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Cancun agreement stripped bare

Cancun agreement stripped bare by Bolivia's dissent
by Nick Buxton

In the famous Hans Christian Anderson fable, The Emperor's New Clothes, a weaver famously plays on an emperor's arrogance and persuades him to wear a non-existent suit with the argument that it is only invisible to the 'hopelessly stupid.' The moment of truth comes, as we can all remember, when a child in an otherwise silent crowd yells out, “But he is not wearing any clothes!” What we don't always recall is that the naked Emperor suspects the child may be telling the truth, but carries on marching proudly and unclothed regardless.

The story is a rather apt parallel for the Cancun climate agreements that were signed last week. Only one dissenting nation, Bolivia, dared to voice its dissent with the agreement. Yet their voice was silenced by the gavel of the Chair and by the standing ovations of 191 countries. They, like the Emperor, must know that the deal is naked and without substance, yet they march on proudly regardless.

Cancun sets us on dangerous path to runaway climate change

Bolivia's indefatigable negotiator, Pablo Solon, put it most cogently in the concluding plenary, when he said that the only way to assess whether the agreement had any 'clothes' was to see if it included firm commitments to reduce emissions and whether it was enough to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The troubling reality, as he pointed out, is that the agreement merely confirms the completely inadequate voluntary pledges of reductions of 13-16% by 2020 made since Copenhagen's talks.

Analysts at Climate Action Tracker have revealed that these paltry offers are nowhere near enough to keep temperature increases even within the contested goal of 2 degrees. Instead they would lead to increases in temperature of between 3 and 4 degrees, a level considered by scientists as highly dangerous for the vast majority of the planet. Solon said, “I can not in all in consciousness sign such as a document as millions of people will die as a result.”

To a stony silence from fellow country negotiators, Solon also pointed out a whole range of critical flaws in the agreement from its complete lack of specifics on key issues of finance to its systematic exclusion of voices from developing countries. As a press statement from Bolivia put it: “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.” Solon concluded that in substance the Cancun text was little more than a rehashed version of the Copenhagen Accord, that had been widely condemned the year before.

Mexican Environment Minister Patricia Espinosa, chair of the talks, refused to open up any points of her draft text for negotiation and cheered on by other delegates made the legally dubious ruling that Bolivia's opposition did not block consensus. The Cancun agreements were 'approved' to great celebration from the international community.
...
Cancun text: A backwards step

Document effectively kills of the only binding agreement, Kyoto Protocol, in favour of a completely inadequate bottom-up voluntary approach

Increases loopholes and flexibilities that allow developed countries to avoid action, via an expansion of offsets and continued existence of ‘surplus allowances’ of carbon after 2012 by countries like Ukraine and Russia which effectively cancel out any other reductions.

Finance Commitments weakened: commitment to “provide new and additional financial resources” to developing countries have been diluted to talking more vaguely about “mobilising [resources] jointly”, with expectation that this will mainly be provided by carbon markets

The World Bank is made trustee of the new Green Climate Fund, which has been strongly opposed by many civil society groups due to the undemocratic makeup of the Bank and its poor environmental record

No discussion of Intellectual Property rights, repeatedly raised by many countries, as current rules obstruct transfer of key climate-related technologies to developing countries

Constant assumption in favour of market mechanisms to resolve climate change even though this perspective is not shared by a number of countries, particularly in Latin America

Green light given for the controversial REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme which often ends up perversely rewarding those responsible for deforestation, while dispossessing indigenous and forest dwellers of their land

Systematic exclusion of proposals that came from the historic World Peoples' Conference on Climate Change including proposals for a Climate Justice Tribunal, full recognition of indigenous rights, and rights for nature

Article continues ... http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2010-12-17/cancun-agreement-stripp...