By Guy Edwards and Susanna Mage
Regardless of one’s position on el Comandante Hugo Chávez, the death of the Venezuelan president opens the door for a policy debate on a critical issue for Venezuela and the world’s security: climate change. As the 2015 deadline to create a new global treaty on climate change approaches, the question for the oil-rich country looms: will Venezuela be a key architect of an ambitious and equitable deal, or will it sabotage progress?
Next year a Latin American and the Caribbean country will host the annual UN climate change negotiations or ‘COP20’ of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Rumours are circulating that Peru and Venezuela are interested in hosting COP20. As the 2015 deadline to create a new global climate change treaty looms closer, Peru appears to be the stronger candidate.
By Guy Edwards and Susanna Mage*
In an op-ed in The New York Times, Anita Isaacs suggests that Ecuador’s decision to grant WikiLeak’s founder, Julian Assange, asylum has little to do with UK-Ecuadorian relations or human rights. Ms. Isaacs argues that Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, is trying to bolster domestic support in the run up to a presidential election, antagonize the U.S., and position himself as a potential contender for the leadership of Latin America’s Left, given the declining health of Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez.
Coordination is weak between public policies on climate change and development planning in Latin America, said Manuel Rodríguez-Becerra, ex Minister of Environment of Colombia, during the Latin American Platform on Climate (LAPC) side event at the Río+20 Conference.
The COP17 was a watershed moment for Latin American civil society participation in the UNFCCC negotiations. Civil society organizations (CSOs) actively engaged with governments at the talks and, in turn, governments made efforts to reach out to civil society. This increased level of exchange can be observed on two levels.
The UNFCCC Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen was billed as a high-profile, ambitious and extremely tough set of negotiations to carve out a new climate change treaty. It succeeded in being a colossal, but at times almost farcical event, where the entrenched and archaic negotiating positions of a number of countries led to its downfall. In the end the conference parties had little choice but to pay lip service to a Copenhagen Accord squeezed out of the dregs of the talks by a select group of countries including China, India, South Africa, Brazil and the US.
The UK sustainable development organisation, E3G, summaries what the Copenhagen Accord fails to include:
No commitment to medium term emission goals to drive significant action such as peaking by 2020 or halving global emissions by 2050. No operational reference to a 2°C or lower goal.
No agreement on specific emission reduction commitments – these are delayed until February 2010 and may be far away from a 2°C trajectory even in the short term. The EU has announced it will not move to 30% based on this deal, implying that global emissions will be far from a 2°C compatible pathway in 2020.
No deadline to complete a legally binding instrument or instruments to lock in progress made during two years’ of negotiations on issues such as technology and forestry
No requirement to review whether the agreement is consistent with the latest science: the Parties “call for” rather than committing that they “will review”
No commitment to a compliance mechanism on US targets that would ensure comparability with other developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol
No reliable public finance commitment for 2015 and weak ambition for 2020. No commitment that long term public finance for developing countries will be additional to aid for poverty reduction, leaving the door open for diversion of funds from other development objectives
No clarity on closing of loopholes for surplus “hot air” credits or for emissions from land use change and international shipping and aviation. This could radically reduce the already weak mitigation pledges and leave a gap larger than the entire first Kyoto commitment period
Here is a round-up of quotes from leading politicians and thinkers on climate change in the aftermath of the talks and where Latin America fits into sticky situation. The quotes demonstrate not only the complexity of negotiating climate change treaties but the tug of war context in which they exist.
US President Barack Obama described negotiations as “extremely difficult and complex”, but said they had laid “the foundation for international action in the years to come”.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said “I will not hide my disappointment,” and that the deal was “clearly below” the European Union’s goal.
“We have a big job ahead to avoid climate change through effective emissions reduction targets, and this was not done here,” said Brazil’s climate change ambassador, Sergio Serra.
Venezuelan delegate Claudia Salerno Caldera said the deal was a “coup d’etat against the authority of the United Nations”.
“The deal is a triumph of spin over substance. It kicks back the big decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash,” said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International.
“Global Leaders came to Copenhagen carrying the expectations of their populations but have failed to deliver a real solution. The political agreement struck at Copenhagen falls short in so many areas that it cannot form a reliable basis for limiting temperature rise to below 2°C. Leaders must stop presenting this as progress and realise that their citizens expect real action not greenwash.” commented Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of E3G.
“I am deeply disappointed with the Copenhagen Accord. Finance was the neglected half of the deal-making, because the injustice of climate change cannot be separated from the unmet development needs of most of the world’s population. So in the end we got an inadequate deal, but it was a realist’s deal that may lead to some forward progress.” Professor J. Timmons Roberts, Director of the Centre for Environmental Studies, Brown University and co-author of A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy (2007, MIT Press).
“Latin America is a powerful microcosm of the contrasting interests which pervade throughout the climate negotiations: there are many small countries that are highly vulnerable and need adaptation support, we have major emitting countries which argue that the differentiation between industrialized and developing countries must be maintained. We also have a group of ideologically driven countries who demand retribution for centuries of “ecological debt”. Thus Latin America cannot act as an integrated region in the climate negotiations. The global challenge is to weave a wide diversity of interests – some diametrically opposed to each other – into a basket of possibilities to begin to mitigate and adapt to climate change.” Christiana Figueres, is an independent consultant on climate change and international environmental policy and has been closely involved with the UNFCCC as an official negotiator since 1995.
“While not everything is lost, much will need to happen to make a treaty viable covering all major areas, and to create a solid and useful position for a meaningful Latin America participation within it. Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica and many other low emission countries acted jointly there to achieve a sensible deal. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to have a progressive coalition and move others forwards towards it – while containing those countries, in the region and elsewhere that chose to stall the COP process. These countries frequently raised procedural issues to delay advances. The role of the major Asian economies -particularly China- in advancing a positive global deal is also yet to be seen. Brazil played on its own, while Mexico tried its best, but it is out of the G77. With Mexico hosting COP 16, a sensible deal is still possible, but new approaches will be required. The starting point is not as high as it should be.” Jose Alberto Garibaldi, Energeia Research Network, who has followed the negotiations for more than a decade, and is the author of the The Economics of Boldness which was launched at the Copenhagen Conference.
The Durban Platform: Implications and Scenarios in Latin America (2012)
This report analyzes submissions made by Latin American countries to the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for …
Sustainable Development 20 years on from the Earth Summit: Progress, gaps and strategic, guidelines for Latin America and the Caribbean (2012)
This report by ECLAC published in March 2012 prior to the Rio+20 Conference offers an analysis of progress made and …
Capturing the Riches of Bolivia: Utilizing Historical and Contemporary Experience in Bolivian Mining to Inform Future Resource Policy (2012)
Centuries of foreign extraction of Bolivian natural resource wealth have occurred at the expense of environmental protection and overall development …
Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation in the Peruvian Andes (2012)
Indigenous peoples have extensive knowledge of their local environment and this knowledge can be a valuable tool for climate change …
Shaping the Durban Platform: Latin America and the Caribbean in a future High Ambition Deal (2012)
After the longest session on record, governments at the COP17 in Durban in December 2011 agreed to negotiate by 2015 …
Three Hungry Giants: China, the U.S. and the E.U.’s battle over Latin America’s natural resources, and its implications for climate change and resource scarcity (2012)
This presentation was made on April 6, 2012, by Brown University Research Fellow Guy Edwards and Professor Timmons Roberts at …
Poles Apart – The international reporting of climate change scepticism (2011)
Poles Apart is a wide-ranging comparative study on the prevalence of climate scepticism in the media around the world. It …
Dangerous Climate Change in Brazil: A Brazil-UK Analysis of Climate Change and Deforestation Impacts in the Amazon (2011)
This collaborative project between the Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre (CCST) of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), …
Civil-Military Collaboration to Address Adaptation to Climate Change in South America (2011)
This paper, published by the Center for Strategic Leadership (CSL) at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), was written by …
‘Will cattle ranching continue to drive deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon?’ (Paulo Barreto, 2011)
This is a presentation made by Paulo Barreto, Senior Researcher at IMAZON, at the April 8th Brown University Conference on …
‘Slow Boil: Colombia’s response to the chronic emergency of climate vulnerability’ (Antonio Hill, 2011)
This is a presentation made by Antonio Hill, Regional Advocacy and Campaigns Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean for …
‘The Squeezed Middle: Why Latin America Matters in Climate Politics’ (Monica Araya, 2011)
This is a presentation made by Dr. Monica Araya, E3G Senior Associate and adviser to the Ministry of Environment of …
Scoping Study of Climate Change Activities across Latin America and the Caribbean to inform the CDKN Regional Strategy (2010)
This study prepared by Guy Edwards attempts to identify the priority needs of Latin American and Caribbean policy-makers with respect …
Regional implications of the Advisory Group on Climate Finance recommendations: Latin America and Caribbean region (2010)
This report was written by Vivid Economics and funded by the CDKN. It was requested by AGF members to help …
Economics of Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean Summary 2010
This document, published by the ECLAC and carried out in collaboration with regional governments, the EU, IDB and various other …
IDB Development Effectiveness Overview 2010
This annual report summarizes the actions taken by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to measure and improve the social, economic, …
Climate Change: A Research Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean (Inter-American Development Bank, 2010)
This research agenda outlines the issues requiring further research in order to create an informed assessment of what strategies and …
Latin America finds a voice on climate change: With what impact? (2010)
This article featured in the North American Congress on Latin America written by Jim Shultz and published in 2010 describes …
Low Carbon, High Growth: Latin American Responses to Climate Change (2009)
The World Bank’s flagship report on Latin America and the Caribbean explores how the region is exposed to climate change …
Climate Change in Latin America (2009)
The European Commission funded a study which would ascertain the problems related to climate change within Latin America. The study …
Up in smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean: The threat from climate change to the environment and human development (2006)
This publication is an important contribution to establish greater awareness about climate change. It is a call to action not …
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- Ushahidi – tools for democratizing information and increasing transparency
- A New “Why” for Climate Action
- Platform publishes new policy brief on how to strengthen public policies on agriculture, livestock and forests in Latin America
- Peru and Venezuela compete to host COP20 in 2014
- The Politics of Climate Change in Latin America: Leaders and Laggards
- Integrating Climate Migration into Latin American regional forums
- IDB: LAC must urgently adapt to the dangerous consequences of a changing climate
- A New Latin American Climate Negotiating Group: The Greenest Shoots in the Doha Desert
- Mexican and Brazilian cooperation on climate crucial for driving change
- A New “Why” for Climate Action - Siri M: Brava Monica
- Trail-blazing schemes show potential of REDD+ in the Brazilian Amazon - Emily Kirkland: I second that- thanks for the...
- Trail-blazing schemes show potential of REDD+ in the Brazilian Amazon - Guy Edwards: Graham – thanks for your...
- Trail-blazing schemes show potential of REDD+ in the Brazilian Amazon - Graham Woodgate: Dear GuyTwo points for you...
- Ecuador’s Yasuní Initiative shakes up the climate-development agenda - Guy Edwards: Rachel: Thanks for your comments....
- Ecuador’s Yasuní Initiative shakes up the climate-development agenda - rachelincolombia: Hi Guy,Thanks for this much...
- Ecuador’s Yasuní Initiative shakes up the climate-development agenda - Amazonia: It is great to develop...
- Latin America, climate change and the countdown to Copenhagen: Interview 1* - kiramatali shah: . According to the...
- Chávez criticizes lack of transparency in Copenhagen - tiffany: Thanks for the post – you might find this...
- Latin America, climate change and the countdown to Copenhagen: Interview 3* - tax jobs: HiIn this site very super ,...
Challenges for a Climate Compatible Development: How to strengthen agricultural, livestock and forestry public policies (2013)
This policy brief emerges from a process of analysis of the status and quality of the public policies on climate …
Report on the Status and Quality of Public Policies on Climate Change and Development in Latin America (2012)
This report analyses the present status of public policies on climate change and development in Latin America focusing on the …
Political and Institutional Challenges facing Local Climate Change Policies: The experiences of Buenos Aires, Mexico City and São Paulo (2012)
During the last few years, Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Mexico …
Latin American Platform on Climate Strategy 2010
This document outlines the Strategic Lines of Action of the Latin American Platform on Climate.…
Latin America: Climate Challenges for the Region (2009)
A LAPC presentation made at the COP15 in Copenhagen, 14th December 2009…