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UN Climate Conference ends amid gulf of differences

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, December 12, 2008 | 8:33 PM

Stress on corporate profit rather than real policy changes make climate negotiations sterile

Amid evident pessimism at the Poznań, Poland conference powerful resistance of global business, now that the 14th Conference of Parties (CoP 14) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has come to end, it is clear that gulf of differences still need to be bridged before an agreement on how to tackle climate crisis can be reached at next December's UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen.

The CoP 14 to the UNFCCC concluded on December 12, 2008 in Poznan has been working since December 1, 2008 to build consensus on the global agreement before the next conference of parties in Copenhagen in 2009. COP 14 was meant to set the stage for the 2009 COP, at which the design of the international climate change regime after 2012 is expected to be finalized. The deliberations focussed on four pillars of the Bali Action Plan—mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and finance and investment—as well as capacity building for developing countries and reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD).

Instead of treating mitigation measures as the primary task, adaptation economics had a field day and mitigation needs were dealt with through fictitious proposals. It appeared that the pace of negotiations factored in US President-elect Obama’s prioritization of the climate issue. The course of international climate negotiations is expected to change after he takes over although views emerging from US Senate do not inspire “hope” for any “change”.

At CoP 14, the manner in which European Union, Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia have pushed Carbon capture and storage for its inclusion as technology under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) demonstrates the manner in which fictitious efforts still find takers despite having witnessed the crisis in the world economy due to fictitious economy. Failure of COP14 to do away with “a corrupt and convoluted mechanism” and fake efforts like carbon trade and Clean Development Mechanism illustrates that global business remains committed to fishing in troubled waters and is driven by naked lust fore profit. Revealing the same, carbon dioxide emissions of most “developed” countries and global businesses have increased by 14.5 per cent.

Ministers from the 189 countries attended the Poznań Conference. The High-level Segment of the gathering of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change started with the speeches by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, four Heads of State and Government, as well as 145 Environment Ministers and senior government representatives. The Poznań conference, which has drawn 11,600 participants, constitutes the half-way mark in the negotiations on an ambitious and effective international response to climate change, to be agreed in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 and to take effect in 2013, the year after the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Ban Ki-moon said, “Together, we face two crises: climate change and the global economy. But these crises present us with a great opportunity—an opportunity to address both challenges simultaneously. Managing the global financial crisis requires massive global stimulus. A big part of that spending should be an investment—an investment in a green future. An investment that fights climate change, creates millions of green jobs and spurs green growth. We need a Green New Deal.” He added, “It is an idea that was embraced with enthusiasm at the recent development conference in Doha, Qatar, and at the meeting of finance ministers in Warsaw which concluded this past Tuesday. China is dedicating one-fourth of its sizable economic stimulus plan to scale-up renewable fuels, environmental protection and energy conservation. India has launched a comprehensive National Climate Change Action Plan that lays our the path for shifting to greater reliance on sustainable sources of energy, particularly solar power. India is also fourth in the world in terms of new wind capacity.”

The presentation by Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a Delhi-based NGO, chaired by R. K. Pachauri, director general and the chairman of Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) on December 9, 2008 announced that India’s emissions will increase by more than seven times under business as usual scenario from the existing levels by 2031/32. Such findings seem questionable and motivated because it is far higher than all estimates done so far by various national and international organisations on projected CO2 emissions from India. Ironically, it supports fictitious solutions like carbon trade and transfer of dubious technologies.

All the lessons learnt from the previous UNFCCC meetings to combat climate crisis underline that global business rather than national bureaucracies should be recognised as the main driver to climate change solutions. It has rightly been said that “global business is the link between millions of global consumers and thousands of suppliers all over the world. They have a huge influence over global ecosystems; not least because they have the scale, scope and infrastructure to enforce sustainable standards. We tend to forget that the most successful global institution today is global business.” But the narrative which will have us believe that national governments and communities need not “…be afraid of profit motivated business driving the solutions to climate change” is willfully ignoring that the political patronage to corporate greed is at the root of the climate crisis.

It is true that in the current global discourse on climate change currently 90% of the discussion focused on compliance (policy and legislation), 7% on consumer behaviour and only 3% on change through business innovation. This trend has come to rule the climate negotiations because global business is the enemy of climate change solutions. There is indisputable evidence to corroborate it.

Environmental groups and alliances against pollution hold global business and the protection given to them by national governments responsible for the climate crisis and the adoption of Ostrich pOlicy.

The world is already close to 430 ppm of co2e, the negotiations underway aim to limit emissions to 450 ppm co2e, thus accepting a 2 degree target as a politically palatable objective by implication. The need is to need to achieve at least 350 ppm in the atmosphere. “We must have a politically ratifiable outcome that can enter into force in 2013,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary.

Over 160 civil society organizations from around the world issued a statement voicing support for the establishment of a major new Global Climate Fund under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The statement builds upon the position of the G-77 and China, who also prefer to see climate funds under the UNFCCC. The statement supported the demand that there be no funds outside the UNFCCC process, particularly those of the World Bank, be "counted toward binding commitments of financial support by developed to developing countries." It is noteworthy that in July 2008, the World Bank had launched the Climate Investment Funds to provide finance for mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries.

Interestingly, over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernemntal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. A new 231-page U.S. Senate Minority Report report -- updated from 2007’s groundbreaking report of over 400 scientists who voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming “consensus” -- features the skeptical voices of over 650 prominent international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC. “I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion,” says Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.

See the full report here: http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=4fabcdd2-6567-4c62-8e5b-2a1411df5804

Some the views expressed in the report are as under: “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical. “The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system,” says Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology, and formerly of NASA, who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.” Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist. “The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists,” says Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet. “So far, real measurements give no ground for concern about a catastrophic future warming.” - Scientist Dr. Jarl R. Ahlbeck, a chemical engineer at Abo Akademi University in Finland, author of 200 scientific publications and former Greenpeace member.

Ignoring such motivated skepticism, at least three major UNFCCC gatherings will take place next year before the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the first two in Bonn, Germany (29 March - 08 April and 1 - 12 June). With 192 Parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has to date 183 member Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. Poland is the land of Copernicus but no “new Copernican revolution—a revolution in thinking, a revolution in action” for ecologically sensitive future is visible.
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