CANADA COMES OUT OF FOSSIL RETIREMENT TO TAKE HOME A SURPRISE SECOND RIO FOSSIL - RECOGNIZED FOR GUTTING THE TEXT IN RIO AND ROLLING BACK ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS AT HOME

Canada was awarded the second ever Rio Fossil of the Day today in a surprise move that brought them out of Fossil of the Day retirement with a real bang. The combined impact of their moves to delete and undermine many key pieces of the Rio texts, while pushing through a budget bill that guts environmental and climate policies at home, has earned them a top spot once again.

Today’s Rio Fossil was chosen through a vote by representatives of hundreds of global NGOs and youth based on Canada’s opposition to funding for a Green Economy, their obstruction of key initiatives to protect oceans and sustainable fisheries, their constant watering down of strong commitments on the phase out of Fossil Fuel Subsidies, and their request to remove the recognition of Common But Differentiated Responsibility in the Rio text.
 
The Fossil presentation text read as follows:
 
This evening’s recipient of the Rio Fossil may come as a surprise to some of you. That’s because at the UNFCCC negotiations in Durban last December, the international community gave Canada a lifetime achievement award, vowing never again to waste a fossil on a country that has made itself irrelevant when it comes to combating climate change.
 
But just when we think Canada has hit the bottom of the barrel, they always seem to find more bitumen – so to speak – moving from conventional forms of obstruction to dirtier, darker and more intensive forms. Yesterday Canadian negotiators continued weakening the language around fossil fuel subsidies along with oceans and fisheries, coming out in favour of continuing billions in handouts to big polluters and against protecting the high seas, the low seas, and any other seas. They also hit the delete button on green economy funding and stayed true to form calling for removal the principle of common but differentiated responsibility…sorry – what they consider to be “guilt payments” to the global south…Not content just being a perpetual thorn in the side of progress here in Rio, the Government surprised us all by flipping the proverbial bird to nature. They turned back the clock on decades of environmental regulations, protections, review processes, most things related to protecting the climate, and generally anything green and or nature-related by pushing through a 400 page budget bill that guts Canada’s environmental review and regulatory processes.
 
For coming out of retirement with a bigger bang than any of us could have imagined, CANADA this FOSSIL is truly for you…you have earned it!!
 
The Rio Fossil was presented at a mock award ceremony at the RioCentro space where Canada “cut out”
environmental protections. This Fossil of the Day is another in a long history of Fossil Awards for Canada, the all-time champion who has taken home more fossils at United Nations climate talks than any other nation.
 
“At home and here in Rio, Canada has really earned this Fossil award for undermining a just and sustainable future,” said Amara Possian, a young woman from Canada who accepted the award. “Canada had to go pretty far to get back on this list, and they’ve managed to do it by fighting against the bare minimum of commitments, like ending $1.4 billion in handouts to the fossil fuel industry.”
 
The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries
who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy.
 
Region: 

Canada Comes Out of Fossil Retirement to Take Home a Surprise Second Rio Fossil - Recognized for gutting the text in Rio and rolling back environmental regulations at home

Canada was awarded the second ever Rio Fossil of the Day today in a surprise move that brought them out of Fossil of the Day retirement with a real bang. The combined impact of their moves to delete and undermine many key pieces of the Rio texts, while pushing through a budget bill that guts environmental and climate policies at home, has earned them a top spot once again.

Today’s Rio Fossil was chosen through a vote by representatives of hundreds of global NGOs and youth based on Canada’s opposition to funding for a Green Economy, their obstruction of key initiatives to protect oceans and sustainable fisheries, their constant watering down of strong commitments on the phase out of Fossil Fuel Subsidies, and their request to remove the recognition of Common But Differentiated Responsibility in the Rio text.
 
The Fossil presentation text read as follows:
 
This evening’s recipient of the Rio Fossil may come as a surprise to some of you. That’s because at the UNFCCC negotiations in Durban last December, the international community gave Canada a lifetime achievement award, vowing never again to waste a fossil on a country that has made itself irrelevant when it comes to combating climate change.
 
But just when we think Canada has hit the bottom of the barrel, they always seem to find more bitumen – so to speak – moving from conventional forms of obstruction to dirtier, darker and more intensive forms. Yesterday Canadian negotiators continued weakening the language around fossil fuel subsidies along with oceans and fisheries, coming out in favour of continuing billions in handouts to big polluters and against protecting the high seas, the low seas, and any other seas. They also hit the delete button on green economy funding and stayed true to form calling for removal the principle of common but differentiated responsibility…sorry – what they consider to be “guilt payments” to the global south…Not content just being a perpetual thorn in the side of progress here in Rio, the Government surprised us all by flipping the proverbial bird to nature. They turned back the clock on decades of environmental regulations, protections, review processes, most things related to protecting the climate, and generally anything green and or nature-related by pushing through a 400 page budget bill that guts Canada’s environmental review and regulatory processes.
 
For coming out of retirement with a bigger bang than any of us could have imagined, CANADA this FOSSIL is truly for you…you have earned it!!
 
The Rio Fossil was presented at a mock award ceremony at the RioCentro space where Canada “cut out”
environmental protections. This Fossil of the Day is another in a long history of Fossil Awards for Canada, the all-time champion who has taken home more fossils at United Nations climate talks than any other nation.
 
“At home and here in Rio, Canada has really earned this Fossil award for undermining a just and sustainable future,” said Amara Possian, a young woman from Canada who accepted the award. “Canada had to go pretty far to get back on this list, and they’ve managed to do it by fighting against the bare minimum of commitments, like ending $1.4 billion in handouts to the fossil fuel industry.”
 
The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries
who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy.
 
Region: 

Climate change and Sustainable Development: Clarifying linkages

Achieving sustainable development entails making progress on the three integrated strands of the social, the environmental and the economic. Climate change and its impacts touch on all the three strands – causing environmental damage and degradation; increasing social vulnerability, and exacerbating economic instability.

The Rio+20 Conference gives us a chance to address two key issues – reinventing our economy and strengthening our international institutions to support and ensure sustainable development. Our ability to build a truly green economy depends on preventing climate disruptions, and dealing with unavoidable impacts of climate in building social, environmental and economic resilience, robustness and integrity. Both adaptation to and mitigation of the impacts of climate change form an integral part of building green economies across the globe so that it actually does become a means to achieving sustainable development.

There are significant concerns that a narrow focus on a green economy will result in the loss of one of the main qualities of the Rio process - an integrated approach to sustainable development and its focus on the three strands of the economic, social and environmental development. There are also fears that focus on a green economy is the next step in a global march to further commercialise and commoditise natural resources and human relations to the detriment of those who are already most vulnerable. Ignoring the climate change agenda and not treating it as an integral part of the sustainable development will only reinforce this concern and further exacerbate the challenges faced.

Within the national context, the long years of treating sustainable development as a separate strain of development, removed from the mainstream economy, requires a serious reorientation and an urgent rethink. As part of this rethink nation states need to reassess the challenges and vulnerabilities their economies face - affecting them environmentally, socially and economically. The devastations of the impacts of climate change – current and future – will need to be counted in the core list of these challenges that we face while we plan and build a green economy.

The window to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic and irreversible runaway climate change is also rapidly closing. Shrinking access of communities to diminishing natural resources, over-utilization of natural resources, unsustainable consumption patterns, and the increasingly fragile and unstable global financial systems are together increasing the vulnerabilities of a large portion of the world's population, exposing them to worsening economic, social, environmental, and climatic impacts. These issues lie at the core of the sustainability agenda that Rio must address. These are reflected in the various issues and themes the Rio process seeks to negotiate.

Globally - and as the consequences of climate change become more visible - freshwater scarcity, access, and sanitation are increasingly issues of concern. Clearly, protecting and restoring water resources are crucial for environmental stability and sustainable development, including poverty eradication, health, agriculture, food security, rural development and hydropower.

Increasing energy access and security within an equitable Green Economy is not only necessary but also entirely doable. The urgency comes from the climate crisis and the current scale of energy deprivation, while the opportunity presents itself in the existing and the prospect of new technologies with the potential to facilitate the necessary energy transformation.

The green economy will not be green if it is built on nuclear and fossil fuel-dependent energy infrastructure. Subsidising the oil, gas and coal industries worldwide demonstrates that nations and the world are not currently financing deployment of sustainable, green and renewable energy. The establishment of an equitable green economy must be accompanied by the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, and other subsidies that harm the environment, distort markets and create barriers to sustainable development.

Technology development and deployment within an equitable green economy would require technology development policy with focus on climate adaptation and dissemination of green technologies that incorporate goals for sustainable development and principles aimed at identifying the range of diverse technologies required for a green gconomy, and facilitation of the maintenance and promotion of environmentally-sound indigenous technologies.

Rio was the birthplace of the UNFCCC. It has now come home to Rio again to seek further ambition and direction in order to build consistency, momentum and comprehensiveness across the multi-lateral framework.

Related Newsletter : 

World Environment Day: Why Rio+20 Matters

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/joe-ware/world-environment-day-rio_b_1559193.html

by Joe Ware

With the global economy still in the doldrums, this year's World Environment Day on 5 June is trumpeting the merits of the Green Economy as an alternative way of creating jobs and growth - without trashing the planet.

It also takes place 15 days before the snappily-titled Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which kicks off in Brazil's most famous party town.

CAN Input into Rio+20 Agenda

The current negotiating text for Rio+20 does not fully and explicitly recognise the urgent need to act on climate change as part of a global action plan for delivering sustainable development.

This paper outlines the elements CAN believes essential to be dealt with by leaders at the Rio+20 Summit. In summary Rio plus 20 must:

1. Increase political will and ambition

a       Ensure strong legally binding commitments and real urgent action to rapidly transition to  a low-carbon and climate resilient future that includes development of renewable energy, energy efficiency and distributed clean energy (excluding coal-based power plants, nuclear power plants and mega-hydropower plants);

b       Acknowledge the lack of delivery on previous commitments agreed at Rio, including the UNFCCC commitments for all countries to reduce emissions to allow ecosystems to adapt and to ensure that food production is not threatened, and that developed countries would provide sufficient finance and other support to enable developing countries to undertake mitigation and adaptation. Acknowledgement of the now urgent need to address the current environment, development and climate change crisis by committing to ambitious levels of binding action, in line with science and equity and with clearly measurable outcomes and milestones.  Rio+20 can provide political impetus to the relevant fora - the UNFCCC and others - on the appropriate level of ambition of these commitments;

c       Recognise that delivering sustainable development requires tackling both the roots of the environment crisis and the poverty crisis simultaneously;

d       Fully recognise  historic responsibility and equity issues associated with addressing the current global environment and development crises and that solutions to these crisis must be based on principles of equity including common but differentiated responsibility and respective capability;

e       A renewed emphasis on the poorest people and those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, acknowledging that all countries will be impacted by climate change, with developing countries the least able to cope;

2. Facilitate a fair green economy

a       Support a rapid global transition to fair green and sustainable economies;

b       Endorse the ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative with a strong call for action and a 2020 milestone;

c       Commit to reorient wasteful consumption patterns towards sustainable ones, including by adopting indicators other than GDP that integrate social and environmental costs and benefits, promoting themore efficient use of resources and improving waste reutilization;

e       Commit adequate and predictable new and additional long-term finance to support developing countries to reduce their emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change with a particular focus on addressing the current structural underfunding of adaptation needs;

d       Remove fossil fuel subsidies, beginning with production subsidies;

f       Support the integration of an increased focus on resilience in the context of climate impacts,  market shocks, food price hikes and increasingly frequent and/or intense weather-related disasters; increased action on disaster risk reduction and the inclusion of food security, rights and justice;

3. Agree to true Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

a       The Sustainable Development Goals currently being discussed need to i) be universal, ii) be based on equity and fundamental human rights, iii) embed climate change as a cross-cutting issue,  and iv) be formulated through open and inclusive processes;

4. Protect forests and REDD

a       Agree to stop deforestation and degradation of natural forests, as well as restoring degraded natural forests by 2020 at the latest;

5. Realise sustainable agriculture and food security

a       Build the adaptive capacity of smallholders to the long-term impacts of climate change and ensure agricultural policies address food security and take into account environmental limits, carrying capacity, equity and social issues, particularly gender equity.

Fair Deal = Just Transition

Ambitious action is fundamental if we want to leave our children a sustainable world and a chance to achieve the social and development goals they deserve.

The labour movement started calling some time ago for a "just transition." This is a framework for ensuring social justice in the necessary transformation towards climate-resilient societies.  The idea is that transitioning to a low carbon economy is possible, and therefore climate action is a driver for sustainable economic growth and social progress.  Mitigation and adaptation policies can be part of a broader strategy, shaping the societies of the future in a way that is socially fair and environmentally sustainable.
But for this to happen, a process of social consultation, green investment and social protection has to be put in place.  The first steps are already being taken, as the concept is making its way through the UNFCCC process, and text calling for a just transition now appears in the Shared Vision.

The aim is to build the necessary consensus leading toward ambitious action, smoothing the shift towards a more sustainable society and providing hope for the capacity of a "green economy" to sustain decent jobs and livelihoods for all.  The steps beyond that will engage concrete policies and programs to turn this shared vision into a reality that provides sustainability to people's lives as well as nature itself.

[Article published in Climate Action Network's Eco Newspaper, Oct. 3, 2009 from Bangkok, Thailand UNFCCC negotiations - full PDF version here]

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