Algunas reflexiones, autocríticas y propuestas sobre el proceso de cambio en Bolivia

Reflexiones

por Pablo Solón

¿Qué ha pasado? ¿Cómo llegamos hasta aquí? ¿Qué ocurrió con el proceso de cambio que hace más de quince años conquistó su primera victoria con la guerra del agua? ¿Por qué un conglomerado de movimientos que querían cambiar Bolivia acabaron atrapados en un referéndum para que dos personas puedan re-elegirse en el 2019? Sigue leyendo

COP21: Un nuevo disfraz para un viejo acuerdo

[Pablo Solón] El Acuerdo Climático de París no es más que un remake del Acuerdo de Cancún que ha fracasado estrepitosamente por sus  contribuciones voluntarias que responden más a los intereses de las grandes corporaciones y los políticos que a las necesidades de la humanidad y la vida en la Tierra.

IMG_0284Para limitar el incremento de la temperatura a 2ºC el Acuerdo de Cancún debió haber comprometido la reducción de emisiones anuales de gases de efecto invernadero a 44 Gt de CO2e hasta el 2020.  Sin embargo con las promesas de Cancún estaremos en 56 Gt de CO2e para ese año. Sigue leyendo

Tiquipaya II: Lead by example

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[Pablo Solon / September 1, 2015]

Five years have passed since the First Peoples World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, and the Bolivian Government recently has called for a second meeting from 10 to 12 October in Tiquipaya. In these five years the situation has worsened dramatically. In 2010, an agreement was approved in Cancun of voluntary pledges to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 that will have dire consequences. All countries should have agreed to reduce annual global emissions to 44 gigatones (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2020 to ensure that the temperature does not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (Cº). However, with the pledges for emission reductions made in Cancun, we will reach 56 Gt of CO2 by 2020 or more.

Today, we approach a new appointment in Paris to set a new climate agreement until 2030. The main polluting countries have already sent their offers of emissions reductions, and the outlook is bleak: instead of annual global emissions down to 35 gt of CO2 by 2030, we will be by 60 Gt CO2 at the end of the next decade. This means an increase in the temperature of 4 to 8° degrees Celsius in this century.

Governments want to show they are doing something, but the reality is that not a single State is putting forward a proposal to do what science recommends: leave underground 80% of known reserves of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas). Large multinationals and governments addicted to the black gold are totally opposed to it. In the climate negotiations they speak about everything except the issue of putting a limit on the extraction of fossil fuels.

A couple of weeks ago one thousand climate activists stopped for a day Gelände, the main coal mine of Germany. Tiquipaya II has to take into account this reality and show with facts that there is coherence with what is preached. In the case of Bolivia this means to reduce deforestation, which is the main cause of greenhouse gases emissions in the country. More than two thirds of our emissions are due to fires and deforestation. Between 2001 and 2013 we have lost 8.3 million hectares of forest areas, about 14% of the forests that we had at the beginning of this century.

Bolivia is not among the main countries that cause climate change, but nonetheless we cannot allow that our forests continue to burn irrationally. The Government, being consistent with Section 15.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, should reduce deforestation to zero by 2020, preserving at least 50 million hectares of forests. Different studies show that more than 20% of deforestation triggers the gradual death of an Amazonian forest. When deforestation exceeds certain limits the right of the forest to regenerate is violated and a crime against Mother Earth is committed.

If we stop deforestation, the country will no longer send each year to the atmosphere 80 million tons of CO2. A figure that is twice the emissions of the largest coal power plant in Europe: Belchatow, Poland, 37 million tones of CO2 in 2013.

There are other series of measures to be taken in Bolivia: 25% increase in the share of solar energy in electricity generation by 2020; eliminate subsidies for diesel for agribusiness of GMOs and direct those resources to peasant ecological agriculture that cools the planet; avoid dangerous nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams that increase deforestation and natural disasters; and guarantee the rights of Mother Earth. In short, Tiquipaya II must lead by example with concrete measures and not just with words.

¿“Milagro” de Bolivia en relación al cambio climático?

Captura de pantalla 2015-06-14 12.00.11

Si los datos de reducción de la deforestación en el país son ciertos, Bolivia sería ya el país que mas emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero ha reducido en el mundo desde el año 2010. Según los datos de la Autoridad de Bosques y Tierra (ABT) la deforestación habría disminuido de 212,274 hectáreas en el 2010 a 76,576 hectáreas en el 2013 lo que representa una reducción del 64% en la deforestación.

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Esto sería una suerte de “milagro” en la reducción de emisiones de gastos de efecto invernadero de Bolivia. Veamos porque.

Las emisiones promedio por cabeza de los bolivianos fueron de alrededor de 14,5 toneladas de CO2e en el 2011 de las cuales 8,5 toneladas se deben a la deforestación (59%) 4 toneladas son generadas por la agricultura (27%) y 2 toneladas son producidas por la industria, transporte, generación de energía, basura y otros (14%) [fuente World Resource Institute]. Si la deforestación ha caído en casi dos tercios, las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero provenientes de la deforestación habrían bajado de 8,5 toneladas a 3 toneladas de CO2e per cápita. Lo que implicaría que las emisiones totales per cápita de los bolivianos han bajado en 5 años de 14.5 a 9 toneladas de CO2e lo que representa una disminución del 37% de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero con respecto al 2010.

Como referencia, la Unión Europea ofrece reducir en un 20% sus emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero para el 2020, mientras Bolivia ya habría reducido más del 30% tomando como base el año 2010 y mucho más si tomamos como año base el 2001.

Las preguntas que nos saltan a la vista son:

¿Son correctos los datos de reducción de la deforestación en Bolivia de la ABT?
¿Por qué Bolivia con semejantes resultados no ha presentado YA un compromiso de reducción de emisiones (INDCs por sus siglas en ingles) que sea un ejemplo para todo el mundo en el marco de las negociaciones para la COP21 en París?

En todo caso, lo fundamental a remarcar es que las emisiones per cápita de Bolivia son altas, de 14.5 de toneladas de CO2e por boliviano en el año 2011 y nos colocan en el puesto 27 de 193 países, cuando la media mundial de emisiones per cápita es de sólo 6.5 toneladas de CO2e. Como referencia las emisiones per cápita de EE.UU. son 19.6 y de Rusia 15.5 toneladas de CO2e. Bolivia está mas cerca de estos países contaminadores que de Costa Rica que tiene emisiones per cápita de 1.5 toneladas de CO2e.

La ampliación de la frontera agrícola (área cultivada) no puede darse a expensas de nuestros bosques. En 10 años, entre el 2001 y el 2010, se han deforestado casi 2 millones de hectáreas. Deforestar un millón de hectáreas más para ampliar la producción agrícola, cuando en Bolivia existen mas de 12 millones de hectáreas de tierra aptas para cultivar de las cuáles sólo se emplean 3.5 millones de hectáreas, sería un golpe muy duro a la Madre Tierra.

Bolivia puede bajar sus emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero significativamente si sumamos esfuerzos para que las quemas y el chaqueo que empiezan por estos meses se reduzcan notoriamente, y si nos comprometemos a que un incremento de la producción agrícola no se dará a costa de una mayor deforestación.

Los derechos de la Madre Tierra y nuestro compromiso en la lucha contra el cambio climático no pueden ser sólo un discurso. Es tiempo de pasar a la acción y demostrar con hechos lo que pregonamos. Hoy es todavía.

Pablo Solón

Detrás del texto de negociación del clima para la COP21

COP21 Paris

por Pablo Solón

El futuro yace en el pasado. Aquello que sucedió está recién por venir. La idea de que podemos cambiar todo y salvar al mundo en el último minuto es emocionante en las películas, pero no funciona en la vida real. Esto se aplica en particular a temas como el cambio climático, donde las consecuencias de lo que hicimos el siglo pasado comienzan a sentirse hoy y lo que seguimos haciendo determinará el mañana.

Este principio se aplica también a las negociaciones del clima. Lo que ahora está en la mesa de negociaciones después de las reuniones celebradas en Ginebra del 8 al 13 de febrero del presente año, definirá el alcance y la gama de posibilidades para el futuro acuerdo climático que será adoptado en diciembre en Paris, en lo que se conoce como la COP21. Sigue leyendo

Behind the climate negotiating text for COP21

COP21 Paris

Pablo Solón

The future lies in the past. What has happened will determine what will come. The idea that we can change everything and save the world at the last minute is exciting in movies but it does not work in real life. It particularly applies when we speak about issues like climate change where the consequences of what we did in the past century are just beginning to manifest.

This principle applies also to climate negotiations. What is now on the table after the climate negotiations held in Geneva from 8-13 February 2015 is setting the scope and the range of possibilities for the climate agreement at the upcoming COP 21 in Paris this December.

The good news

The good news is that in Geneva the climate negotiations have finally really started. Smoothly and quickly, delegations from different countries avoided long speeches and went directly to work to compile their different proposals for a future climate agreement in Paris. At the moment, the negotiating text has 86 pages and 1,273 brackets. The task for the next 10 months is to streamline this bracketed draft and come out with a text of around 20 pages without annexes and zero brackets.

In the current text there are good and bad proposals that yet need to be negotiated and agreed. The final result will be something in between the most ambitious and the weakest proposals. So how good are the more positive proposals on the table? Are they going to put us on a path that limits the increase of the temperature to 1.5 ºC or 2 ºC?

Disturbing omissions

By now, it is well known that to achieve the goal to limit the temperature increase to below 2ºC, we need to leave 80% of the current known fossil fuel reserves under the ground. This has been stated in many studies, reports and interventions, but not one single country has submitted this proposal in the current text of negotiations. The word “fossil fuels” only appears twice throughout the text and only in reference to the reduction of fossil fuel subsidies. How are we going to cut back greenhouse gas emissions if we don’t have an agreement to leave under the soil, the 80% of the “black gold” that has been discovered?

The other disturbing omission is the short-term target for 2025 and 2030. In the text there are 13 references to zero emissions by the mid and end of the century. But when it comes to this decade and the next, there are no concrete targets and just general references about “enhancing the mitigation ambition” that appears 61 times in the text. The targets that are needed are very clear in different studies. The UNEP Emissions Gap report and other studies show that to be consistent with a trajectory that limits the increase of the temperature to 2ºC, global greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced to 44 Gigatons (Gt) of CO2e by 2020, 40 Gt by 2025 and 35 Gt by 2030. This is the cap the world needs to avoid a future too dire to imagine. Now, in the text there are no references to these figures. There are only proposals in terms of percentages for the next half of the century. The most ambitious for the near term says, “Developed country Parties shall take mitigation commitments for the post-2020 period that are more ambitious than emission reductions of at least 25–40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020”. In other words, the next decade you have to be more ambitious than this decade. That is not really a clear target.

These omissions in the text are not an accident, they reflect an agreement that for the coming years until 2030, every country will do what they can/want and the UNFCCC will just summarize the “intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs)”. No single country has challenged this suicidal path by putting in the negotiating text that we need a global target to reduce global emissions to only 40 Gt of CO2e by 2025 to avoid an increase in the temperature of 4ºC to 8 ºC.

The center of the debate?

Looking at the negotiating text, it is clear that what seems to be the center of the controversy is not about how much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but around the supposed conflict between developed and developing countries. The word “development” appears 247 times in the negotiating text, “developing” countries 410 and “developed” countries 342 times. The debate in the text is more about who should do what in the reduction of green house gas emissions (developed and developing), what flexibility mechanisms (carbon markets) are going to be in place, how each one is going to report, what kind of verification process will be established for the different type of countries and what kind of financial and technological support there will be to implement the mitigation actions.

The position of developed countries in general tends to water down the difference between developed and developing countries, promoting more the use of “all parties” (134 mentions in the text). On the other hand, developing countries want to keep the firewall between developed and developing countries.

The group of Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) that includes Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria and Venezuela has included the following paragraphs in the negotiating text that show their approach to developed and developing countries:

“Developed country Parties shall commit to undertake Absolute Emission Reduction Targets during the period of 2021-2030, in accordance with a global emission budget including their historical responsibility, through quantifiable, economy-wide mitigation targets, covering all sectors and all greenhouse gases, implemented mainly domestically, which can be aggregated and which are comparable, measurable, reportable and verifiable, with the type, scope, scale and coverage more ambitious than those undertaken under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol during the pre-2020 period, and communicated and implemented without any conditions”.

On the other hand, Developing country Parties should commit to undertake Diversified Enhanced Mitigation Actions (DEMAs) during the period 2021–2030. They may include, inter alia, relative emission reductions; intensity targets; REDD-plus activities and other plans, programmes and policies; joint mitigation and adaptation approaches; net avoided emissions, or also manifested as adaptation co-benefits, in accordance with their special circumstances and specific needs.”

While it is true that this is a real source of debate – the maintenance of the delineation between developed and developing countries so that developed countries do not escape their historic responsibility, and that countries make commitments according to common but differentiated responsibility, it is also one that serves as a smokescreen for the deals that have been made between polluters – one developed and one developing. China, which has caught up to developed countries on levels of emissions, maintains the developing country title but does the rest of the developing countries a disservice by striking a very bad deal with one of the largest polluters in the world, the United States. The highly publicized US-China deal last year is a reflection of how the US and China, two of the largest polluters, have decided not to do what is needed for 2025/2030. The two big polluters account for more than 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is a “laissez faire” deal in which China will only peak (reduce in absolute terms) emissions in 2030 and the US will reduce 15% of their green house gas emissions in 2025 based on their level of emissions in 1990. As a reference, the EU has committed to reduce 40% of their emissions by 2030 based on their 1990 levels.

This is the heart of the deal in Paris and with these emission cuts from the US and China, the rest of the countries will not do much more because as they have expressed, that would go against their competitiveness in the global economy. The negotiation around the text is about how to package and sell a bad deal to public opinion and how to dilute the responsibility of polluting countries of the developed and the emerging developing world. Probably the issue about “common but differentiated responsibility” will be solved through the addition of some “innovative language” like “in light of different national circumstances” as it happened in COP20 in Peru.

Opening the door for new carbon markets

Even with the failure of carbon markets, the debate is not if this mechanism should continue or not, but how to enhance the current ones and develop new ones. No country has submitted text to avoid carbon market mechanisms or REDD+. Carbon market mechanisms are mentioned 27 times and REDD+ 13 times. In the text there are mentions of an “enhanced Clean Development Mechanism (CDM+)”, the “Emissions Trading System (ETS)”, “REDD Plus”, “market mechanism in the land use sector”, “sub-national and regional emissions schemes” and “carbon pricing”. A reading of the text shows that COP 21 will open the door for new carbon market mechanisms but that the real development of them will be agreed at future COPs.

Finance: the forgotten promise

Finance, which was supposed to be one of the most crucial commitments by the developed countries to the developing countries, has now become an issue relegated to the sidelines. The climate debt owed to those suffering the impacts of climate change, yet who are the least responsible, is on the way to being forgotten. Looking at the text, the word finance itself is mentioned 203 times but when it comes to concrete figures, there are only a measly 14 mentions with only four proposals:

  • [Developed countries][All countries in a position to do so] commit to provide at least USD 50 billion per year during the period from 2020 to 2025, at least USD 100 billion per year by [2020][2030] for adaptation activities of [developing countries].
  • The provision of finance committed by developed country Parties to be based on a floor of USD 100 billion per year since 2020.
  • A short-term collective quantified goal of USD 200 billion per year by 2030 should be committed by developed country Parties,
  • [Developed country Parties][Parties in a position to do so, considering evolving capabilities] to provide 1 per cent of gross domestic product per year from 2020 and additional funds during the pre-2020 period to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

If current promises are to be a basis, there is little confidence in these promised numbers. At the COP20 in Lima, there was triumph around the achievement of reaching 10 billion USD – out of the 100 billion USD that was originally promised several COPs ago.

Furthermore, in the text, developed countries prefer to use the term “mobilize” instead of “provide” and they do not limit the obligation of funding to developed countries but to all countries in a position to do so, further diluting the responsibilities of the developed countries as they spread it to developing countries. The term “mobilize” is not associated with any figure in particular and in general includes “from a variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources” which means that even loans and carbon markets will be accounted in the process of mobilization of financial resources.

Rights and compliance

Human rights are mentioned seven times and mainly in the preamble and objectives section. There are no concrete proposals to guarantee human rights in mitigation, finance, market or technology measures. There is only one mention in adaptation and only in general terms. In some cases, the mention of human rights is at the same level as the right to development. Indigenous peoples’ rights appears only two times in the preamble. Migrant rights are not included, and in the loss and damage chapter, there are only two mentions of “organized migration and planned relocation”. The proposal of Rights of Mother Earth or Rights of Nature is not included at all as an option to be discussed. The only mention to Mother Earth is in relation to “protecting the integrity of Mother Earth” without further development.

When it comes to mechanisms of compliance, there are those that say, “no specific provisions required” and those that suggest a “Compliance Committee” with “an enforcement branch and a facilitative branch”. The possibility of sanctions is mentioned and also suggested is the “use of economic instruments such as market mechanisms as a way to promote compliance”. Bolivia has included the proposal for an “International Climate Justice Tribunal”.

These token mentions of rights and recognition of those at the frontlines of climate change are empty promises with no concrete commitments attached to them. The negotiations around solutions to climate change need to have the rights of peoples and Nature at its heart.

Fighting for our Future now, not in Paris

The nature of climate change with its feedback mechanism is such that what we did in the past is what we reap now. Following this logic, what we do now is what we will reap in the next 10 years, and if the current text is to be the basis of that future, we will have none of which to speak.

There is no cheating, buying or creating loopholes to delay action until 2030 – the time to act decisively is now. And these are very concrete and clear actions that need to be taken:

  • leave 80 percent of the known fossil fuels reserves under the ground
  • deep emissions cuts to achieve global targets – 44 Gigatons (Gt) of CO2e by 2020, 40 Gt by 2025 and 35 Gt by 2030
  • reduce military and defense expenditures, which account for more than 1.5 trillion dollars globally, and instead channel these funds to provide public finance for developing countries for adaptation, mitigation and for loss and damage
  • the recognition, respect and promotion of the rights of people and nature

A bad deal in Paris will lock in catastrophic consequences for the future of the planet and humanity. The urgency of the task at hand cannot be emphasized enough – we need to act now.

*Pablo Solón is Executive Director of Focus on the Global South.

How Did Leaders Respond to the People’s Climate March?

Climate March in New York

By Pablo Solon, 26 September 2014

About 400,000 people went to the streets on September 21st to ask for real actions to address climate change. It was the greatest climate march in history. The UN Climate Summitorganized by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon took place two days later with the participation of 100 heads of state and 800 leaders from business. How did this Summit react to the demands of the peoples climate march? Did it meet the expectations?

According to Ban Ki-Moon and other leaders, it was a success. To see if that is true, we should look at: 1) what science is telling us; 2) the previous commitments made by governments; and 3) how these commitments at the UN have improved in order to address the mismatch between what has to be done and what is being done.

The main point of reference for any assessment is the greenhouse gas emissions gap for this decade. What we do now is more important than what we will do in the next decade or in 2050. If we don’t close the emission gap by 2020, we will lose the possibility to catch up with the path that is needed to limit the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

Insufficient Pledges

According to the UNEP Emissions Gap Report, to be on that path, global emissions should be around 44 gigatons of CO2e per year by 2020. Governments made pledges for emissions cuts for this decade at UN talks in Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010). The result was a gap of around 13 gigatons of CO2e per year by 2020! In other words, with the weak voluntary pledges made under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – implemented without strict rules – emissions will be around 56 gigatons of CO2e per year by 2020, about 30% more than the maximum amount the earth can handle, according to science.

But the tragedy is even bigger. After eight years of negotiation in the UN, and with the current voluntary pledges of governments, we have only reduced 3 gigatons of CO2e per year from the business-as-usual scenario, and we should have reduced at least 16 gigatons per year by 2020. So, putting aside words and speeches, governments reduced less than 20% of what is needed this decade. So that is the reality. Now, how did world leaders improve their voluntary pledges for this decade if they believe, as Ban Ki-Moon said in his summary of the Climate Summit, “that climate change is a defining issue of our time and that bold action is needed today to reduce emissions”? The United States ratified its current weak pledge of 3% of emission cuts by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, which means that they will do even less than what was agreed for the first period of the Kyoto Protocol which they never ratified and which ended in 2012. President Obama even went so far as to call on other countries to “follow US leadership”on climate! If everybody did what the United States is doing, the emissions gap would be much larger!

The European Union and all the other historical emitters didn’t increase their voluntary pledges for this decade. Also, China and the emerging countries didn’t increase their previous pledges. Nobody addressed the key issue of the gap of this decade. Some prefer to make promises for the next decade until 2030 or 2050, speaking about emissions reductions of 50 to 85% without even mentioning that, according to science, global emissions must be 30 gigatons of CO2e per year by 2030 “based on the assumption that the 2020 least-cost level of 44 GtCO2e per year will be achieved,” according to the UNEP Emissions Gap Report.

Weak Financing

The other key point to assess is funding for developing countries that are suffering from climate change while being the least responsible for the problem. Almost six years ago, developed countries committed to support developing countries with $100 billion per year by 2020. At that time, the offer enticed many governments to accept the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun agreements. The assumption was that the $100 billion per year were going to come from public sources from developed countries, since States cannot commit private or market funds that they do not control.

Several years have passed, and the $100 billion per year is still up in the air. Developed countries have re-packaged some of their development aid with the label of climate, and even so, the total amount is far from reaching that promise. Developing countries were expecting to see a great share of these $100 billion per year go to developing countries through the Green Climate Fund, but in reality, the Fund is tiny.

Based on what happened at the New York Summit, there would be no significant increase in funding for developing countries from public sources in developed countries and the Green Climate Fund will have tiny resources. EU countries have offered €14 billion in public climate finance to partners outside the European Union over the next seven years, which is only €2 billion per year. France has pledged $1 billon to the Green Climate Fund over the “coming years.” Switzerland and South Korea are considering $100 million to the Green Climate Fund over an undetermined period of time. Luxembourg pledged $6.8 million – 1% of GDP – to the Green Climate Fund. The commitment of $100 billion per year has not been achieved at all, and the Green Climate Fund has in total only pledges of $2.3 billion – in total, not annually. To hide this failure, in his summary, Ban Ki-Moon used the words “mobilize” instead of “provide,” and spoke about “public and private finance,” mixing private investment that is subject to profits in developing countries with public aid from the developed world.

Clever Packaging of Markets

For Ban Ki-moon, some heads of state, the business sector and the World Bank, the Climate Summit was a success because, from the beginning, their aim was not to close the emissions gap or to fill the Green Climate Fund. Rather, they sought to use this event – which is not part of the official process of UN negotiations – to launch more initiatives and carbon markets and to use the “summary of the chair” (Ban Ki-moon) as a way to introduce these proposals in the coming official negotiations in Lima, Peru, this December.

Their two clear goals were focused on “carbon pricing” and “Climate Smart Agriculture.” “Carbon pricing” is a new name used to promote carbon markets in a new, clever way: by combining candy and poison. Under “carbon pricing,” the World Bank, which is the leading promoter of this initiative, mixes two very different things: carbon taxing and “cap and trade.” Carbon taxing penalizes companies and industries for their actual polluting emissions, while under cap and trade, governments establish an emissions cap and give stakeholders permits to pollute. After the permits have been distributed to the level of the emissions cap, they can be traded privately. The wealthiest and most polluting companies can buy from others and continue to pollute, and the market defines the price of each permit, which involves a lot of speculation and leads to the creation of new financial bubbles.

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) of the European Union established the biggest carbon market in 2005. After eight years of implementation, even conservative sources estimate that between one third and two thirds of the carbon credits brought into the ETS “do not represent real carbon reductions.” Instead, the ETS has worked to subsidize polluters and pass the costs to consumers. Carbon markets are particularly susceptible to fraud. A German court jailed six people involved in a €300-million fraud scheme selling carbon permits through Deutsche Bank, and courts in London jailed 11 people. Also, the UN had to disqualify its main Clean Development Mechanism verification agency in 2009, and in 2011, it had to suspend Ukraine due to emissions under-reporting fraud. A good summary can be found in Scrap ETS.

These carbon markets move a lot of money that benefits many businesses, but certainly not the poor. According to the International Energy Agency, “The value of carbon credits produced from new CDM projects reached around $7 billion per year prior to the global financial and economic crisis.” But from all the CDM projects, “only 0.2% of the total have been designed to increase or improve energy access for households.”

To think that markets are going to solve the climate chaos is madness. But we cannot be surprised, because it is the same madness that the World Bank promoted with privatizations and “structural adjustments” all over the world with very well known bad results that have even lead to some self-criticism within that institution.

The other new market mechanism that Ban Ki-Moon highlighted in his summary, and that is also promoted by the World Bank, is Climate Smart Agriculture. La Via Campesina, a global organization with 200 million small farmer members, has rejected this initiative in these terms: “Climate Smart Agriculture, like Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), will expand the carbon market and its use for financial speculation. The possibility of big profits with investments in carbon credits generated from farmlands involved in Climate Smart Agriculture projects will increase speculation in the carbon market, leading to further “carbon land grabs” by large-scale investors and producers, and the further displacement of peasant and smallholder farmers, just as REDD displaces indigenous people. Under this Climate Smart Agriculture framework, there is little hope of reducing and removing greenhouse gases, trying to solve food insecurity or any significant rural economic and social development. The problems of poverty, food insecurity and climate change are not market failures, but rather are structural flaws that will persist and worsen with its implementation.”

We Need More Mobilizations, Clear Demands

After this week in New York, it is once again obvious that real solutions are not going to come from the UN, heads of state, corporations or the World Bank. Our main goal in strengthening marches like the one on September 21st is not to target the UN climate negotiations, but to build a movement that is strong enough to challenge and change the capitalist system. The main lesson from this week is that we need to make even stronger and more permanent mobilizations with much more clear messages targeting the main polluters, which are the big corporations. A march that calls for “climate action” without clearly saying what that action should be can be manipulated or used to promote wrong actions. In that sense, more than 370 organizations around the world have put forward a 10-point plan to really address the structural causes of climate change. At the next UN negotiations Lima, Peru, the challenge for social and grassroots movements is to come out with a plan of action to support clear demands to stop climate chaos.

‘Deglobalisation’ is the way to reduce inequality

Niño-pescado
The race of globalization is leaving the majority of the world’s population far behind. According to UNICEF, the richest 20% of the population gets 83%of global income, while the poorest quintile has just 1%.[1] This trend is getting worse. A new UNDP report called “Humanity Divided” estimates that 75% of the world’s population lives in societies where income distribution is less equal now than it was in the 1990s,[2] although global GDP ballooned in that time from $US 22 trillion to 72 trillion.[3] Sigue leyendo

Algunos pensamientos sobre el YasuniTT

Yasunidos-por-la-consulta

La preservación de la naturaleza y los derechos de la Madre Tierra no puede basarse en la expectativa de que el mundo capitalista pagará su deuda ecológica o que la donación vendrá sin condiciones ni ataduras. No hay duda que eso es lo correcto y justo dado su responsabilidad histórica y su obligación de reparar el daño. Sin embargo, la realidad es que nunca vamos a ser capaces de hacer que los capitalistas paguen hasta que derrotemos y remplacemos al sistema capitalista. Sigue leyendo

What went wrong in the Climate Negotiations?

What went wrong

In the last 20 years, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the world have, instead of declining, increased, by more than a third. In 1990, GHG emissions were 37 Gigatons (Gt) of CO2e[1]. In 2010, they surpassed 50 GtCO2e[2]. At this rate, if business-as-usual continues, global emissions can reach 58 GtCO2e by 2020, which would be a catastrophe for humanity and nature.

WWR Sigue leyendo

Why One Cannot Turn the WTO Around

NO WTO

Since its establishment, there has always been a debate about the WTO amongst civil society organizations.  Some saw it possible to reform the WTO and others saw no redeeming factor in it and wanted it dismantled. In a way, the slogan “WTO: Shrink or Sink” expressed the middle point in these two approaches. Now, after almost two decades of the WTO, the facts are clear. Sigue leyendo

La naturaleza habla mientras los humanos no escuchamos

Naturaleza habla

Víctor Hugo, el autor de Los Miserables escribió: “Produce una inmensa tristeza pensar que la naturaleza habla mientras el genero humano no escucha.”

Hoy estamos reunidos para intentar dialogar no sólo entre Estados sino con la naturaleza. Aunque muchas veces lo olvidamos, los seres humanos somos una de las fuerzas de la naturaleza. En verdad, todos venimos del mismo Big Bang que dio origen al universo. Aunque algunos solo ven la leña para el fuego, cuando cruzan el bosque. Sigue leyendo

Los restos que no desaparecen

Jose Carlos

Fragmento del libro “El Jó en la Piedra”

Si desaparecieron en la noche del odio, buscadlos y encontrareis el día.
Solón

Sin memoria no hay verdad. Sin verdad no hay justicia. Solo quien no olvida puede encontrar la justicia. Quien olvida para evitar la intranquilidad de los recuerdos renuncia a la realidad.  La verdad es un derecho. Saber lo que pasó. Poder recordarlos. Que otros lo recuerden. Que la sociedad se acuerde. La verdad está allí. Perdida muchas veces en los pliegues de la historia. Escondida por quienes temen a la luz del día. Pero la verdad siempre está. No puede desaparecer. El paso del tiempo debilita la memoria. La confunde. La trastoca. Pero la verdad siempre sigue. Fue y no volverá a ser. Porque la verdad es la realidad. Todo lo demás es mentira. Un espejismo para manipular la conciencia de los seres humanos.

Si se conserva la memoria la verdad emerge. No sabemos cuando. No sabemos cómo. Pero no hay duda que un día aparecerá. Por eso no debemos dejar de buscarlos. ¡Nunca! No tanto por sus restos óseos, sino por lo que fueron y siguen siendo.  Porque los desaparecidos viven entre nosotros. Son seres que no se han ido. Son seres que han desgarrado sus vidas. Que caminan junto a nosotros. Que se alimentan de nuestra memoria. Y que vuelven a revivir una y otra vez en nuestras acciones. Sigue leyendo

Discurso en ocasion de la adopción de la Resolución del Derecho Humano al Agua y al Saneamiento en la ONU

Agua

Señor Presidente

Permítanme empezar la presentación de esta Resolución recordando que “Los seres humanos somos esencialmente agua”. Alrededor de dos terceras partes de nuestro organismo están compuestas de agua. Un 75% de nuestro cerebro está constituido por agua, y el agua es el principal vehículo de las transmisiones electroquímicas de nuestro organismo. Sigue leyendo

COP21: A new disguise for an old agreement 

Pablo Solon

The Climate Paris Agreement carries with it the shadow of the Cancun Agreement and like it, will fail. Both Agreements are based on voluntary pledges that prioritized the interests of polluting corporations and governments rather than the needs of humanity and life on Earth.

Ayer fue por la fe, hoy es por la democracia

To limit the temperature increase to 2°C, the Cancun Agreement should have guaranteed the reduction of annual emissions of greenhouse gases to 44 Gt of CO2e by 2020. But with the pledges from Cancun we will instead be at 56 GtCO2e by 2020.The Paris Agreement should ensure that global emissions drop to 35 Gt of CO2e by 2030 but according to the voluntary INDCs submitted by governments, (Intended National Determined Contributions) we will be at an almost double overshoot of the limit at 60 Gt of CO2e by 2030.

Both agreements deliberately obviated the most important task at hand: to set a limit to fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) extraction, which is responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If 80% of known reserves of fossil fuels are not left under the ground it is impossible to limit the temperature increase to below 2°C. Sigue leyendo

Einstein y la locura de las negociaciones climáticas

locura-einstein

“Locura es hacer lo mismo una y otra vez
y esperar resultados diferentes”
Albert Einstein

Por Pablo Solón[1]

Después de veinte COPs las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero continúan en ascenso y los pronósticos son que seguirán subiendo. En el año 1990 eran 38 Gt de CO2e y veinte años después llegaron a 50 Gt de CO2e[2]. Para evitar un incremento de consecuencias catastróficas de 2ºC en la temperatura mundial promedio, las emisiones mundiales de gases de efecto invernadero debieron haber alcanzado su pico máximo el año pasado para empezar a reducirse este año. Sin embargo, ese año pico de emisiones no se alcanzará con toda seguridad esta década y probablemente tampoco la siguiente.

¿Será la COP21 capaz de cambiar esta trayectoria suicida de las negociaciones climáticas? ¿Qué hará la COP21 de diferente para que el resultado sea distinto? O ¿Asistiremos a mas de lo mismo sólo que mucho peor porque ahora se consolidara un acuerdo hasta el año 2030 que nos conducirá a un planeta en llamas?

Lo lógico

Lo lógico sería que se establezcan metas mundiales a corto plazo que sean consistentes con el objetivo de limitar el incremento de la temperatura a 1,5ºC o 2ºC como máximo, tomando en cuenta que con 0,8ºC de incremento ya estamos viendo consecuencias muy graves. Si tomamos como referencia el estudio del PNUMA (UNEP) del 2013, para limitar el incremento de la temperatura a 2ºC las emisiones mundiales deben reducirse a 44 Gt de CO2e para el año 2020, 40 Gt para el 2025 y 35 Gt para el 2030[3]. Esas son las metas que debemos alcanzar en 5, 10 y 15 años.

Una vez establecidas las metas para esta década y la próxima el siguiente paso lógico es distribuir la contribución de cada país en la reducción de emisiones de acuerdo a: 1) el tamaño de su población, 2) sus emisiones históricas y 3) su capacidad económica y tecnológica. En otras palabras, si la meta es no emitir más de 44 Gt de CO2e para el 2020 y China representa el 19,14% de la población mundial sus emisiones anuales no deberían superar las 8,4 Gt de CO2e ese año y las de Estados Unidos que representa el 4,45 % de la población mundial no debería ser superiores a 1,9 Gt de CO2e a fines de esta década.

A esto habría que añadir variables que sean mas exigentes con aquellos países que más han contaminado históricamente como los EE.UU. responsable del 28% de las emisiones acumuladas entre 1890 y el 2007 o la Unión Europea que contribuyó con el 23% de las emisiones históricas[4]. Por último, habría que tomar en cuenta la capacidad económica (ej. el PIB per cápita) y tecnológica de cada país para lograr una distribución lo mas equitativa posible de lo que cada país debe reducir para alcanzar la meta de no más de 44 Gt de CO2e el año 2020. Sigue leyendo

Building a post-capitalist global movement

Solón is a strong critic of capitalism, arguing that in order to stop climate change we need to change ourselves and shift from the capitalist paradigm of unlimited growth to one that pushes instead for the redistribution of wealth. “We need to recover our sense of community between us and with nature. We need to recover the control of the resources of the society that have been privatized to redistribute the benefits between all while preserving harmony with nature.” Solón is also critical of the notion of a “green economy,” saying it’s “about cheating nature while making a profit out of it.” He says that putting a price tag and commodifying the functions of nature does not recognize limits, but encourages and promotes “new speculative derivative markets on nature.”

Instead, Solón says the shift to a post-capitalist reality can be achieved by following the core principles of buen vivir, an idea of how to “live well” as opposed to “live better.” This idea emerged in South America in the late 20th century, but is rooted in the harmonious relationship that indigenous people of the Andean region had with nature. He says buen vivir is like the “dream of the rights of Mother Earth,” and that it can be a model of how to live communally with fewer demands on nature. Sigue leyendo