Thursday, December 17, 2009

Climate activists condemn Northern obstructionism, throw shoes at G8 leaders

By Soumya Dutta

Philippine based organizations Philippine Climate Watch (PCWA) along with international alliance Peoples Action on Climate Change (PACC) and Peoples' Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) staged a protest action yesterday in front of the Fifteenth Conference of Parties (COP 15) at the Bella Center. The protest action condemns the rich northern countries headed by the United States for their unjust positions and obstruction of progress in the UN climate talks.

We are nearing the end of the climate negotiation but there is still no significant agreement that have been reached in the negotiation. Northern countries headed by the United States are trying to block to have a legally binding agreement and have not committed to meaningful carbon emission reduction, explain Filipino climate activists Clemente Bautista of PCWA.

The group brought a mural where face caricatures of G8 leaders namely US President Barrack Obama, Japan Prime Minister Hokio Hatoyama, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others were painted. The protesters throw shoes to the face of G8 leaders to symbolically show their disgust and condemnation.

The protest action follows the withdrawal of developing countries from informal sessions seeking to iron out major differences between parties as the talks reach its second and final week. Talks stalled over moves by developed countries to end the Kyoto Protocol.

Developed countries are pressing to replace Kyoto with a new treaty that includes both the United States and developing countries. This treaty would place stronger emissions obligations on developing countries, while relaxing existing obligations of developed countries. The US in particular proposes to replace the multilateral Kyoto regime in favor of loose pledge-and-review system of emissions reductions. In the existing climate change architecture, the Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding instrument requiring developed countries to reduce emissions, with the exception of the US. The US refuses to be part of Kyoto because it places no similar obligations on developing countries.

We condemn developed countries for continuing to stand in the way justice by not facing up to their historical responsibility for causing climate change, watering down their obligations, and shifting the burden of cutting emissions to developing countries, says Wahu Kaara of the PMCC.

We never shared the wealth rich countries and their corporations gained on the back of damaging the environment at the expense of the South and by exploiting the South. It is absolutely unacceptable for them to force us at this point, just a few days before the summit ends, to take the responsibility and do our share.

Progress in the climate talks require nothing short of rich countries owning up and taking responsibility for the problem they have caused. We demand developed countries, particularly the G8, to honor their climate debt to the South, and compensate us for putting our lives and right to development in peril.

All developed countries, including the United States, must submit to international legally binding emissions reductions. They should commit to at least 40% emissions reductions below 1990 levels by 2020. And as previously agreed to, developing countries should reduce emissions only insofar as they are supported by technology and financing from developed countries.

Based on pronouncements of northern countries, the average commitment made to reduce carbon emission only ranges from 7% to 23%. US and Japan committed to reduce their emission by only 7 and 8% respectively by 2020 based on 1990 level. Expert suggested that in order to avert catastrophic effect of global warming, global carbon emission should be reduced by at least 40% by 2020.

National government should unite to a common position and not allow the United States and its allies to hijack the negotiation. Protests actions in Copenhagen and around the globe continue to demand climate justice. We will have justice if northern countries which are historically responsible for global warming and currently the biggest polluters will be held accountable, Mr. Bautista ends.

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