Monday, December 7, 2009

Its Climate Crisis now!

By Soumya Dutta

In a well attended seminar in the Finnish Parliament building in Helsinki, on the 4th of December, several groups from different countries voiced their serious concern on the drift in the climate talks scheduled to begin from 7th Dec in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. These groups – with a mix of people’s struggles, forest movements, adivasi groups, environmental NGOs and social justice groups, from both the poorer southern countries as well as from Europe, brought out the serious dangers the world – but more specifically, the poorer people in southern countries – are facing from an erratically changing climate. The seminar was organized by a group of environmental organizations from Finland.

Ms Nicola Bullard of the Focus on the Global South brought out the evasive tactics of the richer countries in admitting and acting on their responsibility to both drastically cut their Green House gas emissions, and their accountability to provide the finance for the poor countries to cope with the crisis and prepare their vulnerable populations for adaptation to the changing climate patterns. While it was conservatively estimated that a minimum of $400 billion/year (one billion $ is nearly Rs.4800 Crores) will be needed to take both mitigation (reduction of polluting / high emission methods and changing over to cleaner and low energy ways) and adaptation (preparing communities to face the inevitable changes that are already impacting on them, and are going to worsen), the rich European countries were earlier talking of only $100 billion, but the recent proposal by the British Prime minister Gordon Brown talking of total northern contribution of $10 billion a year, with the birth-place of the high-consumption, high-emission industrialization, UK, contributing nothing more than $800 million per year (about enough for a high way project) !

The hypocracy and non seriousness of the rich countries can be gauged from the fact that with the recent financial crisis, these same governments – along with the governments of the large developing countries - managed to pump in nearly $ 12 Trillion into the world financial system, to save the largest banks and commercial companies. Obama-Brown-Sarkozy-etc are more than willing to put up their countries entire resources to save the once hugely profit making banks and their exhorbitantly paid executives, BUT when it comes to saving the entire planet and particularly its most vulnerable population of about 300 crore people, they find no money ! Nicola also raised the question that as it is becoming clear that the rich countries are not serious about about a genuine solution based on common but differentiated responsibility to address the crisis, will it not be better for the poorer and exploited world to refuse to sign on to an unjust, hypocritical, bad ‘deal’ at Copenhagen, rather than cling to the hope that anything – even bits & pieces thrown to the poor as alms will serve ‘some’ purpose ?

Anna Filipini from the World rainforest Movement, Uruguay graphically brought out how rich countries are sucking out all the resources from the developing countries, and the ruling elite of these poorer countries have become party to these exploitation and brutal suppression of affected people. She was presenting against both the dangers of the newly fashionable and in-consideration-for-climate-deal “REDD’ (Reduction of Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation in tropical countries), and the devastation that mono-culture tree plantations are doing in their countries. One Finnish company, Bothnia owns and controls so much land in Urugya that their country is often referred to as the Republic of Bothnia, rather than the Republic of Uruguay ! She presented how REDD projects will devastate existing forests, displace forest dwellers, destroy bio-diversity, and even reduce the capacity of forests to store carbon – while giving large profits to MNCs/TNCs from the rich countries and their collaborating corporate entities in the southern countries. She also struck a chord of shared suffering with Indian struggle groups resisting ruthlessly exploitative mining companies, when she said that the Korean steel giant POSCO (which is trying to establish a huge green-field steel plant in Orissa and forcibly evict thousands of resident tribal & other families, in collaboration with both the Orissa & Indian Governments, and against which there is a vibrant people’s resistance movement) is establishing a huge 20,000 Hectares mono-culture tree plantation in Uruguay to claim carbon credits to supposedly ‘offset’ the polluting emissions from the Orissa plant. This is a double whammy for the poor people of these two places. These examples clearly show the urgent need for for active solidarity between threatened communities and populations in southern countries, to resist the aggressors.

On behalf of the Indian climate justice groups present there, Soumya Dutta raised the issues of the attempts to brand countries like India as climate renegade, and the evil designs behind these moves. He pointed out that even if all of India is taken out, it will cause only a 4-4.5 % fall in global emissions at the cost of denying everything to 17% of world population, so the attempt should be for targeting the real big polluters . He also circulated a joint declaration and demand by the Indian groups, which called for drastic reduction in the war industry support & consumption, mapping of both the one-billion plus (100 crore) high polluters whose consumption is the major contributor to this crisis, as well as the approx. three billion almost sustainable life-styles, and also the 2.8 billion forced under-consumers who are denied the basic necessities of a dignified life and an overwhelming majority of whom leaves in the poorer countries. He also demanded that the quantification of “Outsourced emission” be a part of the global accounting of country-wise emissions, as a large part of the polluting industries in the poor countries serve the consumption of the rich northern consumers, and the rich countries conveniently puts that emission in the ‘account book’ of poor countries. On behalf of the Indian groups, a three-page resolution cum demand – which was jointly prepared the day before, was presented to the groups going to Copenhagen for taking part in the climate summit.

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