At the end of the two week-long UN climate change negotiations in Cancun, the Conference of the Parties adopted the Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (pdf file, (351 kB), which includes (among other things) an outline agreement on REDD.
There have been many reactions, ranging from enthusiastic support to complete rejection. REDD-Monitor tends towards the complete rejection end of the spectrum: The deal agreed in Cancun is pathetically weak on emission reduction targets. The REDD part of the deal is pathetically weak on the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities living in and near forests and it includes carbon trading as the way of financing REDD. Could it have been worse?
REDD-Monitor hopes to post detailed analysis of the REDD text in the coming weeks. Meanwhile here are four press releases Cancun, from Via Campesina (released before the end of the meeting, but providing an explanation of why Via Campesina was protesting in Cancun), Bolivia, Friends of the Earth International and the Indigenous Environmental Network. Thanks to Ian Angus at Climate and Capitalism for collecting these press releases.
Cancún: No agreement is better than a bad agreement!
December 9 statement by La Via Campesina: We call on humanity to act immediately to rebuild the life of all of nature, applying the concept of “life in balance.”
Members of La Vía Campesina from more than thirty countries from all over the world united our thousands of struggles in Cancun to demand environmental and social justice, and respect for Mother Earth at the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP 16). We joined together to denounce the attempts of governments, mainly from the North, to commercialize the essential elements of life in benefit of transnational corporations and to publicize the thousands of grassroots solutions to cool the planet and stop the environmental devastation that seriously threatens humanity today.
Working mostly out of our base at the Alternative Global Forum for Life, Environmental and Social Justice, we held workshops, assemblies, and meetings with allies. On December 7 we staged a global action that we called “Thousands of Cancuns”. The events this day had an impact across the planet and even into the halls of the Moon Palace where delegates to the COP 16 meet. Actions included a march of thousands of members of La Via Campesina accompanied by indigenous Mayans from the Mexican peninsula of Yucatan and our allies from national and international organizations.
Mobilization to Cancun began November 28 with three caravans that left from San Luis Potosi, Guadalajara and Acapulco and traveled through places that exemplify environmental destruction, as well as local resistance of affected communities. The organization of the caravans was carried out along with the National Assembly of Environmentally Affected Peoples, the Movement for National Liberation, the Mexican Electricians Union (SME) and the hundreds of villages and people who opened their doors with generosity and solidarity. On November 30 the caravans arrived in Mexico City, where we held an International Forum and march accompanied by thousands of people and hundreds of organizations that also struggle for environmental and social justice.
On our journey to Cancun, other caravans—one from Chiapas, one from Oaxaca and one from Guatemala—joined us after many hours of traveling. We met up in Merida to hold a ceremony at Chichen Itza and finally arrived in Cancun on December 3 to set up our camp for Life and Environmental and Social Justice. The next day, Dec. 4, we inaugurated our Forum and began activities in Cancun.
Why did we go to Cancun?
Current models of consumption, production and trade have caused massive environmental destruction. Indigenous peoples and peasant farmers, men and women, are the main victims. So our mobilization to Cancun, and in Cancun, sought to tell the world that we need a change in economic and development paradigms.
We must go beyond the anthropocentric model. We must rebuild the cosmovision of our peoples, based on a holistic view of the relationship between the cosmos, Mother Earth, the air, the water and all living beings. Human beings do not own nature, but rather form part of all that lives.
Given the urgency to reconceive the system, the climate and the earth, we denounce:
- That governments remain indifferent to global warming and instead of debating the policy changes necessary for cooling the planet, they are debating speculative financial schemes, new “green” economies and the privatization of the commons.
- False and dangerous solutions that the neoliberal system implements like the REDD+ initiative (Reduction of Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation), the CDM (Clean Development Mechanisms), and geoengineering. These promote the commercialization of natural resources, and the purchase of permits to pollute, or “carbon credits”, with the promise of not cutting down forests and plantations of the South.
- The imposition of industrial agriculture through the implementation of genetically modified products and landgrabs that go against food sovereignty.
- Nuclear energy, which is very dangerous and in no way a real solution.
- The efforts of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization to facilitate the entry of huge transnational corporations in our countries.
- The impacts of Free Trade Agreements with the United States and the European Union– trade and investment treaties that open the doors of our countries to transnational companies to take control of our natural resources.
- The exclusion of peasant and indigenous peoples in discussions on key issues that affect human life and the Mother Earth.
- The expulsion of members of our organizations from the official talks of the COP 16 due to their opposition to government proposals that promote a system of depredation that threatens to exterminate the Mother Earth and humanity.
We do not agree with the simple idea of “mitigating” or “adapting” to climate change. We need social, ecological and climate justice, so we demand:
- Incorporation of the principles of the Cochabamba Accords of April 22, 2010 as a process that leads to real reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases and achieves social and environmental justice.
- Food sovereignty based on sustainable and agroecological peasant agriculture, given that the food crisis and the climate crisis are the same and both are consequences of the capitalist system.
- Changes in life-styles and destructive relations with the environment.
La Vía Campesina, as an organization that represents millions and millions of small farmer families in the world, is concerned about the need to recover climatic equilibrium. Therefore we call for:
- Assuming collective responsibility for Mother Earth, changing patterns of development and economic structures, and breaking down the power of transnational companies
- Recognizing governments like Bolivia, Tuvalu and others that have had the courage to resist the imposition of governments of the North and transnational corporations. We call on other governments to join the people’s resistance against climate crisis.
- Reaching binding agreements that force all those who pollute the environment to be accountable for the disasters they cause and the crimes they have committed against mother nature. Likewise, require a reduction of carbon gases at the source–polluters should stop polluting.
- Alert the social movements of the world about what is happening on the planet to defend life and Mother Earth, because we are defining the model for future generations.
- Grassroots action and mobilization of urban and peasant farm organizations, innovation and the recuperation of ancestral ways of life to save our Mother Earth from attacks by big capital and bad governments. This is our historic responsibility.
- Policies to protect biodiversity, food sovereignty, water management and administration based on experience and the full participation of the communities themselves.
- A worldwide consultation with people to decide the policies and global actions needed to defend against climate crisis.
Today, right now, we call on humanity to act immediately to rebuild the life of all of nature, applying the concept of “life in balance.”
This is why, from the four corners of the planet, we stand up to say:
No more harm to our Mother Earth! No more destruction of the planet! No more evictions from our territories! No more murder of the sons and daughters of the Mother Earth! No more criminalization of our struggles!
No to the Copenhagen agreement. Yes to the principles of Cochabamba.
¡REDD NO! ¡Cochabamba SI!
The earth is not for sale, it must be recovered and defended!
GLOBALIZE THE STRUGGLE, GLOBALIZE HOPE
Bolivia: Cancun deal is hollow and false;
Its cost will be measured in human lives
Statement issued by the Plurinational State of Bolivia, December 11, 2010
The Plurinational State of Bolivia believes that the Cancun text is a hollow and false victory that was imposed without consensus, and its cost will be measured in human lives. History will judge harshly.
There is only one way to measure the success of a climate agreement, and that is based on whether or not it will effectively reduce emissions to prevent runaway climate change. This text clearly fails, as it could allow global temperatures to increase by more than 4 degrees, a level disastrous for humanity.
Recent scientific reports show that 300,000 people already die each year from climate change-related disasters. This text threatens to increase the number of deaths annually to one million. This is something we can never accept.
Last year, everyone recognized that Copenhagen was a failure both in process and substance. Yet this year, a deliberate campaign to lower expectations and desperation for any agreement has led to one that in substance is little more than Copenhagen II.
A so-called victory for multilateralism is really a victory for the rich nations who bullied and cajoled other nations into accepting a deal on their terms. The richest nations offered us nothing new in terms of emission reductions or financing, and instead sought at every stage to backtrack on existing commitments, and include every loophole possible to reduce their obligation to act.
While developing nations – those that face the worst consequences of climate change – pleaded for ambition, we were instead offered the “realism” of empty gestures. Proposals by powerful countries like the US were sacrosanct, while ours were disposable.
Compromise was always at the expense of the victims, rather than the culprits of climate change.
When Bolivia said we did not agree with the text in the final hours of talks, we were overruled. An accord where only the powerful win is not a negotiation, it is an imposition.
Bolivia came to Cancun with concrete proposals that we believed would bring hope for the future. These proposals were agreed by 35,000 people in an historic World People’s Conference Cochabamba in April 2010. They seek just solutions to the climate crisis and address its root causes. In the year since Copenhagen, they were integrated into the negotiating text of the parties, and yet the Cancun text systematically excludes these voices.
Bolivia cannot be convinced to abandon its principles or those of the peoples we represent. We will continue to struggle alongside affected communities worldwide until climate justice is achieved.
Bolivia has participated in these negotiations in good faith and the hope that we could achieve an effective climate deal. We were prepared to compromise on many things, except the lives of our people. Sadly, that is what the world’s richest nations expect us to do.
Countries may try to isolate us for our position, but we come here in representation of the peoples and social movements who want real and effective action to protect the future of humanity and Mother Earth. We feel their support as our guide.
History will be the judge of what has happened in Cancun.
Friends of the Earth: Cancun Deal Merely Prevents Collapse; Leaves Kyoto on Life Support
11 December 2010
Statement by Friends of the Earth International: “The agreement reached here is wholly inadequate and could lead to catastrophic climate change.”
The agreement adopted at the UN climate talks in Cancun has failed to make progress on the most essential part: steep, binding emissions cuts for developed countries. Friends of the Earth International warns that this agreement provides a platform for abandoning the Kyoto Protocol, replacing it with a weak pledge and review system as a legacy of the Copenhagen Accord, that would lead to a devastating five degree Celsius warming.
Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International said:
“The agreement reached here is wholly inadequate and could lead to catastrophic climate change. The rich countries that are primarily responsible for climate change, lead by the US, with Russia and Japan, are to blame for the lack of desperately needed greater ambition. This is a slap in the face of those who already suffer from climate change. But in the end all of us will be affected by the lack of ambition and political will of a small group of countries”
To prevent catastrophic climate change, an agreement is needed that includes science-based, aggregate targets for developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol, whereby rich countries reduce emissions by at least 40 percent with no role for carbon markets, offsets and loopholes. Carbon markets are not the solution for climate change but just a means for rich countries to continue business as usual.
Despite the lack of advancement on key issues, some progress has been made in other areas. The establishment of a Global Climate Fund is a step forward to build on. The 100 billion dollars put on the table for this fund, however, is not commensurate with equity and need. Rich countries must live up to their obligations to provide sufficient public funds to developing countries so they can grow cleanly and adept to the impacts of climate change they already suffer from. Progress has also been achieved in adaptation to help poor countries address the impacts of climate change. The World Bank having a role in climate finance is not acceptable.
Lucia Ortiz of Friends of the Earth Brazil said:
“Mechanisms to stop deforestation are not supposed to allow rich countries to continue emitting carbon. Forests are not just stocks of carbon and they should not be commercialized. Money to protect forests must come from the developed countries.”
Nnimmo Bassey said:
“The UN remains key to humanity’s collective response to this crisis and we see that the multilateral process is moving forward. However, the UN is only as strong as the countries that compose it.
“We could not achieve the progress that is needed in Cancun because the rich countries that are primarily responsible for climate pollution have prevented it. Rich countries tried to assassinate the Kyoto Protocol and it is now on life support, we have to redouble our efforts in the coming year to revive it.”
Lucia Ortiz of Friends of the Earth Brazil, said:
“We applaud the principled and courageous position of Bolivia, which has consistently called for and worked for ambitious action. Bolivia came here with a mandate from the Cochabamba agreement and listened to the thousands of people in Cancun.
“All over the world people are taking to the streets and demanding real solutions to the climate crisis. The movement is growing, as we have seen here in Cancun, and Friends of the Earth International will continue to pressure governments to reach a global agreement the world needs, next year in Durban.”
Cancún Betrayal: UNFCCC Unmasked as WTO of the Sky
Real Solutions to the Climate Crisis Will Come From Grassroots Movements
11 December 2010
Statement by the Indigenous Environmental Network: “Mass-based movement building is our only hope to overturn the climate apartheid we now face.”
As representatives of Indigenous peoples and communities already suffering the immediate impacts of climate change, we express our outrage and disgust at the agreements that have emerged from the COP16 talks. As was exposed in the Wikileaks climate scandal, the Cancun Agreements are not the result of an informed and open consensus process, but the consequence of an ongoing US diplomatic offensive of backroom deals, arm-twisting and bribery that targeted nations in opposition to the Copenhagen Accord during the months leading up to the COP-16 talks.
We are not fooled by this diplomatic shell game. The Cancun Agreements have no substance. They are yet more hot air. Their only substance is to promote continued talks about climate mitigation strategies motivated by profit.
Such strategies have already proved fruitless and have been shown to violate human and Indigenous rights. The agreements implictly promote carbon markets, offsets, unproven technologies, and land grabs—anything but a commitment to real emissions reductions.
The Voices of the People Must be Respected
Indigenous Peoples from North to South cannot afford these unjust and false ‘solutions’, because climate change is killing our peoples, cultures and ecosystems. We need real commitments to reduce emissions at the source and to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Because we are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change, we came to COP-16 with an urgent call to address the root causes of the climate crisis, to demand respect for the Rights of Mother Earth, and to fundamentally redefine industrial society’s relationship with the planet.
Instead, the Climate COP has shut the doors on our participation and that of other impacted communities, while welcoming business, industry, and speculators with open arms.
The U.S., Industrialized nations, big business and unethical companies like Goldman Sachs will profit handsomely from these agreements while our people die.
Women and youth in our communities are disproportionately burdened by climate impacts and rights violations. Real solutions would strengthen our collective rights and land rights while ensuring the protection of women, youth and vulnerable communities.
While the Cancun Agreements do contain some language “noting” rights, it is exclusively in the context of market mechanisms, while failing to guarantee safeguards for the rights of peoples and communities.
The failures of the UN talks in Copenhagen have been compounded in Cancun. From the opening day to the closing moments of the talks, our voices were censored, dissenting opinions silenced and dozens ejected from the conference grounds.
The thousands who rallied outside to reject market mechanisms and demand recognition of human and Indigenous rights were ignored.
The Market Will Not Protect Our Rights
Market-based approaches have failed to stop climate change. They are designed to commodify and profit from the last remaining elements of our Mother Earth and the air.
Through its focus on market approaches like carbon trading, the UNFCCC has become the WTO of the Sky.
We are deeply concerned that the Cancun Agreements betray both our future and the rights of peoples, women, youth, and vulnerable populations.
While the preamble to the Cancun Agreements note a call for “studies on human rights and climate change,” this is in effect an empty reference, with no content and no standards, that will not protect the collective rights of peoples.
The market mechanisms that implicitly dominate both the spirit and the letter of the Cancun Agreements will neither avert climate change nor guarantee human rights, much less the Rights of Mother Earth.
Approaches based on carbon offsetting, like REDD, will permit polluters to continue poisoning land, water, air, and our bodies, while doing nothing to stop the climate crisis. Indeed, approaches based on the commodification of biodiversity, CO2, forests, water, and other sacred elements will only encourage the buying and selling of our human and environmental rights.
The Cochabamba People’s Agreement Points the Way Forward
There is another way forward: the Cochabamba People’s Agreement represents the vision of everyday people from all corners of the globe who are creating the solutions to climate change from the ground up, and calling for a global framework that respects human rights and the Rights of Mother Earth.
If any hope emerges from Cancun, it comes from the dramatic demonstrations we saw in the streets and from the deep and powerful alliances that were built among indigenous and social movements.
The Indigenous Environmental Network joined thousands of our brothers and sisters to demand real climate solutions based in the rights of Indigenous Peoples, the rights of Mother Earth, and a just transition away from fossil fuels. We will continue to stand with our allies to demand climate justice.
The communities on the frontlines of the problem––those who face the daily impacts of the climate crisis––are also on the frontlines of the solutions. Community-based solutions can cool the planet!
The fight for climate justice continues. We are committed to deepening our alliances with indigenous and social movements around the world as we build in our communities and mobilize toward COP-17 in Durban, South Africa.
Social movements in South Africa mobilized the world to overthrow Apartheid and create powerful, transformative change.
The same mass-based movement building is our only hope to overturn the climate apartheid we now face. We look forward to working with our African brothers and sisters and tribal communities in Durban.
We only have one Mother Earth. As Indigenous Peoples, we will continue our struggle to defend all our Relations and future generations.