Archive for the ‘unfccc’ Category

The Copenhagen Disaccord: The Copenhagen Accord leaves room for doubt, disappointment… and little hope.

Special guest article from Paula Moreira*, Instituto de Pesquisa Amiental da Amazônia (IPAM). For further information, please contact Paula Moreira (paulamoreira[at]@ipam.org.br)


On 19 December, 2009, the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP-15) closed, leaving much doubt as to the validity of the “Copenhagen Accord”, and what the next steps should be for governments to minimize the effects of global warming. The result of COP-15 was merely a political declaration which Heads of State called the Copenhagen Accord.

There is no question that this accord contains several problems. It is not legally-binding and the manner in which the accord was reached was unfair. The Accord was not reached in the UN Plenary, or through its working groups officially established under the Bali Action Plan. (Decision 1/COP.13). Instead, this supposedly global accord was drawn up behind closed doors by just a few Heads of State, thus making it politically impossible to secure its approval in Plenary by all the countries. So, a political accord was reached by 25 countries, out of the total 192 members of the United Nations. Finally, the accord does not set targets for reduction of greenhouse gases for developed countries nor mitigation actions for developing countries.

Despite all of these criticisms, it is worth emphasizing that there were some positive aspects included in the documents which, although a mere political declaration, can be used to build a legitimate and legal binding agreement which must be drawn up in the coming months. Firstly, the Copenhagen Accord was proposed by a group of countries which, for the first time, included the United States. Participation of the US represents an important step in the right direction for climate change mitigation. The declaration also recognizes the scientific view that the rise in global temperature should be less than two degrees centigrade to avoid human interference with the climate.

“Declaration” of Copenhagen’s Highlights

  • Financing
    With respect to financing, developed countries committed US$30 billion in additional resources during the period 2010-2012, specifically to help developing countries who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In the context of meaningful and transparent mitigation actions, the developed countries committed to jointly mobilizing US$100 billion per year up to 2020. These resources will be used to help to address the needs of developing countries. The funding would come from public, private, bilateral and multilateral sources including alternative sources of finance. The Copenhagen Green Climate Fund– part of the Copenhagen Accord—would be the financial entity of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change that will support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing countries, including REDD+, adaptation, capacity-building, technology development and transfer.
  • Emissions
    Detailed emissions plans are set out in two annexes to the Copenhagen Accord; one shows targets for the developed world and the other lays out voluntary actions in developing countries. However, given that China has refused to allow international verification of its efforts, the Declaration provides no possibility of monitoring voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions taken by developing countries. The requirements of the plans in the annexes have not been fulfilled with the corresponding numbers related to countries’ targets and actions.
  • Forests
    The Copenhagen Accord recognizes the importance of reducing emissions caused by deforestation or forest degradation, and accepts the need to provide incentives to finance such actions using resources from the developed world.

Brazil’s potential leadership

Despite the disappointment and legal ambiguity concerning the effectiveness of the accord, Brazil should be commended for announcing a pledge of US$5 billion to help the most vulnerable countries in the world adapt to climate change. As highlighted by our Senate Marina Silva, by taking this symbolic gesture, developing countries are capable to embarrass rich countries and put them in an uncomfortable position, unblocking the negotiation. Furthermore, the target of reduction of emissions announced by Brazil in Copenhagen (36,1% – 38,9% of 2005 emission levels until 2020) became law though the Presidential Approval of the Climate Change National Policy on 29th December, 2009 showing the world that the country’s position tabled in Copenhagen was really a compromise.

The next steps

The President of the COP announced that the next climate change conference would be in Mexico, in November-December 2010. Nevertheless, many NGOs are urging countries to work for a strong agreement with political legitimacy in the next six months.

What is left, for the moment, is a mixture of feelings. A huge frustration of having spent a great deal of money and time to see this horror show of COP 15, not least the abysmal organization which left participants queuing for hours in the snow, without achieving a satisfactory outcome to the COP.

On the other side, the sole feeling of hope that Countries manage to transform the Copenhagen Declaration into a UNFCCC legal binding agreement in the next 6 months, with the fulfilled annexes of numbers of mitigation targets by developed nations and actions by developing countries, in particularly encouraged by the voluntary actions by developing countries such as the Brazilian example mentioned above.

Please, distinguished delegates, we call for action and not more disappointment in the next 6 months. Otherwise many of us, UNFCCC observers and climate campaigners, will be obliged to focus our work and energy on specific mitigation actions at regional and local level, giving up on the United Nations Climate Convention (UNFCCC) processes, in order to avoid more climate catastrophes that are already in place. We don’t have more time. We need action.

*Paula Franco Moreira is a lawyer with a Masters degree of International Socio-Environmental Law from the London School of Economics. She coordinates the area of inclusion and empowerment of indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the process of defining public policies on global climate change at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) and is a representative of the Latin American and Caribbean civil society at the UN-REDD Programme’s Policy Board. Read more…


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REDD is CO2lonialism of Forests

Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara*/Executive Director of OLSSI, Samoa



The Australian newspaper (The Australian – The rush is on for sky money) calls REDD a ‘classic 21st century scam emerging from the global climate industry. The inclusion of forests in the carbon market raises a crucial property rights issue in that REDD will inevitably commodities and privatize the air which we breathe and forests which are homes for millions of indigenous peoples around the world’.

According to the World Bank report on REDD titled “Poster Child would Reward Forest Destroyers” it is evident that carbon traders require legal title to the carbon in the forests or rights to the land. REDD projects that utilize carbon market financing could compensate the culprits by generating profits for the loggers, polluters and forest destroyers. They will reduce forests to merely carbon sequestration experiments and for the benefit of large scale profit seekers and business investments from rich countries.

According to the Indigenous Environment Network publication on REDD – (R) Reaping profits; from (E) Evictions, land grabs; (D) Deforestation; and (D) Destruction of biodiversity, hundreds of REDD-type projects already exist on the voluntary carbon market without any clear and agreed upon framework that ensures the protection and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and forests, respect for their indigenous and customary land tenure systems, as well as enhancement of their diverse traditional good governance practices. Many have resulted in militarization, evictions, fraud, disputes, conflicts, corruption, coercion, crime, mono culture plantations, and 30 to 100 years contracts and deals signed and agreed between Indigenous Peoples and climate criminals such as oil companies.

Most of the world’s forests are on Indigenous Peoples’ lands and according to FAO, 2008, some 1.6 billion people rely on forests which include some 60 million indigenous peoples who are entirely dependent on forests for their livelihoods, food, medicines, building materials, and existence. Unfortunately these peoples have been severely impacted both by the loss of forests cleared largely to grow crops and agro-fuel plantations for exports, to clean development mechanism (CDM) projects on reforestation and afforestation. For Indigenous Peoples who are often with no formal titles to ownership of their lands, many are already faced with being forcibly removed and evicted, sometimes violently, from their ancestral homes and community territories. The real concern here is the increasingly likelihood of Indigenous Peoples facing even more violation of their rights from the wrath of their own governments and companies that they engage in carbon markets business with, when the value increase in existing standing forests as carbon trading stocks in Indigenous Peoples lands and territories.

It is therefore the strong view of many Indigenous Peoples that the implementation of REDD projects in their lands and territories are extremely risky and should be rejected until there is guarantee that REDD projects will fully recognize the principles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), respect the principle of free prior and informed consent, respect for their land tenure, protect their customary and territorial rights, and to ensure that the inevitable increase in the value of environmental services provided by their forests and ecosystems do not lead to these being forcibly taken away from them.

Furthermore, the commodification of forest carbon in REDD market-based trading is inherently inequitable and unfair since it compensate the culprit logging companies and related business interests as root cause of climate change but discriminate against Indigenous Peoples who have conserved forests all their lives. The ongoing rejection of REDD and REDD plus projects by Indigenous Peoples in their forests, lands and territories based on these continuing acts of injustices are therefore more than justified and need unconditional support.

Copenhagen is already shaping up to be a huge disappointment on the issue of REDD in the assessment of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), let alone Mother Earth. In Barcelona, Indigenous Peoples were profoundly disappointed at the lack of political will by parties to heed the call by IIPFCC that No Rights, No REDD and the refusal by many parties to make explicit mention of UNDRIP. But work continues to lobby support to accept language regarding the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in the final outcome, and whilst there seems to be difficulty in reaching agreement on the principle of free prior and informed consent (FPIC), there is also ongoing lobby to find support for full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. It remains to be seen in the final outcome of Copenhagen given its projected possible 6 to 8 pages political declaration if the efforts of the IIPFCC will have not been wasted.

* Fiu Mata’ese Elisara is the Director of Ole Siosiomaga Society (OLSSI) in Samoa. Read more…

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