4 December, 2019The third day of the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 25) in Madrid, Spain. Brian Kohler, IndustiALL sustainability director reports.
At the trade union morning caucus meeting, delegates heard an impassioned speech about what is going on in Chile. The speaker described how Chile’s past history of military dictatorship is returning to haunt the country, saying “the sons of Pinochet” have once again taken control of the country. Chile is described as a rich country but the richness is being appropriated – privatized – by a very small, and greedy, elite wealthy class. Meanwhile, despite the wealth of natural and human resource possessed by Chile, many parts of the country have no access to safe water or electricity, and wages are not keeping pace with the cost of living. Inevitably, protests against the worsening conditions have broken out.
The way in which the government has chosen to deal with the protests, which have been peaceful, is inexcusable – with some 27 people killed and many wounded, including blinded by being struck with rubber bullets. It is shameful that the government of Chile continues to hold the prestigious post of Presidency of the COP (Ms. Carolina Schmidt Zaldivar, Minister of Environment of Chile is COP25 President) despite having reneged on its promise to host the event and having had to rely on Spain to pick up the pieces. Chile should immediately resign that position in favour of some nation that has earned it.
As for the COP25 process itself, Wednesday brought an initial stock-taking of climate action. In the context of stocktaking, it is clear that insufficient action has been promised, and even less has been accomplished. The COP President arranged for additional scientific input via a virtual meeting of science ministers, but in reality it is not more science that is needed, the science is already pretty clear. What is needed is more ambition.
Response measures are a big area of discussion, and within the COP universe, it is under the umbrella of response measures that Just Transition programs are found. It is early to tell whether the response measures discussions will be productive. The reporting the Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (KCI), which covers also the impact of Just Transition measures, was not immediately “welcomed”, that is formally endorsed – to use the terminology of the COP. This is worrying but the importance of this failure is not yet clear to me. I am hoping it is a temporary glitch.
Regarding Article 6, addressing voluntary measures (market mechanisms, including emissions trading schemes, mentioned in previous blog posts, see links below) there is more difficulty. While a good agreement would help achieve the Paris goals, a badly worded agreement could be worse than no agreement at all, if it allows nations to conceal emissions in a poorly-defined and non-transparent emissions trading scheme, for example.
Trade unions are also monitoring the issue of climate finance – the long-promised global climate fund is still under-resourced. Finance can be an important agent of change, while lack of finance can be an insurmountable obstacle, particularly in developing countries.
CAN, the Climate Action Network (Environmental groups) designated three winners of “Fossil of the Day” awards yesterday: Brazil (for encouraging an accelerated destruction of the Amazon rain forest, and blaming others for it), Japan (for insisting on building more coal-fired energy generation capacity, despite climate science and simple economics), and Australia (whose Prime Minister denies the impacts of climate change even while enormous wild-fires rage in his country).