12 December 2010

Cancun Rhetoric ... Kiss the Future Goodbye


Did you know that if this were a blog about recipes or crafts, I'd receive sometimes up to 70 or more responses after each post? But because it's about the future of life on Earth, I hardly ever hear from anyone?

Mind you, with the denialists trolling around out there, I'm pleased that they either haven't found this blog or can't argue with compassion. I've never heard from a single one! (Although there was that one guy who called me an ecoweenie — for caring — on his own blog ... does he count? ;-)

That said (can you tell I've been searching for recipes and craft ideas this past week?), let me give you my take on the results of the Cancun climate conference, which ended early yesterday — from the perspective of climate compassion.

It's simple. For some weird-ass reason, almost all the negotiators, heads of state and NGOs thought that "saving the process" is more important than saving the world and protecting the children. They're all patting themselves on the back for "saving the process." (And again promising more money to developing nations* and again deciding that they'll save the world next year** and again concurring on halting deforestation*** and again realizing that the industrialized nations ought to reduce their emissions and again agreeing that, ooh, we really should peak our carbon emissions soon — but not yet.)

Only Bolivia had the cojones (if Sarah Palin can use the term, so can I) to stand against the Cancun Agreements. "Responsibly, we cannot go along with a situation that my President has termed 'ecocide and genocide'," said Pablo Solon, Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations. Of course, Bolivia is losing the source of drinking water and irrigation for its capital city, La Paz — due to global warming. So they might know a thing or two more than your average-idiot must-continue-burning-fossil-fuels-at-all-costs head of state when it comes to the climate change emergency.

There are lots and lots of reasons NOT to celebrate this agreement. (Bless them, Friends of the Earth, through Asad Rehman, said, "The emissions cuts on the table could still lead to a global temperature increase of up to five degrees, which would be catastrophic for hundreds of millions of the world's poorest people." It was Greenpeace's Wendel Trio who said, "Cancun may have saved the process but it has not yet saved the climate." And Kate Blagojevic, of World Development Movement, said, "A year after the Copenhagen Accord little has changed, and 300,000 more people have died from climate change-related impacts. Another year will pass where more lives will be ruined by climate change.")

Here's the scariest for me (you know, besides the entrenchment of the 2ºC warming target and other future-killing agreements like that).

Until now, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process has been based on achieving 100 percent consensus — which is why the United States has been able to delay, delay, delay global action. Until now. Now, it's okay to ignore Bolivia's disagreement with the proposal. Now, it's okay to bang the gavel (because all the big boys were on board) and simply ignore a country that is already being impacted by one of the scariest of climate change impacts.

So, on the list of the 194 or so countries at the table, where is the line drawn? Above this line, if they disagree, there's no consensus and back to the drawing board. But below this line, well, that nation doesn't count much so @!#& 'em. Where has that line been drawn? Translation: We, the people, have no power. Zero. Zip. Naught. Nada. Nichts. None whatsoever.

If the Cancun Agreements signal "progress," then we can kiss the future goodbye.

* The multi-billion dollar Green Fund promised to help developing nations fight climate change doesn't have to start for another year (it's been a commitment in the UNFCCC text since 1992), and it's to be run by the World Bank. He he, that's a funny one.

** When time is of the essence and the climate change emergency is already impacting the most climate-change-vulnerable populations (a preview of what will befall us all soon), why do negotiators keep putting off doing anything real and really effective until the next Conference of the Parties (in Durban, South Africa next year)? Why? No, really, why?

*** REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation + replanting, etc.) has been fought by indigenous peoples around the world. Why did they have no say in these agreements? Not only that, but their top spokesperson, Tom Goldtooth, was denied access to the talks, escorted away by security for being critical of the process. And this is "success," is it? Bah, humbug.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?