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December 11, 2010

Cancun Climate Summit
HSA* Report #2

COP 16 ends: Cancun climate change talks disappoint global expectations

In the early morning hours of December 11, 2010 a COP 16 Accord was
announced. However the text of this Accord did not represent an advance on
what came out of last year´s "Copenhagen Accord", and instead signalled an
acceptance of the earlier ´agreement´ thereby evading any real solutions
to the climate change crisis.

Though there is talk of multilateralism having been rescued as a byproduct
of this negotiating process, the reality is that final approval was only
reached in negotiations that involved small groups, or by means of
informal meetings. This methodology proved divisive for the countries most
at risk as they were singled out and offered potential financial benefits
accruing from future arrangements if they were to change their positions.
This process far from being democratic actually reproduced some of the
worst aspects of WTO negotiations where the will of a few nations is
imposed at the expense of the needs of the world´s peoples.

The content of the Accord reached in Cancun does not take up the challenge
of an immediate response to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that
could help reduce the extreme climate events that have been impacting
humanity and caused thousands of deaths.

Although there is a mention of a second period of commitments under the
Kyoto Protocol, there is no elaboration on deadlines or mechanisms to
ensure that these committments will be met, and the talk was only focused
on the adoption of voluntary commitments. As a result, any adoption of
reductions in the level of gas emissions will not be part of a global plan
but rather depend on the good will of individual countries. The Cancun
talks have laid bare the fact that Northern nations are not willing to
significantly reduce their emission levels.

The agreed upon level of an overall increase of 2°C remains the same as
what came out of the so called "Copenhagen Accord" and which was widely
rejected at the time as being insufficient to guarantee the survival of
entire regions of the planet - and yet the 2°C was approved once again.
Not only is this target inadequate but it isn´t even backed up by firm
commitments, only voluntary offerings that could lead to an increase of
5°C in global warming. This higher level, were it to be reached, would
threaten the existence of some island nations, and also threaten the very
survival of humanity itself before the end of this century.

The Cancun text mentions the creation of flexible and compensatory
mechanisms that would allow countries to meet their reduction targets -
this is little more than coded language to open the door to the creation
of market mechanisms. These would in fact represent the extension of a
logic of financial speculation with regard to the climate crisis, an
outcome that experience suggests would lead to profiteering with no real
reductions in the level of emissions.

Although the creation of a global fund was approved, there were no
guarantees with respect to the resources to be committed to it, where
these would come from or how they would be chanelled. In addition, the
amount being suggested falls well short of what would be required to deal
with the consequences of the climate crisis.

In Cancun, countries such as the United States expressed their
preference for the World Bank to handle this global fund.
It should be noted that this is the same World Bank that has been
financing extractive and polluting projects, and whose lending practices
has led to greater indebtedness for many Southern nations, not to mention
that it is a prime mover of of the neo-liberal model worldwide. The World
Bank is not to be entrusted with the task of looking for real solutions to
climate change.

Despite frequently voiced criticisms of the proposals dealing with
forests, the Accord´s text only deals with financial considerations with
respect to forest management thus further promoting market mechanism
solutions while not recognizing the territorial rights of communities.
Forests are are thus being commodified and reduced to the status of
´carbon sinks´.

With regard to the transfer of technology, the elimination of intellectual
property rights that could allow for the development of sustainable,
alternative technologies was left out of the Cancun Accord.

Bolivia presented proposals that took into account discussions held by the
social organizations and peoples of many countries, but these proposals
were ignored. There was no take-up, for example, on establishing the
rights of nature, or on establishing a climate justice tribunal with
powers of enforcement. No mechanism exists presently to judge those guilty
of worsening the climate change crisis, or of promoting false solutions. A
green light has been given to continue the current level of emissions and
to promote carbon market mechanisms that would reward emitters, while
putting the planet further at risk.

In Cancun the world´s governments were under an obligation to find
solutions to the climate crisis and offer answers that could guarantee the
survival of humanity - but they were not up to the task. The results from
these climate change talks show that the profit motive still trumps life
itself and threatens the very survival of the planet.

Cancun. December 11, 2010.

*The Hemispheric Social Alliance

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