The Climate Change Conference ended two days later than expected, adopting a set of decisions that were known only a few hours before their adoption. Some decisions were even not complete at the moment of their consideration. Paragraphs were missing and some delegations didn’t even have copies of these drafts. The package of decisions was released by the South African presidency with the ultimatum of “Take it or leave it”. Only the European Union was allowed to make last minute amendments at the plenary.
Several delegations made harsh criticisms to the documents and expressed their opposition to sections of them. However, no delegation explicitly objected the subsequent adoption of these decisions. At the end, the whole package was adopted by consensus without the objection of any delegation. The core elements of the Durban Package can be summarized as follows:
1) A Zombie called Kyoto Protocol
- A soulless undead: The promises of reducing greenhouse gas emission for the second period of commitments of the Kyoto Protocol represent less than half of what is necessary to keep the temperature increase below 2°C.
- This Zombie (second period of the Kyoto Protocol) will only finally go into effect next year (COP 18).
- It is not known if the second period of the Kyoto Protocol will cover 5 or 8 years.
- United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, Australia and New Zealand will be out of this second period of the Kyoto Protocol.
- This will be known as the lost decade in the fight against climate change.
2) New regime of “Laisser Faire, Laisser Faisser”
- In 2020 a new legal instrument will come into effect that will replace the Kyoto Protocol and will seriously impact the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- The core elements of this new legal instrument can be already seen due to the results of the negotiations: a) voluntary promises rather than binding commitments to reduce emissions, b) more flexibilities (carbon markets) for developed countries to meet their emission reduction promises, and c) an even weaker compliance mechanism than the Kyoto Protocol.
- The new legal instrument will cover all the States, effectively removing the difference between developing and developed countries. The principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” already established in the Climate Change Convention will disappear.
- The result will be the deepening of the “Laisser Faire, laisser passer” regime inaugurated in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban which will lead to an increase in temperature of more than 4°C.
3) A Green Fund with no funds
- The Green Fund now has an institutional structure in which the World Bank is a key player.
- The 100 billion is only a promise and will NOT be provided for by the developed countries.
- The money will come from the carbon markets (which are collapsing), from private investments, from credits (to be paid) and from the developing countries themselves.
4) A lifesaver for the Carbon Markets
- The existing carbon markets will live regardless of the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.
- Also, new carbon market mechanisms will be created to meet the emissions reduction pledges of this decade.
- It is a desperate attempt to avoid the loss of the carbon markets, which are collapsing due to the fall of the carbon credits, from 30 Euros per ton to 3 Euros per ton of CO2.
- Developed countries will reduce less than what they promise because they will buy Emission Reduction Certificates from developing countries.
5) REDD: a perverse incentive to deforest in this decade
- If you don’t cut down trees you won’t be able to issue certificates of reduction of deforestation when the REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism comes into operation.
- CONSEQUENCES: deforest now if you want to be ready for REDD.
- The safeguards for indigenous peoples will be flexible and discretionary for each country.
- The offer of funding for forests is postponed until the next decade due to the fact that demand for Carbon Credits will not increase until then because of the low emission reduction promises.
In the actions and events of the social movements in Durban, two battle cries emerged: “Amandla” and “Jallalla”. The first one is a Xhosa and Zulu word from South Africa which means “power”. The second word is an expression in aymara which means “for life”. “¡Amandla¡ °Jallalla!” means “¡Power for life!”
This is the “power for life” that we must build, that transcends borders, from our communities, neighborhoods, workplaces and place of study in order to stop this ongoing genocide and ecocide.
(*) Pablo Solón, international analyst and social activist. Former Ambassador to the UN and Chief Climate Change Negotiator from the Plurinational State of Bolivia.