Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bonn Talks Conclude: "You Can't Negotiate with Science"

carbon markets 1
Guest post from the Daily Kos

As the Bonn Climate Talks sputtered and choked past the finish line today, the general consensus was that immediate high level political intervention on the part of Northern developed countries is mandatory to the success of international climate negotiations tasked with cutting GHG emissions to less than 2 degrees by 2020.

Related: Ambassador of Bolivia on UN climate talks in Germany | Bonn: World Bank dirty investments fueling climate change claims report | Oxfam - Developing countries pledge bigger climate emissions cuts than world's richest nations

In her concluding remarks, UNFCCC executive secretary Christina Figueres stressed the urgency for world political leaders to aggressively address climate change in the next few months to unlock disputes over reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

"There is a growing realization and acknowledgment that resolving the future of the Kyoto Protocol is essential this year and will require high level political guidance," Figueres said.   Kyoto remains fundamental and critical, she said,  because it "establishes the key rules to quantify and monitor the mitigation efforts of countries" and "contains the market-based mechanisms which allow countries to reach their mitigation levels at cost effective levels."

"The intense negotiations have allowed us to move forward on specifics, which is no doubt positive," said Ambassador Jorge Arguello of Argentina, Chairman of the Group of 77 and China (G77). "Nevertheless, the chance to reach a successful outcome in Durban to consolidate and strengthen the climate change framework still depends on the level of political will that Parties can show."

You Can't Negotiate with Science

From the scientific perspective, Dr. Sivan Kartha, senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), said that while developing countries have made credible commitments to address their part of the gap, their promises are such that, with the current accounting loopholes on the table, developed countries' emissions could actually increase when they should be rapidly declining. That is dangerous for the climate, and poisonous for the negotiations."

"You can't negotiate with science," he said. "You can't negotiate with the Earth's natural limits. At the moment, emission reduction pledges take us far over those limits. This data shows that there is a huge gap between what is needed to be done and what is being done."

Hot Air Proposals

Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solon continued to call for a high-level meeting to discuss how to drastically reduce climate pollution prior to COP17 in December. “All the reports show a problem of science and a problem of leadership. We need deep cuts and we need developed countries to take the lead,"Ambassador Solon said.

“We have seen in these two weeks not much engagement in science but a lot of engagement in business," he said. "There has been no movement on the big issue of reducing emissions but instead a proliferation of proposals on new market mechanisms.”

Many of these proposals, Ambassador Solon said,  such as 'blue carbon' are "more hot air" because they provide a reference level for markets which is based on assumption that are not real.  “With parameters that are not real countries try to get a bigger share of certificates of reductions and in that way instead of developing new sources of finance we will develop new sources of deterioration of our natural systems.” Ambassador Solon said.

“Many of the proposals that we have had advanced have had interesting discussions such as the issue of the rights of nature an the integrity of ecosystems. This is key for us because we are all part of a system and until now we have not recognized the limits to our exploitation of natural resources that will affect precisely that system.”

South Africa and Durban

At long last, the Mexican Government admitted the successful conclusion of COP16 was achieved by piecing together the Cancun Agreements in backrooms and presenting the final documents at the end of the conference "as a take it or leave it offer."

Michele Maynard, Policy and Advocacy Officer of thePan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said this process caused the difficulties during the talks in Germany as the participating countries struggled to work with a document they "didn't help create, and didn't have time to deliberate on properly."  Hopefully, this will be different in Durban, she said, as African civil society is demanding an open, democratic and accountable process.

"This is all the more urgent as we hear that New Zeland and the US are driving the introduction of 'soil carbon'markets into the negotiations. Maynard said. "These markets are false solution that will only fuel the land-grab in Africa and seriously undermine the ability of poor Africans to feed themselves." (see also Measuring Soil Carbon: The key to Trading)

The US Strikes Out ... Again

Kate Horner, senior analyst at Friends of the Earth (US) said the United States continues blocking progress on the most important issues in negotiations. Not only do they continue to refuse to negotiate their alarmingly insufficient pollution reduction target, she said, but they also refused to discuss how they will meet financial pledges they have already made.

"Blocking discussion of long-term finance is a serious blow to the already fragile negotiations and imperils the lives of those who are already suffering the devastating impacts of the climate crisis." Ms Horner said.

"Perhaps the biggest contribution the US government could make to these talks would be to cut the carbon of sending people to negotiations who refuse to negotiate."

Endnotes. Actions. Archives. Next Up.

Watch Christiana Figueres final press conference outlining highlights of Bonn Talks

Archive of on-demand UNFCCC webcasts from Bonn Talks
Lost and damaged at the UN Climate Talks  
After a long night of negotiations -
The good and the bad: The last fossil and ray awards at UN Climate Talks in Bonn -

Digging deeper on markets & safeguards:

Carbon markets versus communities: balancing the scales -
• Eva Maria Filzmoser on the Clean Development Mechanism


Republished from , Friday 17 June 2011 - Bonn Talks Conclude: "You Can't Negotiate with Science" by boatsie for Beyond Kyoto as per copyright: © Kos Media, LLC Site content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified
carbon markets 1 - Image by Adopt a Negotiator/Flickr at Bonn, June 15, 2011 Creative Commons Copyright (CC BY-ND 2.0)