Info Service on Climate Change (Sept14/02)
19 September 2014
Third World Network
the upcoming Climate Summit be another talkathon?
Penang, 17 Sep (IPS/Meenakshi Raman*) -- As the United Nations hosts
a Climate Summit September 23, the lingering question is whether the
meeting of world leaders will wind up as another talk fest.
It is most likely that it could go that way. The problem is that developed
countries are pressuring developing countries to indicate their pledges
for emissions reductions post-2020 under the Paris deal which is currently
under negotiation, without any indication of whether they will provide
any finance or enable technology transfer - which are current commitments
under the Convention.
What is worse is that many developed countries - especially the US
and its allies - are delaying making their contributions to the Green
Climate Fund (GCF).
The GCF was launched in 2011 and it was agreed in Cancun, Mexico in
2010 that developed countries will mobilise 100 billion dollars per
year by 2020. The GCF has yet to receive any funds that can be disbursed
to developing countries to undertake their climate actions.
Worse, there is a grave reluctance to indicate the size and scale
of the resources that will be put into the GCF for its initial capitalisation.
Only Germany so far has indicated that it is willing to contribute
one billion dollars to the Fund. Others have been deafeningly silent.
The G77 and China, had in Bonn, Germany in June, called for at least
15 billion dollars to be put into the GCF as its initial capital.
The Climate Summit must focus on this to get developed countries to
announce their finance commitments to the Fund.
If it does not, the UNFCCC meeting in Lima will be in jeopardy, as
this is an existing obligation of developed countries that must be
met latest by November.
This is the most important issue in confidence building to enable
developing countries to meet their adaptation and mitigation needs.
Otherwise, without real concrete and finance commitments, the New
York summit will be meaningless.
Asking developing countries to undertake more commitments without
any financial resources or technology transfer is not only contrary
to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change but is
In Cancun, many developing countries already indicated what they were
willing to do in terms of emissions reductions for the pre-2020 time
frame and many of them had conditioned those actions on the promise
of finance and technology transfer.
Despite this, the GCF remains empty and no technology transfer has
really been delivered.
The other issue is whether developed countries will raise their targets
for emissions reductions, as currently, their pledges are very low.
In 2012 in Doha, Qatar, developed countries that are in the Kyoto
Protocol (such as the European Union, Norway, Australia, New Zealand.
Switzerland and others but not including the US, Canada and Japan)
agreed to re-visit the commitments they made for a second commitment
period from 2013-2020.
The total emissions that they had agreed to was a reduction of only
17 percent by 2020 for developed countries, compared to 1990 levels.
This was viewed by developing countries as very low, given that the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had in their 4th
Assessment Report referred to a range of 25-40 percent emissions reductions
by 2020 compared to 1990 levels for developed countries.
It was agreed in Doha that the developed countries in the Kyoto Protocol
(KP) would revisit their ambition by 2014. Hence, whether this will
be realised in Lima remains to be seen. So whatever announcements
are made in New York will not amount to much if the cuts do not amount
to at least 40 percent reductions by 2020 on the part of developed
Developed countries that are not in the Kyoto Protocol such as the
United States, Canada and Japan were urged to do comparable efforts
in emissions reductions as those in the KP.
It is not likely at all that these countries will raise their ambition
level at all, given that both Japan and Canada announced that they
will actually increase their emission levels from what they had announced
previously in Cancun!
For the US, the emission reduction pledge that they put forth is very
low, amounting to only a reduction of about three percent by 2020
compared to 1990 levels. For the world's biggest historic emitter,
this is doing too little, too late.
It is against this backdrop that the elements for a new agreement
which is to take effect post-2020 is to be finalised in Lima, with
a draft negotiating text to be ready early next year.
If the pre-2020 ambition is very low both in terms of the emission
reductions of developed countries and the lack of resources in the
GCF, the basis for the 2015 agreement will be seriously jeopardised.
Without any leadership shown by developed countries, developing countries
will be reluctant to undertake more ambitious action. Hence, the race
to the bottom in climate action is real.
If the Climate Summit does not address the failure of developed countries
to meet their existing obligations which were agreed to under the
UNFCCC, it will indeed turn into a mere talk-shop that attempts to
provide a smokescreen for inaction on their part.
Another lingering question: Can the private sector, which is expected
to play a key role in the summit, be trusted on climate change?
It is the private sector in the first place that got us into this
climate mess. Big corporations cannot be trusted to bring about the
real changes that are needed as there will be much green-washing.
Companies are profit-seeking and they would only engage in activities
that will bring them profits. There are huge lobbies in the climate
arena who are pushing false approaches such as trading in carbon and
other market mechanisms and instruments through which they seek to
make more profits.
For example, there is a big push for ‘Climate Smart Agriculture"
with big corporations and the World Bank in the forefront.
There is no definition yet on what is ‘climate smart' and there are
grave concerns from civil society and farmers' movements that such
policies being pushed by big corporations who are in the frontline
of controversial genetic engineering, industrial chemicals and carbon
Many criticise the CSA approach which does not exclude any practices
- which means that GMOs, pesticides, and fertilisers, so long as they
contribute to soil carbon sequestration, would be permissible and
Such approaches not only contribute to environmental and social problems
but they also undermine one of the most important social benefits
of agroecology: reducing farmers' dependence on external inputs. Yet
CSA is touted as a positive initiative at the New York Summit - a
clear cut case of green-washing.
Real solutions in agriculture are those which are sustainable and
based on agroecology in the hands of small farmers and communities
- not in the hands of the big corporations who were responsible for
much of the emissions in industrial agriculture.
The same can be said about the Sustainable Energy for All - with big
corporations driving the agenda - where the interests of those who
really are deprived of energy access will not be prioritised.
This is because the emphasis is on centralised modern energy systems
that are expensive and not affordable to those who need them the most
and undermines the very objective it is set to serve in terms of ensuring
universal access to modern energy services.
If these initiatives are touted as ‘solutions' to climate change,
then we are in big trouble - for they are not the real kind of solutions
A lot is being said about creating enabling environments in developing
countries to attract private investments.
It is for developing countries to put in place their national climate
plans and in that context, gauge which private sector can play a role,
in what sector and how to do so, including the involvement of small
and medium entrepreneurs, including farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous
But developed countries are pushing the interests of their big corporations
in the name of attracting new types of green foreign investments.
Such approaches are new conditionalities.
Any role of the private sector is only supplemental and cannot be
a substitute for the provision of real financial resources and technology
transfer to developing countries to undertake their action. This clearly
cannot be classified as climate finance.
Developed country governments in passing on the responsibility for
addressing climate change to the private sector are abdicating the
commitments that they have under the climate change Convention. This
is irresponsible and reprehensible.
(* Meenakshi Raman is coordinator of the Climate Change Programme
at the Malaysia-based Third World Network.)