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CancunWatch 1: warming up for the Cancun climate talks
As we arrive in Cancun with people from across Mexico and around the world, concerns about a repeat of the dismal failure of the shambles that was Copenhagen abound. The deepening of the outrageous behaviour that was seen in Copenhagen seems more likely than ever. Today I heard of rumours of a new negotiating text that completely disregards any progress painstakingly made during the year through the ongoing drafting of the negotiating text.
The text now being put on the table as the talks begin, that is set to form the basis of this years’ negotiations, apparently completely disregards any progress that has been made through the year. Perhaps unsurprisingly it entirely excludes the more progressive outcomes of the Cochabamba People’s Accord, representing the views of 35,000 representatives of social movements, scientists, and other members of civil society, which came out of the People’s Conference held in Bolivia earlier this year. Even more shocking however, is that the new text also completely excludes the outcomes of the last meeting of negotiators at pre-talks that took place in Tianjin, China in October, and in Bonn, Germany earlier in the year. If these rumours turn out to be true, it will be catastrophic for a conference that critically needs to rebuild the trust that was shattered in Copenhagen.
The new text is apparently so weak and riddled with false solutions, it would be diasastrous for the global south, who even the World Bank recognise will suffer the climate crisis disproportionately. What’s more, the heads of state from 20 countries have been handpicked to receive invites from the Mexican government, whilst all others have been excluded.
In a process that is meant to be based on consensus between all countries that are party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, this is an outrageous move. Already it is horribly reminiscent of the final days of Copenhagen where 28 countries, including the UK, split off from the talks to negotiate the text separately, which became the Copenhagen Accord, completely sidelining the UN process. Though this never reached sufficient buy in, especially from countries in the global south, it apparently now forms the basis of the new negotiating text that is set to form the basis of the talks.
Concerns about silencing of voices of civil society are also running high already. Even before the conference has started, the presence of the Mexican military is almost omnipresent in Cancun, to the extent that even our initial meeting of Climate Justice Now network was moved because young soldiers with large machine guns were overrunning the lobby of the hotel where we had intended to meet.
Map of Cancun: the conference centre is based on the peninsular, making it very easy to police and shut out civil society should the autorities decide to.
The shutting out of the voices of the people is reflected in the geographical location of the talks. Down a single highway stretching along the waters edge, the civil society space is 25 kilometres from the town, already making access difficult for the masses. The delegates’ conference is yet another 7 kilometres away. Even for the organisations who are supposed to have ‘observer status’, it is being made practically impossible to enter the plenary where the critical discussions will occur. If the decision is made to cut these people out of the talks at any point, it will be all too simple just to block the road, and with it the access of the people who will have to live with the consequences of decisions made inside these buildings.'m writing from Cancun, Mexico on the eve of the UN climate talks. Over the past year, since the catastrophic failure of Copenhagen, the supposed ‘conference to save the world’, the climate crisis has only deepened. In terms of global averages, 2010 looks set to rival the 1998, which saw heat waves that caused the deaths of thousands across Europe. Catastrophic floods in Pakistan and droughts in Russia over the last year have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and devastated the lives of yet more. Yet, the expectations from this years climate talks have gone in the opposite direction, with little, if any, expectation of a positive outcome.
Kirsty is senior campaigns officer at WDM. She campaigns to keep the World Bank out of climate finance and against loans for climate change.