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Dhaka Tribune

Developed countries blamed for chocking COP19 progress

Update : 16 Nov 2013, 10:22 PM

Civil societies and campaigners allege that the developed countries are persistently blocking the UN climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland with regard to loss and damage mechanism and climate finance for the affected and vulnerable countries.

As shocking stories continue to roll in from communities devastated by Super-Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, they think there are few indications that the governments of rich industrialised countries will allow the talks to make meaningful progress.

On the preliminary talks on loss and damage mechanism, Lidy Nacpil of the Jubilee South Philippines said: “I left the Philippines two days before Yolanda [Super Typhoon Haiyan] hit, and still a week later friends and colleagues cannot be contacted. While we fear the worst for our brothers and sisters, rich country governments ignore the clear message that climate change represents a planetary emergency requiring urgent measures.”

At a press conference on Friday, she said: “Our communities face new risks because of the new climate era we live in – where the climate has changed because of the historical pollution of the rich. We need an international loss and damage mechanism to support us to manage these risks and respond to the devastating losses that will continue as the climate destabilises. That the governments Australia of the United States would block such a measure is callous, and must cause their citizens great shame.”

The talks will continue over the weekend, with pressure growing on the issue of “loss and damage” with a rally in the Polish capital yesterday and an online Avaaz petition started by Filipino negotiator Yeb Sano receiving over 100,000 signatures. Sano on Friday took an unprecedented step for a public servant by launching an online petition calling on UN countries to take urgent and bolder action to tackle climate change.

Meanwhile, The Global Climate and Health Alliance yesterday organised Climate and Health Summit on the sidelines of the COP19 with a call to the policymakers to put stress on the common health issues related with the impacts of pollution and changes in weather patterns including rising temperature and increasing extreme weather events like heat waves and droughts.

Speakers at the daylong programme, held at Hotel Marriott, also highlighted how the hospitals and health professionals could respond more effectively towards cutting greenhouse gas emission and using energy-efficient tools.

The climate talks have been seen by many as a choice between clean and dirty energy, with civil society and youth groups heavily criticising the UN and the Polish Government for allowing corporate sponsors and a “Coal and Climate” conference on Monday to undermine the global call for a renewable energy transformation.

In review of the talks’ first week, Brandon Wu, senior analyst of ActionAid, said: “Climate finance and technology transfer are crucial for developing countries, especially vulnerable countries like the Philippines, to be able to confront the global climate crisis. When asked to provide finance now or even just give specific information about how much public climate finance will be forthcoming at what dates, the silence from rich countries is deafening.

“Instead, they have begun pointing to the private sector, even while admitting that private investments cannot meet the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable to climate impacts. This is an unacceptable shirking of ethical and legal responsibility.”

Emission cuts of Japan, Australia criticised

Japan on Friday announced that it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 3.8% from its 2005 level by 2020 which is actually an increase of 3.1% from the 1990 level. It previously pledged 25% cut from the 1990 level internationally.

It triggered criticisms from among the campaigners.

"Our energy mix, including the use of nuclear power, is currently being reviewed. In that context, we decided to set this target at this point," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said of the new goal.

Japanese CAN spokesperson Kimiko Hirata said: “Stopping nuclear power is not a legitimate reason for lowering their target. There are countries putting ambitious targets shifting their energy source from nuclear to renewables.”

Another problematic country at these negotiations has been Australia, which announced on Tuesday that they wanted to cancel a very successful climate legislation that they have. Australian civil society is taking to the streets today to oppose their government’s announcements. 

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