Archive | December 9th, 2009

Water Management Sidelined in Copenhagen

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Victims of Cyclone Sidr, on the banks of a river in Barguna district  Credit:Farid Ahmed/IPS

Victims of Cyclone Sidr, on the banks of a river in Barguna district Credit:Farid Ahmed/IPS

By Claudia Ciobanu

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) More than a million people have been affected by cyclones hitting the coastal areas of Bangladesh over the past year. Hundreds of people died and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed.

According to Ainun Nishat, Senior Advisor on Climate Change at IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Asia, the biggest problem is the unpredictability of weather patterns, which makes it very difficult for governments to make long-term plans on how to assist people. Continue Reading

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350 Million Reasons Why Youth from India Came Out for COP15

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

By Rajiv Fernando

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Out of the many NGOs present in Copenhagen for the climate talks, the group “350” not only demonstrates the effects of climate change with its name, but shows how the younger generation from a developing country is rapidly becoming more active.

As an international campaign, their focus is on the number 350 parts per million (ppm) – the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in the atmosphere.

Rishabh Khanna from New Delhi and Ruchi Jain from Mumbai are two of the twenty Indian youth supporting and attending the climate conference on behalf of not only 350 but the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN). They both personally expect great things from this conference because they see a real treaty as a means of survival, not only for them but other South Asian countries as well.

However, when asked if they feel confident about the present proceedings, they had different answers and expectations.

“If the Annex I (developed) countries continue to dominate and bully the small island states and LDCs, it’s not going to lead us anywhere, because at the end of the day they have to understand climate change is happening in their backyard as well,” Khanna told TerraViva.

Jain felt positive going forward this time around.

Jain told TerraViva, “My confidence level is so high because for the first time there is an equal representation from the global south and their voice is heard and when young people come together to make decisions it is really inspiring.”


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COP15 Is a “False Solutions Fair”

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor


Miriam Nobre. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS.

Miriam Nobre. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS.

Daniela Estrada interviews Brazilian feminist MIRIAM NOBRE


COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – The climate change conference looks like a “big solutions fair,” where everyone avoids discussing the root problem, which is the need to change the model of development, Miriam Nobre, coordinator of the secretariat of the World March of Women, told IPS.

Nobre, a Brazilian agricultural engineer and feminist, arrived in Copenhagen Tuesday to take part in Klimaforum09, the civil society summit held in parallel to the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which opened Monday and will run until Dec. 18.

The World March of Women, headed by Nobre, is an international women’s rights movement created in 2000, which is currently active in 71 countries.

The movement’s first campaign was aimed at combating poverty and violence against women, and for 2010 it’s planning its third international action, targeting four objectives: achieving economic independence for women; ending violence against women; promoting peace and demilitarisation; and preserving and developing the common good and public services.

Before sitting down to talk with TerraViva, Nobre participated in a coordination meeting with representatives of other movements and NGOs in the colourful Klimaforum, where hundreds of talks, displays, exhibits, documentary screenings, and musical and theatre shows are programmed.

TERRAVIVA: What proposals or demands are you bringing to Copenhagen?

MN: We’ve come to Copenhagen in coordination with Vía Campesina and Friends of the Earth to denounce the false solutions that are put forward for climate change, including monoculture, agrofuel production, and the privatisation of nature, through, for example, carbon credits.

We’re also meeting with other organisations, such as Jubilee South, that work on the issue of climate debt.

Our presence here also has to do with a sense of urgency. There’s a feeling that something has to be done now, but that the urgency can’t lead us to be strong-armed into accepting a bad agreement that ignores class, country and gender inequalities in the issue of climate change.

TV: What activities will you participate in?

MN: We have a workshop called “Feminists Struggling Against Climate Change and Privatisation of the Environment”, where we’ll examine the state of negotiations, because women are major political actors in this issue.

We will also look at the links and conflicts between the environmentalist and women’s movements and at how women are experiencing the effects of climate change and the forms of resistance and alternatives they’re building.

We will also be holding another activity with the Global Forest Coalition, on the subject of food and energy sovereignty as real solutions to climate change.

TV: Why are women key political actors in climate change negotiations?

MN: There’s a whole host of experiences that women farmers and fisherwomen can contribute, because they haven’t abandoned their traditional ways of producing food, so they offer a true alternative to our fossil-fuel- and oil-dependent societies.

And there’s also the connection we say exists between the fragmentation and commodification of women’s bodies and the fragmentation and commodification of territories themselves.

TV: How do you see the global negotiations at Copenhagen so far?

MN: My first impression was that many have come with the idea of selling their solutions – agrofuels, carbon credits, etc.

I got the feeling that it’s a large fair with everyone hawking their solutions, without really touching on the problem, which is the urgent need for profound changes in the system. We need to change the model, to change the way we organise production and consumption.

It’s like everyone just wants to go on avoiding what we really have to discuss, which is what needs to be done.

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No Democracy at Climate Summit, Says Bolivia

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Bolivian delegation. Credit: Raúl Pierri/IPS.

Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) “Who made the decision that 30 handpicked countries can decide for 190? What really drew my attention was the lack of democracy and transparency in this process,” the head of Bolivia’s delegation to the COP 15, Angélica Navarro, told TerraViva.

Bolivian delegation. Credit: Raúl Pierri/IPS.

She was referring to a Danish draft proposal for a new climate agreement that was leaked to the press this week during the climate summit that opened Monday in Copenhagen.

Bolivia’s representatives complained Wednesday that rich countries were trying to control the outcome of the climate talks, and that there is a “lack of transparency” in the negotiations. They also called for respect for “the rights of Mother Earth.”

Developing countries are up in arms over the leaked text, complaining that it toes the U.S. line and would set specific emission reduction targets for developing countries. They also say it sidelines the United Nations and the Kyoto Protocol in the talks.

“I find this alarming for two reasons. First of all, who made the decision that 30 handpicked countries can decide for 190? What really drew my attention was the lack of democracy, participation, inclusiveness and transparency in this process, which we are not used to from our European friends, who we want to urge to return to the route of democracy,” Navarro said.

“We are also very worried about the content, because it only refers to one new agreement. What about the Kyoto Protocol? Do they want to kill it off? And second, this accord has new obligations in financing, mitigation and adaptation for developing countries? In other words, we have to pay for the damages they caused?”

The Kyoto Protocol, whose first period of commitments expires in 2012, does not include binding greenhouse gas emissions cuts for the developing South.

The United States, however, is pushing for a new framework in which responsibility for emissions cuts would be shared by developing nations, and for voluntary, not binding, targets across the board.

The countries that make up the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) bloc -
Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela – presented a declaration insisting that the industrial North must assume the costs of climate change, make significant emissions cuts and provide financing and technology for mitigation and adaptation in the South.

“After over-consuming the atmosphere and releasing more than two-thirds of the emissions, the developed countries have a climate debt to developing countries,” said Navarro.

“This can be paid in two ways: the first is through substantial domestic reductions, and the second is by providing adequate financing and technology – not the numbers that they are putting on the table at this time in the negotiations,” she said.

“What worries us about the negotiations is that the ambitions are too low. The numbers that they are putting out there are so low that they would not really curb climate change,” said Navarro.

Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solón Romero, stressed in a press conference the importance of recognising “the rights of Mother Earth.”

The diplomat, flanked by two representatives of indigenous groups, said the world must see that the Earth is being “enslaved.”

Romero called for more ambitious targets, such as a ceiling of a one to 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures, rather than the two degree limit being discussed in the negotiations.

“Because if we say that the goal is two degrees and 450 parts of a million (of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere), that means more than two degrees for Africa – and it means that a catastrophe lies ahead,” he said.

At the end of the news briefing, the Bolivian delegation exclaimed “Hayaya Pachamama!” which means “for the life of Mother Earth!” in the Quechua language.

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“Feria de falsas soluciones”

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Miriam Nombre. Crédito: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Miriam Nobre. Crédito: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Por Daniela Estrada

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) La conferencia sobre cambio climático parece una “gran feria de soluciones”, donde la gente evita hablar del problema de fondo, que es el cambio del modelo de desarrollo, dijo a TerraViva Miriam Nobre, coordinadora del secretariado de la Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres.

Nobre, ingeniera agrónoma y feminista brasileña, arribó el martes a Copenhague para participar en el Klimaforum, la cumbre de la sociedad civil paralela a la COP-15, inaugurada el lunes y que se extenderá hasta el 18 de este mes. Continue Reading

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Tuvalu es el “Rayo de esperanza del día”

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor


Ceremonia de premios "Fósil del día". Crédito: David Wargert/

Ceremonia de premios "Fósil del día". Crédito: David Wargert/

Por Raúl Pierri


COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) Con pompa y circunstancia, Tuvalu ganó el miércoles en Copenhague el premio “Rayo de esperanza del día”, por su exigencia de que la conferencia en esta ciudad danesa concluya con un acuerdo legalmente vinculante.

Mientras, Canadá volvió a ganar el premio “Fósil del día” al país que más obstaculiza los avances en la COP15, por su oposición a utilizar el internacionalmente aceptado año base de 1990 para calcular la reducción de emisiones. Ese país de America del Norte ahora tiene el dudoso honor de ocupar el primer lugar en la clasificación de la semana, acompañado de Ucrania. Continue Reading

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Latin American Women Want Change in Trade Rules

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Guatemalan indigenous girls. Credit: Danilo Valladares/IPS

Guatemalan indigenous girls. Credit: Danilo Valladares/IPS


Daniela Estrada

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – “We don’t need to change the climate, we need to change trade,” said Brazilian activist Marta Lago at Klimaforum, the civil society meeting held in parallel with the climate change summit in the Danish capital.

Lago and Norma Maldonado from Guatemala, who belong to the International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN), criticised the free trade treaties signed by Latin American countries with the United States and the European Union in a panel Tuesday.

They said free trade agreements accentuate poverty and the loss of biodiversity, as a result of megaprojects for the extraction of natural resources which use water intensively, spew out pollution, and exacerbate the effects of climate change.

Examples are mining projects, construction of large hydroelectric dams, and plantations of monoculture crops and genetically modified (GM) organisms.

Free trade deals include strict regulation of intellectual property rights for patented GM seeds, which harms small farmers, creating food insecurity in poor communities that already suffer from harvest variability because of global warming.

“Where there is biodiversity, where there is wealth, where there is culture, that’s where corporate interests flock,” Maldonado, deputy head of Ecumenical Services for Christian Development in Central America (SEFCA), an organisation working with women and young people for community development and political effectiveness, told TerraViva.

SEFCA’s work covers a wide range of issues, focusing on the recovery of traditional farming practices, the carving out of local markets for products, the improvement of the diets of people in rural communities and the provision of training for international trade negotiations.

“The trade treaties give (foreign countries) a legal claim to plunder our natural resources. We cannot separate the trade treaties from their everyday effects: the privatisation of water; the loss of land; the mining companies that use 250,000 gallons of water a minute for free, while polluting our rivers,” she said.

“Guatemala was the birthplace of many food crops, and yet its people are undernourished. Children are dying of hunger. How can we have a country that produces food, but all of it for export, to sell to the great international markets?” she demanded.

In her view, the EU “gives with one hand,” through development aid, “and takes away with the other,” by means of its trade treaties.

In Guatemala, SEFCA works with Q’eqchi’ indigenous communities that are recovering degraded coffee plantations.

Women bear the brunt of climate change effects, Lago and Maldonado said, as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stated in its latest report.

SEFCA is making a documentary to raise awareness on the water crisis, which includes footage, screened at Klimaforum, showing rural women who spend four hours a day fetching water from streams around their communities.

According to Maldonado, “the problem of water has been, and will continue to be,” a women’s issue, “for cultural reasons,” because they are the ones who do most of the cooking, bathing of children and washing of clothes in their homes.

“Lack of access to water adds to women’s burden,” already a heavy one, she said.

“Women take four hours to fetch two gallons of water at a time, and then we want them to further their education and participate in community affairs. What time do they have for this?” she asked.

How much do Guatemalan women supported by SEFCA know about climate change? According to Maldonado, they are unaware of factors like greenhouse gas emissions and other scientific aspects. “Actually, I don’t understand them very well myself, yet,” she admitted.
“What we are very well aware of is that there are constant landslides and floods, while we women can’t even swim, that the weather is getting hotter all the time, that the rhythm of the crops is altered – sometimes the coffee is ripe in January and previously it was in October – and the cycles and agricultural calendars are upset, and we don’t have enough water,” said the activist.

“We may not know what a carbon sink is, but we do know that our land is being taken from us,” said Maldonado, who said she has been threatened and intimidated for her opposition to free trade agreements in Guatemala.

“A wave of repression swept the country when the first free trade treaty between Guatemala and the United States was signed. Since then there has been systematic persecution of the leadership and raids on organisations (opposed to the trade accords). They searched my house, injured two colleagues, took our computers: we are on their blacklist,” she complained.

Maldonado is in Copenhagen, but she said she “expects nothing” from the Dec. 7-18 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, attended by delegates from 192 countries and 3,500 journalists. She says she is putting her faith in the alliances that emerge from Klimaforum, where the keynote is scepticism of the current development model.

This huge alternative meeting is being held in a multi-purpose centre in the Danish capital that includes a conference centre and is 15 minutes by train from the Bella Centre, the venue for COP 15.

The Klimaforum programme lists 150 panels and talks, 50 exhibitions and 30 artistic events, including documentaries, theatre and music, which will continue until Dec. 18.

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La Unión Europea puede y debe

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor


Jóvenes accionando una bicicleta que genera electricidad. British Council Climate Champions. Crédito: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

Jóvenes accionando una bicicleta que genera electricidad. British Council Climate Champions. Crédito: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

Por Raul Pierri


COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) La UE ofrece una reducción de 20 por ciento de sus emisiones de gases invernadero para 2020 respecto de los volúmenes de 1990, y condiciona un recorte de hasta 30 por ciento a compromisos similares de otras naciones.

“Alcanzar reducciones de al menos 40 por ciento en Europa para 2020 es técnica y económicamente posible. No hay excusa para que los gobiernos no actúen ahora”, dijo en conferencia de prensa este miércoles la coordinadora de campañas por el clima de la organización, Sonja Meister. Continue Reading

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Reducing Road Transport is Taboo

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Bikes in Copenhagen. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS.

Bikes in Copenhagen. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS.

By Claudia Ciobanu

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Road transport accounts for 10 percent of the world’s carbon footprint, but is poorly addressed at the United Nations climate summit underway in the Danish capital.

Holger Dalkmann from Britain’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) thought it odd that while negotiations on aviation and international shipping are taking place under CoP 15 of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, road transport, responsible for over thrice the emissions released by aviation and shipping together, has been left nearly untouched.

Speaking on Wednesday at the Danish Technical University (DTU) Dalkmann pointed out that the Kyoto protocol has not been of much use for the greening of transport. Out of 1,699 projects registered under the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism, only two were for transport.

Road transport is, in a sense, taboo for negotiators. “We live in a world that has a fetishism for large-scale transport infrastructure,” commented John Whitelegg from the Stockholm Environment Institute while speaking at the DTU.

Annual subsidies for transport given in the European Union (EU) amount to over 240 billion euros annually, said Whitelegg. And that amount excludes funds given for parking development. In Britain alone, Whitelegg calculated, the total area of parking around the country equals the surface of the three largest cities, London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Over the past 17 years, emissions from transport in the EU rose by 28 percent. And major developing countries, like China, are following in the footsteps of the U.S. and the EU in favouring large infrastructure for transport.

“We need a new type of mobility, a paradigm shift away from our love affair with big transport infrastructure and fast traffic,” said Whitelegg.

Dalkmann added that “developing countries must not follow the Western model of development, but leapfrog their way to low-carbon development.”

These experts believe that without a massive rethinking of city planning and a radical turn towards transport that does not rely on fossil fuels climate change cannot be addressed properly.

The oil peak will not in itself lead to the reduction of emissions from transport because the world is already turning to other fossil sources such as sand oil, “which is even dirtier,’’ said Dalkmann.

Whitelegg and a team of researchers at the SEI have devised the ‘Zero Carbon Project’ to illustrate how transportation in British towns can become carbon-neutral by 2050 (the calculations show a zero-carbon result if aviation and shipping are left out).

The specific feature of this research is that it proposes a strategy towards zero-carbon transport starting with addressing demand and city planning, rather than taking technology as the starting point. ‘’Distance is now a consumer product,’’ says Whitelegg.

Core elements of this strategy are: giving up subsidies for transport infrastructure, strong fiscal signals of the polluter-pays type, totally electrifying railways, creating strong resilience models and returning to short-distance city models. Increases in prices of fuel by five percent and a significant rise in air fares.

Encouraging signs already exist, added Whitelegg. The promotion of the bicycle in many European countries, congestion charges in cities like London and Stockholm, or the introduction of a tax on companies proportional to the number of parking spaces they have (such as in Nottingham, Britain) are examples.


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What a Difference Half a Degree Makes

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN, Dec 9 (IPS/Terraviva) A five-minute interview with Saleemul Huq, an adaptation expert from the London-based Institute for Environment and Development and a lead author on the adaptation section of the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

At the meetings here, industrialised countries, including the European Union and the United States, have set 2 degrees C. as their target for climate stabilisation. Overall, temperatures have risen 0.75 C. in the past 100 years.

TerraViva: What worries you here?

SALEEMUL HUQ: The focus on 2.0 degrees C. temperature increase. That will not be safe for the poorest or the most vulnerable to [cope with] the impacts of climate change.

Aiming for a 2.0 degrees C. target means giving up the poorest and most vulnerable. That’s why the Least Developed Countries, the African Countries and the Small Island Countries all want the world to aim for 1.5 C.

There is a big difference between 1.5 and 2.0 [degrees]; 1.5 C is safe for everyone.

TerraViva: Can we limit global warming to 1.5 C?

SH: If declare war on climate change and transform our economy, it can be done. But is it politically feasible? Perhaps not, but it can be done.

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Angry Mermaid Accuses Corporations of Greenwash

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

The iconic mermaid in Copenhagen's harbour is outraged at the role played by corporate lobbies.

The iconic mermaid in Copenhagen's harbour is outraged at the role played by corporate lobbies.

Corporations are being accused of pushing for a weak agreement on climate change.

Their critics accuse them of pushing for measures such as offset credits at the expense of quickly reducing emissions directly.

Civil society organizations including Care Denmark and Friends of the Earth. The environmental organizations have launched a campaign to expose corporations they say are trying to mask their contribution to global warming with green corporate social responsibility programmes.

Joshua Kyalimpa reports from Copenhagen.


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Planting trees

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Planting trees from IPS Inter Press Service on Vimeo.

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Bolivia: En la COP-15 no hay democracia

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Delegación boliviana. Crédito: Raúl Pierri/IPS

Delegación boliviana. Crédito: Raúl Pierri/IPS

Por Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva)  “¿Quién resolvió que 30 países escogidos a dedo pueden decidir por 190? Este es un proceso que me llama mucho la atención porque es falta de democracia”, dijo a TerraViva la jefa de la delegación boliviana en la COP-15, Angélica Navarro.

La negociadora jefa del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia se refería a la forma en que se llevan a cabo las conversaciones para alcanzar un nuevo pacto climático en la conferencia iniciada el lunes en Copenhague. Continue Reading

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Terraviva conversa con Norma Maldonado

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Terraviva conversa con Norma Maldonado from IPS Inter Press Service on Vimeo.

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