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UPDATE: The UNFCCC or COP 16 is now in full swing in Cancun

After the disaster in Copenhagen expectations are, unfortunately, very low. This negative feeling is being heightened by positions being taken by governments like Canada’s. Canada started the COP with the same winning ways of all previous COP’s since the Conservatives have been government, winning all 3 fossils of the day – this is not a good thing.

I’ve pasted the statement on why Canada won this dubious aware below, all things we have been fighting at home. As terrible as Canada is, the Japanese outdid Canada on Day 2 when they announced, never, ever, under any circumstances, would they inscribe new targets under the Kyoto Protocol. There are a few big struggles here – keeping Kyoto alive is one, as it is the only legally-binding instrument that we have to work within and it will be ongoing as long as we don’t allow a few powerful countries to undermine and gut this agreement.

Was wonderful to present alongside our very respected colleagues, Martin Khor and Meena Ramen of the South Center and Third World Network at an event inside the official UN climate change negotiations. It was very well attended with over 200 people present. The big draw was to hear Martin Khor’s assessment of the negotiations, he has been doing this work with governments for so long and is very well trusted by Southern negotiators.

I presented on water quoting a lot of Maude’s work and trying to present a hopeful message after the very negative assessments by both Martin and Meena. My main messages was that water and climate are inextricably linked, that there are solutions but we need to empower communities to make positive changes and that water justice was climate justice.

One thing I neglected to stress, so want to do it here, is that water is the climates coolant. If we look at Slovakian hydrologist, Michal Kravchik’s work, it is clear that water can be an agent of climate mitigation. We are destroying micro-hydro climates which cool the planet, we are also reducing the amount of water in the soil, limiting biomass and destroying the planet’s ability to cool itself and naturally sequester carbon.

The Slovakian President will be presenting some of this work in Cancun, and this is hopeful, alongside the work of the Bolivian contingent but few others unfortunately!

Overall, the negotiations are predictably depressing with some powerful governments undermining any progress.

The key points seem to be many governments trying to again kill Kyoto and ensure there is no next phase, even though it is supposed to be ongoing and binding!!! This is terrible because even though flawed, this is the only mechanism that exists to ensure accountability and compliance.

There is also a big debate even on the Copenhagen Accord article 4 about whether the scope of Copenhagen can be broadened and enhanced.

REDD and REDD+ are also being vigorously debated with few on the anti-REDD side and lots of money promoting REDD. The theory sounds fine, who would not want to reduce environmental degradation and deforestation (REDD), but the trouble comes in the implementation.

Another terrible thing is that the US is pressing for a pledge and review process which is non-binding and non-negotiable….they set the targets and you can take it or leave it….sadly, others in Annex 1, which have been legally-bound under Kyoto, are joining this travesty.

Finally, the big carrot here is the hope that a fund will be established. There is such a reduced expectation here that it seems the announcement of a fund, even without firm commitments of money to establish the fund, will be seen as a victory. You can also be sure that promise of funds will be contingent on promoting a neo-liberal climate change program which includes markets, offsets and the like.

Our governments seem to be trying to do everything but actually make changes that would give us hope. There are exceptions but the smaller states seem to be sitting on the sidelines more this time hoping for better outcomes than the Copenhagen Accord, with Bolivia continuing to play a strong role!

Wish I had better news and here’s hoping that my assessment is unduly negative. I could use a little hope.

In solidarity,


Japan Wins 1st (and Only) Place Fossil of the Day for Trying to Kill Kyoto Protocol
November 30 2010 • 12:30
by montana

Cancun, Mexico – Japan received the dubious distinction of being the only government to win a Fossil of the Day award today for its efforts Monday to prevent the continuation of a protocol to the United Nations climate convention that was agreed to in its own city of Kyoto. This comes not two months after a new protocol and other agreements were reached in Nagoya, Japan at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

The text of the award reads: “Japan wins the 1st place Fossil of the Day. When leadership is needed most, the home country of the Kyoto Protocol made a destructive statement in the AWG KP Plenary yesterday. It factually rejected the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol by saying ‘Japan will not inscribe its target under the KP on any conditions or under any circumstances’. ‘Preferring’ a single-treaty approach is one thing, but aggressively denying the future of Kyoto in opening plenary is another. The statement upset many parties and created an unconstructive atmosphere for the negotiations. This COP was supposed to be the place to rebuild trust among parties. Japan’s move is most unwelcome.”

Canada Sweeps 1st Cancun Fossil of the Day Awards for Year of Climate Inaction
November 29 2010 • 12:30
by montana

Canada receives the 3rd place Fossil for a spectacular, year-long effort to regain its title of ‘colossal fossil’ as the country making the least constructive contribution to the negotiations.

In January, Canada backed off of a weak target to adopt an even weaker one, as part of the government’s plan to outsource climate policy to the United States. Canada’s plan to meet that target is, to put it nicely, still being written. And the guy they’ve just put in charge as Environment Minister is John Baird; COP veterans might remember him as the solo holdout against science-based targets for developed countries at the end of Bali.

Canada also receives the 2nd place Fossil. We’ve already heard that Canada doesn’t have a plan to cut emissions. What it does have is a plan to cut a lot of other things, such as:

  • the only major federal support program for renewable energy
  • a program funding energy efficiency upgrades for homeowners
  • funding for Canada’s climate science foundation
  • climate change off of the G8 and G20 agendas when Canada played host this summer, and last but not least…
  • clean fuels policies in other countries. Internal government documents released today reveal that Canada worked to “kill” a US federal clean fuels policy to protect its tar sands, working with allies like the Bush administration and Exxon.

With friends like that, who needs clean energy?

Finally, Canada wins the 1st place Fossil. Some might think the US Senate wasn’t too helpful on climate change. But today’s Fossil winner has a Senate that makes the US look good, and not just because these Senators aren’t elected. In this country, Conservative Senators killed a progressive climate change bill without even bothering to debate it, something that hasn’t happened for at least 70 years. This leaves their country without a science-based target or any domestic transparency program for the 2020 target the government has brought to these talks. Where can we find that fossil-worthy Senate? In a shocking twist, it’s Canada again!

So Canada is starting off with a substantial lead, taking three prizes today. Killing progressive legislation, cancelling support for clean energy and failing to have any plan to meet its target all position Canada well for another two weeks of ignominy here in Cancun.