Guest blog by WDM ally Lidy Nacpil, from the Jubilee South Movement on Debt and Development Asia Pacific, writing from the UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar.
I arrived in Doha on 2 December for the second week of the UN climate negotiations, to find that no progress has been made on the critical issues that should be resolved at this meeting. I didn’t find this surprising. My direct experiences with the last five annual UN climate talks before Doha have shown a clear effort by many of the rich, industrialised countries – ‘developed countries’ in UN language – to evade compliance with their obligations under the Climate Convention and their legally binding agreements to take urgent and immediate action to address the climate crisis and prevent it from reaching catastrophic levels.
It is no wonder that some climate justice activists are now refusing to get involved in the battles taking place in the context of the international negotiations. The odds are heavily stacked against the rights and interests of the majority of people all over the world, especially those from the South - from the ‘developing and least developing countries’ - who are the most vulnerable to the devastating impacts of the crisis.
Many of us do still choose to fight in the international negotiations, to expose and counter the deception and the self-serving discourse, to resist harmful policies, to promote our critical analyses and positions publicly and among potential allies, and to force those in power to face up to their obligations to their citizens and peoples of the world.
We should not pin our hopes on governments dominated by elites and corporate interests, but neither should we let them get away with turning their backs on their obligations and doing their worst. More importantly, we need to win immediate victories even as we fight for more profound systemic changes. These immediate victories are crucial as the world is running out of time.
We see that these battles at the UN climate talks, fought inside the halls and outside in the streets, in between and during the international meetings, in the capitals and at the sites of the meetings, are part of a comprehensive struggle for climate justice. It is a struggle that must be waged on several fronts, at several levels - local, national and international, and in various arenas including the international negotiations.
The stakes are high in Doha, and outcomes on the crucial issues must be resolved here and now. The most critical issues include:
- Agreements on targets for emissions cuts that must be implemented in the immediate period of 2012 to 2020, if the world is to have a chance of keeping average temperature rises below 1.5 degrees by 2050. Targets for this period will have to be ambitious enough, and shared equitably by those responsible for the crisis. Loopholes should be removed as these will simply undermine and render meaningless the agreed targets.
- Clear commitments for the delivery of adequate and additional finance. Climate finance is urgently needed to enable peoples of the South to deal with the impacts of the climate crises and make the shift to sustainable and equitable development pathways. We are not talking here only of future impacts. We are already experiencing severe loss and damage from climate change-related extreme weather events as well as devastation and dislocation from slow-onset impacts.
We are now nearing the end of the Doha negotiations and there is no sign that agreements will be reached that are anywhere near the barest minimum of what is needed. We are stepping up our efforts to put pressure on negotiators.
On Wednesday and Thursday, climate justice activists from various social movements, civil society organisations and networks, youth groups and women, many of whom are from the South, circulated a collective statement to the negotiators in Doha. We had actions inside the conference venue, led by young activists who have been admirable in their drive, passion, organisation and sharp positions. We have also been reaching out to a broader range of organisations towards a more united position among climate campaigners.