Tag: G8

Dear Mr. Prime Minister...

In a disappointing and disheartening plenary session today, the Brazilian chair adopted the watered down draft text to be taken to world leaders tomorrow to formally adopt. As delegations clapped away at our failed future, civil society loudly protested from the back of the plenary hall. 

As a last attempt to salvage this summit, civil society has united its efforts to write a letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the G20 Summit calling for an urgent intervention to deliver ambition at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. The letter highlights that the draft text is severely lacking in ambition, urgency and political will. Countries are reluctant to commit to a bolder agenda largely because they do not believe that the money can be found to deliver the transition to a fair, prosperous and sustainable world for all.

Civil society is calling on the UK, as a member of G8, G20, UN Security Council and the European Union, to take matters into their own hands and be pioneers in this endeavor to save the planet and forge an international agreement on tackling global inequalities. To do this, three commitments are needed to transform this summit.

  1. Phase out harmful fossil fuel subsidies, with safeguards for the world poorest communities.  Commitments to begin such a process were made by the G20 at their meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009 and again in Toronto in 2010, but with almost no progress to date. Developed countries spend around $100bn a year in subsidies and tax breaks to prop up fossil fuel production, according to the OECD.
  1. Introduce a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) which has been proven by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and independent studies to be a credible, effective and development friendly tax. It is a hugely popular idea, supported by 63% of European citizens and more than 1000 economists, and could raise at least $400bn a year.
  1. Stop multinationals dodging their taxes. This would generate an extra $160 billion a year in tax revenues in poor countries alone. This is money that these companies already owe but which they are not paying.

The biggest impediment to means of implementation and finance is that the money isn’t there, but as shown above, the money is clearly there and can be easily freed up and utilized. Strong political will and even stronger leadership is needed now to push these negotiations to deliver a safe and prosperous world for everyone.

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Fast trick financing?

Remember the G8 summit in L’Aquila this year? World leaders proudly offered US$20 billion to tackle the global food crisis. Subsequently it was reported that only US$3 billion was going to be ‘new’ money. The rest had already been committed or was to be handed out as loans.

This scenario makes ECO wonder: How much of the €2.4 billion a year that the EU has now put on the table for fast track financing, over 2010-2012, will be new and additional? ECO’s estimate is that it will be less than 5%. We fear that most of the remainder (EU, prove us wrong!) will come from re-packaging and double-counting previous pledges. ECO requests EU delegates to be transparent and accountable and explain to developing country delegates how much of the €2.4 billion has already been pledged elsewhere.

ECO points out that both fast track finance and long-term financial support in particular need to be committed, and provided in addition to developed countries existing ODA targets. This is because climate finance, which is meant to meet the additional cost of adapting to climate change, is not aid.

The means to overcome double counting is transparency. There has to be clear reporting on what is ODA, what is additional to ODA for climate finance and what has been pledged. Under the Copenhagen Agreement, Parties must agree that funding contributed once as climate finance will not be pledged elsewhere. There is ample opportunity over the next four days to ensure that the five months after the empty coffers of L’Aquila, world leaders will not be making the same mistake again.

No Time to Lose

All the talk about how little negotiating time remains before Copenhagen inspired ECO to turn to our dictionary of quotations for wisdom and guidance. Apparently 1960s British artist Andy Warhol once said:

“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

This is just how ECO feels about the time available to negotiators to fulfill the promise made in the first paragraph of the Bali Action Plan:

“To launch a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action (LCA), now, up to and beyond 2012, in order to reach an agreed outcome and adopt a decision at its fifteenth session.”

ECO wants the Copenhagen talks to get the best possible start. More than talks, it requires that political blockages around the big ticket items of Annex I emissions cuts and financing contributions be overcome.  But time cannot be made the scapegoat.

The missing ingredient this week has been political will, not time.

Former US Senator Jesse Jackson said: “Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things.” There has been no lack of opportunity for our leaders to put their minds to resolving their differences. They have met at the G8, the MEF, the G20 and at the UN Summit, and they will meet again at the COP. But no number of additional talks, either under the UN or other auspices, will make up for their failure to table an offer that negotiators can sink their teeth into.

Here in Bangkok, negotiators have clearly shown they can trim text even when their instructions prevent agreement. Imagine what they could do if they were told to deliver! If leaders deliver the mandate for a real deal in Copenhagen, that may mean extending the Barcelona session for an extra week. Or scheduling another session and continuing negotiations straight through to Copenhagen, with provision for the Haj season.

And what of the mandate required for negotiators to trim more text?

There has been general support for the work undertaken by the facilitators in preparing papers to facilitate negotiations. So, a mandate for the facilitators to produce revised negotiating texts will be an important extension of the consolidation work that has already been underway this week. Starting Barcelona with a shorter text, setting out clear options in the key areas for discussion will put the negotiations on track for Copenhagen. With a good text basis for LCA negotiations and by genuinely advancing discussions under the Kyoto track, Barcelona can be a success. For good measure and to help speed things along, maybe it is also a good idea to invite Ministers to join delegations in Barcelona.

Since dinner in Spain is not served until 11pm, Ministers would have plenty of time over tapas to starting bridging the gap.

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