This is a response to European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard’s article entitled “Why the Doha climate conference was a success.” It is soon to be available on New York Times dotearth blog.
By Anjali Appadurai and Nathan Thanki
Connie Hedegaard doesn’t respond to our tweets. She ignores us in the halls of UN climate talks. So when we read her in the Guardian dismissing civil society frustration at the outcome of the recent talks in Doha, we had to set the record straight. Doha’s outcome was not even a partial success and did not come as a surprise to civil society, as Hedegaard suggests. Rather, we have only been grimly affirmed in our observation that the “leadership” of the world still seems to suffer from the remarkable cognitive dissonance that characterizes the type of outcome Hedegaard calls a success. To label it as such is insulting.
Worse – it is dangerous.
by nathan thanki
This afternoon I had the honour of delivering the following statement on behalf of the youth constituency (YOUNGO). A night’s sleep had to be given up, and many ideas, comments, concerns, and demands had to be somehow moulded into a coherent, concise statement. We worked on the assumption that, inshallah, we’d get 2 minutes after all the needless ceremony and backslapping that make up COP openings. There was difficulty getting into the plenary, more difficulty getting a seat with a microphone, and even further difficulty in cutting the speech in half to after being told very late on that the Secretariat’s time restriction was just 1 minute. However, we delivered it and afterwards were approached by Al Jazeera to provide some follow up interviews. Many thanks to the YOUNGO focal point and the people who contributed to drafting; the strength of the youth constituency comes from our ability to work together in a true spirit of compromise and trust, imbued as it is with a burning, life affirming desire for justice. Here’s to you.
Statement to COP opening plenary on behalf of YOUNGO:
While climate change negotiations have stagnated over time due to a lack of political will, many are arguing that the diplomatic approach that the UNFCCC has taken to arriving at agreement—one where treaties and agreements are built out of what parties are willing to contribute or concede—does not do justice to the urgency and potency of the issues at hand. Some lawyers are arguing that a human rights based approach could benefit the process in that it gives the international community increased power to intervene and combat the defence of state’s sovereign rights to act as they wish within their own borders. While the rights based approach is multi-faceted and impact a number of different elements of UNFCCC negotiations, one element of human rights law stands out in terms of informing current climate negotiations: that of addressing liability for impacts, loss, and damage due to climate change.
There are a number of international treaties that elaborate human rights that are threaned by climate change, these rights include the right to life, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to housing, the right to food, the right to health, and the right to self-determination; the treaties include the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (MWC). Many of the rights guaranteed in these treaties, particularly the right to life, are not to be interpreted in a restrictive manner; they require positive measures to be taken by states to protect them. The Human Rights Committee noted that states are responsible for preventing acts of mass violence causing arbitrary loss of life, which some have argued could include climate change. Preventing and minimising loss of life from natural disasters and other climate related events is an obligation of states who are parties to the aforementioned conventions.
by nathan thanki
Welcome to the first COP of the rest of your lives. Though Copenhagen will forever remain the most widely observed, undermined, devastated, ruinous UNFCCC meeting, it wasn’t until Durban that the sea change became official. US lead negotiator Todd Stern’s famous “if equity is in, we’re out” sneer epitomised the new paradigm that is being cemented in the climate negotiations. Justice, both inter- and intra-generational, is out the window. Decision 1/CP.17, which established the ad-hoc working group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), blew the negotiations wide open (as you will recall from my previous entry). While this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing—indeed we are all of course depressed that there hasn’t been a meaningful emissions reductions legal instrument—it depends on how the ADP approaches its work of creating a new legal outcome by 2015. Will it support and complement the Convention and its provisions and principles, or will it undermine them and undercut justice? As this is a country driven process, it is all up to the Parties to direct proceedings…so it is worthwhile to have a look at some of their thoughts regarding the ADP.