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                                                                                                                           Asean Affairs November 8, 2013  

CLEAN vs DIRTY ENERGY- UN Climate Conference in Warsaw

United Nations climate negotiations will resume at the United Nations Climate Conference in Warsaw, Poland, from the 11 November 2013 until 22 November 2013.

This is the annual "Conference of the Parties" (COP 19) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and its Kyoto Protocol (CMP 9), where "decisions" and "amendments" are agreed in order to set the international legal framework for responding to climate change.

"The conference comes at a critical time for international action on climate change. The science is clearer than ever that there is a limited emissions budget and we have to live within in it or face catastrophic consequences. Those consequences are hitting Africa first and hardest." Augustine Njamnashi, of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said.

"The UN climate talks must focus on how to share this emissions budget based on equity or, given current and historical emissions, we will face a hellish future where the current litany of climate change induced disasters will look mild." Meena Raman, negotiation expert at the Third World Network said.

"We face a planetary emergency, the latest IPCC report suggests that unless we change our emissions pathway, the world is at risk of 5C of warming by the end of the century, which would be devastating for farming and food production." Brandon Wu, senior policy analyst at ActionAid, said.

"Devastation to food production would be just one small part of potential loss and damage in the developing world, caused by climate change. This devastation is why the issue of a mechanism to address loss and damage is front and centre in Warsaw." Azeb Girmai, of LDC-Watch, said.

"In order to live within a strict emissions budget, as proposed by the IPCC, there must be an immediate stop to the expansion of fossil fuel projects globally, a drastic reduction in the excessive consumption of energy by corporations and elites, and a shift to renewable and clean energy for people and communities as quickly as possible in all countries." Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of Jubilee South, Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, said.

"Global citizens are resisting tax-payer handouts to dirty energy corporations, scaling up local resistance to new dirty energy projects and highlighting the unfairness that condemns over a billion people to no access to any form of energy. Instead people are engaged in building real community energy solutions to the climate crisis. These peoples' demands must be heard in Warsaw if we are to prevent climate catastrophe." Asad Rehman, Head of International Climate at Friends of the Earth EWNI said.

At the UN, the timetable for a new international agreement on climate change to be concluded in 2015 requires significant progress at the Warsaw conference. This includes on both of the elements of the negotiations: enhancing action pre-2020 (known as 'Workstream 2'); and agreeing a framework for action post-2020 ('Workstream 1').

The Conference itself will involve several parts including meetings of the subsidiary technical bodies of the UN Convention, the principal meeting of the Kyoto Protocol and ongoing negotiations in the two workstreams (pre and post 2020) of the "Durban Platform for Enhanced Action" which is mandated to conclude in 2015.

In this context, three key emerging stories at the Warsaw Conference will be:

1.    The choice between clean and dirty energy

2.    How to equitably determine each country's level of effort in a new agreement

3.    How to finance climate action and the response to climate impacts, including 'loss and damage.'

For further information, interviews, briefings or quotes on these topics or others from a range of civil society representatives please contact: +57 318 343 9284, local number to be advised.

Information and documents will also be tweeted @ClimateJustInfo.

1. Clean Versus Dirty Energy

The energy sector is the leading cause of human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and so we will not be able to live within the remaining emissions budget without urgently transforming this sector away from dirty energy and toward local, community controlled renewable energy.

In Warsaw this choice will be particularly pertinent as governments discuss under Workstream 2 the possibility of a focused work plan on 'energy' and many governments propose a fund to support a 'global feed in tariff' to drive investment in renewable energy at a community level.

These discussions will be contrasted with the Polish Government's decision to hold a "World Coal Conference" on the sidelines of the UN talks (Nov 18-19), a decision that has drawn substantial criticism and is expected to draw significant activism.

The Warsaw Conference itself comes at the conclusion of a "Global Month of Action Energy" known as Reclaim Power, which included actions across the globe to resist dirty energy and push for people-focused solutions to the climate crisis. Organisations participating in Reclaim Power included: Jubilee South APMDD, La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International, GAIA, Push Europe, Greenpeace,, LDC-Watch, and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.

Reclaim Power will conclude during the Warsaw Conference with an international day of solidarity with environmental defenders, including the Idle No More Movement in North America, the anniversary of the murder of anti-oil activist Ken Saro Wiwa in Nigeria, and the "Arctic 30" on the 10th of November; and a day highlighting community energy alternatives on the 11th of November.

2. Setting fair and effective emission cut targets

The current pledges of emission reductions by countries by 2020 are drastically below the level needed to be on track to prevent catastrophic climate change. Some rich countries, such as the European Union, are proposing that they have higher domestic emissions in 2020 than they have today.

In fact, Warsaw will open with developed countries pledging to take less climate action than developing countries.

Hence, a key focus of the Durban Platform Workstream 2 is how to raise developed countries' targets, in line with what the science and a fair sharing of effort suggests is required (domestic reductions of at least 40-50% on 1990 levels rather than the 0-12% currently proposed).

In light of the IPCC's findings that in order to limit warming to below 2C or 1.5C, humanity must respect an "emissions budget", which represents the total amount of GHG emissions since the industrial revolution, it is expected that governments focused on effective solutions to the climate crisis will force consideration of this issue at Warsaw.[1]

Similarly, under Workstream 1 (the post-2020 agreement), governments will need to divide up the mitigation effort required to live within the 'emissions budget' in order to ensure the internationally agreed temperature target is met.

Current proposals on the table by the United States and the European Union suggest they want each country to merely 'pledge' what they intend to do, without reference to whether that individual effort is sufficient or fair, or whether the aggregate effort 'adds up' to what is needed.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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