Climate debt news
Copenhagen blog 3: Warming up
Kirsty Wright, WDM climate justice campaigner, writes from Copenhagen
Day three of the official negotiations and things are starting to heat up. The leaking of the Danish text yesterday – which exposes the paltry deal that rich countries were hoping to put on the table – has really shifted the tone in Copenhagen. Along with the outrage, there’s also some relief that, finally, the insulting deal that the rich countries are trying to impose on the negotiations has been exposed. To many in Copenhagen, particularly campaigners from the south who’ve spent years battling rich country governments through the WTO, it’s really no surprise at all. Outrage yes, surprise, no.
By signing up to the framework of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, the rich countries have in theory accepted their historical responsibility, agreeing to lead emissions reductions, to ensure technology transfer and to provide adequate finance for the irreversible damage that is already destroying people’s lives. Of course, what's happening is far from this. Rich country governments are not only completely shirking on their commitments, but are also showing total disregard for the UN process at the same time. What has just been put on the table is so far from the climate debt it’s insulting.
Yesterday evening, as I was leaving the Bella Centre (where the official conference is taking place), I heard chanting and rushed over to find the commotion. "Two degrees is suicide! One Africa, one degree!" chanted members of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance who, outraged by the leaked text, were holding an impromptu demonstration inside the conference centre. They were followed by an increasing mass of people, waving their mobiles in the air to try and catch the action, and media scrumming to get a piece of the story, some of the first commotion to happen inside the centre. "We are nowhere near 2 degrees yet, and already we’ve seeing so much suffering." I heard one Kenyan man saying to the media, "For us, if the best that can be managed is 2 degrees, then that’s no deal."
This morning their demand was echoed by a group of young people "Two degrees is suicide, climate justice now!”which they followed with a statement against the failed market mechanisms being proposed as solutions by rich country governments at the UN conference "Offsetting is upsetting”. A simple statement, but one that nicely summed up how many communities feel about carbon trading which is so often used to fund projects that are developed without consultation with local people, who have all too often lost their livelihoods because of carbon credit projects.
This evening, the Climate Caravan arrived in Copenhagen. The caravan travelled from the WTO meeting in Geneva to Copenhagen for the UN climate talks, highlighting the links between the trade and climate, all too often seen as separate issues. "These two events are totally connected", we were told as they gave their arrival speech. "The trade system has pushed us into this crisis, and now the solutions to climate change being proposed are still about how to make more money out of the crisis by pushing carbon markets. We may have traded ourselves into climate change, but we can't trade ourselves out."
As more and more people arrive, the activity around Copenhagen is really building up. At the moment it seems, if anyone can make a difference to the outcome, and the bullying and false solutions being proposed by the northern country governments, its people standing up and demanding it. As one lady said to me today, "The deal may be signed in the conference centre, but it’s won on the streets."
Kirsty is senior campaigns officer at WDM. She campaigns to keep the World Bank out of climate finance and against loans for climate change.