palace-occupation-for-climate-justice/

Outrage at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Moon Palace Occupation Demands Climate Justice
UNFCCC Now the World Carbon Trading Organization

Cancun, Mexico–At 1:15 PM on the last day of the UN climate talks, a dozen participants staged an un-permitted action at the Moon Palace where the climate negotiations were taking place, to protest the silencing of civil society voices by the UNFCCC. Their mouths gagged with “UNFCCC,” they locked arms in front of the escalators leading to the closed chambers where high-level climate negotiations were taking place.

The group stood their ground amid an onrush of security, as Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project, Deepak Rugani of Biofuelwatch and Global Forest Coalition, and Rebecca Leonard of Focus on the Global South shouted, “The UN is silencing dissent!” and other slogans referring to the shut down of people’s voices at the climate talks.

“We took this action because the voices of indigenous peoples, of women, of small island countries, of the global south, must be heard!” they demanded.

Nicola Bullard of Focus on the Global South, who was standing by, said, “What we see here is a group of people representing voices silenced by the U.N. process. In the past few weeks we’ve seen the exclusion of countries of the global south, and their proposals ignored. We’ve seen activists and representatives from civil society excluded from the meetings and actually expelled from the UN Climate conference. This action was taken to show the delegates here that we think this process is unjust, that there are voices that must be heard, and that there are perspectives and ideas and demands that must be included in the debates being held in this building. These decisions are far too important to be left to politicians and big business. We need to open up this up to include the voices of the people and the voices of the South.”

Participants in the action were finally forced out of the building by security, but refused to unlock their arms despite security manhandling.  They were expelled from the UN Conference, their accreditation badges taken away, and put on a bus that took them to the Villa Climatica, miles away from the Moon Palace.

Contact: Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project +52.998.167.8131 (Cancun mobile)
or +1.802.578.0477 (U.S. mobile)

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Global Justice Ecology Project Statement:
The Silencing of Dissent within the UNFCCC

Global Justice Ecology Project took action today to protest the silencing of dissent within the UN Climate negotiations. Anyone whose interests do not reflect those of the global elite is being marginalized, ignored and shut out of the talks.

At the UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen last year, dissent was criminalized and activists charged with terrorism for organizing the “Reclaim Power” protest. Here we are seeing a continuation of this trend with a zero-tolerance policy for dissenting voices.

Global Justice Ecology Project also undertook this action in memory of Lee Kyung Hae, the South Korean Farmer and La Via Campesina member who martyred himself at the in protest against the WTO here seven years ago. In 2003 the fight was against the repressive trade policies of the WTO. Today the struggle is against the repressive position of the UNFCCC, which has become the World Carbon Trade Organization, and is forcing developing countries to accept policies that go against the interests of their citizens and the majority of the world’s inhabitants.

REDD – the scheme of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation that is being pushed through here, despite widespread concern about the human rights and ecological catastrophe it may bring, is a prime example of the kind of market-driven, top down policies of the UNFCCC that will allow business as usual to continue beyond all natural limits. These unjust policies will severely impact forest-dependent and indigenous peoples, campesinos, and marginalized peoples across the world.

From before the opening of the UN climate talks in Cancun on 29 November 2, through to the final moments, the atmosphere at here has been one of marked by exclusion, marginalization, and silencing of voices.

When the UNFCCC’s negotiating text was released on 24 November, all language from the Cochabamba People’s Agreement – a document developed by 35,000 people- had been removed. In its place, was a warmed version of the unjust Copenhagen Accord.

Arriving in Cancun, UN climate conference participants found an armed citadel, a civil society space set literally miles away from the negotiations, inflated prices and hours of travel daily. For NGOs and civil society groups, as well as for the smaller and less economically empowered delegations from the less developed countries, such obstacles are crippling.

Activists and representatives from civil society have been systematically excluded from the meetings and even expelled from the UNFCCC itself. When voices have been raised in Cancun, badges have been stripped. Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network lost one precious day of negotiations due to the suspension of his badge for simply speaking in public. Youth delegates were barred for spontaneously taking action against a permitting process for protests made unwieldy and inaccessible.  NGO delegates were banned from the Moon Palace simply for filming these protests.
The exclusion and silencing of civil society voices here  in Cancun mirrors the larger exclusion and silencing here of the majority of people – indigenous peoples, women, youth, small farmers, developing countries– whose position does not reflect that of the global elite.

This is why, in solidarity with our allies from oppressed communities in the North and the South, we took action to demand justice in the climate negotiations.
www.globaljusticeecology.org
www.wordpress.climatevoices.com

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