Tag Archive | "emissions cuts"

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BANGLADESH: Community-Based Climate Strategies Are Key

Posted on 19 December 2009 by editor

By Darryl D’Monte

COPENHAGEN, Dec 19 (IPS/TerraViva) – Many countries treat Bangladesh as a country that is so afflicted by calamities that it is incapable of pulling itself out of dire poverty. Yet, it has blazed a trail in drawing up blueprints for community-driven climate adaptation strategies.

Part of this blueprint is to revive traditional farming practices that could withstand extreme weather changes. Continue Reading

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Glacial Data Crucial to Combating Climate Change

Posted on 18 December 2009 by editor

By Darryl D’Monte

COPENHAGEN  (IPS/TerraViva) – People living in the Himalayan region are increasingly confronted by rising temperatures and glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate, threatening their very survival. This much the world already knows.

Yet, experts say, there is still no accurate and reliable data on the Himalayan glaciers and many aspects of its ecosystem, which should facilitate determining mitigation measures addressing current and future impacts of climate change on the Himalayas.

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‘What’s Good for Asia Is Good for the World’ – Chinese Official

Posted on 17 December 2009 by editor

Ambassador Yu Qingtai. Credit: Embassy of China in the United States

Ambassador Yu Qingtai. Credit: Embassy of China in the United States

By Rajiv Fernando*

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – China appears to have gained instant celebrity status since the opening days of the United Nations Climate Change Conference here.

The many meetings and press briefings arranged by Chinese officials have been jampacked by all who are excited to see the emerging economic giant of Asia will lead the rest of the developing world during the climate negotiations in the Danish capital. Continue Reading

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Future Energy Scenario Unfavourable to Asia

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

Analysis by Darryl D’Monte

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Much of the discussion in Copenhagen has revolved around targets and deadlines for cutting carbon emissions. But a weekend seminar in the idyllic Danish island of Samsoe, titled “Future Energy,” helped journalists locate the problem in the context of the world’s biggest emitters.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) drew out future scenarios, assuming that all these countries did not exceed 450ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide, which is considered the cap to prevent irretrievable climate change. Many developing countries believe 350ppm is a safer option. Continue Reading

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China Reels Under a Barrage of Criticism

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor


Civil society demonstration in Copenhagen. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

Civil society demonstration in Copenhagen. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

By Antoaneta Bezlova


BEIJING (IPS/TerraViva) – China is not happy. This is how one of the Chinese state-sanctioned newspapers summed up Beijing’s feelings about the week spent negotiating on climate change in the Danish capital.

After a very public showdown with the United States in the early days of the global climate talks, China found itself attacked by smaller developing countries for benefiting more than anyone else from carbon credit funding. And as the countdown to the end of negotiations began, Beijing was seen deflecting criticism that it was the stumbling block to reaching a deal. Continue Reading

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Asians Find their Collective Voice

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

By Athar Parvaiz

COPENHAGEN  (IPS/TerraViva) – If some Asian states appeared to be disunited in the lead-up to the climate change talks currently underway in Copenhagen, now they are rising in unison to get the developed world to accede to their demands.

Asian countries had shown least cooperation in the past, but climate change seems to have united them,” said Rajesh Mehta, a climate campaigner from India, who works with Action Aid International, a global anti-poverty organisation. Continue Reading

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Local Climate Efforts: Too Little, Too Slow, Too Late?

Posted on 14 December 2009 by editor

By Feizal Samath

COLOMBO (IPS/TerraViva) – Some Sri Lankan experts are not pinning their hopes on the ongoing climate talks in Copenhagen, saying greenhouse gas emissions will continue to torment the world as long as western lifestyles remain the same. Continue Reading

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Asian Delegates Want ‘Political Accord’, For Now

Posted on 12 December 2009 by editor

By Athar Parvaiz

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Most Asian delegations to the ongoing global negotiations on climate change are insisting that a political agreement must be reached to pave the way for a legally binding treaty in the near future.

“Though we realise that it is highly unlikely to arrive at a consensus here in Copenhagen for a legally binding treaty, we are quite hopeful of a political accord,” Akira Yamada, Japan’s deputy director-general of the ministry of foreign affairs, told IPS. He said this would lay the foundation for a legally binding treaty.

Akira stressed that Japan wants a treaty that should be signed by both the United States and China, “the largest emitters of greenhouse gases,” he said.

Most negotiators from the Asia-Pacific region interviewed  by IPS said they would only settle for a political accord, believing it will ensure the adoption of a legally binding treaty. But pressure groups are insisting that a legally enforceable agreement should be the outcome of negotiations on climate change as “mere political promises would not do.”

“A politically binding treaty amounts to a love affair while the legally binding treaty is a proper wedlock. This is the simplest expression one can use to tell the difference between the two,” said Mike Shanahan, senior press officer at the London-based independent policy research centre International Institute of Environment and Development.

“No government at any time in any country can deviate from the legally binding treaty while promises through political statements are no guarantee,” he added.

“Although the speed of negotiations is very slow, we are making efforts to make a political agreement, which would later become a legal agreement,” said Kim Chan Woo, director general of South Korea’s ministry of environment.

Both least developed and developing countries want the industrialised nations to pay their “climate debt” through funding commitments and measures to reduce emissions drastically while allow the developed countries to grow.

A Danish draft of a climate change agreement, leaked to the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ early this week, was summarily rejected by the developing countries, because it tilts the balance of mitigation obligations away from the developed nations, deemed a violation of the spirit and substance of the United Nations Framework Convention and the Bali Action Plan.

“The Danish text is an extremely dangerous text for developing countries. It robs them of an equitable and fair share of the atmospheric space,” said Lumumba Di-Aping, who chairs the largest of the negotiation blocks — G77/China, comprising more than 130 countries.

“We know that Denmark’s prime minister is desperate for a deal in Copenhagen, but it should be a balanced deal,” he said. “We hope that common sense and wisdom will prevail.”

Countries like China and India reacted to the draft in the same manner, saying it was not acceptable to them. The backlash ultimately prompted the Danish government to say that it “was a discussion paper, not a draft.”

“We feel that both the developed and developing countries should contribute to combating climate change, but the nature of contribution should be different,” South Korea’s Kim told IPS.

Indonesian delegate Angus Purnomo said his country has begun enforcing certain climate mitigation measures like reducing emissions. “But we need financial and technological assistance from developed countries. And this is the forum where we should get us a guarantee of every kind of assistance in black and white.”

“We have come here to engage very constructively in the multilateral negotiations under the United Nations system, and we are confident that there will be good outcomes, which must be consistent with the convention principles,” Vijay Sharma, a delegate from India, told IPS.

“We are having discussions on two separate tracks: one on long-term visions, Long-term Cooperative Action, under which mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology would be dealt with. And on the other hand, we are discussing how to enhance and get quantitative targets from Annex 1 [or industrialised] countries under the Kyoto Protocol.”

Less than a week is left for the negotiators to arrive at conclusions before the high-level segments of the ongoing climate talks. Developing countries, particularly the more vulnerable among them, are keen to see the foundations of a legally binding treaty here in the Danish capital.

“We are not responsible at all for the global warming. But when we look at who is suffering the most, it is the least developed countries like Bangladesh and other small island states that are going to suffer the most,” Manzoor-ul-Hanan Khan, the coordinator of the Bangladeshi delegation, said in an interview with IPS.

“Therefore we want a written assurance from the developed countries that they would make efforts to secure our future.”

“Being a poor country, we also want financial and technological assistance for mitigation and adaptation so that we achieve development without any environmental costs,” he said. “We have only one earth; there we need an effective treaty to save it.”

Purushottam Ghimire, a negotiator from Nepal, said his country is facing a major challenge, with melting glaciers threatening millions. “We are here for a consensus and concrete agreement,” he stressed.

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East Europe, Developed or Developing?

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

Poland takes fossil of the day award. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS.

Poland takes fossil of the day award. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS.

By Claudia Ciobanu

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – The European Union (EU) is presenting itself as a united front during negotiations in the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. But East European countries insist that they are developing nations and prefer to limit their aid and emissions commitments.

“All the EU aid money comes from every country, even the poorest one,” said Andres Turesson, negotiator for Sweden (the country currently holding the presidency of the EU). This statement was a show of EU unity.

But at the end of October, nine East European leaders negotiated with the rest of the EU to reduce the amounts they would contribute to the total aid amount to be committed by the union to the developing world during the Copenhagen summit. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov declared that his country had “saved” 40-50 million euros (60 – 73 million US dollars) in this way.

It is still not clear whether this “saving” for Eastern Europe lowered the total aid amount the EU decided to commit (2.4 billion euros or 3.5 billion dollars annually, as announced in Brussels on Friday).

The prevalent view in the region is that the former communist countries are too heavily burdened by their own development needs to be able to send aid to countries in the global South.

Even environmental groups agree that the contributions made by the various EU members to external aid should be differentiated. Friends of the Earth (FoE) calls for a scheme in which the share of aid to be contributed by every country would be calculated taking in to account the levels of emissions produced and the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

At Copenhagen, Poland, the largest and most influential East European country in the EU, argues that if it makes any financial pledges they must be purely voluntary. Under the framework of the Kyoto Protocol, Poland and the other East European states are included in Annex 1 of industrialised countries, but not in Annex 2 of industrialised countries which must pay for the costs of developing ones.

“East European countries do have a historical responsibility towards the global South which cannot be ignored,” Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of FoE Europe and a Pole herself, told TerraViva. Eastern Europe industrialised at the same pace as Western Europe during the 20th century – albeit under state socialist rather than capitalist system – so it is an equal contributor to global warming.

“But it is also true that they are less developed, so they cannot pay as much as Western Europe,” added Stoczkiewicz. “It is important to build up more solidarity inside the EU,” she explained. This would allow for the total aid given by the EU not to be lowered while not overburdening the still developing Eastern Europe.

East European countries are also posing problems in terms of greenhouse gas (GhG) emission reductions. During the fourth day of the Copenhagen talks, Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, head of the European Committee of the Polish council of ministers, declared in Brussels that the EU’s plan to reduce GhG emissions by 30 percent by 2020 on 1990 levels has no chance of being accepted by all members of the EU.

Over 90 percent of Poland’s electricity comes from coal.

Poland took the “Fossil of the Day” award in Copenhagen Thursday for actively blocking the proposed upgrade of the EU’s emissions reduction target to 30 percent from 20 percent.

“Poland is afraid of committing to 30 percent emission reductions because this would mean they will have to slow down their economy,” said Stoczkiewicz.

The FoE director said that most Polish leaders think that they can only reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2020 on 1990 levels if they start developing nuclear power.

“That is because the leaders have not done their work properly over the last 20 years,” Stoczkiewicz thinks. “The knowledge on renewables was there 20 years ago but it was not applied in Poland. And the development vision which dominates most political heads is one of continuous economic growth.”

And Poland is no exception. GhG emissions decreased in the region in the early 1990s, but they are estimated to have risen by 11 percent between 2004 and 2010. Increased car ownership and consumerism are largely to blame for this.

East Europe is unlikely to be a serious obstacle to a Copenhagen agreement. But its positions might make it difficult in the future for the EU to stick to its commitments of emission reduction.

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Europe’s Timid Commitments

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

 Friends of the Earth activists demand Climate Justice. Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS.

Friends of the Earth activists demand Climate Justice. Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

By Claudia Ciobanu

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – “Decision-makers should stop thinking in realpolitik terms and acknowledge that we are out of time,’’ says Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth (FoE) in Europe.

The behavior of political leaders is “almost like a conscious decision to go against science,” she told TerraViva in an interview. Continue Reading

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“The G77 Is More United Than Ever”

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Tuvalu took "Ray of the Day" award. Credit: Ana Libisch

Tuvalu took "Ray of the Day" award. Credit: Ana Libisch

Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) “If there’s ever been a time in which the G77 has been more united than ever, that time is right now,” was the categorical statement made by Venezuelan negotiator Claudia Salerno to TerraViva, after a tiny island nation in the south Pacific stirred things up at the COP15 climate meetings.

The voice of the small island states of the Pacific was heard loudly in the Danish capital when the delegation of Tuvalu, a nation of 11,810 people and just 26 sq. km., firmly demanded the approval of a treaty setting 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.

Tuvalu’s outspoken stance won it the first-ever “Ray of the Day” prize, awarded to a country making an outstanding contribution to advancing negotiations towards an internationally legally binding agreement.

“Developed country Parties which have not taken commitments prescribed in Article 3 of the Kyoto Protocol, and other Parties who voluntarily elect to do so, shall individually or jointly undertake verifiable, nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions in the form of quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments,” says paragraph 1, article 3 of Tuvalu’s proposal.

The United States is the main industrial country that is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol.

Furthermore, “Parties undertaking (such) commitments or actions”…”shall not use these commitments to fulfill obligations established under the Kyoto Protocol,” opening up the possibility for a two-pronged scheme.

Article 3 of the proposal includes a detailed three-tier initiative for developing countries to also adopt emissions cuts, although it does not say they should be legally binding.

“Developing country Parties, notwithstanding paragraph 1 above, shall undertake nationally appropriate mitigation actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” it adds.

The Kyoto Protocol does not include binding targets for nations of the South, and the so-called emerging economies are resisting a new agreement that will commit them to reduce their emissions, arguing that the climate debt must be paid by the nations that have achieved growth through centuries of industrialisation at the expense of polluting the environment, and that emerging nations are entitled to their own development now that they can finally grow.

The problem is that today these emerging nations account for more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

Nobody expected the discordant note in the G77 (the Group of 77, which represents 130 developing countries) to come from the small island nations, although there were reasons to believe it would, since they are without a doubt the most affected by climate change.

The United Nations has said that global warming has already caused several islands to disappear, and warned that in the next 40 years it will displace one billion people. Tuvalu could be wiped right off the map.

Salerno, head of international cooperation and management in Venezuela’s Environment Ministry, said that the responsibility lies with the industrialised North, and not with emerging nations.

“The problem we’re facing today is not the result of recent industrialisation processes. The right to development is not at issue here. What are at issue are the countries that for 200 years have been destroying our planet,” she said to TerraViva.

“They are the ones that have to stop. Scientifically the issue is critical, because no amount of effort from developing countries is going to be enough to repair the damage. There are 20 countries with the power to make a difference for the whole world,” she added.

Salerno, who participated in a joint conference of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, bloc in Copenhagen, contended that despite appearances, the G77 is firmly united, especially in its common rejection of certain moves by some countries of the North at the COP15.

“I think that, contrary to what certain media have said, all the actions by developed countries that have been aimed at undermining the process have only served to bring us closer together,” she said, in reference to a leaked draft agreement prepared by Denmark.

“We think it’s best that this document came out now and not on the 18th, because we would’ve been working without a clue of what was going on in back-room negotiations. The countries that are committed to the process are paying no attention to that paper. It means absolutely nothing to us, not to the G77 countries and not to the ALBA countries,” she said.

ALBA is made up of Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela.

For his part, Cuban delegate Pedro Luis Pedroso told TerraViva that, pursuant to the Convention, Tuvalu has the right to present its own proposals in line with its national concerns.

The assistant director of Multilateral Matters of Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said that the G77 had not yet examined the island nation’s initiative as a group.

The ALBA members have so far shown a demanding and ambitious front at Copenhagen. This Thursday, in addition to requesting the approval of a legally binding treaty that will put all the responsibility on the industrialised North, ALBA countries called on the international community to “change consumption patterns” in order to “address the causes of climate change, and not just the consequences.”

However, its positions have not been fully backed by the rest of the Latin American community. Several other countries in the region, including Brazil, have announced their willingness to make voluntary cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.

“Each country has its own national perspective, but I think that in essence we all basically share the same concerns and positions. How these concerns and positions are incorporated varies depending on the approach, but I think in essence we have a common stance,” Pedroso told TerraViva.

The heads of state of the ALBA members that will attend the COP15 summit are Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.

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Q&A: ‘Nuclear Energy Is Not a Solution to Climate Change’

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Neena Bhandari interviews DR SUE WAREHAM, proponent of a nuclear-free world

MELBOURNE (IPS/TerraViva) – As the threat of nuclear weapons looms large over the very existence of life on earth, Dr Sue Wareham, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons’ (ICAN) Australian board member, is calling for a speedy abolition of these weapons and the rejection of nuclear power as a solution to climate change.

Speaking at the sessions on nuclear abolition and disarmament at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions here, Wareham said the power of religion should be harnessed to bring peace in the world through disarmament, abolition of nuclear weapons, eradication of poverty and action on climate change.

The six-day Parliament, which ends on Dec 9, is a gathering of religious and spiritual communities from different parts of the world to discuss issues relating to peace, diversity and sustainability.

A medical practitioner and immediate past president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) in Australia, Dr Wareham believes that her work with MAPW is fundamental to her commitment to the protection of human life and the improvement of human well-being.

In an interview with IPS, she expounds on her passionate pursuit of a nuclear-free society.

IPS: Why is there a sense of urgency to abolish nuclear weapons now?

SUE WAREHAM: One of the reasons this issue is becoming increasingly urgent is because the five yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will be coming up in May 2010. It is absolutely clear that unless there are moves there towards disarmament and clear signals from the nuclear weapon states that they are willing to take steps towards getting rid of their weapons, we won’t be able to prevent the spread of these weapons further. So nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-Proliferation need to go hand in hand.

IPS: ICAN’s goal is a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a treaty to prohibit the development, testing, production, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. Is it a feasible and achievable solution?

SW:  It is definitely feasible, and it is necessary. We are calling on people across the world to put pressure on their respective governments to promote a Nuclear Weapons Convention at the NPT review conference next year. We see the convention as the most promising route for the world to take towards nuclear weapons abolition.

It sets the same rules for all countries and that gets around one of the major difficulties at the moment, which is that there is one set of rules for countries that already have nuclear weapons and another set of rules for those that don’t.

IPS: Is nuclear power, being carbon-free, the panacea for climate change problems and should it be a substitute for coal-fuelled power stations?

SW:  We don’t agree nuclear power is a sensible way forward in response to climate change. Nuclear power cannot address the issue of climate change. There are physical limitations to the number of nuclear power stations that could be built in the next decade or so.

Even if there is further development of nuclear power, it will be far too slow because it takes 10 to 15 years to get a nuclear power plant at a point of producing electricity. We need action faster than that.

Particularly important also is the links with weapons. We know there are definite links between the civilian and military fuel cycles, and that is a particular problem that will remain as long as nuclear power is there.

There is also the problem of nuclear waste to which no country has a solution yet. We regard it as unacceptable that this generation should leave our waste to future generations. The technological and practical reality is that we don’t have any way of separating nuclear waste from the environment.

Our message is that the world really needs to put serious and significant funding into further promotion, development and implementation of renewable energies—solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels, which have been underused and under-resourced.

IPS: Has the United Nations succeeded in curbing the spread of nuclear weapons or is it held to ransom by permanent members of the Security Council?

SW:  The United Nations General Assembly every year has a good number of resolutions in favour of nuclear disarmament and is really trying to push this forward. I think we need to distinguish the U.N. as a whole from some of its member states in the Security Council.

All five members of the U.N. Security Council have nuclear weapons, which is an extraordinary thought that we are entrusting the security of the world to the hands of the five nations that have the worst weapons of terror.

IPS: When it comes to possession of these weapons, aren’t there double standards for the haves and have-nots?

SW: There are about 25,000 nuclear weapons in the world today in the hands of nine countries, and these nine nations really hold the world to ransom. What we notice is that a number of the countries that keep nuclear weapons are also most vocal about calling for other nations not to acquire them.

In addition to these nine countries, there are a group of countries, including Australia, which claim to be protected by a ‘Nuclear Umbrella’ (or middle powers lending bases, ports and infrastructure for the U.S. nuclear war-fighting apparatus, lending credence to the idea that nuclear weapons bring security), and we regard that as a problem also. For example, the Australian Government calls on other nations such as Iran not to acquire nuclear weapons and yet Australia claims that we still need to be sheltered under the ‘Nuclear Umbrella’.

IPS: Why has humanity been so slow and ineffective in meeting the challenge posed by nuclear arms?

SW: Nations that have nuclear weapons have been allowed to justify their weapons by the theory of “deterrence,” which is claimed to prevent wars between nuclear-armed countries. But it is a failed theory, because, as we are seeing, if some nations believe they have a right to these weapons, then other nations will claim the same right.  It is a recipe for every nation to have the world’s most destructive weapons.

What’s needed is for all nations to abide by the same rule, which is that all weapons of mass destruction – especially nuclear weapons, which are the most terrifying of all – must be abolished.

IPS: What can religious and spiritual communities do to meet the challenge of abolishing these weapons of mass annihilation?

SW: We see the issue of nuclear weapons as one of the great ethical issues of our time. It is an issue that religions of the world really need to come to grips with because nuclear weapons are the most destructive and threatening weapons to have ever been created.

Therefore, we regard people, who are interested and passionate about ethical issues, have a responsibility of calling for abolition of nuclear weapons.

IPS: As a practicing medical doctor, what drives you to take up the issue of nuclear disarmament with such passion, and what fuels your zeal to see a nuclear-free world?

SW:  Nuclear weapons are so utterly destructive. They make a mockery of what we do as medical practitioners, saving one life at a time. These weapons threaten thousands of lives at once and even future generations.

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Latin America Between Hope and Realism

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

Daniela Estrada and Raúl Pierri*


Wheat is one Latin American crop that could be hit hard by climate change. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS.

Wheat is one Latin American crop that could be hit hard by climate change. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS.

(Tierrámerica/TerraViva) – Latin America has come to Copenhagen with the goal that the wealthy nations of the North pay their climate debt by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing resources to developing nations. But facing the risk that this strategy could fail, the Latin American representatives are also willing to accept some compromises. Continue Reading

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Beware of Carbon Trading Trap – Activists

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

Activists with poster depicting clock ticking on climate change. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Activists with poster depicting clock ticking on climate change. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

By Claudia Ciobanu

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – As the climate change summit in the Danish capital moves into a second day, environmental groups warn that by pushing carbon offsetting and trade, governments of developed countries are bypassing their responsibility to significantly reduce domestic emissions and  provide aid to developing countries. Continue Reading

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