Crisis in Copenhagen: Climate Talks Suspended
Tensions are rising as developing countries again walked out of the talks because there is no progress on the Kyoto Protocol discussions. Instead priority is being given to the Long term Co-operative Action track (known as LCA). Developing countries want the Kyoto Protocol to continue and they see the actions of the EU, USA and Australia in demanding simultaneous action from developing countries, as a move to dump the Kyoto Protocol. By prioritising the LCA track the President is seen as favouring the powerful developed countries. This is a very bad look for the Danish government and seriously undermines any likelihood of a "political" outcome, let alone a legally binding one.
Australia‘s Reputation at stake on land use
Talks in Copenhagen are going backwards on protection of forests and accounting from emissions from land use. It seems that negotiations at the level of officials are stalled and everything depends on the Ministers arriving this week.
Minister Wong and Prime Minister Rudd must commit to ending the cheating and creation of loop holes in the Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) negotiations and commit to full carbon accounting for the third commitment period. For the second commitment period being decided here, Australia must commit to accounting for all land use activities using spatially explicit data.
The technology exists as Australia has been using it to account for deforestation for over a decade. There is no reason to continue to use low level default settings and dubious statistics collected by state agencies, to transform what is a net emitter into a net sequestration or removal. By using low level data collection and stats the logging industry can masquerade as net positive when in reality it is a net emitter. This cheating of the atmosphere must stop.
In the negotiations on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) you would think a key priority would be the protection of forests since deforestation contributes 20% of emissions globally. But tragically there is no real leader amongst negotiating countries, and environment groups on the outside are struggling to keep any language to do with forest conservation or protection in the legally binding part of the negotiating text.
Equally important is to ensure that there are safeguards concerning the livelihoods of indigenous people who rely on forests and who have protected forests for millenia. Another sticking point is forest governance. Developing countries must improve governance to ensure that finance for forest conservation actually goes to the communities living in or near the forests and is not diverted through corruption.
Countries like Papua New Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have succeeded in removing this language from the legally binding part of the text because developed countries have not put enough money on the table to compensate these countries for loss of logging revenue and for ongoing stewardship of the forests.
Developed countries must make funding commitments clear for REDD so as developing countries sign on. Developing countries must be assured that the forest is worth more standing than logged. $4 billion will not do it. What is Australia's finance commitment under REDD? What is the colour of our money?
Index of Climate Change Performance
An Index of Climate Change Performance by German Watch and Climate Action Network Europe ranks Australia at the bottom of the heap in Very Poor category along with NZ, USA ,Canada and China.