equity

Down To Earth

democracy and environmental justice

And the winner is…

Who will win if there is a competition of ‘How To Please Obama’?

It takes Lula and Evo Morales to do plain talk. Addressing Obama directly, Evo Morales reminded Obama to act, which Obama asked the world. He challenged Obama to put military budget into emission reduction. And reminded that mother earth does not like capitalism. He even got clap from the audience.

Chavez: “Obama, the emperor comes in the dark, cooks up a document, makes a speech, and leaves through side door.” Chavez rubbishes Obama in the strongest language. Categorically rejected all tricks that are being played out in Copenhagen.

Looks like Manhohan will be the winner for the best tightrope walker

Disgraceful> A Political Agreement

Lot of nice words to say that the world will be deciding a binding agreement in a year, not now.

A political agreement without any number, amounts to just blah blah. Contradictions are coming up. All leaders of rich nations talk about sacrificing national interests and work together. That amounts to nothing either. It does not categorically spell out that business/corporate interests will be sacrificed for a better climate management. Obama was unconvincing, a bad speech. I am sure he knows that he cannot fool the atmosphere.

The 1st draft of the ‘political agreement’:

1st draft of the political agreement

A correction/Honest US admission

I want to reiterate that president Barack Obama will burn his fingers in international diplomacy for the first time.

But at the same time, I want to share a thought that passed across my mind. The US probably is the most honest party in climate negotiation. Given the nature of consumption and production system of the world, it is really an honest admission on the part of the US to say that they cannot reduce domestic emission much. If they have to revitalise their auto industry, bail out the bankrupt banks, and boost consumption to boost the economy, it is impossible to reduce emission. And it is clear that the oil lobby [a large lobby consisting of automobile, construction, energy, aviation, fertilisers, chemicals, blah, blah, blah] will not let enough effort to be invested in renewable.

The only hope remains the security lobby in the US who are bothered about oil dependency. Obama made it clear in his Nobel acceptance speech that the US is bothered about climate change as a security issue. Again, the question is if climate change is just a US domestic/international security issue. This is another example of the northern leaders not getting the point about climate change. This is not necessarily an issue islamic terrorism. There are are severe ‘law and order’ issues already felt by southern Europe from the massive exodus from north Africa. People will do whatever they have to do to feed themselves and their families, as the US citizens seem to be doing whatever they have to do to continue their lifestyles.

Long live liberty. Long live market.

Freedom to pollute

Reclaim The Power March in Copenhagen 16/12

more photos below

“And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go”

– Bob Dylan in Desolation Row

A coalition of activists from around the world, absolutely fed up with the long drawn ‘negotiation’ on climate change for ages, decided to present their version. These activists are predominantly young, who have no faith or trust left with the elderly and ‘practical’ not so old politicians of the world, do not actually think that COP15 has anything to do with solving climate crisis. They see a sinister design of capitalism trying to reclaim the last of the commons left in the planet.

They categorically wanted to have a peaceful march, as they were worried about the safety and legality of comrades joining from the global South. They wanted to enter Bella Centre, a fortress by now as the global leaders start arriving to decide/sign a phoney deal, and hold a peoples’ negotiation inside. They had also worked out with several negotiators and delegates from the global South, who were to come out of Bella Centre and join the peaceful protest to lend their support.

The assembled group at Tarnby station managed to walk to the north east corner of Bella Centre, where they were greeted with stun-guns, pepper spray, tear gas, and an overwhelming number of police in riot suits. The group that assembled at a station next to Bella Centre tried their best to break the police cordon and most of them got arrested, handcuffed, and made to sit on a damp open field. When a TV journalist asked an activist why they were arrested, she screamed that she did not know, as she was only trying to go to a ‘shopping mall’. These activists have been consistently demanding that carbon trade be ended, and see Bella Centre as a new business centre.

It was surprising to see how much determined a north European government can be to handle a peaceful march of young activists, asking for a real climate deal. The police made no effort to be look civilised, even in the presence of a large band of international press. The marchers who tried to reach Bella Centre by scaling police’s riot vans, were beaten up, and arrested. A lot of bleeding activists were seen all around being attended by medicos, also part of the march. An overwhelming number of activists were seen stunned by pepper spray and attended by medicos with eyedrops and water.

At this hour, there is a stalemate. The activists are holding on to the road adjacent to Bella Centre, completely outnumbered by riot squads. Police with dogs are seen on the fields to handle any activists trying to reach Bella Centre through the fields. A helicopter keeps on hovering on top of them. Normally, climate change activists are taken as harmless lots. But for a change, in this rally, there was no one dressed up as penguin or polar bear. On the other hand, they talked about a change in the system, and called for an end to profit. The paranoid response of the state is pretty understandable.

And the delegates who wanted to come out and join the protesters were simply told to stay away, as the assembly was already notified as an illegal one and could face arrest. Some of the activists dressed as clowns were playing games with the cops, and chanting was heard: ‘you are sexy, you are cute, get out of your riot suit’!

with a cardboard wire cutter, a joke.

arrested activists

activists create barricade with their bicycles

first activist who went up the police van

stunned by pepper spray

police armoured cars break activists' barricade

tear gas

dogs and their cops guard Bella Centre

"you're sexy, you're cute / get out of your riot suit"

an activist lost his/her bread

confiscated truck of the activists

activists, still holding on, surrounded by riot squad. Bella Centre is on the left

take home message

1st BUFING syndrome for Obama

Emperors' new climate deal

Obama will grace COP15. And that is the biggest story out here. The story is so big that negotiators are forced to take this fact into their negotiating account. Why? It is because Obama cannot afford to lose a game. It does not really matter if the atmosphere or the planet goes to hell. Bottom line is that Obama must be able to claim a victory.

The most visible element in the actual negotiation in the last 8 days was a deliberate stalling mechanism on all fronts by the rich nations. The race to jeopardising all agreed principles from Bali was most obvious at Bangkok. It has been made complete at Copenhagen. Denmark, the host party wants a single new agreement, creatively called the Copenhagen agreement. Responding to the draft, the Chinese team observed, “the title itself is problematic because it creates an expectation and an impression that this document will eventually form the basis of and be reflected in a new treaty instrument”. This new draft rubbishes all old principles, dilutes the responsibility of the rich nations, puts relatively high burden on certain economies within developing nations, and does not reflect concretely on technology and financial transfer to poorer countries. In the meantime, another proposal forwarded by Tuvalu and then picked up by Small Island States [AOSIS] calls for restricting temperature increase to 1.5ºC, which will call for even deeper cuts by developed nations. Interestingly, while this proposal was being contested by India and China, big countries within G77+China, otherwise sympathetic to the cause of the small islands and Least Developed Countries [LDCs], rich nations did not oppose it. They just sat back and relished the fight between countries within G77+China. It did not bother them even it was calling for stronger reduction by the rich nations. A senior Chinese negotiator in a private conversation commented that it seems they want to stall everything and buy time. Obviously, there were insinuations in the lobby about a small country being bought over by the rich nation to reach a longstanding objective of creating a crack in G77+China.

Why will the US president be coming to Copenhagen in such a confusing scenario? How can he win as a global dealmaker with deeper mistrust than ever before between rich and developing nations? The mistrust grew as financial transfer for technology acquisition was pegged at a meager 10 billion US dollars, with US refusing to pledge anything for long-term assistance. To top that, EU declared another miserly amount as adaptation fund. The suspicion is growing. There must be a hidden plan, the last moment plan in the midst of confusion that will be sugarcoated by Obama charm during the ministerial meetings.

If we look at it, the way it is now, nothing seems to suggest that Obama will return from Copenhagen victorious. In fact, Obama will go through his first BUFING syndrome in international diplomacy in Copenhagen; he’s bound to burn his fingers.

So there was a rumour two days ago that he was canceling his trip to COP15. The rumour coincided with both India and China suggesting that respective heads of states would also skip the ritual photo session if Obama did not come. Negotiators from the developing countries by then started sensing the trick and issued statements that negotiations needed to stop before the ministers come, to avoid the Obama charm on their ministers. No one can refuse Obama; the US propaganda machine almost terms it as ‘immoral’. Along the corridor of the delegation offices, people also mentioned that things are being decided at the highest level, US and EU being ‘online’ all the time. Some also suggest aggressive arm-twisting by the US state department to toe the Obama line. African negotiators on Sunday explicitly said that their heads were not to turn up in Copenhagen unless a clear agreement was ready by Wednesday. No negotiator wants to leave the negotiation to their ministers. There is a general fear in the corridor that Indian prime minister may bend backward to please Obama. It may be a possibility, but domestic political compulsion may tie Manmohan Singh and Jairam Ramesh’s hands in an outright compromise.

So, there is now categorical clarification that the US president will be coming. And he may burn his fingers.

But he does not like losing. Spin doctors have already pitched that it took only a leader like Obama to get China and India on board when these two ‘renegades’ agreed to unsupported domestic actions of reducing emission intensity.

What will be a Copenhagen deal? Rumour, as in the beginning of the negotiation is that there will be no legally binding agreement, but a political agreement that there is a problem and a legally binding agreement will be drawn in the near future. PR machinery has drummed up a feeling that he will get the assembled world leaders to politically agree to the horror of climate change! And that will be his victory.

It is absolutely evident now that the rich nations do not want to take deep domestic reduction of emissions. They are not prepared to pledge any substantial money on the table for mitigation technology and adaptation. They do not want to talk about historical responsibility. But they want to talk about future emission by emerging economies.

Smart guys in Obama camp have been painstakingly explaining his domestic compulsions, about how difficult it is to turn a bill into a law in the US. It almost suggests that the rest of the world is a Banana Republic. They have also introduced a tinge of threatening tune in their story. They point out that if we push Obama too much, he may be destabilised by the evil guys, and he remains our last hope.

Obama remains the last hope of the world while he delivers to his domestic constituency only. The mood outside the Bella Centre, where the negotiations are held is also hostile to the US president. The demonstration on last Sunday had generous amount of nasty slogans about Obama. Last evening, young and smart president Nasheed of Maldives went out of the official meeting place and dropped in at the alternative climate forum at the city central. His objective was clear, he was mobilising the activists’ support for tougher action. It was interesting to watch young crowd at the forum claiming flamboyant Nasheed as the global president. These are the global kids who backed Obama a few months ago, hoping major change in world order.

It will be really good for Mr. Obama and the rest of the world, if he really burns his fingers at Copenhagen. He may get real after that.

MetaMorph

Mr Todd Stern, the US special envoy on Climate Change, decided to make public certain things he just realised. He announced within an hour of reaching Copenhagen, “If you care about the science — and we do — there’s no way to solve this problem by giving the major developing countries a pass.” Is this statement fossilworthy? Should there be any debate on this?

Some newcomers [party as well as NGO] may not be aware of history. Deniers born out of ignorance should be denied celebrity status. There is a long history to the discussion we are having at Copenhagen. It is the fifteenth conference of parties, to refresh our memory. Microphones are coated with gallons of sputum. And the history of climate change is even older, more than hundred years. Remember James Watt?

Even my eleven years old son knows well that every human being in the world needs to behave properly to combat climate change. That is tautology. But negotiation is about principles and details. No one in the developing countries has ever refused to take action against climate change. But every demand for rich nations, with larger share of the blame, to take larger action has deviously turned developing countries as naysayers.

Mr Stern’s science education, late in his life, will definitely help US climate policy. We would really urge him to take a crash course in history. Or, is it too much to expect from an official working overtime to re-establish US supremacy over the atmosphere? Mr Stern, like a belligerent child, demanded that historical responsibility be abandoned. Apparently, the great emitters did not know about climate change. And hence should be let off the hook. But, what about the last 12 years? Maybe, Mr Stern along with his colleagues were busy reading news about Islamic Jehad, and Afghanistan and Iraq and Iran and more oil. Maybe, there was no time to read news about climate change or science book.

Annex 1 countries should be clear about one thing. If historical emission is out of the negotiation, there should be no talk about future emitters either. For a simple reason. The past is known, and the future is absolutely unknown.

And social organisations marketing climate solution should also go through a crash course on political history of civilisation. Money was made by colonising and undervaluing southern natural resources. That is exactly the reason for present ecological crisis. And we see the same process coming up again.

It is no wonder that all models by consultants, including revered economist Stern to mitigate the crisis, assumes no change in lifestyle and lowest cost of mitigation. By doing so, they always arrive at a solution that calls for maximum amount of action in the South. No wonder, Sterns of a feather flock together.

Also, any civil society organisation trying to erase the historical responsibility from the climate book, will be known as public enemy in the future.

USERNAME: equity PASSWORD: **********

I thought of staying away from climate change completely. I thought any sort of engagement with climate change negotiation was nothing but lending my support to a corrupt process. But a few incidents at home just before the ‘epic’ meeting at Copenhagen forced me to say something. I thought of making the password public.

USERNAME: equity

PASSWORD: compromise

For a long time, India, as a leader of G77+China has screamed hoarse about equity in climate deal. It always sounded strange, as the country within its national boundary has nothing to do with such principle, apart from mentions in the constitution, election manifesto of all political parties and in sundry speeches. My friends in the North [and in the South with Northern sensibilities] have always ridiculed me about India’s ‘equity’ position. It was just posturing, they said. I always maintained that if it was posturing, it was against posturing of the North. Also, we have always maintained that inequity within the national boundary was to be settled within the country, there was no need to go to United Nations to solve India’s problem with income distribution. But equity was to be settled between nations in an international negotiation.

It is obviously clear like the melting polar ice that equity was just posturing, nationally, as well as internationally. How can we suddenly have equity in atmospheric distribution while we have no sense of equity in distribution of water, land, forest, food or sanitation? After all, climate change is not ‘another’ problem. It is a mere aggregate of all the wrong things we have done in the last hundred years. Logically, if we can solve unjust distribution in all other sectors, atmosphere will be cleaner anyway.

A lot of us also hoped against hope that the climate discussion may bring back the logic of equity and justice in the world order. But no such thing happened in the last 15 years, and if things at Copenhagen are going ‘well’ between nation states, equity and justice are way off the radar.

Nationally, at last, we have dropped our posturing. We are now told that ‘per capita’ principle of atmospheric share; the backbone of equity is not a tenable one in international negotiation. Who decided that? Obviously, the rich nations do not like the ‘per capita’ capita argument, as it requires them to give up a large amount of the atmosphere they have grabbed. But why should we give up the argument if we seriously believe in it? The truth is that our national political economy is no different from the ones of climate criminals. And we compromised.

And it is so easy to make us compromise! All it takes is a few editorials in ‘civilised’ publications from ‘civilised’ world branding us naysayers. There are many in the country who want to be seen as ‘civilised’ by the climate criminals. Some of them are also compradors. And there are also good guys who believe in the ‘values’ of the climate criminals. [It is funny that communists were called dogmatic]

Moving away from the ‘per capita’ principle has a major ramification. It simply means a status quo on world order. It clearly means that there will be no transfer of atmospheric space between rich and poor countries. Period. And one thing leads to another.

While moving away from the equity principle, India blinked too. The longstanding demand of G77+China for the industrialised country to commit deep domestic emission cuts before the developing ones to commit substantial reduction has gone out of the window. ‘Civilised’ world broke their Kyoto promises miserably, and got us to make some commitments. India’s commitment of reducing emission intensity can be a great leap forward, our prime minister and environment minister may be termed as blue-eyed boys by the ‘civilised’ world. But will that act bring what the world needs from the rich world? The US promise of 4% emission reduction of the 1990 levels by 2020, and 30% by EU is nowhere near what the science wants. Remember, a large part of this miniscule reduction will be actually achieved by carbon trading! So, atmosphere grabbing will continue.

Reduction of emission intensity within the country, without any technological or financial help can also put pressure on energy use. And we should not fool ourselves. Rich people within the country will not give up any energy access for the poor to light even a CFL bulb. There will be no transfer of energy access from rich to poor, there will be no transfer of atmospheric space from rich to poor. In fact, poor will be expected to pay for rich man’s space. This means wider gap between the rich and poor within the country.

There is a compromise internationally. There is a compromise within the country too. I hope I’m proved wrong by 18th of this month.



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