The Guardian leak of the so-called “Danish text” threw the UN Climate Conference (COP15) into “disarray,” with developing countries “furious” at developed countries such as the US, UK, and Denmark for secretly drafting a framework agreement dated November 27. Among other affronts, the draft document would allow developed countries to emit almost twice as much carbon per person (2.67 tonnes) than developing countries (1.44 tonnes). Sudan’s Lumumba Stanislas Dia Ping, head of the G77 group of developing countries, said the Danish text is a “serious violation that threatens the success of the Copenhagen negotiating process.
“The G77 members will not walk out of this negotiation at this late hour because we can’t afford a failure in Copenhagen,” he added, referring to the Barcelona Climate Conference in early November when over 50 African nations walked out of negotiations over low carbon cut commitments from developing nations. “However, we will not sign an unequitable deal. We can’t accept a deal that condemns 80 percent of the world population to further suffering and injustice.”
This news amplifies a long-standing tension in climate negotiations between the richer nations of the global north and the poorer southern nations that predates the Kyoto Protocol fixing on market mechanisms such as carbon trading to solve climate change. This divide is palpable at COP15, according to Sea Change Radio Climate Correspondent Cimbria Badenhausen, who is on the ground there.
On Monday’s opening session of the Klimatforum, the alternative to COP15 (akin to the World Social Forum alternative to the World Economic Forum), Via Campesina (International Peasant Movement) General Coordinator Henry Saragih said that its members are angry at agribusiness, increasing poverty, and destroying forests.
The fate of forests is a significant focus at COP15, where “reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries” (REDD) was on the day two agenda. Delegates from Bangladesh, Brazil, the Philippines, and Sierra Leone stressed the importance of indigenous peoples’ voices informing the development of REDD policies, according to Badenhausen. Forests store more than carbon; they also hold historical, cultural, and biological value, as well as ownership and tenure rights. “Now is a crucial moment – we must put in a political framework to enable full participation of indigenous peoples, ensuring traditional knowledge is integrated into monitoring and reporting on REDD,” stated a representative from the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change at COP15.
The Brazilian delegate stressed the need to generate significant financial support for REDD to protect the Amazonian environmental system, which is very sensitive and vulnerable. And there’s the rub: funding. It’s also a sticking point in the Danish text, which floats the amount of $10 billion a year to help poor countries adapt to climate change from 2010 to 2012 – a pittance compared to calls from civil society.
“The Danish proposal falls far short of emissions cuts needed, and remains vague on the climate cash. We need a strong deal that delivers the $200 billion in new money every year that poor countries need to adapt to a changing climate and reduce their emissions and sharp emissions reductions from rich countries,” said Oxfam Climate Advisor Antonio Hill. He also pointed to an alternative draft on the table. “The proposal from China and other emerging economies offers a more balanced vision of a deal – but also needs significant work if it is going to serve the needs of the world’s poorest people and prevent a climate catastrophe.”