Climate Apartheid

Here is the final press statement from the Climate Justice Now! Campaign on the events in Durban:

 COP17 succumbs to Climate Apartheid

Antidote is Cochabamba Peoples’ Agreement

Durban, S. Africa –Decisions resulting from the UN COP17 climate summit in Durban constitute a crime against humanity, according to Climate Justice Now! a broad coalition of social movements and civil society. Here in South Africa, where the world was inspired by the liberation struggle of the country’s black majority, the richest nations have cynically created a new regime of climate apartheid

“Delaying real action until 2020 is a crime of global proportions,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International. “An increase in global temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, Small Island States, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid, whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.”

According to Pablo Solón, former lead negotiator for the Plurinational State of Bolivia, “It is false to say that a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has been adopted in Durban. The actual decision has merely been postponed to the next COP, with no commitments for emission reductions from rich countries. This means that the Kyoto Protocol will be on life support until it is replaced by a new agreement that will be even weaker.”

The world’s polluters have blocked real action and have once again chosen to bail out investors and banks by expanding the now-crashing carbon markets – which like all financial market activities these days, appear to mainly enrich a select few.

“What some see as inaction is in fact a demonstration of the palpable failure of our current economic system to address economic, social or environmental crises,” said Janet Redman, of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. “Banks that caused the financial crisis are now making bonanza profits speculating on our planet’s future. The financial sector, driven into a corner, is seeking a way out by developing ever newer commodities to prop up a failing system.”

Despite talk of a “roadmap” offered up by the EU, the failure in Durban shows that this is a cul-de-sac,  a road to nowhere. Spokespeople for Climate Justice Now! call on the world community to remember that a real climate program, based on planetary needs identified by scientists as well as by a mandate of popular movements, emerged at the World People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth in Bolivia in 2010. The Cochabamba People’s Agreement, brought before the UN but erased from the negotiating text, offers a just and effective way forward that is desperately needed.


On technology

“The technology discussions have been hijacked by industrialized countries speaking on behalf of their transnational corporations,” said Silvia Ribeiro from the international organization ETC Group.

Critique of monopoly patents on technologies, and the environmental, social and cultural evaluation of technologies have been taken out of the Durban outcome. Without addressing these fundamental concerns, the new technology mechanism will merely be a global marketing arm to increase the profit of transnational corporations by selling dangerous technologies to countries of the South, such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology or geoengineering technologies.”

On agriculture

“The only way forward for agriculture is to support agro-ecological solutions, and to keep agriculture out of the carbon market,” said Alberto Gomez, North American Coordinator for La Via Campesina, the world’s largest movement of peasant farmers.

“Corporate Agribusiness, through its social, economic, and cultural model of production, is one of the principal causes of climate change and increased hunger. We therefore reject Free Trade Agreements, Association Agreements, and all forms of the application of Intellectual Property Rights to life, current technological packages (agrochemicals, genetic modification) and those that offer false solutions (biofuels, nanotechnology, and climate smart agriculture) that only exacerbate the current crisis.”

On REDD + and forest carbon projects
“REDD+ threatens the survival of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities. Mounting evidence shows that Indigenous Peoples are being subjected to violations of their rights as a result of the implementation of REDD+-type programs and policies,” declared The Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD and for Life.

Their statement, released during the first week of COP17, declares that “REDD+ and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) promote the privatization and commodification of forests, trees and air through carbon markets and offsets from forests, soils, agriculture and could even include the oceans. We denounce carbon markets as a hypocrisy that will not stop global warming.”

On the World Bank and the Global Climate Fund

“The World Bank is a villain of the failed neoliberal economy,” says Teresa Almaguer of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance in the U.S.

“We need a climate fund managed by participatory governance, not by an anti-democratic institution that is responsible for much of the climate disruption and poverty in the world.” “The Green Climate Fund has been turned into the Greedy Corporate Fund,” said Lidy Nacpil, of Jubilee South. “The fund has been hijacked by the rich countries, on their terms, and set up to provide more profits to the private sector”

On the Green Economy

“We need a climate fund that provides finance for peoples of developing countries that is fully independent from undemocratic institutions like the World Bank. The Bank has a long track record of financing projects that exacerbate climate disruption and poverty” said Lidy Nacpil, of Jubilee South. “The fund is being hijacked by the rich countries, setting up the World Bank as interim trustee and providing direct access to money meant for developing countries to the private sector.  It should be called the Greedy Corporate Fund!”

Climate policy is making a radical shift towards the so-called “green economy,” dangerously reducing ethical commitments and historical responsibility to an economic calculation on cost-effectiveness, trade and investment opportunities. Mitigation and adaption should not be treated as a business nor have its financing conditioned by private sector and profit-oriented logic. Life is not for sale.

On climate debt

“Industrialized northern countries are morally and legally obligated to repay their climate debt,” said Janet Redman, Co-director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies. “Developed countries grew rich at the expense of the planet and the future all people by exploiting cheap coal and oil. They must pay for the resulting loss and damages, dramatically reduce emissions now, and financially support developing countries to shift to clean energy pathways.”

Developed countries, in assuming their historical responsibility, must honor their climate debt in all its dimensions as the basis for a just, effective, and scientific solution. The focus must not be only on financial compensation, but also on restorative justice, understood as the restitution of integrity to our Mother Earth and all its beings. We call on developed countries to commit themselves to action. Only this could perhaps rebuild the trust that has been broken and enable the process to move forward.

On real solutions

“The only real solution to climate change is to leave the oil in the soil, coal in the hole and tar sands in the land. “ Ivonne Yanez, Acción Ecologica, Ecuador

Compare this scathing language with the official press release from the UNFCCC today:

Durban conference delivers breakthrough in international community’s
response to climate change

(Durban, 11 December 2011) – Countries meeting in Durban, South Africa,
have delivered a breakthrough on the future of the international
community’s response to climate change, whilst recognizing the urgent need
to raise their collective level of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions to keep the average global temperature rise below two degrees

“We have taken crucial steps forward for the common good and the global
citizenry today. I believe that what we have achieved in Durban will play a
central role in saving tomorrow, today,” said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South
African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and President
of the Durban UN Climate Change Conference (COP17/CMP7).

“I salute the countries who made this agreement. They have all laid aside
some cherished objectives of their own to meet a common purpose – a
long-term solution to climate change. I sincerely thank the South African
Presidency who steered through a long and intense conference to a historic
agreement that has met all major issues,” said Christiana Figueres,
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC).

In Durban, governments decided to adopt a universal legal agreement on
climate change as soon as possible, but not later than 2015. Work will
begin on this immediately under a new group called the Ad Hoc Working Group
on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.

Governments, including 38 industrialised countries, agreed a second
commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from January 1, 2013. To achieve
rapid clarity, Parties to this second period will turn their economy-wide
targets into quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives and
submit them for review by May 1, 2012.

“This is highly significant because the Kyoto Protocol’s accounting rules,
mechanisms and markets all remain in action as effective tools to leverage
global climate action and as models to inform future agreements,” Ms.
Figueres said.

A significantly advanced framework for the reporting of emission reductions
for both developed and developing countries was also agreed, taking into
consideration the common but differentiated responsibilities  of different

In addition to charting the way forward on reducing greenhouse gases in the
global context, governments meeting in South Africa agreed the full
implementation of the package to support developing nations, agreed last
year in Cancun, Mexico.

“This means that urgent support for the developing world, especially for
the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change, will also be
launched on time,” said Ms Figueres.

The package includes the Green Climate Fund, an Adaptation Committee
designed to improve the coordination of adaptation actions on a global
scale, and a Technology Mechanism, which are to become fully operational in
2012 (see below for details).

Whilst pledging to make progress in a number of areas, governments
acknowledged the urgent concern that the current sum of pledges to cut
emissions both from developed and developing countries is not high enough
to keep the global average temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.

They therefore decided that the UN Climate Change process shall increase
ambition to act and will be led by the climate science in the IPCC’s Fifth
Assessment Report and the global Review from 2013-2015.

“While it is clear that these deadlines must be met, countries, citizens
and businesses who have been behind the rising global wave of climate
action can now push ahead confidently, knowing that Durban has lit up a
broader highway to a low-emission, climate resilient future,” said the
UNFCCC Executive Secretary.

The next major UNFCCC Climate Change Conference, COP 18/ CMP 8, is to take
place 26 November to 7 December 2012 in Qatar, in close cooperation with
the Republic of Korea.

Details of key decisions that emerged from COP17 in Durban

Green Climate Fund

•       Countries have already started to pledge to contribute to start-up
costs of the fund, meaning it can be made ready in 2012, and at the same
time    can help developing countries get ready to access the fund, boosting
their efforts to establish their own clean energy futures and adapt to
existing        climate change.

•       A Standing Committee is to keep an overview of climate finance in the
context of the UNFCCC and to assist the Conference of the Parties. It will
comprise 20 members, represented equally between the developed and
developing world.

•       A focussed work programme on long-term finance was agreed, which will
contribute to the scaling up of climate change finance going forward    and
will analyse options for the mobilisation of resources from a variety of


•       The  Adaptation Committee, composed of 16 members, will report to the
COP on its efforts to improve the coordination of adaptation actions at a
global scale.

•       The adaptive capacities above all of the poorest and most vulnerable
countries are to be strengthened. National Adaptation Plans will allow
developing countries to assess and reduce their vulnerability to climate

•       The most vulnerable are to receive better protection against loss and
damage caused by extreme weather events related to climate change.


•       The Technology Mechanism will become fully operational in 2012.

•       The full terms of reference for the operational arm of the Mechanism
– the Climate Technology Centre and Network – are agreed, along with a
clear procedure to select the host. The UNFCCC secretariat will issue a
call for proposals for hosts on 16 January 2012.

Support of developing country action

•       Governments agreed a registry to record developing country mitigation
actions that seek financial support and to match these with support. The
registry will be a flexible, dynamic, web-based platform.

Other key decisions

•       A forum and work programme on unintended consequences of climate
change actions and policies were established.

•       Under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, governments
adopted procedures to allow carbon-capture and storage projects.        These
guidelines will be reviewed every five years to ensure environmental

•       Governments agreed to develop a new market-based mechanism to assist
developed countries in meeting part of their targets or commitments
under the Convention. Details of this will be taken forward in 2012.

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