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

[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.

Einstein y la locura de las negociaciones climáticas

“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

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

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.

presentacion-deforestacin-bolivia-10-638

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

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

Climate Change: Not Just Any Action Will Do

By Pablo Solon, Josie Riffaud and Tony Clarke in Huffington Post, 25 September 2014

On Sunday, hundreds of thousands gathered in New York for one of the biggest marches against climate change. The occasion is the Climate Summit convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the theme of which is “take action.” But does that action actually include measures that could do further harm to the planet? Sigue leyendo

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

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.