Friday, December 19, 2014

World leaders have failed to safeguard the vulnerable countries | ClimateDev

By Quamrul Chowdhury, ClimateDev

Ministers and delegates from 196 countries, after many hurdles, adopted the Lima Call for Climate Action in the early hours of December 14. It sets a fragile course cutting back on global emissions and avoiding runaway climate change.

The Lima outcome also keeps lot of issues to be resolved and leaves many a questions unanswered prior to the 2015 treaty to be signed in Paris next December. The question of urgency, as dictated by the science, was most unfortunately ignored again in Lima.

History will tell whether the Lima Call for Climate Action would really help craft a robust, ambitious and equitable global agreement at the next UN climate conference, which will limit global warming to the agreed 2ºC rise above pre-industrial levels, preferably 1.5ºC.

But, definitely, Lima failed to rescue the most vulnerable countries from adverse impacts of climate change in the short-run, as enforcement of an early peaking period was glossed over. At the same time, climate-induced “loss and damage” was not mentioned in the operative paragraphs of the ADP decision text. 

An increase of climate finance from 2015 to 2020 could not be clearly indicated to ensure new, additional, adequate and predictable funding over and above existing overseas development assistance (ODA). At best, the Lima Call for Climate Action can be described as ‘business as usual’. It was not even what we in economics call “second best.” 

Delegates, however, agreed for the first time that every country would cut the dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It was seen as a first step towards reaching a global climate treaty in Paris next December. 

But climate negotiators know only soft issues were addressed in Lima, leaving almost all hard issues to be addressed next year. What negotiators could not deliver after years of discussions, they now aim to do in just couple of weeks negotiations in 2015. Whether this can be done is literally a trillion dollar question. 

The environment minister of Peru and the chair of the UN Climate Talks, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, was quite optimistic saying, “I think this is good, and I think this moves us forward”. He at least saved the talks from collapse and struck a decision in the early hours of December 14th – now officially known as the Lima Call for Climate Action – that, for the first time, requires all countries, rising economies as well as rich countries, to take action on climate change. 

The Lima summit will be seen by developed countries as a victory after they successfully demolished the sharp divide between developed and developing countries – even though industrialised developed countries are squarely responsible for historical emissions and should take the whole burden for dealing with it. 

Lima saw a break from one of the defining principles of the last 20 years of climate talks – that wealthy industrialized countries should carry that burden of cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Now, courtesy of the Lima summit, all countries will share that burden. For the first time, China – whose emissions have overtaken the US since the climate talks began – as well as India, Brazil and other rising economies have agreed they will need to cut their own emissions as well. 

As for the Lima agreement, all countries will need to come up with their own emissions reductions targets in time for the suggested deadline of March 31st, 2015. The United Nations would then weigh up those pledges and determine, whether the collective action will be enough to limit warming to 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, the globally agreed goal. 

There was no headway to reduce the adaptation deficit in Lima. Nor could climate-induced “loss and damage” be settled in the contours of a new climate treaty. Developed countries also rejected committing to a scale-up of climate finance after previous “fast-start finance” has run out – as demanded by the most vulnerable countries in order to raise $60 billion in 2017, and $80 billion in 2018, so that funding would reach the level of US$100 billion by 2020. 

Lima summit only saw pledges of US$10.5 billion for Green Climate Fund and some millions of dollars for the Adaptation Fund. I thank all those who have made these pledges. But I am deeply frustrated that no fresh announcements were made for the Least Developed Countries Fund, despite demands from the LDCs to provide at least US$2 billion to support adaptation actions in the 49 LDCs. 

Therefore there is absolutely no clarity in climate finance. In Doha, it was agreed that at least US$30 billion would be generated during 2013-15, but nobody knows how much of that constitutes new and additional climate finance to the most vulnerable countries in 2013 and 2014. So where is the clarity? 

Developed countries now need to quickly ramp up climate finance to reach $100 billion annually by 2020, but there is very little clarity in this regard, as only $ 10 billion has been mobilised so far through the Green Climate Fund, which is only a drop in the ocean. 

The LDC Fund is also drying up, despite that we have asked for at least $2 billion for the fund to meet the most urgent adaptation needs of the LDCs. Similarly, there is no progress on the capitalisation of the Adaptation Fund. 

To help implement climate-smart programmes across the most vulnerable countries, including Bangladesh, we need to know how much long-term finance will be channelled through international climate funds. Yet in Lima, we did not get any signals on future finance flows in the short-, mid- or long-term. 

Climate finance is of paramount importance to developing countries and especially for the LDCs. Preparation for the “intended nationally determined contributions” in any country is an expensive affair. And in resource constraint vulnerable countries, very little can be done without finance, capacity building and technical support. Not least, as planning and implementation scenario changes as soon as you have more clarity on finance. 

Only low hanging fruits were picked up in Lima, but governments still need to compromise over red-lines to strike a climate agreement in Paris in 2015 – and help rescuing the most vulnerable countries like Bangladesh from the adverse impacts of climate change that threatens the planet.

World leaders have failed to safeguard the vulnerable countries | ClimateDev

Thursday, December 18, 2014

For the First Time, Lima Climate Accord Puts Burden on Developing Countries | Pawan Khera

By Pawan Khera, Political Analyst working with Indian National Congress ( The Huffington Post)

If saying good bye to each other took so much time in Lima, saying hello to each other in Paris will prove more difficult. The Lima Accord is but a polite postponement of mutually antagonistic issues.

The global hope raised by the U.S.-China agreement of Nov. 12 was replaced by time-consuming bickering in Lima. Finally, after two weeks of hectic parleys, more than 190 countries at the Lima climate change talks agreed on a plan to fight global warming that would, for the first time, commit all countries to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Lima Accord was agreed upon at the United Nations talks on Sunday and is considered by some as a significant first step towards a climate change deal due to be finalized in Paris next year. If things go according to plan, China, Brazil, India and other rising economies will pledge to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

However, there is a significant departure from one of the defining principles of the last 20 years of climate talks: wealthy countries would not carry the burden of cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Neither does the agreement have any mention of the provision that the rich nations will compensate the poorer and vulnerable countries to adjust to climate change. Developed nations, which have had the first mover advantage both in industrial development and in polluting the earth without accountability, cannot now turn a blind eye to the need to fund green technologies and help developing nations avoid the very learning curve that polluted the earth in the first place.

While Brazil proposed different expectations for developed, emerging economies and least-developed countries, the final agreement in Lima did not address Brazil's proposal. Developing countries had long demanded that the wealthy nations enhance their emission reduction targets in the period before 2020. The deal only reiterates its resolve to accomplish this.

According to India's Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, "This is not the best text that we could have had. But it is certainly the best that we could have secured in the circumstances."

However, not everybody is in agreement. Many feel the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities that allows developing countries to be treated differently, has been diluted with the addition of the phrase "in light of different national circumstances."

Harjeet Singh, international manager for climate change and resilience at ActionAid International, says, "This totally compromises the position of developing countries. Differentiation is at the heart of climate negotiations. Developing countries might have to repent for letting this clause pass."

Critics apprehend that self-regulation may not be enough for countries to enact domestic laws and put in place a plan to reduce carbon emissions by March 31. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions will constitute the Paris deal. The absence of a legally binding language makes the Lima Accord a short-term achievement, but in the long term unquantifiable, unpredictable and unenforceable. After all, the world does not just depend on "peer pressure" for nuclear disarmament.

For India, where per capita energy consumption is less than 150 units a year compared to the West's close to 10,000 units per year, the country has comparatively low emission figures and by this measure, can be considered among the least polluting nations in the world. This, coupled with the need for economic growth, was why Jairam Ramesh, the environment minister during the tenure of UPA 2, had strongly resisted attempts by developed economies to apply the standards of the West in controlling emissions and setting a peak year for emission standards.

At the Lima talks, Malaysian negotiator Gurdial Singh Nijar said, "We are in a differentiated world. That is the reality. Many of you colonized us, so we started from a completely different point."

If India's current leadership, led by the NDA, does not raise its voice, and has meekly agreed to the demands of Western nations, we have already surrendered the hard-won gains in climate talks India had won during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA 2 government.

With the ball of emission control in the domestic court, countries like India will have to harmonize their economic goals with quantifiable environmental measures. China's objection to demands by Europe for detailed accounting of its emission reduction plans does not augur well for Paris.

How well we cover the vast difference between "may" and "shall" will determine our commitment towards arresting climate change in the months to come in the run up to Paris next year.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

COP20 daily update with Saleemul Huq, 15 December

IIED senior fellow and ICCCAD director Saleemul Huq provides his final round-up from the UNFCCC climate talks in Lima, Peru from 1-12 December 2014 following the publication of the final agreement. Frustrated with the draft text produced two days earlier, Huq is more positive about the final outcome.

In this vlog, he rounds up the notable inclusions and omissions, reflects on COP20 as a whole, and charts what will happen next on the road to COP21 in Paris in 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Climate Deal Would Commit Every Nation to Limiting Emissions

By CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times

Negotiators from around the globe reached a climate change agreement early Sunday that would, for the first time in history, commit every nation to reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions — yet would still fall far short of what is needed to stave off the dangerous and costly early impact of global warming.

The agreement reached by delegates from 196 countries establishes a framework for a climate change accord to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year. While United Nations officials had been scheduled to release the plan on Friday at noon, longstanding divisions between rich and poor countries kept them wrangling through Friday and Saturday nights to early Sunday.

The agreement requires every nation to put forward, over the next six months, a detailed domestic policy plan to limit its emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases from burning coal, gas and oil. Those plans, which would be published on a United Nations website, would form the basis of the accord to be signed next December and enacted by 2020.

That basic structure represents a breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations’ 20 years of efforts to create a serious global warming deal. Until now, negotiations had followed a divide put in place by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required developed countries to act but did not demand anything of developing nations, including China and India, two of the largest greenhouse gas polluters.

“This emerging agreement represents a new form of international cooperation that includes all countries,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert on international climate negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

“A global agreement in Paris is now within reach,” she said.

On its own, the political breakthrough will not achieve the stated goal of the deal: to slow the rate of global emissions enough to prevent the atmosphere from warming more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the preindustrial average. That is the point at which scientists say the planet will tip into dangerous and irreversible effects, such as melting sea ice, rising sea levels, increased flooding and droughts, food and water shortages, and more extreme storms.

Experts estimate that the aggregate impact of the commitments would reduce emissions at about half the level necessary to prevent that 3.6-degree increase. To prevent the temperature increase, emissions would have to be reduced by double the amount called for in the accord.

The freshly struck agreement, the Lima Accord, sends the obligation of devising a plan to cut carbon emissions back to the nations’ capitals — and its success or failure rests on how seriously and ambitiously the parliaments, congresses and energy, environment and economic ministries of the world take the mandate to create a new policy.

American negotiators, led by the State Department’s climate change special envoy, Todd D. Stern, have pushed hard for provisions that required all countries to make their proposals public, transparent and presented with comparable metrics as a way to create outside pressure on countries to produce more ambitious plans.
“The Lima Accord delivers what we need to go forward,” Mr. Stern said.

Some environmental groups criticized the compromise deal for watering down language that would have bound countries to more rigorous transparency requirements — such as using similar timetables and baseline years from which emissions would be cut. The accord recommends that governments use those metrics, but does not require it.

“It’s the bare minimum of what we need, but we can work with it to get the pressure on,” said Alden Meyer, president of the group Union of Concerned Scientists. Mr. Meyer and other experts said they expected outside nongovernmental groups, research organizations and universities to perform independent analyses of countries’ carbon-cutting plans in order to assess how all the plans stack up in comparison.

Delegates here widely acknowledged that the catalyst for the deal was a joint announcement last month in Beijing by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China that the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters would limit their emissions. That move appeared to break the 20-year impasse in climate talks — particularly a longstanding insistence by developing nations that they not be required to make emissions cuts while they still had populations in poverty.

“The success of this has laid a good foundation for success of Paris,” said Xie Zhenhua, China’s vice minister of National Development and Reform Commission. “Next year all of us, all countries, will continue to demonstrate our ambition, flexibility and confidence,” he said.

The environment minister of India, the world’s third largest carbon polluter, praised the deal. “We have a true consensus,” said the minister, Prakash Javadekar. India has resisted calls to commit to net reductions of its soaring carbon pollution, insisting that it should not be required to cut its use of cheap coal-fired power while millions of impoverished Indians live without electricity.

But India has signaled that it does intend to submit a plan to at least slow its rate of emissions. And Mr. Javadekar appeared to signal his support of the process of working toward a deal in Paris, saying he hopes to continue to engage with other countries throughout the year.

“Let us not leave all our differences for the next venue,” he said.

While all countries will be required under the Lima Accord to submit plans to reduce emissions, the nature of the plans can be different according to the size of their economies. Rich countries, like the United States, are expected to put forward plans detailing how they would put their emissions on a downward trajectory after 2020. Large but developing economies, like China, are more likely to put forward plans that name a future year in which their emissions peak. Poorer economies are expected to put forward plans indicating that their pollution will continue to increase — but at a lower rate.

While the Lima Accord lays the groundwork for a possible Paris deal, unresolved questions and huge divisions among countries lie ahead. The biggest one is money. Countries vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as low-lying island states and African nations, are already demanding that the Paris deal include not just details on mitigating emissions, but also commitments that rich countries will spend billions of dollars to help them adapt to and recover from the ravages of climate change.

Developing nations are also demanding help for the transition from using cheap, heavily polluting coal and oil to low-carbon sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. Over the next year, as world capitals prepare their carbon emissions reduction plans, they will also be gearing up for a clash between rich and poor nations, in which the poor may demand money from the rich in Paris.

Also ahead is the question of how governments can continue to further ratchet down carbon pollution without severely curbing economic growth. Under the accord’s terms, by November 2015, once all countries have put forward their plans for limiting emissions, scientists and statisticians will add up the numbers to determine exactly how far they are from preventing the 3.6-degree temperature increase. That figure will form the start of another round of negotiations. The Paris deal is expected to include language requiring that countries reconvene regularly throughout the coming decades to raise the ambition of their carbon-cutting plans.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lima Climate Talks at Crossroads on Ways to Slow Global Warming

By NDTV (December 13, 2014)

About 190 nations faced a crossroads on Friday on how boldly to fight global warming as United Nations talks in Lima went into overtime amid concerns that watered-down goals could undermine a UN climate summit in Paris next year.

Representatives at the talks, which opened on Dec. 1 with hopes for momentum following a climate deal last month between China and the United States, were split over issues including greenhouse gas cuts and new cash to help poor nations cope with a warming world.

"We are almost there," Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal told delegates. "I am sure we will find solutions." The talks had been due to end on Friday afternoon but were extended to last overnight.
Emerging nations such as China and India want the Lima gathering to stress that the rich will cut greenhouse gas emissions most, and pay for rising climate damage in vulnerable countries. The United States and the European Union want to ensure that poorer nations will also rein in rising emissions.

After Lima, governments are expected to outline national plans for cutting emissions beyond 2020 by an informal deadline of March 31, 2015, to form the building blocks of a global climate deal to be agreed in Paris in December 2015.

But options on the table in Lima range from obliging nations merely to publish a vague outline of their carbon plans on a U.N. website to making all provide detailed projections of emissions that will be reviewed by experts.

"There's the good, the bad and the ugly," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who said "ugly" would mean only vague action for Paris and "good" would be detailed accounts.

Under the deal announced with the United States last month, China has promised its emissions will peak around 2030, for instance, but may not give the exact numbers and opposes the idea of a review by other countries.

Marlene Moses of Nauru, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, which fears rising sea levels and wants tough accounting, said that China was saying: "'We'll show you our cards but don't read them'.

"We are being asked to sign on to an agreement that puts us under water. That's not fair to us," she said.

And many developing nations also want the rich to map out far more clearly how they will raise aid to help the poor cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of climate change to a goal of $100 billion a year by 2020, agreed in 2009.

A draft text about finance only "invites" developed nations to give clarity about their plans.

This year is set to be the warmest on record, and scenarios by a U.N. panel of scientists indicate that the world should get on track to slash emissions to a net zero before 2100 to limit heat waves, floods and rising sea levels. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bolivian President Highlights Indigenous Lifestyle

By teleSUR

Evo Morales warned that capitalism and reducing greenhouse effects are incompatible.

Bolivian President Evo Morales urged the world Tuesday to follow the example of the indigenous experience before the challenges of climate change while at the same ruling out an agreement based on the capitalist model.

“I would like to ask the governments of the world to listen to the indigenous peoples and follow the wisdom of life... [for] they can provide a solution on climate change,” he said during his intervention in the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 20) taking place in Lima, the Peruvian capital.

Morales demanded an agreement based on the protection of life and mother earth, and not on the market, profits or capitalism. “The new agreement must be anti-capitalist,” he argued.

The first indigenous president of Bolivia also emphasized how climate change, “the big global challenge... threatened the perspectives of development of the countries.”

In another part of his speech, he criticized the developed countries, as they have delayed providing a concrete solution to this global problem, and invited the participants to evaluate the role of the capitalist countries in the emission of greenhouse gas.

“We have been used as a pretext so the powers can keep doing the same...; colonialism upon our peoples has continued via a so-called agreement that failed in reducing the emission of greenhouse gas.”

The COP was launched in 1994 in order to reduce greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. This 20th gathering will conclude on a draft that will be approved at the COP 21, taking place next year in Paris, France.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Southern Demands for A Science-based, Just and Fair Sharing of Global Efforts to Confront the Climate Crisis

Southern CSOs at the UNFCCC COP12 Conference released a statement calling on developed countries to live up to their historical responsibilities and immediately cut emissions deeply, in addition to transferring finance and technology to the South as a part of an owed 'climate debt.'

The Statement calls on 'developing countries' to reject the development model used by the rich industrialized countries and to take on their 'fairshare' of the effort to confront the climate crisis.

Read the full statement from here

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Secretary-General's Synthesis Report on Post-2015 Agenda: A Missed Opportunity

By Ulysses Smith, Huffingtonpost

The much-anticipated Synthesis Report of the UN Secretary-General on the Post-2015 Development Agenda was issued on Thursday. Entitled "The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet," the report articulates a "call to action to transform our world beyond 2015." A noble exhortation to be sure, one that, it is safe to say, absolutely no one can argue with. But unfortunately the report falls short of making a valuable contribution to the wider discussion around the new development agenda, particularly when it comes to navigating the difficult road ahead.

What the Synthesis Report adds is yet another vector, consisting of yet another numbered list, against which the new agenda should seek to operate. Now, in addition to 17 goals, and 169 targets, we also have "six essential elements," which will need to be assimilated and accounted for in the final agenda. Instead of making the work of the negotiators easier going into January, when the process of finalizing the new development agenda picks up in earnest, the Synthesis Report has made their work harder, which makes it all the less likely that the international community will ultimately deliver to the world an agenda that is practical, relevant, workable, and effective, something that the world sorely needs.

The problem is that 17 goals, and 169 targets, isn't really an agenda, because there are no priorities. A target to "promote sustainable tourism" is on a par with a target to "eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere," which are on a par with a target to "significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere."

There are 169 of these.

Despite falling short in a number of areas, the Millennium Development Goals, the predecessor development agenda to the Post-2015 regime that is currently being considered, have achieved a tremendous amount. In 1990, a decade before the Millennium Development Goals were launched, more than 12 million children died each year before reaching the age of five; in 2013, fewer than seven million did. Maternal mortality has fallen by almost 50% since 1990. 2.3 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water during that time.

The reason the Millennium Development Goals have been successful is that they served to focus world attention on a handful of goals -- eight of them, to be precise, articulated in 374 words. They communicated to the world that these eight objectives would be the world's priorities between 2000 and 2015, and as a result, billions of dollars in development funds flowed into efforts to tackle these challenges.

In a world of unlimited resources, perhaps a kitchen-sink approach that seeks to appease all of the interest groups might work. But in a world of increasing resource constraints, such an approach seems to be a recipe for disaster. Countries will cherry pick, or be subsumed, or throw up their hands and do nothing at all.

What is needed is an approach that takes into account a realistic assessment of the changed development reality, the consequent changed role that a development agenda needs to play, and then a realistic discussion about what can be achieved through development funds.

Unfortunately, the Synthesis Report did not contribute to this process, leaving it to the negotiators to craft an agenda that will work.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Adapting to a warmer climate could cost almost three times as much as thought, says UN report

Adapting to a warmer world will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and up to three times as much as previous estimates, even if global climate talks manage to keep temperature rises below dangerous levels, warns a report by the UN.

The first United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) ‘Adaptation Gap Report’ shows a significant funding gap after 2020 unless more funds from rich countries are pumped in to helping developing nations adapt to the droughts, flooding and heatwaves expected to accompany climate change.

“The report provides a powerful reminder that the potential cost of inaction carries a real price tag. Debating the economics of our response to climate change must become more honest,” said Achim Steiner, Unep’s executive director, as ministers from nearly 200 countries prepare to join the high level segment of UN climate talks in Lima, Peru, next week.

“We owe it to ourselves but also to the next generation, as it is they who will have to foot the bill.”

Without further action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the report warns, the cost of adaptation will soar even further as wider and more expensive action is needed to protect communities from the extreme weather brought about by climate change.

Delegates from the Alliance of Small Islands States at the UN climate conference in Lima, which opened on Monday, are already feeling those impacts. They have appealed for adaptation funds for “loss and damage” as their homelands’ very existence is threatened by rising sea levels.

“We’re keen to see the implementation of the Green Climate Fund - we’re still waiting,” Netatua Pelesikoti, director of the climate change office at the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme, referring to a fund set up to hope poorer countries cope with global warming.

“The trickle down to each government in the Pacific is very slow but we can’t abandon the process at this stage,” said the Tongan delegate.

Rich countries have pledged $9.7bn to the Green Climate Fund but the figure is well short of the minimum target of $100bn each year by 2020.

The Adaptation Gap Report said adaptation costs could climb to $150bn by 2025/2030 and $250-500bn per year by 2050, even based on the assumption that emissions are cut to keep temperature rises below rises of 2C above pre-industrial levels, as governments have previously agreed.

However, if emissions continue rising at their current rate – which would lead to temperature rises well above 2C – adaptation costs could hit double the worst-case figures, the report warned.

“This startling report opens up a window on to a nightmarish future, where the global economy is crippled and the most vulnerable countries are even further disadvantaged,” said Sandeep Chamling Rai, WWF’s senior global adaptation policy advisor. “This is not a gap, it’s an abyss. We can avoid falling into it, but we’re running out of time.”

“The report leaves no doubt, adaptation must be at the heart of a long-term agreement developed here in Lima. Communities around the world are drastically unprepared for the costly impacts of climate change, which is already destroying lives and livelihoods every day,” said Jan Kowalzig, policy advisor for Oxfam, urging negotiators to scale up funding to meet the $100bn annual commitment.

David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute, said the $9.7bn raised by the Green Climate Fund was a “key threshold” but added that developed nations’ funding should extend beyond the fund, engaging “large international companies and even small and medium-sized companies.”

“On adaptation there hasn’t been enough funding and most estimates show that less than 20% of climate finance has gone to help countries adapt to climate change,” he added.

Su Wei, the head of China’s climate delegation, said the Green Climate Fund pledges were far from adequate and told Reuters that he was critical of Australia’s refusal to contribute to the fund, saying contributing should be a “legal obligation for all developed country parties”.

Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, last month ruled out contributing to the fund, saying his government was giving aid through other channels.

Figures on global financial flows relating to climate action were published for the first time on Wednesday. They stood at between $340 and $650bn in 2011-2012, the UN said.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The South Demands Clarity in Financing and Adaptation at COP20 | Inter Press Service

By Diego Arguedas Ortiz, IPS News

At the 12-day climate summit that began Monday in the Peruvian capital, representatives of 195 countries and hundreds of members of civil society are trying to agree on the key points of a new international treaty aimed at curbing global warming.

The official delegations and the representatives of organised civil society in the developing South are looking to move forward towards a binding draft agreement on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, to be signed a year from now.

Expectation surrounds the commitments that industrialised countries will make on how to finance the fight against climate change and the inclusion of binding targets to reduce the current vulnerability, civil society representatives told IPS.

“Lima has to produce a text that has elements laying the foundations of the 2015 agreement,” Enrique Maurtua, international policy adviser to the Latin America branch of the Climate Action Network (CAN), told IPS. “It will be signed next year, but the elements have to be here now, such as for example the contributions of the countries and what they will consist of.”

Maurtua said “These contributions have to be equitable, and have to include indicators like historic needs, adaptation or the development needs of the countries.”

The starting point of the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is something that is less and less debated: the current pace of life and model of development lead to emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming.

How to reduce climate change and what to do about the damage already caused are two of the most important questions at the climate conference that got underway Monday in the temporary installations built in the San Borja military complex in Lima, known as “el Pentagonito” (the little Pentagon).

Maurtua stressed that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) “have to be sufficiently robust to set the route towards limiting the global rise in temperature to two degrees Celsius rather than four or six degrees, which is what we’re moving towards now.”

At the current rate of consumption, the planet will be around four degrees Celsius hotter by 2100 than in the years prior to the industrial revolution, before most of the emissions began.

That would cause a dramatic rise in the sea level and drastic changes in soil productivity, glacier size and biodiversity, and the countries least responsible for the emissions would be the hardest-hit: the developing South.

Scientists say that severe climate change can only be prevented by keeping the global rise in temperature to a maximum of two degrees.

The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the route chosen to reach that target. And that is possible by reducing consumption of fossil fuels, increasing the use of clean energy sources, and developing a low-carbon lifestyle.

In 2020, the new treaty will replace the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 and in effect since 2005. It is to be signed at COP21, to be hosted by Paris in December 2015.

The draft “must mark the end of the fossil-fuel era by 2050 and accelerate the transition to a 100% renewable energy future for all,” said Greenpeace Head of International Climate Politics Martin Kaiser.

On the opening day of COP20 the activist said it’s not about energy like nuclear power that is expensive, centralist and dangerous.

Governments and civil society groups from the developing South agree it is necessary to seek mechanisms to adapt to climate changes, some of which are considered irreversible.

“The issue of adaptation is very important,” Maurtua said. “Adaptation has to have the same weight that mitigation has. It’s basically a question of reinforcing the link between the two. We already have to adapt, but the more mitigation is delayed the more we’ll have to adapt. They are equally important and that also has to be reflected.”

In a report released on the eve of COP20, the international development organisation Oxfam pointed out that both climate change mitigation and adaptation are expensive. In the countries of sub-Saharan Africa alone 62 billion dollars a year are needed to adapt, it said.

What we can hope for, what developing countries are looking for in the national contributions, is a guarantee that financing will have a place in the accord, somewhere, because that is something we’re not seeing right now, Oxfam climate policy adviser Kiri Hanks told IPS.

The activist said there is still debate on how to implement financing for the fight against climate change, but whether in this agreement, in the contributions or elsewhere, there is a need for parity between mitigation and its financing.

Industrialised countries have burned more fossil fuels and deforested faster for centuries, which means their total emissions are greater than those of developing nations.

For that reason, an agreement was reached for industrialised nations to finance the Green Climate Fund, with a contribution of 100 billion dollars by 2020. But few funds have been forthcoming so far, say both activists and official delegates.

Tasneem Essop, the Head of Strategy and Advocacy for the International World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said negotiators have to reach agreements on the draft protocol, including a mechanism to review the contributions, that would review both ambition levels and emissions.

She said her group wanted to see a mechanism that translates this review into ambition levels. It also wants to see adaptation as part of the text, but with the necessary financial backing.

Essop said civil society has come to Lima strengthened by mass demonstrations in the past few months, with simultaneous marches in cities around the world, demanding action against climate change.

She also said recent announcements of emission reduction commitments by the EU and by China and the United States were encouraging.

But she said the lack of commitment makes it difficult to think that measures that challenge the current model of development will be put in place by 2020.

Maurtua agrees that there is a lack of commitment, especially when it comes to funding.

According to the CAN-Latin America expert, “Several countries have pledged a total of 9.3 billion dollars in contributions. But between 10 and 15 billion dollars should have been pledged by now, which means we still have a ways to go.”

“The route to getting the 100 billion dollars needed by 2020 needs to be established in the Lima draft,” to put the new climate change treaty into effect, he said.

The South Demands Clarity in Financing and Adaptation at COP20 | Inter Press Service

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Video message by incoming COP 20/CMP 10 President

Recorded video message by Mr. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of the
Environment of Peru, and President Designate of UNFCCC COP 20/CMP 10.

Friday, November 28, 2014

CSO and social movements forum declaration to Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2)

Source: Forum Alert - Society for International Development

From November 16-18, we, social movements representing peasants, small-scale fishers and fishing communities, pastoralists, urban poor, consumers, women, youth, Indigenous Peoples and agricultural and food workers, came together with the representatives of public interest civil society organizations that have actively engaged in the preparatory process of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), to share our values, and aspirations, to join forces in our common vision on how to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms, and to hold governments and intergovernmental organizations to account on their obligations and commitments.

Listen to the CSO statement presentation to the ICN2 plenary by Munkhbolor Gungaa in English

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ecuador Recognized by UN for Poverty Reduction | News | teleSUR

The Good Living development model has led to a significant reduction in poverty in Ecuador, which has been recognized by the United Nations.

Ecuador was recognized at the 11th Annual Meeting of the United Nations for its drastic reduction in inequality and poverty which has been occurring since the beginning of President Rafael Correa's first term in 2007.

The Good Living, or Buen Vivir, development goals of Correa's government have been attributed as a cause for this success.

“We do believe in the concept of Buen Vivir adopted policies and implementing those policies in a way which are centered on the human being and which are sustainable with the environment … the basic premise of Buen Vivir is actually very very close to a proposal that can get us closer to the Millennium Development Goals,” said Diego Zorrilla, the Director of the United Nations Development Program in Ecuador, in an interview with teleSUR English.

Ecuador has the highest public investment in the region, at 15 percent of its gross domestic product. This investment has had favorable results, as the poverty rate has dropped from 38 percent to 26 percent and extreme poverty from 17 percent to 8 percent since 2006.

National Secretary for Planning and Development Pabel Muñoz said, “The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean made it known that Ecuador is among the three countries where poverty has most dropped, that it was the country where the GINI coefficient most rapidly decreased. So that citizens have an idea, the GINI coefficient in Ecuador dropped 8 points, while during the same period the average in Latin America only dropped 2 points.”

Along with reducing poverty and inequality, Ecuador was recognized by the U.N. as being a model for sustainable development. Under Good Living, the country has invested more than US$9 billion in renewable energy sources. It is estimated that 92 percent of all energy used for internal consumption will be renewable by 2016, as the country continues to work towards a type of development that can be felt by all citizens.

The 11th Annual Meeting of the United Nations was attendend by representatives of the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the Organization of the American States, and the International Monetary Fund, among other international organizations.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Living Life: Man abandons comfort of home to live in a tree in Uganda | NTV Uganda

An elderly man living in Wakiso district in Uganda has stunned many of his village-mates for abandoning his relatively comfortable home to start a new life in a house he built on a tree. The man, Godfrey Kato, is an environmentalist who has been staying in the tree house for one and half years now.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Want to double world food production? Return the land to small farmers! - The Ecologist

By GRAIN, The Ecologist

All over the world, small farmers are being forced off their land to make way for corporate agriculture, writes GRAIN - and it's justified by the need to 'feed the world'. But it's the small farmers that are the most productive, and the more their land is grabbed, the more global hunger increases. We must give them their land back!

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. As part of the celebrations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released its annual 'State of Food and Agriculture', which this year is dedicated to family farming.

Family farmers, FAO say, manage 70-80% of the world's farmland and produce 80% of the world's food.

But on the ground - whether in Kenya, Brazil, China or Spain - rural people are being marginalised and threatened, displaced, beaten and even killed by a variety of powerful actors who want their land.

A recent comprehensive survey by GRAIN, examining data from around the world, finds that while small farmers feed the world, they are doing so with just 24% of the world's farmland - or 17% if you leave out China and India. GRAIN's report also shows that this meagre share is shrinking fast.

How, then, can FAO claim that family farms occupy 70 to 80% of the world's farmland? In the same report, FAO claims that only 1% of all farms in the world are larger than 50 hectares, and that these few farms control 65% of the world's farmland, a figure much more in line with GRAIN's findings.

Just what is a 'family farm'

The confusion stems from the way FAO deal with the concept of family farming, which they roughly define as any farm managed by an individual or a household. (They admit there is no precise definition. Various countries, like Mali, have their own.)

Thus, a huge industrial soya bean farm in rural Argentina, whose family owners live in Buenos Aires, is included in FAO's count of 'family farms'.

What about sprawling Hacienda Luisita, owned by the powerful Cojuanco family in the Philippines and epicentre of the country's battle for agrarian reform since decades. Is that a family farm?

Looking at ownership to determine what is and is not a family farm masks all the inequities, injustices and struggles that peasants and other small scale food producers across the world are mired in.

It allows FAO to paint a rosy picture and conveniently ignore perhaps the most crucial factor affecting the capacity of small farmers to produce food: lack of access to land. Instead, the FAO focuses its message on how family farmers should innovate and be more productive.

Small farmers are ever more squeezed in

Small food producers' access to land is shrinking due a range of forces. One is that because of population pressure, farms are getting divided up amongst family members. Another is the vertiginous expansion of monoculture plantations.

In the last 50 years, a staggering 140 million hectares - the size of almost all the farmland in India - has been taken over by four industrial crops: soya bean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane. And this trend is accelerating.

In the next few decades, experts predict that the global area planted to oil palm will double, while the soybean area will grow by a third. These crops don't feed people. They are grown to feed the agro-industrial complex.

Other pressures pushing small food producers off their land include the runaway plague of large-scale land grabs by corporate interests. In the last few years alone, according to the World Bank, some 60 million hectares of fertile farmland have been leased, on a long-term basis, to foreign investors and local elites, mostly in the global South.

While some of this is for energy production, a big part of it is to produce food commodities for the global market, instead of family farming.

Small is beautiful - and productive

The paradox, however, and one of the reasons why despite having so little land, small producers are feeding the planet, is that small farms are often more productive than large ones.

If the yields achieved by Kenya's small farmers were matched by the country's large-scale operations, the country's agricultural output would double. In Central America, the region's food production would triple. If Russia's big farms were as productive as its small ones, output would increase by a factor of six.

Another reason why small farms are the feeding the planet is because they prioritise food production. They tend to focus on local and national markets and their own families. In fact, much of what they produce doesn't enter into trade statistics - but it does reach those who need it most: the rural and urban poor.

If the current processes of land concentration continue, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on.

The data show that the concentration of farmland in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.

According to one UN study, active policies supporting small producers and agro-ecological farming methods could double global food production in a decade and enable small farmers to continue to produce and utilise biodiversity, maintain ecosystems and local economies, while multiplying and strengthening meaningful work opportunities and social cohesion in rural areas.

Agrarian reforms can and should be the springboard to moving in this direction.

To double global food production, we must support the small farmers

Experts and development agencies are constantly saying that we need to double food production in the coming decades. To achieve that, they usually recommend a combination of trade and investment liberalisation plus new technologies.

But this will only empower corporate interests and create more inequality. The real solution is to turn control and resources over to small producers themselves and enact agricultural policies to support them.

The message is clear. We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems worldwide.

FAO's lip service to family farming just confuses the matter and avoids putting the real issues on the table.