Barcelona Climate Talks End after a Week of Boycotts- Next Stop: Copenhagen

The International chess game of climate negotiations - COP15The final week of climate negotiations in Barcelona have now ended. The last meeting before the main event in Copenhagen next month served to emphasize the lingering stalemate between rich and poor nations, and the equally unmoving impasse between political factions in the United States.

On Tuesday, delegations from 50 African nations boycotted the climate talks in Barcelona, insisting that developed nations must make stronger commitments for short-term emissions reduction targets – specifically in the neighborhood of 40% of 1990 levels by 2020 (in contrast, the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House last summer, when referenced to 1990 levels, targets only about a 7% reduction in emissions). In Washington, Republicans in the Energy and Public Works Committee (EPW) staged their own boycott, failing to show for a markup session of the Kerry-Boxer climate and energy bill. The reason, they claimed, was because the bill needs more cost analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Democrats countered, saying it was simply a stalling tactic, and that there is already extensive analysis in place. The ranking Republican on the EPW committee is Senator James Inhofe, who is nothing if not a vociferous climate change denier. The ability for the United States to break through their political logjam will directly influence how negotiations play out at the COP15 climate conference next month.

Talks resumed in Barcelona onWednesday, but key issues of mitigation targets and financing remain largely unchanged on Friday from where they started on Monday; the Democrats in the EPW Committee passed the Kerry-Boxer climate bill out of committee on an 11-1 without the Republicans present. Thus the stage is set, for better or worse, and there is but one stop left on the Road to Copenhagen. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer delivers his closing press briefing in the following video (see also Ben Jervey’s analysis from earlier this week.)

Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists

2 responses

  1. The time for procrastination about climate change has long since passed
    Joan Russow (PhD)
    Global Compliance Research Project

    The time for procrastination about climate change has long since passed; the world is in a state of emergency and further inaction is gross negligence. Melting glaciers mean rising seas, but they also mean the sources of the world’s great rivers are endangered. The seas are not only warming and expanding, increasing CO2 is also making them acid, threatening the plankton at the base of the pelagic food chain and hence all ocean life. Changing weather patterns mean droughts and floods are both increasing. Insects like the pine beetle are greatly expanding their impact, and diseases like West Nile virus are expanding their range. Some of these impacts were clearly foreseeable but others have taken us by surprise, and one thing we can be sure of is that more shocks to food security and human health will come.

    While the threat of climate change has been obvious to most scientists for five decades, the industrialised world – which is the major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – has refused to acknowledge let alone address the urgency of the crisis. Industrialised nations have been heavily influenced by financial, media and industrial corporations, corporate front groups, industry-funded academics, and many citizens that deny the science, all of which have tried to cast doubt on the reality of human-caused climate change. Despite the near-unanimous scientific consensus, this effort has often served to undermine the necessary political will to address the threat. Any denial of the state of emergency, is eclipsed by the moral imperative to abide by the precautionary principle.

    The UNFCCC stated: “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere must be at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This level equates to a target of below 1°C, which is the point at which global systems on land, water and air will be so affected as to create vicious feedback cycles and destabilise many ecosystems and human societies.

    Because of the global urgency, there must be the political will to strive to contain the rise in temperature to less than 1°C above pre-industrial levels. and strict time frames must be imposed, so that overall global emissions will begin to be reversed as of 2010. There must be a target of 30% below 1990 levels by 2015, 50% below by 2020, 75% by 2030, 85% by 2040 and 100% below by 2050, while adhering to the precautionary principle, the differentiated responsibility principle, and the fair and just transition principle. Under the Framework Convention, every state signatory incurred the obligation to conserve carbon sinks; thus the destruction of sinks, including deforestation and elimination of bogs must end.

    Current research only shows cumulative emission budgets for a 2 °C target, the targets in this submission are based on trying to not be above a 1 °C target.

    If the dangerous level is to be avoided, emission pathways to eliminate CO2 must arrive at the pre-industrial level of 278 ppm at least by 2050.

    Under the influence of these carbon addicted organizations and citizens, corporate controlled states have failed not only to address the urgency of the crisis by enacting effective legislation, they have failed even to seriously consider – let alone investing in – the resources needed to protect their own coasts and citizens as well as those of the poorest and most vulnerable states and people from the current and future impacts of climate change.

    In addition, they have failed to consider the need to assist low-lying states and small island developing states that have already been impacted by climate change. Those who have created and most benefited from the carbon economy have failed to acknowledge any responsibility, let alone doing anything to provide compensation for the widespread displacement of people resulting from climate change. Floods, droughts, famines, and ocean encroachment are all considered economic externalities by policy makers who continue to subsidize fossil fuels while ignoring the burgeoning economic, health, environmental, health and social costs of climate change.

    The dominant greenhouse gas-producing and emitting states should be compelled to finance this international fund. Funds traditionally distributed not only through the GEF but also through the Bretton Woods institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and additional bilateral funds, such as those in the German Fund for International Climate Initiative, should be channelled through this global fund. This fund would be indispensable for preventing climate change, and for achieving the objectives of the UNFCCC.
    Additional funds must be derived from reallocation of global military expenses, including budgets and arms production and sales. Part of this fund could be allocated to compensate states damaged in any way by the failure of industrialized states to discharge obligations under the UNFCCC and other legal obligations.
    Other budgetary sources for this Fund would be the redirecting of subsidies from socially inequitable and environmentally unsound non-sustainable energy to socially equitable and environmentally safe and sound renewable energy, transportation, agriculture, forestry etc.

    In addition, measures to alleviate the impacts of climate change must include the cancellation of the outstanding debt of developing states, and the implementation of the minimal long-standing commitment of 0.7% of GDP being transferred to Overseas Development (ODA). The ODA must serve the needs not of the developed states but of the developing states. Any shortfall in funding should be bolstered by increased ODA by nations that inequitably gain an advantage from historical emissions or reduction scenarios that are not in line with the principle of equity.
    All these funding measures could only just begin to compensate for the “emissions debt” owed, by the developed states to the developing states. More

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