This Friday, the United Nations international climate negotiations will gear up again in Bonn, Germany. The meeting — and the announcements and news that will surround it — will be an important gauge of whether the international climate process still shows signs of life. Early indicators seem to suggest that there’s at least a pulse.
It’s been just over 4 months since the Copenhagen climate talks ended in confusion and disorder, failing to deliver the international climate treaty many of us had hoped (and worked) for. Copenhagen left the UN metaphorically bruised and battered (the adjectives were literal for many protesters outside the conference) and in the final hours of the talks and weeks to follow, many doubted that the international climate process would continue at all. For one particularly insightful postmortem with an emphasis on implications for the climate justice movement, click here.
In the last few weeks, the climate talks have shown a few signs of life.
First, was the creation in early March of a high-level advisory group on climate finance, including civilians such as George Soros and Nicholas Stern, along with heads of state, such as the UK’s Gordon Brown and Ethiopia Meles Zenawi. The group has been tasked with finding $1 trillion worth of financing for adaptation and are considering a number of different schemes, including the Robin Hood Tax, which has gained some traction in the online world as well.
Second, was a recent statement by the UK that they would be willing to sign onto a new round of the Kyoto Protocol. Without delving into the specifics, one of the major dilemmas in Copenhagen was the divide between rich and poor nations over whether or not the meetings would produce a new treaty that would require major developing countries to take on commitments while weakening the legal obligations of rich countries or whether countries would just sign onto a “second commitment period” of the existing Kyoto Protocol which is set to expire in 2012.
Britain’s new willingness to sign onto Kyoto has been lauded by some as a step towards healing the divide between rich and poor. Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth’s executive director, said: “It’s positive that the government has restated its commitment to the Kyoto protocol, which enshrines the responsibility of rich countries, as the biggest historical polluters, to slash their emissions first and fastest.”
Also keeping things interesting on the international front is the move by Bolivia to host a People’s Summit on Climate Change in Cochabamba later this month. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, who will be hosting a youth summit in Cochabamba to coincide with the event, wrote in a recent piece on Huffington Post:
In a week when the American president has decided our energy policy should involve lots more offshore oil drilling, it’s easy to despair–it doesn’t look like it’s going to be much of an Earth Day in the U.S. this April. But maybe we’ll get a jolt of political energy from the south, courtesy of the groups and leaders assembling from across the world in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This People’s Summit on Climate Change will be seen as naive by precisely the kind of people applauding the president for turning on the oil spigots today–after all, its by definition a People’s Summit, free from the kind of corporate interference that helped sink the Copenhagen conference in December (Bolivia’s Supreme Court having not yet decided that corporations are people).
And then there’s been the massive drought in southwestern China, mining disasters from West Virginia to Shanxi, the crash of a coal ship into the Great Barrier Reef, Obama’s offshore drilling announcement (join the 20,000 strong Facebook group against the decision), and the impending decision by the World Bank whether or not to loan South African coal giant, Eskom, $3.5 billion to build new dirty coal fired power plants and nuclear facilities (you can sign a petition against the loan here).
All that’s to say that things are heating up again in the international climate change arena.
For those of you that followed the nail biter that was Copenhagen and have been recovering ever since, now’s a good time to get back in the game — checking out the 10:10 campaign and 350.org’s Get to Work campaign are two ways to start. As is keeping up to date with the discussions in Bonn by following Adopt a Negotiator, either on their blog or Twitter feed.
At the end of Copenhagen, youth from around the world told political leaders they were “Not Done Yet.”
Looks like they were right.