(10/11/08) Climate justice to guide global deal?

Parliamentarians, business and civil society representatives have called for a "human dimension" based on justice and dignity to be taken into account during upcoming climate change negotiations in Poznañ this December.


The global community must decide on a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol on climate change before the United Nations conference in Copenhagen in December next year.

The first critical step was taken at the UN climate change conference in Bali in December 2007, when all countries agreed upon a roadmap for achieving a global deal by the end of 2009. Under the terms of the Bali Action Plan, a deal must be struck during two UN conferences in Poznañ in 2008 and Copenhagen in 2009.

All formal UN negotiations take place at government-level only. Businesses, civil society and parliamentarians are not officially represented in the negotiations.

Meeting in Brussels last week (6 November) at the invitation of Commission Vice President Margot Wallström, the Club of Madrid, Globe Europe and Respect Table, stakeholders and experts taking part in the 'Road to Copenhagen 2009' conferenceexternal called for more "climate justice" during the Poznañ talks, which are expected to culminate in a new international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

Technology transfer and adaptation funds to deliver climate justice

"Now that we have the scientific evidence on climate change, we have to cope with the justice dimension," said former Irish President Mary Robinson, a member of the Global Humanitarian Forum founded recently by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. "Clean energy technologies must be developed not only for use on a large scale in industrialised economies, but also on an appropriate scale for least-developed countries based on their needs," she noted.

Technology transfer and better adaptation funds can create the right framework to address climate justice, stressed a panel of activists and parliamentarians. A lack of early warning systems, efficient response mechanisms and global solidarity is also preventing help from being delivered where and when it is needed most.

Clock ticking: True leadership to keep Europe on track

Despite the financial crisis, experts at the conference said the EU must stick to the planned targets and schedule if it is to maintain leadership on the issue. According to some experts, there are about 2,850 days, or 97 months, before a climate tipping point is reached, after which temperatures will not remain below the two degrees Celsius temperature threshold.

"The temptation to go back to well-known roots is great, but we can't afford to go for the short-term perspective because of the crisis," stressed Wallström. "We need strong leadership and I hope the EU will continue to demonstrate a strong commitment."

EU leaders are expected to adopt a far-reaching climate package ahead of the UN negotiations in December. The package comprises a series of proposals to reduce the bloc's emissions of CO2 and related greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 20% by 2020, while boosting its share of renewable energy use to 20% over the same period. In recent weeks, however, Italy and other Eastern European countries have proven reluctant to commit, as they believe it will worsen the economic slowdown.

Economist Claudia Kemfert, a member of Commission President José Manuel Barroso's advisory group on energy and climate change, underlined that investment in climate protection would strengthen the economy. "We are running out of time. Allowing too many exceptions is not an option," she said, proposing the establishment of a mechanism that would allow auctions to be reimbursed a posteriori to those sectors experiencing greater difficulties.

In this climate of uncertainty, investors will likely go for financial security, and emerging renewable energy markets are very attractive from this point of view, added Kemfert, reiterating there was no need to renege on the EU's commitments under the energy package.

Climate change 'on Obama's mind'

Experts are conscious that there would be no global climate deal without the United States, which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Today the US is the richest country in the world, with a per capita GDP that is roughly 20 times larger than that of the poorest region in Africa. Much hope rests on the leadership of US President-elect Barack Obama to set the United States on the road to social and environmental sustainability.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Prime Minister of Norway and current UN special envoy for climate change, stressed that climate change was on Obama's mind, noting that he cited three timely challenges in his acceptance speech: two wars, a planet in peril and the financial crisis. She noted that even in the United States, "the time for denial [of climate change] is over. A new era is born".

'Time for EU and US to act' on energy efficiency

Experts note that countries should not wait for a climate deal to act, suggesting that energy efficiency offers an immediate opportunity for President Obama to make progress as the United States has just half the energy efficiency of Japan. China, meanwhile, has just one-ninth.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, half of all global growth in emissions could be avoided at a profit, providing an average internal rate of return of 17 percent. Based on global investment of US $170 billion per year, US $900 billion in benefits could be accrued annually by 2020.

To reach such figures, US emissions must be capped at today's levels and China's must be cut by 20% by 2020. Energy efficiency is about cost saving, noted Anders Egelrud of AB Fortum Värme, one of the first Swedish energy companies to begin to replace coal with a renewable biofuel (lignin). Meanwhile, Swedish renwables penetration is currently 75 percent of the market.

A list of recommendations drafted by participants at the Road for Copenhagen conference will be sent to negotiators in Poznañ to ensure that the Copenhagen protocol for 2020-2050 will take into them into account.

Next steps:

1-12 Dec. 2008 : Climate meeting in Poznañ, Poland, to discuss long-term emissions targets.
Dec. 2009 : Copenhagen climate conference (COP 15); projected completion of UN climate negotiations on post-2012 framework.
31 Aug.-4 Sept. 2009 : World Climate Conference.
End 2012 : Deadline for ratification of new climate deal.


European Union

European Commission: Climate Change Actionexternal (Portal)
International Organisations

United Nations: UN Framework Convention on Cimate Change (UNFCCC)external
Global Leadership for Climate Action: (Homepage)external
Club de Madrid: (Homepage)external
Globe Europe: Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environmentexternal
Business Leaders Initiative for Climate Change: (Homepage)
Respect Table: (Homepage)external

Road to Copenhagen 2009: (Homepage)external (6 November conference)external

GroenDe enige partij die sociaal én milieuvriendelijk is.


De Groenen/EVAGroenen en Europese Vrije Alliantie in het Europees Parlement.


Samen ijveren voor een beter Europa en klimaat?