Saturday, 6 February 2010

Copenhagen reaction statement.

The following is the statement written by Malcolm Borg, Greenhouse representative on the Sustainability Committee of the KPS, on behalf of KSU. Needless, to say this statement was not reported by most of the media apart from Di-ve and KSU's own website.

But since we saw that Malcolm's statements highlight the main issues and matters of concern following the failed accord we thought it opportune to forward the statement to the interested public. So I suggest the readers to spare a couple of minutes to understand the complexity of what was on the table of negotiations.

KSU is concerned about the future of present generations and the future of our children and shows its concern about the current state of affairs with regards to the environmental situation in the world, would like to express its regret at the missed opportunities at COP15 at Copenhagen.

While recognizing that this can be a respectable start to a plan that can lead to a remedy to the pressing problem of climate change, we are concerned that the world has missed a very good opportunity to strike a deal. Now that time is running out, the world needs concrete action.

The world’s greatest emitters have procrastinated time and time again to reduce greenhouse gases. Having said that, we recognize that developing nations have to necessarily strive to improve the conditions of their citizens so that poverty can be eradicated even though the decoupling of economic progress with the increase in GHG emissions is a must in these times. Developed countries, with a long history of GHG emissions, should strive to fund the mitigation and adaptation of these countries-something which was recognized and tackled during the COP 15 although it is far short of what these countries and especially LDCs and SIDS really need. Important factors which held back the conference from achieving concrete results and which, we think, could have been easily resolved by a stronger commitment from developed countries include the structure through which the finances would flow, the mechanism (direct aid against carbon trading schemes) and whether these funds would be a share of development aid in which case developed countries would go back on their responsibilities especially in their assistance to achieve the MDGs.

We also commend those states that have ensured transparency in the monitoring, reporting and verification of GHG reductions. Transparency is a vital component of this complex process and must be ensured throughout the whole process. It is also a very important component in a country’s accessing funds from those made available by developed nations.

It was heartening to see that Annex I countries were ready to accept their responsibility under the Kyoto Protocol as desired by other countries which preferred the two-track approach. Although Annex I countries represent only 30% of GHG emissions, a post-2012 commitment ensures a legal commitment by some developed nations although the major emitters are not included in this annex. Thus we commend the work done under the Ad Hoc Working Group – Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the Ad Hoc Working Group - Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) to propose an efficient two-track approach to the system.

It is a concern that Malta's legal obligations are only in place due to Malta's accession into the EU, rather than through a Parliamentary Decision as is normal practice.

We also welcome the importance given in this COP to the Reduction in Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of Forests (REDD) program. This program will sustain the livelihoods of indigenous people (who are now protected by The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People), protect biodiversity and, contextually most importantly will reduce the GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Developed countries must make more finances available for this program’s implementation and especially to provide an alternative livelihood for those people whose income depended on activities which must now be halted to safeguard the forests. One must ensure that plantations do not replace the forests. Also, wetlands and peatlands must also be included in a similar scheme because of the great potential these two habitats have to act as carbon sinks and to mitigate the effects of climate change. The progress in Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) talks is also commendable.

KSU also welcomes the progress registered on the talks on technology and technology transfer. This is one of the most vital areas of negotiations. In order for developing countries to be able to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, technology must be provided by the developed nations. It is of great importance that environmental safety is ensured and processes such as carbon capture and storage and ocean fertilization is thoroughly investigated especially if any such processes can be inserted under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) scheme. One should also recognize the important role that IT has in this complex scenario.

KSU suggests the consideration of the 1.5°C as a target as proposed by Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) and other groups as a better and safer target than the 2°C included in the Copenhagen Accord.

One cannot help but note the lack of progress or inclusion in any agreement of vital themes such as shipping and aviation, agriculture and water.

The differentiated but common responsibility of the parties working to act on the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Road Map is a moral obligation of all states. Climate justice is the key for success. The deal reached at Copenhagen is especially disappointing in this regards because it is not legally binding. This makes the final agreement a close-to-failure result. The attitude adopted at the conference especially with the presentation of the Danish texts and the agreement on the Copenhagen Accord by a small group of countries leaves much to be desired. The treatment of civil society with the exclusion of NGOs at a particular stage of the negotiations together with inappropriate treatment of protestors is also condemnable.

The final deal agreed lacks substance especially because there are no legally-binding GHG reduction targets. This is endangering our own existence. The money which the developed countries were ready to offer is also weak when considering that this money will be spent to literally save the world when trillion of dollars were spent to save the economy. One can only hope for a better deal at COP 16 in Mexico next year.

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