A robbery and a reflection

by nathan thanki

*This is a little something from the start of week 2 in Durban that got sucked into the confusion and only resurfaced now, with some minor edits for clarity. 

The Earth in Bracket’s team had a rough old time of it this morning. And no, it wasn’t from staying up all night letting off some steam at the NGO beach party (that was the night before). It was something much more undeserved.

We were robbed.

Waking up as usual this morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6.45am, some members of the team began to ask where all their stuff had gone to. The 11 bed dorm has been messy at the best of times, and things get moved around, so it took us a few minutes to realize what had happened. Then alarm bells started ringing. “Where’s my laptop?” “I don’t know, where is mine?” Possibly even worse, as it is less understandable, “where are my shoes?”

As we slept, exhausted from the madness of the first week at COP17, two men (it was later revealed by CCTV) had broken in to our room, rummaged around for 20 minutes, and then made off with their (our) loot. Phones, laptops, cameras, clothes, all halfway to Johannesburg by now. The reasons why some were targeted and others not is unclear, which adds to our frustration. Sheer luck, I guess. Needless to say we were upset, and furious that this could happen. So far the hostel staff and management have proven to be fairly useless, even if comforting. A police task force was called, who knows what they’ll manage to do though. Our expectations are low, and the robbed seem to be taking it all very gracefully and are accepting what’s happened.

What’s ironic about the whole incident is that it is the closest brush with the reality of South Africa that we have had. Durban was bleached clean and the homeless swept away in anticipation of this COP. Roads re-routed, ANC extras bused in to staff the ICC. Everything sanitary, everything good. The robbery was an unfortunate reminder of the truth; that this is what life in South Africa is like. You’re either scared of being robbed in your barbed-wire and electric fence compound, or you’re on the outside trying to get in. South Africa is a confusing mix of developed and developing, and the harsh economic realities and scars of an oppressive past came to visit us last night. We suffered the trauma of being robbed as we slept–that feeling of vulnerability–and it was awful. But at the same time, can we imagine what a whole lifetime of being that vulnerable would be like? In South Africa 12% of the population lives on less than $2 a day. That’s a kind of vulnerability that dwarfs our own, no matter how keenly we felt it this morning.

Understanding any place you visit is important, even if difficult. We have therefore a double incentive to put extra effort into learning the local context. As we follow the circus of environmental diplomacy around the world, whether it is to Rio, or Qatar, or Bangkok, or even Washington, we should be mindful to do this learning as much as we are mindful to learn the jargon acronyms and UN structures. One thing that could help us is if we made our logistical preparations earlier, and had them out of the way. We would then not end up in the only hostel that has rooms free because it has been robbed repeatedly. We would spend less time on rushing through payments, designing business cards, figuring out where the bus stops or where to buy groceries. Rather we could devote more time to understand, for example, the drivers of crime in South Africa. We could investigate the impact that hosting the UN circus has on a developing country city. And we could focus more easily on explaining why Durban was such a disaster from a policy view as well as a personal security one.

All things to think about when we’re back on terra firma at COA…


Media Messaging: The silent, subtle art of loudmouthing the innocent

by Anjali Appadurai

If there’s one lesson we learned loud and clear at this COP, it was how important a role the media plays in determining the world’s perception of the dangerous game being played out in the negotiating rooms.

Throughout the COP, misguided messaging was a huge obstacle to a united civil society front. We saw a multitude of messaging angles on each major issue within the conference. Civil society was totally fragmented throughout, even within the same constituency. The youth were running on several different tracks throughout with regards to messaging.

It started long before Durban. Headlines whizzed around the world: “The Kyoto Accords are Expiring” (TIME Magazine), “What to do in a post-Kyoto world”, “What next after Kyoto”? The seed was sown, the idea proliferated – the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. Developing countries will come together in Durban to negotiate new obligations to renew the KP in a show of their long-standing commitment to the environment and to people’s lives and livelihoods around the world.

Very subtle. This sort of messaging was helpful to shape people’s thinking from the start into the idea that any commitment on the part of developed countries would be new and additional, not simply a reinstating of previously made commitments. The Kyoto Protocol does not “expire” in 2012. Its first commitment period simply comes to an end, signifying that by then countries should already have mobilized themselves for a second commitment period. Implicit within the signing of the treaty was the agreement to go forward with successive commitment periods. Developed countries weren’t doing anyone a big favour by coming together to discuss a second commitment period. Once again, they were tooting their own horns for doing only what they had originally agreed to do. A small detail, but a crucial one.

Once the idea had been planted into the public mind that the Kyoto was about to expire for good, the next message to get across (from the A1 perspective) was that the purpose of Durban would be to create a new climate treaty. The EU rolled out the EU roadmap, saying they would commit to a KP-2 if it included what they called the Durban Mandate. Suddenly everyone was talking about the new Mandate as if it was the holy grail. The EU spun it as a wonderful thing – they were agreeing to a KP-2! They were going to continue with their commitments under the KP in spite of the cold wind blowing from Canada, Russia and Japan. In the media buzz around the EU’s great plan, the devil in the details was lost. The KP-2 would happen only if all “major emitters” would be involved. The loopholes would remain. The carbon markets would continue. The plan pushed for an 8-year commitment period. This was picked up on by some select media sources, but for the most part, the Great Escape was in the works, its trapdoor built and opened wide by mainstream media messaging that the EU was the ‘bigger man’ and ‘saviour’ of the small island states.

But then came the most dangerous twist to the political current of the conference. The blame game began – first against China, then India, then all of the BASIC countries. With bated breath the media (and the rest of the world, fed by the media) waited – would China step up and agree to the new Mandate in order to secure further commitments from the developed countries? Would China and India own their responsibility as ‘major emitters’ and rise to the occasion? Would the BASIC countries sell out the rest of the developing world by refusing to sign this golden Mandate that was in the works? Would China and India sign Africa’s death sentence?

This nearly unbelievable cartoon by Avaaz, depicting Canada, India, the US and Japan as grim reapers looming over a forlorn-looking African child is the exemplification of the most harmful messaging proliferated at COP17. Leave the US, Canada, and Japan out of it – they are developed countries not doing anything under the KP, which  is surely something to bash them for – but India? A developing country itself, with smaller per capita emissions than Africa itself? You’ve heard the arguments against China and India being included in the major emitters category. From previous Earth in Brackets posts and if you’ve ever talked to us, our position should be clear: no new treaty should compromise the principles of common but differentiated and historical responsibility. Developed countries need to take the lead in assuming legally-binding obligations to mitigate carbon emissions, and they need to provide support to developing countries so that they may do the same as per their abilities. Developing countries are just that – developing – and they have priorities like poverty eradication and economic and human development to take care of. Continuing with the KP-2 with enhanced ambition, fewer loopholes and more stringent commitments is absolutely imperative and non-negotiable. We have treaties in place to cover both developed and developing country responsibilities: don’t forget the Bali Action Plan and the Kyoto Protocol. These together form our climate regime.

The blame game was dangerous on many levels; on the most immediate level it took the heat off the EU, and what’s more, it rolled with its own momentum and painted the EU in a positive light. This twist was more than slightly intentional and served as a powerful political tool in shaping the outcome, for it resounded on an even deeper level: it silently shook the foundations of the FCCC by calling into question what “equity” meant. Enrolling China, India and other developing countries into the same program of obligations as developed countries is a way of redefining common but differentiated responsibility. A US negotiator said that CBDR has “evolving applicability”. What next? Soon we’ll be saying that climate change is AOSIS’ problem and everyone else can wash their hands of the whole affair. Then maybe that carbon is actually good for plants so we should emit as much as possible between now and when the Maldives sinks.

The climate regime started to crumble. Maybe if people had been better informed, maybe if the world had received a more truthful message, maybe if public pressure had been stronger in the right ways, then developed countries wouldn’t have gotten away with the blame game and with the skirting around their responsibilities. Media messaging was key in many ways to the outcome itself.

So headlines shooting out from COP17′s epicenter in Durban to the rest of the waiting world were infused with accusations against China and India. No number of press briefings or position papers from the Chinese and Indian delegations could change the momentum of the tide. From meeting rooms to civil society constituencies to the media to the rest of the world, the messaging of the political realities of the conference was like a giant game of telephone. The EU’s explicit message of “we refuse to have ambition and we want developing countries to share our burden of responsibility” was somehow buried in the details, warped through the line somewhere and came out to the rest of the world as “the EU is trying to save the climate regime but China and India are blocking them from doing so”.

And then, in the final feverish days of high-level segments and urgent negotiations, the “new treaty now” messaging came out as the final blow to civil society’s united message (that never was). Earth in Brackets walked into a YOUNGO (youth constituency) meeting one morning to find the old “I Heart KP” tshirts being handed out. Fine, great, we love the KP. But wait – what is that sticker that is being firmly pasted onto each tshirt before it gets handed out? TREATY NOW, it reads. We ask someone – why are you putting on those stickers? “Well, because the messaging isn’t complete without them”. Oh dear, the youth have been duped as well. Treaty now? We have a treaty now. We have a treaty and a plan of action! If we put our energies and ambitions into properly implementing the KP and the BAP, we’d be on the right track! Don’t fall for their “new treaty” with its crippling conditions, loopholes and lack of ambition! The devil is always in the details! NO treaty now!

But alas, it was not meant to be. That day, and the next, and the next, hundreds of youth milled around the conference centers blaring “I Heart KP, TREATY NOW” on their bosoms. And there went any possibility of a united civil society front. And out went new headlines that said things like “Global climate change treaty in sight after Durban breakthrough” (the Guardian).

Once all this mixed messaging was out there for people to trip up on and get confused over, it was easy for the rest to happen. Bam, bam, the gavel went down quick as a flash on major decisions. Equity out, loopholes in, ambition gone, all done, all finished, new Platform, new Mandate, the blame still on BASIC and the EU still looking good for taking leadership. It was over long before civil society came to its senses. And we never did come to our senses, because in the end the whole convoluted nature of the conference messaging culminated in the final humiliation: the media headlines of the Durban outcome.

“Climate conference ends in agreement”, “Kyoto is saved”, “Hope at last at climate conference”, “Durban conference a success, “Durban outcomes significant milestone”. And on it goes. The earth, in the end, was not even afforded the dignity of having its betrayal blamed on the right people.

Messaging is of crucial importance in every word, publication and posting each organization puts out. Blindly repeating a message you heard on the street without reading the text itself could be disastrous. Every interview, every blog post, every article must represent the whole and complete views of your organization, and messaging must be carefully thought over before campaigns are launched. We at Earth in Brackets are most definitely culprits of incomplete messaging ourselves, but we now know enough to at least be aware of this in the time leading up to the next COP. We’ve seen the stakes, and they’re too high. Civil society really weakened itself  through misinformed messaging. The media wooed us and we accepted, not realizing that the media was already married to the UN and developed country governments.

Where do we go from here? Who do we trust? Man cannot live on bread alone; similarly Earth in Brackets cannot live on Third World Network updates alone (www.twnside.org.sg) in order to be informed in the right ways – or can we?

Well, it seems to have worked so far…

The dreadful details: a blow by blow account of how COP17 ended

by nathan thanki

A week later and everyone has returned to their respective homes, readying themselves for the festive season. The mainstream media has been content with the narrative of ‘it was close but we saved the regime, and eventually we’ll save the world’ and has moved on to supposedly bigger concerns such as the Eurozone crisis, and what the best recipe for preparing the Christmas turkey is. Well I for one don’t have much appetite for that: I’m still digesting the turkey that was the Durban outcome. A tasteless meal that stuck in the throat, that one. Here I will walk you through the long last night in the ICC, from Earth in Brackets vantage point from the very back of the hall. That’s where the best chairs were. For the occaision, only Samuli, Julian, Graham, and myself were present. Anjali, Trudi, and Joe had lost their badges during Friday’s action, so were sneaking round the ICC all of Saturday. Eventually Anjali–by that time already too (in)famous–got spotted and ejected, so the others all returned to the hostel with her to rest. We got on without them, and settled in for the show, which I will now recount. For a more professional, detailed, and fuller account of events, I recommend the ENB archives, or TWN updates. But here it is, from one horses mouth (and mostly cobbled together from our tweets).


The informal stocktaking plenary opened with Mashebane saying that much hard work had been done, so parties should agree to a text even if its imperfect. She went on to say that the process had been as open and transparent as possible. With no sense of irony whatsoever, she then dismissed the informal plenary for more ‘indabas’. During this time I am not ashamed to say that the Earth in Brackets team went to the canteen and bought several six-packs of Hansa in anticipation of the drowning of sorrows that this long night would demand.

When everyone was back in the room it was time to kick off proceedings in earnest. The order of events was laid out: AWG-KP, AWG-LCA, CMP, and finally the COP. It was about 8pm or so when AWG-KP started.


It began with the EU demanding something called ‘symmetry’ in the protocol. Basically, they were complaining that Europe is the only Party signed up to any legally binding reductions. It’s a bit of a ridiculous argument, really: kind of like a smoker saying “unless all the other lifelong chain smokers quit too, then why would I?” Dear old Connie–EU special envoy for climate change or something important like that–then undermined her position somewhat by also demanding more LULUCF loopholes (she didn’t put it like that) which would mean that the ’20%’ of reductions below 1990 levels is actually a lot lot less. Like a few % above. The main point of this opening statement, though, was to say that the EU would like to have a second commitment period of 8 years, not the 5 years that was indicated on the text.

The small island states did not like this. Clearly, they had agreed something different with the EU behind closed doors: namely that the KP-2 would last only 5 years. Grenada took to the floor speaking for AOSIS to show their dislike for the EU timeline. Bolivia seemed to piss on the EU bonfire a bit by pointing out that the numbers aren’t clear: exactly how much reduction would happen under KP-2, he asked. 20% for 8 years is different than 20% for 5 years.

As the opinion seemed so polarised, and with the EU whining for ‘just another 10 minutes’ more time, chair Macey (from New Zealand, we should note) decided that the meeting should break for 15 minutes. When it came together again, the chair had decided to include the 2020 EU option, in brackets, and wanted to kick the text up to the CMP. Passing the buck, really.

There was some support from AOSIS and the Least Developed Countries for this idea. All part of the united EU-AOSIS-LDC front, part of Connie’s brink[wo]manship.

Venezuela had problems with the text, though, and was not happy to just pass it along to the CMP, where it would be harder to renegotiate or block. Claudia, the lead negotiator, gave the first of several passionate speeches. To a blank faced chair she asked, “where is the democracy in the UN?” There could be no agreement on the EU text or dates, because the EU only gives what they have already promised. “What kind of language is ‘takes note of’ for a legal document?” she asked. There needed to be stronger language than that. She asked why EU was being applauded for simply doing its duty. After she had finished there was much cheering and clapping. Fellow ALBA member, Nicaragua, expressed concern that the core principle CBDR (common but differentiated responsibilities) was being pushed out and that the 2 tracks of KP and LCA were being merged into one. He then pointed out that the world needs commitments, not intentions. Questions of process were, not for the first or last time, raised when he said that ALBA had raised these concern many many times but it was not reflected in the text.

Brazil, wanting a deal, helpfully pointed out to ALBA that is is not 2009, but in fact 2011 and an agreement could be possible.

The chair had heard enough by this stage, he did not let any other Party speak, but instead gavelled the decisions through for consideration by the CMP. Wild laughter and applause erupted, and I went to get some air. By the time I convinced myself to return, the AWG-LCA was well underway.


The Chair, Dan Reifsnyder (of the US – head negotiator during the Bush era) had been talking about himself for 20 minutes. Even more than that, he was being widely applauded but I wasn’t exactly sure for what. When talk finally became substantive, the Saudi’s were raising concerns, like why was the Standing Committee of long term finance only an advisory body rather than a supervisory one? I’d been in a couple (the rest were closed to us) finance meetings under the LCA, so I had heard all his concerns before. It must be like banging your head against a brick wall, meeting after meeting, year after year.

Bangladesh brought the talk back to a masturbatory congratulation of the Chair once more; thanking the chair for the LCA text even though it “crossed many red lines for developing countries.” We thought that was particularly bizarre.  Philippines thought so too. As ever, and despite all the promises of ‘deliverables’, he pointed out once again that there is an absolute void in adaptation funding. Developing countries are suffering right now, and have been for years, yet there has been resistance at every step from the rich countries. Now the LCA text had no percentages given to adaptation funding, just a desire to see ‘balance’ between adaptation and mitigation. The vulnerable of this world know by now that “some day is not a day of the week.” Philippines speech would have seemed stronger had it not been followed by a very passionate, raw, speech from India. Jayanthi Natarajan, visibly upset, told the room that she could not tell 1.2billion Indians that she had signed away their right to a livelihood. Equity is the basic principle of the Convention–India has one of the lowest per capita emissions, so how can Indians be forced to reduce their emissions any more? It would wipe people from existence.

Although not usually an ally of India, Pakistan provided back up. Referring to the Chair’s 22 years of ‘service’ to the UNFCCC, Pakistan asked the chair sarcastically if he was not actually aged 22 years. I got a laugh out of that; one of the few laughs all night.

You could cut the atmosphere in the plenary with a knife at this point. The ALBA countries began to get involved; Venezuela saying she preferred to get a result rather than applause, and that deleting CBDR amounted to an unfair distribution of responsibilities which Venezuela could not agree to. Nicaragua agreed, and asked the pertinent question which most of us had asked long ago: why was it possible to find money to save the banks, but not possible to find a fraction of that money to put into saving the poor and saving the planet? Obviously he got no answer, but instead was scoffed at, as if it were a stupid question rather than a stupid action.

China added it’s considerable weight to support India, saying that developing countries are doing more to mitigate climate change than the rich nations, and was upset that the promised climate finance was just all talk. The representatives of 2.5 billion people had all voiced strong opposition to the text, but that did not deter the Chair. He decided to forward the text to the COP as his own text, rather than as a consensus paper. As he was wrapping things up, our attentions turned instead to a banging noise that became louder and more frequent. Eventually we saw Claudia, from Venezuela, standing on her chair waving her placard. “You can ignore me after I have spoken” she said to the chair. This text would doom the world to low ambition and flexible mechanisms, she said, and could never be agreed upon, so had to be reconsidered. What happened to the party driven process, if the chair would simply ignore the concerns of so many?

Like so many questions, it too went unanswered, and the LCA text was gavelled through under whatever guise was necessary. Julian and I left for some coffee, as there was an intermission before the informal would start and then the home straight. We’d need the caffeine. On our way we saw the Pakistani and Egyptian negotiators walking together. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen them together: earlier they had been with a member of the COP Presidency in a quiet corner. “This will be the best way” I heard her tell them. As we walked past, I couldn’t resist; “you’re doing well. Keep up the fight!” I don’t know what they thought of that. On our way back from the café, we saw Claudia outside the G77 office. She was crying. Julian gave her a hug, and we told her that she was doing well and we all supported her. I think she appreciated it, but we appreciated  that there was only so much she could do. At the end of it all, what can you do? We just wished her well, and tried to let her know it.


By the time we came back to the plenary the 2 page paper establishing a ‘Durban Platform for Enhanced Action’ that we had been speculating about had finally been revealed. I took a copy, a beer, Julian, and went to the hallway. Somebody had been playing “always look on the bright side of life” on the lobby piano. Elsewhere in the corridors some commented that security would leave at 6am, while others murmured that the EU preferred a collapse rather than KP-2 without a new mandate. We sat and listened to Chris, a young guy from Australia, play ‘Let it Be’ until he was told to stop by the guards. He did stop, but we laughed at the guard. What was the point?

The final informal plenary opened with Chair Mashebane evoking the spirit of ubuntu, and saying that the system is intact and functioning well. That was my second laugh of the night. The EU obviously welcomed the text as put forth by the LCA chair. It was their text, after all. India appealed one last time to the conscience of the room. Was equity not the centrepiece of the convention? Who would disagree? She said she had been told in the first week that unless India accepted the EU roadmap, they would not get the GCF, nor the KP-2, and would instead be blamed for the failure. There was an effort to shift the blame of climate change onto those who are least responsible! If we are abandoning equity, at least lets announce it openly! As a last ditch deterrent to removing the term ‘legal outcome’ which was India’s lifeline, she said that if the text was forced open then India would have to rethink its stance on everything within: it would all be renegotiable.

AOSIS was caught in between. They were frustrated that there was no ratifiable KP-2, with meaningful numbers. That was the EU’s fault. But AOSIS also asked for the option ‘legal outcome’ to be removed. China reiterated that developed nations had not honoured KP-1, nor had they provided the promised tech transfer or finance. China keeps its promises, he said, why should we trust the developed world? A fair point, the historian in me thought. Bolivia reminded the room of the concept of atmospheric space. The poor have a right to development. CBDR is central to the convention. During this speech, US special envoy Todd Stern was disrespectful enough to walk out. Who said chivalry is dead? Philippines held up his copies of the Convention and Protocol, and said he may as well throw them out now. Pakistan tried in vain to remind the UN of the rules: differences of opinions have to be respected and reflected in a true consensus text. Egypt said he was impressed with the enthusiasm for a new legal treaty, but only wished the same enthusiasm had been shown for the existing framework and protocol.

By this stage there was nothing short of an all out cheering and twitter war among civil society. Some were taking the side of ALBA as far as procedure went, and India/China as far as content went, while others stuck to the ‘protect the islands’ mantra, fully buying into the EU stance. It was this more than anything that disheartened and depressed me that night. To jeer as the Indian minister outlines how climate change will affect her country, and how lack of action from those responsible will ruin millions of lives, is something I cannot fathom. Similarly to scoff as Nicaragua asks if his country is not equal to a rich country, is disgusting. I’m not speaking from some moral high-horse, but from basic human empathy.

As the informal talks had come to an impasse, the chair proposed something radical. She adjourned the session, and called India and the EU to the podium for a very informal huddle. Soon other Parties including Brazil and the US were involved, as were many photographers. Everyone seemed confused by the stunt, and a few negotiators I spoke to on the outskirts of the huddle told us “you should go in the middle to remind them what they are negotiating for.” There was no chance of that, and besides; how many reminders do they need? Russia left the room. Todd Stern was overheard saying “if equity is in, we’re out.” Brazil suggested the phrase: “agreed outcome with legal force.” Reconvening, India said that although they were extremely unhappy with reopening the text, they would accept the changed language. You could practically see the gun in Jayanthi’s back. Connie Hedegaard looked delighted, as did Mashebane. The informal plenary closed, with not all Parties allowed to speak. It was the home straight.


The CMP and COP all rolled into one for me. There was a war of words between Nicaragua and the EU, Nicaragua saying they wanted an agreement only if it was consensus based, and the EU basically saying a package was take it or leave it. Bolivia was very upset (but no Pablo Solon) and said he had the right to state his observations before a text was approved. He asked the chair to note that Bolivia did not agree with Paragraph 3. I did not bother to even check which text he was referring to.

Nicaragua said that in negotiations you win some and lose some, but to lose them all, without an explanation, is devastating.

Russia was being a nuisance at this stage, with slow and long speeches in Russian, asking for an explanation as to why his proposal from earlier COP plenary wasn’t included. As the headsets for translation were so dysfunctional, I understood very little of what he said, other than that the only reason he was asking was so that he could leave to catch his plane. There was a general feeling that he should just get on the plane.

It was after 6am. People, papers and laptops lay strewn about the room. The gavel came out and everything went through, text after text, decision after decision. The GCF text whizzed past me. Then it was all over. Pershing and Stern high fived, the translators counted their over-time pay, the Chair and EU posed for photos. We said some goodbyes (goodbye equity!) and stumbled out of the ICC into the bright Durban morning. Back in the hostel at 7am, we wake up the others.

“What happened?”

“We did it! Everything turned out just fine!”

“Just go to bed.”

And there you have it. Thank you to everyone who read our rants, amplified our analysis, and otherwise supported us throughout. Keep an eye out for some more analysis, photos, and reflections in January.


A new era of Carbon Colonialism

by Graham Reeder

Say goodbye to equity.

That was the sour taste we were left with as the COP president gavelled through 'agreement' after 'agreement' at 5am on Sunday morning. I will let others describe the scene on that night, what I want to focus on is what I see as a new step in contemporary colonialism.

The UNFCCC laid out several core principles when it was first written, these were negotiated as the guiding set of values that would determine how countries would tackle climate change together. They included historical responsibility (almost all of the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere were created by a handful of wealthy nations that used up more than their fair share of the space in the atmosphere, they are therefore more responsible for cutting their emissions than anyone else), common but differentiated responsibilities (in 1992, as is even more the case today, there was a huge disparity between rich countries and poor countries, while the poor are responsible for attempting to develop responsibly in a low-carbon manner, the rich are more responsible for cutting their emissions, and financing the clean development of others), and Polluter Pays (Tuvalu didn't make this mess, Canada did). These principles, ever since they were laid out, have been undergoing a continuous brutal onslaught by those who will profit from their obliteration.

When the Kyoto Protocol was designed, the United States and a handful of other rich countries crafted it to make climate change mitigation profitable. Their rhetoric touted carbon markets as a scheme to finance clean development in the global south while avoiding destabilizing the ever-so-fragile rich economies. Since then, the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol has wreaked havoc across the global south, it has been accused of supporting false offsets, double counting, major loopholes, exclusion of indigenous peoples, and human rights violations. They have effectively opened the door for rich companies to barge in and do their resource extraction with a greenish twist, and to get carbon credits for their countries for doing so. It's through schemes like the CDM and REDD+ that we can claim that Brazil has turned around Amazon deforestation despite continuing to cut it down and turn in into palm tree farms (read:not a forest).

As if that wasn't bad enough, the Durban outcome will be ushering in a new era of carbon colonialism. The principles of the convention have suffered a huge blow in a new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. The ADP is meant to replace the AWG on Long-term Cooperative Action and the Bali Action Plan with a new roadmap for a treaty that will include all parties equally, whether rich or poor. The way that parties will be considered under this treaty is not yet defined, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it wont be based on equity, the principles of the convention, or per-capita emissions. In fact, a minister overheard Todd Stern (US special envoy on climate change) saying "If equity's in, we're out" in a last minute huddle to battle it out over some options on the legal form of the mandate. The US position on a new treaty is that they will not negotiate anything they can't pass domestic legislation to support. Given the current state of politics in the US, we can now be sure that the US will block anything with even remotely close ambition to avoid temperature rise of up to 6 degrees. What they wont block, however, is a massive shifting of responsibilities from their shoulders to the shoulders of the world's least responsible for climate change: the poor. India has 1.2 billion people, 37% of which lives below the poverty line, emits 1.4 tonnes of carbon per capita per year (145th of 215 listed), and has a per capita GDP of  $1,300 (140th out of 189 listed). They are now to be considered the same as Canada, which has a population of 34 million and manages to produce 16.4 tonnes of carbon per person per year and which is currently undertaking the world's largest industrial project in the world (tar sands) with absolutely no intention of stopping for the sake of the climate. When civil society called for a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty, I don't think this is what they meant.

I've read most of the wrap-up stories from most of the world's major newspapers with dismay as they fall into the familiar narrative of how great the EU is for brokering a deal that reconciles the US, India, and China. I find it disgusting that those three countries, with such dramatically different patterns of consumption, histories of emission, and current economies are put into the same category. While ignorant journalists write off India and China as big bad polluters who are desperate for nothing more than a cash-grab from the benevolent global north, they ignore that in the new pledge and review system that the Copenhagen Accord started, the Cancun Agreements legitimized, and the Durban Disaster brought to legal life, developing countries total pledges amount to MORE mitigation than developed countries, they also ignore that the new system thusfar has no way of differentiating between the UK and Cameroon. The world has turned upside down. Once again, after the global north used up whatever they could, they have shifted the cost, consequences, and the burden of responsibility onto the shoulders of the global south. We've seen this countless times on the global scale, but I fear that this new form of colonialism is going to prove even deadlier than the rest.