Climate Justice Now!| Update of the Convention from Sandy Gauntlett of the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition, New Zealand | Thursday, December 09, 2004 |
9th December 2004
Rural Convention Centre
Day four of the convention and things still appear to be going slowly. The first few days and already adaptation is shaping up as a primary issue for he COP. Many of the side events on the first few days centered around the issue and in particular on Monday, a combined side event supported by Oxfam, FOEI, WWF and Greenpeace, along with a raft of social justice and development organizations drew the correlation between adaptation and development. A large audience saw only two negative responses, the first from a Canadian woman concerned with the issue of using science responsibly. “We cannot actually say that this was caused by climate change unless the science says that” was basically her argument. The panelists did not disagree with her in principle but added a cautionary note saying that in fact more and more scientists were now saying the weight of the evidence was pointing in this direction.
The second argument against adaptation as development was more interesting if somewhat flawed in it’s logic and came from a young man from Costa Rica who was concerned about the NGOs using the precautionary principle when in fact that was the principle that Bush used to invade Iraq. I might add these were his words and not mine. He was concerned that NGOs were not worried about the cost of implementing the Kyoto protocol. I swear that he had a genuine Costa Rican accent and did no look at all like George W although the logic seemed familiar. The panelists’ answers were basically around the difference between the pre cautionary principle in practice and claiming that your argument was based on it without supporting evidence. The most telling argument was however from Jennifer (WWF) who said that what many delegations appeared to be forgetting was that the costs of climate change were not only spelled out in economic terms. The costs in human terms were devastating and this was an area we needed to be focusing on.
The other issue to take a major role in terms of the NGOs was that of the Durban declaration with some of the climate campaigners arguing (with some justification) that it was not strong. There was also an argument raised that it was mainly groups from the south and some small (quote) biodiversity and forest campaigners that seemed to be supporting it and that in fact it was anti the Kyoto Protocol which we should all be supporting because it was all we had. In relation to this argument, I have a few points.
1) I am not from the economic (as opposed to the geographical) south
2) I am not a biodiversity campaigner (well not as a primary issue)
3) I am a forest campaigner but I am also a climate change campaigner
4) Anyone who knows me knows that I am anything but small. (A little joke)
5) I signed the Durban declaration
6) It could be stronger but that is not a reason to oppose its central political message, which is that the Kyoto Protocol was a weak agreement.
7) Yes, the Kyoto Protocol is one of the few (as opposed to the only) things we have but just because we have to attempt to modify the language around it does not mean that we have to declare it the best thing since sliced bread. There is strong scientific evidence that the targets adopted already under the Protocol will be far, far short of what is necessary to slow down or halt climate change and the US is extremely active in promoting its own brand of snake oil in relation to climate change. We have already let them get away with not signing the Protocol which means that an even bigger debt will go on the countries that have. If we drink their snake oil as well, there is a strong chance that we will end up sick and climate change will continue. Many of the NGOs gathered in Buenos Aires are already pushing for economic and political sanctions against the US over Kyoto and this will be a major battle here. My prediction is that while we undoubtedly will not win this argument at this COP, future COPS will see increasing pressure in this direction as the true costs (in both human and economic terms) of this disaster become clearer.
by: ProfMKD @ 2:30 PM