We > Climate Change. A Final Statement from the CYD.
As a sleepless Friday night turned into another ineffective and silent day of negotiating at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 18th annual Conference of Parties (COP18) here in Doha a deal, termed the ‘Doha Gateway Package’, was rammed through in a few minutes by the presidency, despite the serious misgivings and the objections of many countries. This deal represents nothing more than a gateway to a warmer planet and the loss of species, cultures and people around the globe.
COP18 revealed the unsteady grounding of these international negotiations. The Philippines, battered and reeling from typhoon Bopha, led a bloc of developing countries demanding ambitious action. As these countries are hit even harder by the consequences of international inaction and the impacts of climate change, the outcome of these climate negotiations is crucial to their ability to respond to the climate crisis. Not surprisingly, developed countries such as Canada, the US and the European Union engaged in bully tactics and political game-playing to manoeuvre an outcome favourable to continued profits rather than human survival. As a delegate from Nauru said in a heart-wrenching plea, “We are not talking about how comfortably your people will live, but whether our people live at all”.
The crux upon which COP18 turned was financing. Though developed countries have agreed to contribute $100 billion/year to the Green Climate Fund by 2020, mid-term funding is not in place. Fast-start financing is not enough to help countries like the Philippines weather the intensifying devastation of the superstorms, droughts, floods, and famines of a world already warmed by nearly one degree.
A second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, though not ratified by Canada and other developed nations, left this agreement weak and toothless, a shell of its former self. The official text states that countries ‘may’ increase ambition in emissions reduction targets, though this arbitrary target setting is not enough to ensure that globally we will see emissions reduced to the levels needed to keep the world below 2 degrees of warming. As extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy & Typhoon Bopha become the norm, a commitment for voluntary reductions is just not good enough to reverse the warming trajectory on which we find ourselves.
Speaking to the plenary, the delegate from Nauru continued, “The lives of our people are on the line. We see that the package before us is deeply deficient. The reality of what we face demands concrete ambition and actions. Those who are indifferent need to open your eyes. We need outcomes that protect the most vulnerable of us.”
Throughout the course of COP18, we saw Canada take a backseat in the negotiations. Having removed themselves from the Kyoto Protocol immediately following last year’s climate negotiations, Canada was content to lay low this year and continue its undermining of the international process by pushing their dirty oil and dirty money on the negotiations. Leaving the US and the EU to be the open “bad guys”, Canada’s presence at COP18 nevertheless served to intimidate and weaken the will of developing nations.
This year COP18 saw the naissance of a civil society movement standing in solidarity with those nations demanding for an ambitious, equitable and just deal. Hundreds of youth and NGOs from around the world banded together in multiple solidarity actions, to stand with countries like the Philippines, to provide support and encouragement to those negotiators demanding not luxuries, merely the dignity and the rights needed to survive the catastrophes they have experienced, are experiencing and will continue to experience as our world continues to warm.
Coming out of COP18 here in Doha, it is clear that there are only two paths that this process can take; it can either right itself and fulfill the principles and goals outlined in the mandate of the UNFCCC or collapse. Right now, it would seem that it is well on its way to the latter as the interests of people are being sidelined by dirty energy, dirty money and dirty politics.
At the same time the movement outside these walls is growing. We may only have 10-15 years to cap emissions, but we have millions of young people around the globe who refuse to inherit a planet in crisis. The inspiration of the Arab Youth Climate Movement, the resolve of our allies living on the frontlines of this crisis and the growing resistance to the fossil fuel industrial complex in Canada combined give us hope.
This problem may be great, but together we are greater than fossil fuels and a changing climate.