“In Durban, it’s time for governments to listen to the people, not the polluting corporations.” – Greenpeace
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — Filipino climate activists are pushing for a binding climate agreement, but at the same time insist that the United States is also sabotaging the ongoing climate talks.
As the Conference of Parties (COP) 17 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) continues in Durban, South Africa to discuss and find solutions to global warming, Filipino climate activists from the Philippines warn of unpleasant results from the climate conference. The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) said that even before of the start of the COP 17, top polluting countries signified their unwillingness to cut their carbon emissions.
The UN gathering brings together representatives of the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society organizations. Discussions are focused on developments in the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.
Kalikasan, however, pointed out that the United States, Japan, Canada and the European Union already positioned themselves that there would be no climate agreement, which will bind them to significantly reduce their carbon emissions, in Durban.
“In the first day of the COP last November 28, US climate envoy and lead negotiator Todd Stern reiterated this position when he indicated that there will likely be no binding climate agreement in force before 2020,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE.
Bautista explained that the US continues to be the world’s “number one carbon polluter,” and that it continues to refuse to commit to the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is the only international agreement that commits countries to reduce their carbon emissions. It targets to reduce global carbon emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.
Based on scientific studies, the world needs to reduce its global carbon emission by at least 50 percent from the 1990 level by 2020 so that global temperature rises less than two degrees Celsius.
Frances Quimpo of Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC Phils) and Climate Asia Pacific said most developing countries, including the Philippines, demand the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and for a binding commitment from industrialized countries to significantly reduce their carbon emissions.
“The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) today strongly reiterated their position that COP should work for the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. But these demands fall on the deaf ears of industrialized countries. Even the host country South Africa is siding with the top global polluters,” Quimpo said.
In the meantime, news reports quoted NJ Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa’s ambassador-at-large for the conference, as saying that “to even begin to suggest that the outcome of Durban must be a legally binding agreement would be irresponsible, because it will collapse the system.”
Bautista said the Philippine government should unite with developing countries to resist the maneuverings in COP 17 by polluter-countries like the US and strongly demand to make them accountable and responsible for their carbon emissions.
“We have yet to hear strong words from Secretary Lucille Sering, head of the Philippine COP delegation. Sering must not toe the line being proposed by the US in Durban and denounce capitalist countries for sabotaging the COP,” Bautista said.
For its part, Greenpeace International released a statement exposing how a handful of major polluting corporations such as Eskom, BASF, ArcelorMittal, BHP Billiton, Shell and Koch Industries, as well as the industry associations that they are members of, are influencing governments and the political process on climate legislation.
Kumi Naidoo Greenpeace International Executive Director acknowledged that governments work with and learn from the business sector, “But we will not avoid irreversible climate change impacts unless they listen to and act on the behalf of their citizens. In Durban, it’s time for governments to listen to the people, not the polluting corporations,” she said.
Greenpeace’s “‘Who’s holding us back” report tackles how and why decisive action on the climate is being increasingly ousted from the political agenda. It summarizes the lack of action, at the national level, in several key countries to build the right reconditions to a global climate agreement, which stands in stark contrast to public opinion demanding change.
“In this report, we document the tricks of the trade that polluting corporations use to pull the strings of our politicians and mislead the public. We expose the web of influence that sees these companies play not only our leaders, but entire countries against each other to hold back action on the climate” – said Tzeporah Berman, Co-director of Greenpeace International Climate and Energy Program.
Greenpeace also released a controversial direct communication campaign profiling US President Barack Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Joseph Harper, Head of the European Commission Manuel Barroso and South African President Jacob Zuma. The group exhorted global leaders to “Listen to the people, not the polluters.”