At half-way through the Cancun talks, the Chairs of the two working groups have produced two new draft texts. There had been rumours and fears that a secret text was being drafted up that would be sprung on negotiators, but in the end, the two draft texts presented on Saturday night are supposed to be built on previous drafts as well as building on discussions that have ensued in Cancun during the first week of the talks.
As climate talks start in Cancún, the common refrain that pervades the media and some negotiators is of “low expectations.” I wonder whose expectations they are talking about. Do they think the one million people in the Bolivian city El Alto, who face increasingly chronic water shortages from the disappearance of glaciers, have low expectations? Do they think Pacific islanders whose homelands will soon disappear beneath the rising sea have low expectations? I believe that the majority of humanity demands and has high expectations that our political leaders should act to stop runaway climate change.
The reality is that the talk of “low expectations” is a ploy by a small group of industrialised countries to obscure their obligations to act. They are playing politics with the planet’s future. If the Cancún talks set sail with no wind, then no-one will be angered when they stall. Sadly, rather than express moral outrage, much of the media and even some environmental organisations have subscribed to this cynicism of the powerful. Links & References
Developing countries are protesting a new text proposed by the Chair of the negotiations which omits many of the options that they have fought hard for. A press release for the Plurinational State of Bolivia warns that Cancun Should Not Be Copenhagen Accord Part II.
Environmental NGOs from around the world announced today that they would be sending an open letter to the Mexican Government asking them to make sure the process in Cancun was transparent in accordance with UN rules and Indigenous Environmental Network made a statement of concern.
China and many other developing countries suggested during a meeting today that they were unhappy with the chair of the UN talks imposing a new negotiating text on countries. Although that is within UN rules, it was interpreted as a possible dangerous repeat of the Copenhagen debacle last year, when manycountries were excluded from consultations.
[...] The US, however, is maintaining that it wants to see the voluntary deal reached in Copenhagen last year become the basis of the talks. “More than 80 countries have targets. We are looking to build on those targets and to progress. We hope to get a long way with all the tracks,” said a state department spokesman.
If you already have a low-impact lifestyle and want to step it up a level, turn your attention to your local council. Here’s how to get the authorities in your area to act
Getting the ball rolling
Your first step is to go to your council’s website and find out what it is already doing about climate change and sustainability issues. Is it among the low-carbon pioneers or a climate-denying laggard? All councils operate in response to multiple agendas and pressures, so unless there is an active interest from local people to serve as a counterweight to the power of special interests and central government, the chances are that your council isn’t doing very much. Links & References
Will support drain away from the movement once Americans get a whiff that they are being manipulated by big business and it is not the grassroots movement they believe it to be? If not, we can wave goodbye to Obama getting climate change legislation through congress.
Emily James abandoned a successful career in prime-time TV to direct a film about climate-change protesters. She takes Phil England behind the scenes of an unlikely action movie. (Image by Amelia Gregory).
In a tiny office in East London, Emily James waves her papers from Kent Police. The award-winning documentary maker is one of a number of people who have recently won compensation claims after the force admitted their policing operation for the 2008 Camp for Climate Action, next to Kingsnorth power station, was both “disproportionate” and “unlawful”.
After making a string of acclaimed films for Channel 4, James has now committed herself to a project which her former commissioning editors won’t touch with a bargepole. Her film Just Do It – Get off your arse and change the world! follows the frequently criminal exploits of people taking direct action on climate change, shadowing three organisations – Climate Rush, Climate Camp and Plane Stupid – as they strive to bring attention to their causes. Due for release early next year, it promises to be an unashamedly sympathetic portrait of the activist community by someone who has been given unprecedented levels of access… Links & References