“Our future is being held hostage to interests that have consistently thumbed their noses at the international community and their obligations to the rest of the world”
(Grist, October 7, 2009) Today marked one of the final days of the Bangkok U.N. Climate Negotiations. With the end of this intersessional in sight, the International Youth Delegation (IYD) has officially declared “No Confidence” in the road to Copenhagen.
With youth delegates from over 30 countries engaging in the Bangkok process, the IYD cited pathetically weak targets from the North, alarm that a second commitment period in the Kyoto Protocol will not be secured, and a lack of guarantees for protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and interests in its declaration. The current text of the draft climate deal is so weak and so full of “false solutions” (measures like offsetting that actually make the problem worse) it is unacceptable.
Youth delegates representing each continent addressed the U.N. today, detailing the urgency of the crisis as it affects their communities currently, telling stories of their hope and organizing alongside their denunciation of the state of play in the U.N. Negotiations.
This week the Annex 1 (rich countries), attempted to kill the Kyoto Protocol (KP). We are nearing upon the end of the current KP term, and a lack of renewing it means that the world would lose the few legally binding international climate agreements it has (as insufficient as they are). The excuse is that the United States will not sign, and therefore the whole thing should be scrapped and an entirely new deal can be struck on its own.
It is lunacy to think that this will yield a stronger outcome, and the G77 (the rest of the world) countries are furious. We have always known the U.S. won’t sign the KP; the world cannot continue to wait for the U.S. to get on board. In Bali, the U.S. already committed to setting comparable targets to other Annex 1 countries, so the world could deal with the U.S. in the LCA (Long Term Cooperative Action). This all amounts to a shell game: more dirty delaying tactics from self-interested countries who are content to strip away basic attempts at an international agreement (for example “compliance”—meaning that the U.S. would have international oversight of its targets, or “top-down target setting”—meaning the international community sets carbon targets together based on science, rather than each countries independently setting their targets based on what their fossil fuel extraction industries dictate).
Allowing the U.S. to drag the world out of existing legal obligations is disgraceful. These negotiations are going backwards. Make no mistake: our future is being held hostage to interests that have consistently thumbed their noses at the international community and their obligations to the rest of the world. This process has been polluted by self-interested corporations and nations looking to profit off of our crisis. They have been pushing false solutions that exacerbate rather than fix the problem. Not only are the targets set by rich countries weak, but they are deceptive. Rather than representing actual emissions reductions, they contain unacceptable proportions of offsets, which do not reduce emissions, and displace the burden back onto the developing countries of the world.
In the meantime, further language on indigenous rights is being removed and diluted from the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) text. “Rights” are being defined as “right to participate,” as opposed to “rights over land and communities”, and existing U.N. language (such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or UNDRIP, and the principles of Free Prior and Informed Consent or FPIC) is far from being adopted. This has led to major protests all week and this morning youth supported the Indigenous Caucus in a large “No Rights?? No REDD!!” demonstration on the front steps of the U.N.
The youth will not accept a dirty deal.
Rights-based language in the text (including UNDRIP and FPIC), no offsets, limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees C and 350 ppm of c02, unconditional legally binding targets for Annex 1 countries of at least 40% reductions by 2020, and a LOT of money for adaptation and technology transfer are just some of the baseline components that must be in the text to even begin to sensibly move forward.
Regardless of what governments decide, youth across the world are continuing to organize social movements to build meaningful solutions in their own communities, working on local, national, and international levels. Our hope for the future is in the power of civil society to reshape what is perceived as politically possible.