Posts Tagged 'global warming'

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

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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.

Loaded communication

While it seems easy to draw attention to climate change by showing iconic one polar bear on a thin sheet of ice, the politics of such communication is questionable. Polar bears do not have union to voice their vulnerability. It is a noble duty of mankind to make their plight heard by others. But when climate change gets synonymous with polar bears’ plight (because it is easy to draw attention… god knows why), the other set of voiceless vulnerable, the millions of poor in the South stand to suffer. People who get deeply affected by the emotional appeal to save polar bear, and have the power to do so, are normally opinion makers in the North, or the elite opinion makers in the South. In turn, decision makers pushed by these opinion makers, are unable to do god for all, and try to do something for polar bears only. I would like to draw attention to all sorts of wildlife campaigns. In fact, millions of vulnerable humans may be asked to make sacrifice, to make space for vulnerable wildlife.

In this case, this mannequin inside COP14 hall didn’t do much job.

Aware civil society delegates know a lot more than the polar bear. a few got themselves photographed with the mannequin to show their partners back home.

Government delegates failed to see anything, as usual.

Smart guys in black suits found them to be punks.

Hot Air

Poznan is cold, a little less than it was expected.

And the delegates are to be kept warm



WWW

emission

cartoon by Rustam Vania

What Went Wrong

James Watt remains an under-celebrated revolutionary. He made zillions of wheels revolve by the same steam that was otherwise restricted to Turkish baths and making delicious dumplings.

The way climate change is negotiated, it seems that there is a complete amnesia over our history. Emission of greenhouse gases (GHG, from now on) is a function of political economy. Hence, climate change has to be seen in that matrix, and it cannot be wished away.

In the early days the 90s, the original climate culprits, who have been spewing stuff in the atmosphere since last 150 years, tried to divert world’s attention towards countries like India and China for the climate crime, pointing out the large emission these countries were responsible for. It was a smart try.

While the fortunate students in the South are fed a lot of western philosophy around ethics, Northern contemporary thinkers forgot everything about it while measuring climate crime. They conveniently picked up large countries with large population in the South to identify the criminals. It took some time for the fact that each individual in the globe has equal entitlement of our atmosphere to sink in. While calculating per capita share of climate crime, it turned out that each resident of industrialized world spew 10 times more than that of the developing world. The idea is well argued in a 1991 publication called ‘Global Warming In An Unequal World: A Case for Environmental Colonialism’ by CSE. So, per capita emission idea became the guiding principle for climate negotiation.

Based on the per capita emission principle, it was decided that industrialized rich countries of the world were to reduce emission considerably so that the developing poor countries get some head room to grow. Today, it has become fashionable for the Northern negotiators and think-tanks to point out that South’s position of not taking up any commitment on emission reduction is just posturing and cannot be tolerated as India and China are turning out to be large emerging economies with rising per capita emission.

It is a joke that a lot of ‘well-meaning’ smart environmentalists who print posters like ‘One World – Our World’ support this viewpoint. They fail to see that there is no One World.

My posturing Vs Your posturing

Please remember, rich industrialized economies did nothing to cut emission in the last decade, even when they knew about climate change and made commitments about drastic reduction. It seems they waited for a decade to see that certain developing countries grow and increase their per capita so that they can start a new blame game. If the South is posturing, it is nothing more than a counter to Northern posturing of being worried about climate change.

It is well documented that all environmental negotiations convened by the UN has got nothing to do with environment, they are just negotiations to secure future business space for the rich nations. The fight on climate change is the most severe as emission cut for the rich is related to giving up ever increasing consumption and luxury. There is a dubious attempt in the climate negotiation that seeks a status quo on luxury emission and want to curb Poor’s survival emission.

All these, when the atmosphere still holds the carbon emitted by the rich countries in the last hundred years. And do not forget, most of these countries grew rich amassing wealth from the Southern countries.

Buying and selling

It is amazing to see how the rich nations have gone back to what they are best at: buying and selling. It is the Market in the first place that has created the problem, a religion that needs more and more things to be produced and consumed, giving rise to emission. So, a mechanism was created to buy back a little bit of atmosphere that was not polluted by the poor in the South. But it was sold with a grand posturing of helping out the poor to grow. As usual that never happened.

The idea was to buy the space, so that the poor could grow in a cleaner manner. But the process has been made such corrupt and convoluted that money transfer is happening between the rich companies in the North and the their counterparts in the South. The process was given a rather simple name: CDM (there are various versions on what the C stands for).

Over a period, the business interests have cannibalized the climate change discussion. Business interests are fronted by immoral intellectuals in both hemispheres, who are trying to turn climate change crisis into a business opportunity. I shall give a count on number of events organized by business associations and corporations directly during this COP in Poznan.

Fixers have an uncanny penchant for cooking up fixes. In climate change, they are at the game too. Without addressing the real problem of reducing emission, they are trying to increase efficiency, new methods of burying carbon in the hell, promoting more of dangerous and expensive ways of boiling water and so on.

WWW continues

What went wrong is not being reversed in Poznan at all. There is no talk of reduction of emission in near future. The fact remains that barring a few countries; all rich nations increased their emission in the last decade. They cannot possibly pretend to be ignorant about climate change in last ten years. All discussion hovers around some virtual money that is needed to manage the problem. If you propose to posture, I can posture better. Industry is trying to fish in dirty water.

Journalist friends at Sheraton Poznan were busy discussing ‘How many different ways can you do the same story that nothing is happening here?’

Coming up: more about the Market