Fossil of the day

International Youth and NGOs award USA first “Rio Fossil of the Day” at Earth Summit Award given for backpedaling on 1992 commitments.

At the opening of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development the United States of America was awarded the inaugural Rio Fossil of the Day. 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.

Today’s award was given to the United States for the overall strength of their commitment...to not having any real commitments. This fossil recognizes the United States' (once the considered the only remaining superpower) efforts to delete meaningful commitments from various parts of the negotiation text all through the day yesterday.

The Rio Fossil as presented read:

"This first recipient of the Rio Fossil has consistently refused to commit new funding to sustainable development initiatives in the Rio+20 process, despite handing out upwards of $521 billion to big polluters - more than enough to invest in a just and sustainable future at home and abroad.

The US has actually been deleting meaningful action across the board, such as disregarding the Rio Principle on Equity (Principle 3) - asking for its deletion from the entire text to be replaced by the term ‘inclusiveness’, rejecting the urgent need to work towards advancing sustainable consumption and production patterns , and blocking the launch of a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement to protect marine life in the high seas, which cover 64% of our oceans.

The first Rio Fossil goes to the United States of America!

The United States may have taken the first Fossil, but the field of candidates is opening up, and there are plenty of chances to get on, and off the Fossil podium. The U.S. has a real shot at not being a Fossil if they can become a champion on strengthening commitments and setting an ambitious timeline on ending fossil fuel subsidies in Rio.”

The presentation of the award took place at the RioCentro conference center at the Rio Fossil award ceremony. Organized by youth and NGO’s from across the globe the award was presented in a mock ceremony and accepted on the United States' behalf by Brendan Schoenman from the United States.

“As a young person representing the United States I regret-fully accept this award on behalf of my government" said Brendan. "Although I hope that I never have to stand up and accept this award again and that US steps up to be a champion here in Rio."

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Saudi Arabia is Awarded the 1st Place Fossil of the Day Award and Poland Receives 2nd Place Fossil.

 

The First place Fossil of the Day goes to Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich Arab countries are in for a big test this year. They are all over the process. Not only is Qatar the Presidency of COP18, but also Saudi Arabia is chairing the LCA, and Algeria is heading G77+China. It is great to see the Arab region taking on big roles in the process, but as Spiderman says ‘with power, comes responsibility’. It is an important year for the Arab World, and failure in achieving a successful political outcome in COP18 would be a disgrace to the region. Therefore, one would expect that all Arab countries would be supportive of Qatar, not take extreme positions, not alienate Parties, and definitely not play obstructive roles in the process. Unfortunately, we still see Saudi Arabia trying its best to push its own short-term agenda forward, and getting a whole bunch of countries angry consequently blocking progress in different areas. What is upsetting is that this will not only reflect badly on their LCA chairmanship, but it will also send negative signals on the nature of the influence Saudi Arabia will have on their Qatari neighbors. CAN cautions Saudi Arabia, and advises it to take a progressive role. Countries are already calling COP18 the Saudi COP. So, Saudi Arabia, CAN’s message to you: “Stop undermining Qatar!”

The Second Place Fossil goes to Poland to Poland, for blocking the European Union to increase its pledge to 30% reductions by 2020, much less the 30% solely through domestic action or 40% overall that NGOs and some vulnerable countries would dearly love to see. The Polish government is taking 26 other countries hostage to increase their level of ambition, and thus driving the European emissions trading to collapse. The Polish position is also undermining the EU’s overall credibility in their call for real progress under the ADP workplan to increase near-term ambition until 2020.  Poland, notably, has also been instrumental in blocking the European Union to adopt a position on the issue of AAU carry-over.  Without Poland, the EU would have been able to move forward on AAUs ages ago.

USA Earns 1st Place Fossil of the Day and Australia and New Zealand get 2nd Place Fossils.

    

The 1st place Fossil goes to the US for refusing to even discuss its mitigation and finance commitments under the Bali Action Plan. In the Developed country mitigation spin-off group yesterday, the US stated its disagreement to even discuss such vital elements for developed country action in the pre-2020 period as comparability – which includes common accounting – addressing the ambition gap and compliance. Important as workshops and technical papers are, they do not build a transparent regime that enables countries to show that they are acting in good faith to reduce their emissions. The good news is that he US did not state disagreement to discussing a QELRO for itself, so we look forward to seeing the US’s domestic carbon budget to 2020!

In the LCA finance contact group yesterday, some developing countries asked for a mid term finance commitment from their developed country counterparts. Instead of giving reassurance and using the opportunity to build trust in this currently toxic atmosphere, the US asked those developing countries if they had thought of a mid-term mitigation plan themselves to “deserve” this mid-term climate finance. However, the US seems to have forgotten that climate finance should not be held hostage by the mitigation discussion. Climate finance is needed to address adaptation needs for the most vulnerable countries. Besides, the US itself was the leader in brokering the $100bn deal three years ago.

The 2nd place Fossil goes to Australia and New Zealand for not submitting a QELRO carbon budget into the Kyoto Protocol. These countries continue to vacillate on whether they will follow the shameful example of Russia and Japan (and let us not even mention Canada). Our time in Bonn has shown that the international community is growing very impatient as it continues to wait and see if Australia and New Zealand deserve its scorn or its applause.

 

 

 

 

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Fossil of the Day Returns at the Bonn UN Climate Negotiations with Three 1st Place Fossils Going to: the USA, Canada and China.

 

First Place Fossils go to the USA, Canada and China.

The first 1st place Fossil goes to the USA, for its continuing attempts to block negotiations on sources of financing, and refusing to discuss how it will continue to scale up financing in 2013 and onwards, towards the agreed goal of $100b by 2020. We know that the USA faces some deep denial issues internally, as well as avoidance issues in the negotiations around issues like equity, capacity building and an international mechanism on loss and damage. Until the US is willing to have a frank and honest discussion leading to substantive decisions, it will be an impediment to this process.

An additional 1st place Fossil goes to Canada for – can you guess???? – reneging on their commitments to fight climate change by withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol.  While many of you enjoyed your first full night of sleep after Durban overtime, the Canadians had no such luck. Barely off the plane, Canada’s Environment Minister wasted no time in confirming the COP’s worst kept secret that Canada was officially pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. Many delegates probably had already given up on Canada at that point, but those of us that live within that vast, beautiful, hockey-loving country have had to continue to bear witness to what can only be called the government of polluters’ puppets.  While Canada’s actions are clearly in a world of its own when it comes to bad behavior in the Kyoto Protocol, there are others that are behaving in fossil worthy manner.  Here, we’re looking at Japan and Russia for refusing to participate in the second commitment period and Australia and New Zealand for missing the critical May 1 deadline to submit their QELROS.  Australia and New Zealand are on notice that we expect these submissions by the end of Bonn – though the sooner the better as it is causing trouble in the KP.

And the final 1st place Fossil goes to China for holding in abeyance the work programme on scaling-up pre-2020 ambition under the ADP. We agree with China that the ADP must not allow developed countries to jump ship from the KP and LCA to a weaker regime, but Parties can't hold critical parts of the Durban package in abeyance, which amounts to punting them to the other side of the moon. We can't hold the fight against climate change in abeyance!

New Zealand Earns First Place Fossil, United States and Canada Share “Colossal Fossil”

Durban, South Africa –  At the final day of the United Nations climate negotiations for 2011, countries received their biggest shaming yet for blocking greater progress in the talks. With the final outcome of negotiations not yet decided, it was at least clear enough which nations had done their worst in the last day and the entire two weeks. New Zealand took the infamous 1st prize for its strongest statement yet against continuing Kyoto. But Canada earned yet another Colossal Fossil for scoring the most dirty points at these negotiations, though they earned isolation and a minute of silence more than another fossilized award. Instead, the United States of America took the Colossal Fossil, too, for coming in second place in overall Fossil points and showing serious lack of action for such a major polluter. The Fossils as presented read:

“New Zealand wins the 1st place Fossil. The New Zealand government got a Fossil this week for severely mixed messages about its Kyoto Protocol 2nd Commitment Period stance. This time, it made it clear, describing Kyoto as 'actually an insult to New Zealand'. The only insult is to the citizens of New Zealand and the rest of the world, who will have to suffer the costs of climate change.”

“Canada wins a Colossal Fossil by mathematical majority. The Canadian government has made headlines and earned criticism from the international community in Durban for refusing to sign onto a second Kyoto commitment period, calling critical climate financing 'guilt payments', and bullying least developed countries into leaving the Kyoto Protocol. And over the two week negotiation period, Canada has won a staggering total of 6 Fossil of the Day awards. Mathematically, they are the undisputed winner of the 2011 Colossal Fossil award.

But when environment minister Peter Kent announced Canada’s third fossil of COP 17 on the floor of the House of Commons, members of his Conservative government cheered and applauded. The minister brought that reckless arrogance with him to Durban, where he’s maintained a hard line and refused to budge on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and fought hard to put polluters before people.

Canada remains the only country in the world to have weakened its emissions targets after returning from COP 15 in Copenhagen and the only country to have signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol and then say that it has no intention of meeting its targets. The Government killed the only major federal renewable energy program in the country while plowing over 1 billion dollars a year of subsidies into the oil sector.

The Government’s lack of ambition or action to combat climate change is no laughing matter. Climate change is one of the most serious issues that humanity has ever faced, and it is already affecting millions of people – including vulnerable communities in Canada.

(minute of silence)

While a colossal fossil might be a fitting reward for such egregious behaviour, we’d prefer to confer that title on a country whose actions are still having an effect on the negotiations taking place, and not a laggard who’s been pushed to the sidelines of this debate. Until Canada is prepared to become a real leader on climate change, it’s time to turn our backs on the government’s policies and move on with a coalition of the willing built from people, cities and provinces that understand the urgent need for action.”

“And so, the United States of America wins a Colossal Fossil for sheer (un)ambition. For a country that in 2009 claimed to come back to the negotiations full of hope and change, it has mostly just brought more of the same – no commitments, no Kyoto, plenty of rhetoric, and minimal money. Whether because of a conservative Congress or an administration that hid behind it when its President and negotiators could have done more, we can only 'hope' that the U.S.A. 'changes' its stance and doesn't spend the next 4 years earning Colossal Fossils like Canada spent the last 4. This is not the kind of international cooperation CAN had in mind.”

Busy Fossil Awards Target U.S., New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Russia; Africa Group Earns Ray

Durban, South Africa – It was the busiest Fossil ceremony yet at COP17. New Zealand took third for opposing the Kyoto Protocol. Japan, Canada, and Russia earned second for their own lack of KP commitment. And the United States came in first for failing their 2 degrees C agreement. Luckily, the Africa Group earned the first Ray of the Day in Durban for consistent, constructive progress. If only the negotiations were so productive. The Fossils as presented read:

“New Zealand takes 3rd place in today's Fossil of the Day for hardening its stance on the Kyoto Protocol. In the last 24 hours, New Zealand's previous conditional support of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol appears to have become outright opposition. However, New Zealand has declined to answer questions or otherwise clarify its position on this issue, leading to ongoing uncertainty.”

"Japan, Canada, and Russia earn the 2nd place Fossil. We heard today and yesterday from all these ministers repeating their position on rejecting the 2nd commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.

For what are they coming to Durban? Didn't they see people with I love KP T shirts? They are the ones who block progress on the AWG-KP discussion for a long time, and that makes the Durban agreement more difficult now. As one delegate said, they are not leaving Kyoto to make things better, but worse.

As a response to global climate change, and as big emitters, leaving Kyoto is totally irresponsible."

"The United States of America wins the 1st place Fossil. The COP is not even over, and the United States has managed to secure what ought to be the Fossil of the 21st Century. Why? Well, not only are they the largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution in history, not only have they occupied more atmospheric space than any other country, not only have they got the most paltry emissions reduction pledge for 2020, not only did they renege on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, but they are now reneging on their commitment to keeping warming below 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

In yesterday's press briefing, Todd Stern was asked to clarify reports that he had described the 2 degree goal as “aspirational.” His answer? That knowing ahead of time that we will overshoot the warming limit that the IPCC has identified as the point after which the globe and all of its people are thrust into out-of-control climate change did not amount to 'some kind of mandatory obligation to change what you’re doing, whether you are in the United States or Europe, China or wherever you might be…'

For these comments, which amount to a callous disregard for the future lives and livelihoods of people everywhere… for repeatedly stating at this meeting that no one should increase the ambition of their pledge… for their willingness to throw away the last opportunity we have for keeping the two degree goal within reach, the United States earns what ought to be the title Fossil of the 21st Century."

"The Africa Group earns a Ray of the Day. At this Durban COP/CMP the Africa Group has clearly made a big effort to be proactive and progressive. The Africa Group have put forward proposals that would reduce the loopholes that threaten to undermine mitigation pledges from developed countries. Africa Group have put forward proposals to improve the environmental integrity of accounting in land use and forestry (LULUCF) by limiting free forestry credits to Annex 1 parties and significantly reduce the ‘hot air’ (carried over AAUs). (of course extinguishing it altogether would be best!). Yesterday the Africa Group put forward a proposal under shared vision to establish a process to address equity, which if it is teamed with a commitment to agree a peak year of 2015 and a long term global goal to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 could help unlock negotiations here, and also encourage country specific longer term ambitious mitigation actions."
 

US Wins a First and Second Place Fossil.

Video Production: BunkerFilms.com

Durban, South Africa – It was a dark day for the United States of America, as it took the first and second place Fossil of the Day awards for stalling on legally binding commitments and blocking immediate financing for climate change-vulnerable countries. The Fossils as presented read:

"The United States of America wins the 2nd place Fossil. The U.S. supported the deletion of Fast Start Finance paragraphs (Paragraph 18 and 19) from the updated amalgamated Long-Term Cooperative Action text. This implies that they are not serious about the past commitments made by their head of states on provision of finance to the most vulnerable countries to cope with the impacts of climate change. Not only is it a breach of trust, but also shows lack of leadership from them to take climate action seriously."

"The United States of America earns the 1st place Fossil. The US is in complete denial – other country delegates inside the Indaba could not believe their interventions. Having put forward a proposal for a treaty before Copenhagen, the US now seems to have taken a complete u-turn on the issue of legally binding commitments. We are just at the start of a 'critical decade' (according to a United Nations Environment Programme report) in which we must increase ambition, peak and decline and the USA – the largest historical emitter – turns up with a mandate to only discuss commitments in the next decade. 9 more years of talks? This is completely irresponsible as this is only making other high emitters sit back and do nothing."

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About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

 

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Canada wins a fossil of the day award for being flexible when it comes to facts, but not when it comes to their Kyoto stance

Video Production: BunkerFilms.com

Photo credit: Sarah Rifaat

Durban, South Africa – Canada wins a first place Fossil of the Day Award. Canada’s position has been clear when it comes to Kyoto – without movement from large industrializing emitters, Canada will not budge. Over the weekend you may say that China called this bluff by announcing openness to a more flexible position at the climate talks. Unfortunately, it seems Canada is not prepared to live up to its end of the bargain – with the Minister saying that even if China moves, Canada’s position is set in stone.
 
In addition to having this fossilized position – Canada’s minister also seems a bit confused in his messaging, saying that all major emitters have to be on board in order to, “prevent global warming hitting or exceeding two per cent.” Two per cent? Two degrees? Facts don’t seem to matter when your mandate is to protect polluters and not people.
 
Perhaps the Minister has confused two degrees with two percent because one of this government’s top lines to avoid action is to say they are only responsible for two per cent of global emissions. Important to note is that Canada is in the top ten global emitters no matter how you cut it: per capita, absolute and historically.
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About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

 

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Russia and New Zealand Take First, Saudi Arabia Receives Second, U.S.A. Third

Video Credit: BunkerFilms.com

Durban, South Africa – The second week of the United Nations climate change negotiations began with a heavy dose of Fossils. New Zealand and Russia shared a rare joint Fossil in First Place for wanting to benefit from a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol without being bound by it. Saudi Arabia earned Second for putting payments to its oil habit over mitigation to stop climate change. The United States won 3rd for not doing much of anything, as usual. The Fossil as presented read:

“The United States of America earns the 3rd place Fossil. The United States is trying to stop progress in Durban and is succeeding in catalyzing a movement against them as they delay, obstruct, and sabotage good faith efforts toward a deal.

While some of President Obama's policies on climate change are better than his predecessor, George Bush, US engagement in the talks remains nonconstructive.
In 2008 then candidate Obama said: 'We know what needs to be done. We know that our planet's future depends on a global commitment to permanently reduce greenhouse gas pollution.'  Bold words, but bold action has not followed at the global level.
- Now in Durban the US is proposing an alarming proposal to lock in a ten-year timeout with no new targets to lower emissions until 2020.
- Using transparency as a stick to beat other countries with. They insist that transparency is a top-line requirement even while ducking questions about their own transparency measures. When asked today what analysis the US had done about its own reporting that was agreed to in Cancun, Todd Stern said awkwardly 'we're working on it'.
- They say they have no problem with a legally binding agreement, but then go on to list condition after condition -- many of which fly in the face of the original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
IPCC scientist turned US negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, assures us that there are an 'infinite number of pathways' to stay below 2 degrees of warming that require only current agreements – we kindly invite him to name one and enlighten us all.
(over)

Now is the time for President Obama to remember his words from before he occupied the Oval Office: 'The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it – boldly, swiftly, and together – we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe..... the time we have to reverse this tide is running out."
We call on Todd Stern and the US Delegation to follow through on these words, to act boldly, swiftly, and together -- something they have failed to do over the past week.”

“Saudi Arabia earns the second place Fossil of the Day.

'Maybe we don't need the mitigation measures.' - This was the statement by the Saudi Arabian negotiator this morning in the LCA stock-taking plenary.

Saudi Arabia continues to insist that work on its particular pet issue of response measures (code for compensation to be paid to oil-producers) is just as important as a full global response to fighting climate change with mitigation measures.”

“New Zealand and Russia share the 1st place Fossil.

Russia earns the Fossil for opposing the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and for trying to carryover the hot air emissions credits into the same second commitment period, both at the same time, although it is hard to explain logically.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has been acting inconsistently in the KP negotiations. It has insisted that it could not constitutionally agree to provisional implementation of a second commitment period despite its internal policy stating that it can.

Further, the Government formally announced on 30 November that interim Environment Minister Hon. Nick Smith would be attending COP-17, only to change its mind on 1 December. New Zealand has also blocked discussions on carry over, wanting enough carry over to fully cover five years’ worth of LULUCF emissions.

Ultimately, this series of events has led to other negotiators describing New Zealand as 'deliberately inconsistent' and 'problematic for a thousand reasons', with its 'extreme positions on a number of issues [making] it difficult to reach consensus on anything'.”
 

Turkey Earns Its First Fossil for Wanting Everything but Giving Nothing

Durban, South Africa – Turkey earned the First Place Fossil of the Day today for trying to acquire funding and technology under the Kyoto Protocol without agreeing to any greenhouse gas pollution cuts. CAN cannot remember the last time Turkey took the fossil stage, but its actions recently were clearly worthy of this dubious distinction. The Fossil as presented read:

Turkey wins the 1st Place Fossil. Turkey finally made it to the podium and managed to grab its first Fossil of the Day award today.

Turkey has increased its greenhouse gas emissions 98% since 1990 and so far avoided having any commitment or clear target to turn this trend around. Instead, Turkey is allocating its financial resources to build more coal power plants, as well as planning two nuclear power plants and pouring money into road transport. 15000 kilometers of new divided highways and a third bridge in Istanbul is underway.

Turkey is now asking to be included in the technology and financial mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol but is still not talking about any commitment or reduction targets. Turkey did not submit a pledge under the Copenhagen Accord.

Turkey is also setting a bad example for the advanced developing countries. When it comes to economic growth the Turkish government is very happy to talk about the figures, but when it comes to GHG emissions Turkey tends to hide itself under the Turkish rug.

The 'cheeky' move of Turkey is unacceptable. Having one of the best wind, solar and geothermal energy resources and energy efficiency potentials, the country could do more. Turkey’s 'unique position' among the Annex-1 countries is no excuse for doing nothing but asking for more!

We call the Turkish government to take action – put money for climate, energy efficiency and renewables and abandon coal and nuclear power plant projects.”
 

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