Climate Talks Regress: Rich Nations Appease The United States

At today's close of the UN climate change talks in Bangkok tensions between the world’s rich nations and developing countries were at an all-time high, according to Friends of the Earth International campaigners observing the talks to demand climate justice.

Image: FoE International

MEDIA ADVISORY
Friends of the Earth International
9 October 2009

CLIMATE TALKS REGRESS: RICH NATIONS APPEASE THE UNITED STATES


BANGKOK, THAILAND, 9 October 2009 -- At today's close of the UN climate change talks in Bangkok tensions between the world’s rich nations and developing countries were at an all-time high, according to Friends of the Earth International campaigners observing the talks to demand climate justice.

In efforts to accommodate the US administration, many developed countries are now abandoning their legal obligations to take the lead in cutting emissions and to provide financial support for developing countries.

Stephanie Long from Friends of the Earth International said:

“Attempts by developed countries to evade their historical responsibility by crashing the Kyoto Protocol is a recipe for disaster. The Kyoto Protocol is the only international legally binding treaty aimed at reducing emissions and contains a stringent penalty system for non-compliance.”

“On the streets of Bangkok there were thousands of demonstrators calling for immediate action from developed countries. But climate negotiators remain deaf to these calls for climate justice,” she added.

Meena Raman from Friends of the Earth Malaysia said:

“So far it looks like the Copenhagen talks could deliver a toothless agreement based on vague pledges that cannot deliver the deep greenhouse cuts that science and justice demand of rich nations.”

“Other countries are using the US's position as an opportunity to try and avoid stringent legally binding emissions cuts which they should implement at home.”

In another shocking development, the UK – speaking on behalf of the EU – insisted on deleting a safeguard aimed at preventing that forests be converted into damaging plantations.

Tom Picken from Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland said:

“The UK's scramble to put forests in the global carbon market is blurring their vision of what negotiations on the protection of forests are meant to do. The UK seems more interested in securing the supply of cheap offset credits rather than promoting exactly the kinds of safeguards needed to prevent deforestation.”

For more information contact in Bangkok

Stephanie Long, Friends of the Earth International: +61 414 136 461 (Australian mobile number)

Meena Raman, Honorary Secretary of Friends of the Earth Malaysia: + 60 12 43 00 042 (Malaysian mobile number)

Tom Picken, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland +44 7810 55 82 47 (UK mobile number)

Kate Horner, Friends of the Earth US: +1 360 319 9444 (US mobile number)

Linda IJmker, Friends of the Earth Netherlands +66 870 921 738 (Thai mobile valid until Oct.11 only) or Friends of the Earth Netherlands
Press office +3120 5507 333 (Dutch number)

Makoto Ehara, Friends of the Earth Japan +66 848 807 328 (Thai mobile valid until Oct.10 only) or +81 806 647 1333 (Japanese mobile)

(ENDS)

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MEDIA ADVISORY
Friends of the Earth International

Monday 5 October 2009
 

Developed Countries Try to Dodge Climate Obligations at UN Climate Talks


BANGKOK, THAILAND, October 5, 2009 -- In a week coinciding with massive loss of life in the Asia Pacific region as a result of extreme weather, Friends of the Earth International decried attempts by developed countries to undermine their obligations under the UN climate convention.

Friends of the Earth International urged developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and provide public finance for developing countries in line with science and climate justice at United Nations climate talks in Bangkok, Thailand.

Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth US said:

“The United States administration should not bully its way into gutting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. If the world’s richest country wants to claim itself as a leader, it needs to lead a race to the top and not a race to the bottom. US Senate legislation introduced this week – with incredibly weak targets and 2 billion tons of offsets - does not give us reason to believe that President Obama intends to deliver on his message of change.”

Linda Ijmker of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said:

“The recent climate finance proposal from the EU Commission pushes the bulk of costs for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries back to the developing countries themselves, and to theoretical financial flows from the carbon market.”

“We urge all European member states to correct this inadequate financing proposal and to truly meet the obligations under the international climate convention to provide financing for the adaptation, technology sharing and mitigation needs of the developing countries, in addition to reducing their own emissions.”

Stephanie Long of Friends of the Earth International said:

“Developed countries have been accumulating a climate debt for the past 200 years, based on their fossil fuel intensive development. This climate debt must be repaid if we are to have any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. This means that those that are historically responsible for climate change must reduce their emissions to give more resources to developing countries so they can develop sustainable economies.”

“The proposals from the EU Commission and US administration are completely inadequate, with almost complete reliance on the private sector to provide funds to fight climate change. The wealthy industrialised countries must start providing funds to clean up the mess they have caused,” she added.

According to sources close to developing countries delegations, the patience of developing countries is wearing thin at the UN negotiations on climate change.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT IN BANGKOK

Stephanie Long, Friends of the Earth International: +61 414 136 461 (Australian mobile)

Karen Oreinstein, Friends of the Earth US +1 202 640 8679 (US mobile)

Linda IJmker, Friends of the Earth Netherlands +66 870 921 738 (Thai mobile)

NOTES

1. What is Climate Debt ?

The climate debt is owed for the historical overproduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries that saturated the atmosphere – considered to be a global common – thereby reducing the environmental space available for developing countries. More than a financial debt, the climate debt is also owed for the impacts of climate change that is suffered in past and present in developing countries, and future generations.

Therefore, the climate debt based on the historical responsibility of the developed countries must be paid through a range of actions. This includes immediate and rapid emissions reduction, financial transfers to the Global South, and global sharing of appropriate technology and knowledge to:

- enable sufficient environmental space within sustainable ecological limits for developing countries
- to enable developing countries to adopt low carbon societies
- provide reparations for damages, and
- build resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change

The Plurinational State of Bolivia submitted a proposal to recognise and repay the Climate Debt to the UN Climate Change Convention, which has been officially endorsed by Venezuala, Paraguay, Cuba, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The submission is based on modelling of the historic and continued developed country overuse of the Earth's capacity to absorb greenhouse gases and the impacts of climate change as a result of this overpollution.

2. The EU Commission climate finance proposal assumes:

- that developing countries should source as much as 40% of the finance needed from their own national budgets
- that 40% of money will be source via the carbon market – private sector financing that will, for a large part, double count as emissions reductions in the developed countries.
- and only about 20% of the funds will be sourced from public finance.
- Article 4 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change requires developed countries to provide financial support from developed to developing countries for technology cooperation and transfer, conservation of greenhouse gas 'sinks' and adaptation. The Bali Action Plan, agreed in 2007, also reiterated the crucial nature of funding flows that are new and additional and which are “measurable, reportable, and verifiable”. Developing country states have interpreted “new and additional” to demand that developed countries provide these funds in addition to existing Official Development Assistance commitments of 0.7% of gross domestic product.

 

For further details on our campaigning around the Copenhagen talks, please check here.