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Wonderful Wonderful Carbon Haven!

With the activists gearing up outside and developing countries in no mood for compromise - climate justice is definitely on the agenda this time round, reports Kim Bryan in Copenhagen

December 7, 2009
5 min read


Kim Bryan works for the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales.


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Am I mad for bringing my baby here I ask? When I booked the tickets It felt too important not to come – I wanted to be able to say to Neru in years to come ‘we were there’, – now I don’t know! I’ll tell you on the 18 December whether it was the right decision or not.

For now I am caught up in the wet, fascinating, confusing and frenzied excitement that is Carbon-hagen. I am here to promote CAT’s groundbreaking project Zero Carbon Britain report. Which shows how we can rapidly decarbonise society to zero carbon by 2030 without nuclear energy! We are presenting the report on 10 and 15 December at the Klimaforum09. I am also here to give workshops with Trapese on popular education and its role in inspiring social change, and to take part in the myriad of events that are taking place due to COP15.

Carbonhagen has the potential to do something different and while it is highly unlikely that any climate deal will come out of it (and that’s probably a good thing), the new voices that the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), Africa group and the ALBA group could make for a very interesting conference …

As COP15 opened, the AOSIS gave an amazing statement – ‘we are here to negotiate our survival and we are not going to compromise on that- because we can’t.’ AOSIS have already threatened to walk out if the climate deal does result in a far-reaching deal, which does not return atmospheric concentrations to below 350 CO2e. During pre-talks held in Barcelona in October, the Africa group walked out and called for negotiations to be suspended until there was substantial advancement on Annex 1 (rich countries) agreeing to a binding national emissions reduction targets.

The G77/China climate group of 130 countries, whose main position is that rich countries should accept their historical responsibility for climate change, gave considerable support for the Africa group. According to some sources, a lot of diplomatic pressure was put on African leaders to back down from their position. Unfortunately reflecting the nature of such conferences with rich countries using back door methods and every available channel to deliver outcomes in line with their interests. Sources expect that this type of behind the scenes lobbying will have a huge impact in Carbonhagen and weaken Africa group resolve. That does not mean that Africa won’t walk out again!

‘We are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of the continent,’ said Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

The ALBA group is a coalition of Latin American and Caribbean countries,

representing 73 million people, have joined forces to call for climate justice and the defence of the rights of the Earth; calling on developed countries to recognise the ‘climate debt’ caused by their historical carbon emissions. Evo Morales, who has just been reelected as the Bolivian president is no stranger to upsetting international meetings of this kind and won’t think twice about walking out.

Cuba’s Fidel Castro also spelt out clearly that Copenhagen will not be just green wash and business as usual, ‘The capitalist system is not only oppressing and plundering our countries; the wealthiest industrial nations wish to impose to the rest of the world the bulk of the burden in the struggle on climate change. Who are they trying to fool with that? In Copenhagen, ALBA and the Third World countries will be struggling for the survival of the species.’

There is huge pressure on the COP to deliver solutions and so far the possible outcomes look something like this:

  • No agreement/ collapse
  • Greenwash ‘a decision to make a decision’
  • Political implementing agreement- that is not legally binding
  • A single new legally binding agreement ‘Copenhagen Protocol’
  • Breakthrough two protocols – one that improves on what has already been agreed and the other that is legally binding and takes us forward to a brighter future (most developing nations want this option)

    But it’s looking like no deal would be the best deal in Copenhagen. As Jim Hansen, the world’s pre-eminent climate scientist, said any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch. ‘I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it’s a disaster track,’ said Hansen, who heads the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

    With the activists gearing up outside and developing countries in no mood for compromise – climate justice is definitely on the agenda this time round.

    Kim Bryan is mother to Neru (7 months), activist, media officer at the Centre for Alternative Technology and works with the Trapese popular education collective.

  • Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
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    Kim Bryan works for the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales.


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