Key issues of the Peoples Agreement Present in Durban Negotiation Text

Image: Durban, COP17: Pablo Salon,  Former Ambassador of Bolivia and key negotiator at the UNFCCC and documentary film-maker Rebecca Sommer march with the masses in support of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

December 6, 2011 in UN climate change negotiations

nelemarien.info (*)

After one week of negotiations in Durban, a compilation of negotiation texts was presented, which essentially builds on work during the whole year. There are several very problematic issues in this text, but let’s start with the good news: several issues from the Peoples’ Agreement are present in the text, especially in the Shared Vision chapter1.

Stabilising the Climate in a fair and equitable way

First, the key issue: making sure the climate gets stabilised. The social movements in Tiquipaya established that the world should warm not more than 1 degree. And, in order to ensure that we wouldn’t surpass this dangerous limit, demanded that the developed countries, being responsible for the climate crisis – have to reduce 50% of their emissions by 2020, and more than 100 per cent by 2040.

See the way it is represented in the Shared Vision text:

17. Reduce global greenhouse gas emissions more than 100 per cent by 2040 by Annex I Parties; sustained by short-term mitigation by Annex I Parties of more than 50 per cent by 2017; ensuring stabilization of the global temperature at a maximum of a 1 degree Celsius increase;

In fact, the big question is: will the world be able to keep within the limits we establish for ourselves? Therefore, scientists have to establish how many Gigatons of GHG emissions the world can emit up till 2020. This would give us a ‘Carbon Budget’.

Next step is to allocate in a fair way this Carbon Budget. Only setting fair criteria, and undoing historical injustices, can do this. That is why the Peoples’ Agreement calls for the repayment of the Climate Debt.

38. Determines that this global goal shall be achieved by Parties on the basis of equity, with developed countries taking the lead, and allocating the remaining carbon budget up until 2050 according to the criteria of (population) per  capita accumulative historical emissions and the climate emissions debt of Annex I Parties, and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, equity shall be assured by having a fair sharing and equitable allocation framework wherein developed country Parties commit to the retribution of their historical climate debt, by returning over-consumed atmospheric space to developing countries, and by providing finance, technology and capacity building to developing countries in order to assist them in 3 mentions in the text of Climate debt Intellectual property issues in relation to technology.

Rights of Mother Earth

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, had of course as its name says, as one of its main objectives, the implementation of the Rights of Mother Earth. The conference itself prepared a proposal for the Universal Declaration, and the issue was talked about in the General Assembly of the UN. Still there is a long long way to go before the world will recognise and respect the Rights of Mother Earth, as well as Harmony with Nature.

Mother Earth’s Rights are disrespected in uncountable ways, but the damage climate Change is doing is probable the major expression of the need for this Universal Declaration. Therefore, within the UNFCCC, Bolivia has been calling for the defence of the Rights of Mother Earth:

74. Ensure respect for the intrinsic laws of nature.
75. The recognition and defence of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony between humanity and nature, and that their will be no commodification of the functions of nature, therefore no carbon market will be developed with that purpose.

Rejection of Carbon Markets

The idea of protecting the Rights of Mother Earth counterpose directly to the philosophy of commodification of Nature, and particularly of Carbon Markets, which at some points seems to be a major objective for the Climate Convention, much more important than the stabilization of the climate.

Rejection of the carbon markets — and especially its worst form which is offsetting– is present:

76. The assurance that in all actions related to forest land, the integrity and multifunctionality of the ecological systems shall be preserved and no offsetting or market mechanisms shall be applied or developed.

In the 1bv chapter:

29. Ensuring that offsets shall not be allowed;

42. Ensuring that ecological functions of Mother Earth will not be commodified in order to guarantee the rights of nature;

Forests

It seems most negotiators can’t see the forests through the trees, and the only thing they are interested in is the exact amount of carbon the trees can sequester, and then trade it.

This vision is totally rejected by the Peoples Agreement, which sees the forests as integral and multifunctional ecosystems, and fights the commodification of the forests, putting emphasis in the rejection of the REDD-offsetting scheme.

76. The assurance that in all actions related to forest land, the integrity and multifunctionality of the ecological systems shall be preserved and no offsetting or market mechanisms shall be applied or developed.

Human rights, Indigenous Rights and migrants

The Peoples Agreement calls in several places for respect for Human rights, Indigenous Rights and the Rights of Climate Migrants.

69. Climate change related actions should fully respect human rights;

70. The adverse effects of climate change have a range of direct and indirect implications for the effective enjoyment of human rights; climate change related actions can have implications on human rights and the effects of climate change will be felt most acutely by those segments of the population that are already vulnerable owing to geography, gender, age, indigenous or minority status, or disability;

71. Indigenous people ensuring the full respect of human rights, including the inherent rights of indigenous people (A broad range of stakeholders engagement, including of indigenous people, is necessary for effective action on all aspects of climate change;

72. Migrants ensuring the full respect of human rights, including the inherent rights of migrants;

73. The full respect of human rights, including the inherent rights of women, children, migrants and indigenous peoples established in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

Finance

Without adequate funding, developing countries won’t be able to adapt in the necessary ways to the climate problem that developed countries caused, and even less they will be able to mitigate in the necessary degree. Therefore, the Peoples Agreement demanded that substantial financial means should be transferred to developing countries. This is no development aid, but a part of the above mentioned climate debt.

Developed countries spend 6% of their GDP on defence, security, and warfare, which is not only very harmful for humanity, but also for the environment. Therefore Tiquipaya demanded that all funding allocated to military purposes should be redirected to climate change.

47. The provision of the amount of funds to be made available annually to developing country Parties, which shall be equivalent to the budget that developed countries spend on defence, security, and warfare. Fifty per cent of that amount shall be for adaptation, 20 per cent for mitigation, 15 per cent for technology development and transfer and 15 per cent for forest-related actions in developing country Parties;

Warfare

War is extremely damaging, for Mother Earth and for the 99% of the people. Stopping warfare, and military related actions, is a major objective if we want to save Mother Earth.

80. Stopping wars, defending lives and ceasing destructive activities will protect the climate system; conflict-related activities emit significant greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

81. The guarantee that all Parties shall cease destructive activities that contribute to climate change, in particular the activities of warfare, production of materials and services that support warfare, and to divert associated financial resources and investments into the shared global effort to combat a common enemy: climate change.

Technology Transfer and IPR

Tiquipaya demands a real transfer of technology, and states that “Knowledge is universal, and should for no reason be the object of private property or private use, nor should its application in the form of technology. Developed countries have a responsibility to share their technology with developing countries.” Therefore the People Agreement rejects the protection of environmentally friendly technology by Intellectual Property Rights.

66. Consistent with the principles of the Convention and to enable meaningful mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries, the flexibilities of the international regime of intellectual property as articulated by the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights may be used to the fullest extent by developing country Parties to address adaptation or mitigation of climate change, in order to enable them to create a sound and viable technological base; accordingly, consistent with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, each Party retains its right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted; specific and urgent measures shall be taken by developed country Parties to enhance the development and transfer of technologies at different stages of the technology cycle covered by intellectual property rights to developing country Parties.

67. The removal of all obstacles, including intellectual property rights and patents on climate-related technologies to ensure the transfer of technology to developing countries.

The issue is also in the ‘transfer of technology’ chapter:

10. The relevant members of the Network, in undertaking actions, at the request and under the guidance of the Climate Technology Centre [approved by TEC], will, inter alia:

(…)
(m) Identify, suggest and promote actions in all relevant forums to exclude from intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and revoke existing IPR protection in developing countries and least developed countries on environmentally sound technologies to adapt to and mitigate climate change, including those developed through funding by governments or international agencies;

The International Climate Court of Justice

Any international agreement, without a compliance system, is kind of useless. The responsibilities for Climate Change are so high, that what is at stake is nothing less than the survival of humankind, and of many of the living beings of Mother Earth. Up till this moment, who commits an ecocide can’t be trialled for it, but it is urgent this issue is addressed. Therefore, that the International Climate Court of Justice should be developed:

79. Requests the Conference of the Parties to develop, by its eighteenth session, an International Climate Court of Justice in order to guarantee the compliance of Annex I Parties with all the provisions of this decision, which are essential elements in the obtaining of the global goal;

The future of the Tiquipaya proposals

It is definitely very good news that those important ideas worked all their way up to a negotiation text in an almost-final stage. The big question now is: will they be allowed into the final decisions? Will there be any real debate around these issues? Or will they be just brushed aside at the last moment?

In the past, they were never allowed even to be discussed. The reason? “They are not politically realistic”. Should we interpret this as “The 1% doesn’t want those ideas”? Then let’s show the world is changing, and we need the ideas of the 99% to be present, not only in a draft version of negotiation texts, but in the real decisions that will define our future world.

Soon to be published: New negotiation text in Durban full of dangers

1. All reflected paragraphs are from the Shared Vision chapter, unless otherwise stated.

(*) Nele Marien was climate change negotiator for the Bolivian delegation from 2009 – Nov 2011

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