Early Impressions of COP18
You might think this will be a pretty short blog since myself and another CYD member were only able to attain our accreditation today. You see, the two of us found out Sunday that we were not allowed on UN premises because of our participation in the “Turn Your Back On Canada” action in Durban, South Africa at last year’s COP17.
What I have noticed over my time in Doha, following COP18’s progression through the media (both online and not), is that there seems to be an increasing trend to blame COP18’s political inaction on civil society.
“Civil society is not doing enough to pressure governments to raise their level of ambition,” said the Executive Secretary to the UNFCCC. This—coming from an organization that is preventing youth from engaging in any meaningful dialogue, that is not allowing youths under the age of 18 to participate, and that has become an international pariah for its failure to achieve its own mandate—is laughable.
In any situation that threatens the survival of humanity or a group of people –war, genocide, ethnocide, gendercide, and now, climate change – the blame lies with the perpetrators, not the victims. It is appalling that these are the excuses we are hearing, that this is the level these negotiations have come to. Would anyone dare to imply that if only civil society had stepped up their pressure on the Nazi regime that the extermination of Romanies, prisoners of war, Jews, Sinti, Poles, LBGQT, Jehovah’s Witnesses and so many others could have been prevented? Really?
These types of situation are of such magnitude and urgency that they require government and governing body interventions. There are violent and dire consequences for people of the world already, and as it stands now, these are set to worsen as the UNFCCC’s inability to govern this process is setting us all on a path to a world of 4 degrees or warmer. We are living in an oil-drenched, corporate regime. People around the world are dying from drought/flooding/fire-induced famine, countries are literally sinking into the ocean, entire ways of life are flashing before the eyes of their people and the UNFCCC continues to allow polluting corporations to gain access to the negotiations and the negotiators, to woo us all with their promises of sustainable practices and lies of corporate responsibility.
I think to my home, Canada, where the Unis’tot’en of the Wet’suwet’en people are fighting for their lives, livelihoods and culture. There is plenty of civil society support and solidarity – yes, there can always be more. The problem is not that the Unis’tot’en are failing to engage; the problem is that the Government of Canada is not even remotely interested in listening. Their ability to hear the stories of cultural survival are clouded and brought to a halt by the sound of rushing pipelines and heavy tar sands machinery.
And so too is the situation at the UNFCCC. Years of mediocre achievement have left this body a shell of what it should have been. Allowing fossil fuel corporations into the process and failing to discipline obstinate and obstructionist nations have made COP18 into a slow, impediment of an international body – composed of the truly worst aspects of humanity and government: indifference and purposeful ignorance.