This article is written by Sébastien Burgess.
Nauru representing the AOSIS (Associations of Small Island States) is making an aggressive play in Kyoto Protocol conversations by pushing for a more ambitious financial pledges and asking for 30% emission reduction cuts for the European Union. While this effort to kick-start can only be applauded, this move endangers the fragile alliance that AOSIS and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) group had forged with the European Union last year in order to get the Durban Platform through in extremis. Not sure what to think about this as the European Union “only” contributes 10% of worldwide GHG and that breaking this trust that was established last year between AOSIS-LDCs-EU could affect progress on the ADP platform which in the long-run will determine what the future climate regime looks like.
Talking about the future climate regime, United States negotiator Jonathan Pershing referring to the 2015 climate treaty, made a statement yesterday repeating that the US was unwilling to sign up to a climate deal that requires the country to make substantial cuts in its emissions. It’s difficult for me to get angry at Mr. Pershing as I fully understand that the poor man -who is certainly more aware of the destructive impact U.S’s position on climate negotiations than the entire cliMates organization combined- has his hands tied behind his back by a political context in the United States. His Congress is still dominated by a party advocating climate denial as an official political stance. That said, if the United States doesn’t budge from this stance, we are heading for a deadlock of the apocalyptical kind here in the UN climate negotiation progress.
The Copenhagen Accord and the Durban Platform have sealed the fate of the top-down approach anyways, as we are increasingly moving towards a system where prominent countries like the United States or China will systematically engage in tactical strategies to prevent significant emission reduction and rather push for voluntary pledges assorted with verification systems. One of the importance of the committing to a second period of Kyoto (which hopefully I’ll get to write about in a little bit more detail in a following post) is that it provides a juridical safeguard against the Wild Wild West bottom-up approach that the United States is seeking to impose on the UN climate system which in effect would guarantee that we never make the substantial cut need to avert climate disasters.
My fellow cliMates Jose asked me today in a mail if he should still have faith? The answer is a resounding yes, and my first argument is of blatant simplicity and plainness: we have to keep faith because losing hope is not an option in the face of what humanity is heading towards if we don’t address climate change. We don’t lose faith because we know and that gives us the responsibility to react. Finally, we don’t lose hope because the window to avert potential disaster is still open. Kyoto2 is a step in the right direction. After that, we’ll hit the drawing board again, and cliMates is a space to do this. We mobilize, we federate, we go back to the grassroots level and we act. Jonathan Pershing also said on Wednesday that he lacks “public support” to make substantial cuts. That’s where we come in and create that support, and not only in United States but in every single country that is represented in the UNFCCC process. Lack of public support cannot be an excuse for not addressing climate change anymore and it is our role to change this, starting now. There is no time for losing faith.
About the author: Sébastien Burgess, born in Paris in 1989. Graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Conservation and Resources Studies. Lives in Mexico City where he works as a cartographer on local environmental projects and sports commentator. Has been involved in environmental activism since his college years and is a proud member of CliMates since its creation in 2011.
Follow me on Twitter @BurgessSeb