links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter



Posted on on August 30th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following is written after three days, of the five day August 27-31,
2007, meeting of the UNFCCC.

The Monday opening was celebratory. The main presentation by the local
host, Austrian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and
Water Management, Mr. Josef Pröll. He was followed by two speakers from
the Developing world’s most disadvantaged States – the Small Island
Developing States (SIDS) and the Least Developed States (LDCs). Those are
the clear victim states of Global Warming/Climate Change, the least
influential states in the world, and thus the states that are given
highest priority as speakers in UN meetings on subjects of Sustainable
Development/Climate Change – this because of the reality that the more
powerful Industrialzed and Industrializing States have little to fear that
these less priviledged states could have a real effect on the outcome of
the negotiations. The two speakers were Maria Madalena Grito Neves,
Minister of Agriculture and Environment of Cape Verde, and Mr. Monyane
Moleleki, Minister of Natural Resources of Lesotho. The room was full and
that was it. The UN says that there were 1,000 registrants to the meeting
but after that initial session the number of those participating started
to dwindle. On Wednesday, early afternoon I still had a chance to speak
with the Senior Climate Negotiator & Special Representative of the US
Department of State, who with his entourage was on his way to the airport.
To be honest, there really was no reason for him to stay any longer.
Besides, the US has an alternate idea that they will be presenting also in
a September meeting in Washigton DC, to address the problem directly to
the major emitters, and twist them into accepting voluntary arrangements
that address the problem.

The Austrian Minister, voicing the opinion of the large majority of the
EU, said “Climate change is a huge challenge that can only be tackled at a
global level and in integrated manner … we do not have much time to
create adequate framework conditions. Each year without mitigation measures
is a year which drives the human and financial cost of adaptation steeply

For the EU, is speaking now the Portuguese EU Presidency, and the subject
matter is dealt with in negotiations by the chief Danish international
coordinator Mr. Thomas Becker. They clearly stand for international
agreements and real action.

The speaker from Lesotho spoke of the prolonged draught in Africa about
which our website wrote much in the past. We wrote over a year ago already
that much of the misery in places like Darfur is a direct result of
climate change. This is not just a prolonged draught that is part of a
natural cycle as it happened in previous times. This is a clear impact
caused by global warming. Our old assumptions got vindicated by Sir
Nicholas Stern about a month ago when he made similar statements – but the
UN does not come out yet in clear language to put a finger on the culprit
to blame – just look at the sterilized official UNFCCC press releases.

The speaker from Cape Verde pointed out that her State has made progress
by developing tourism – but this tourism may be wiped out because of
climate change. “Climate change can potentially offset all the gains made
in achieving the Millennium Development Goals” (that is the UN holy cow!),
and she made it clear that the SIDS are particularly vulnerable.

The Times of India quotes the Secretariat of the UNFCCC as stating in its
report that the “Emissions bill will come to $210 billion by 2030.” Does
one believe that this can compensate losses of land and life that are
already in progress? Then, when mentioning money, why are not the
Ministers who deal with large amounts of money at this meeting? Aha! and
that is the rub – the meeting is charged with coming up without a
resolution. In effect, this is just one more meeting, in a series of
meetings, that are intended to not have a negotiated resolution – this is
a negotiation about negotiation – or even in UNFCCC language – “Vienna UN
meeting tests temperature of international climate change process.” The
global temperature may be heating up – but the UN process is being kept
under control so even the facts are made difficult-to-obtain when it comes
to independent media think tanks.

The speaker from Lesotho did actually emphasize the need to begin
post-2012 negotiations in Bali and indicated that while African countries
need support, they also have responsibilities concerning climate change.”
And you know what? The UN press release has no mention of the above as if
the stand by one of the weakest African States, calling for real
negotiation, is not one of the most relevant things that were said that

The AWG track of the Vienna meeting was chaired by Leon Charles of Grenada
– the State that chairs now AOSIS (the Alliance of Small Island States). In
New York AOSIS is represented by Ambassador Friday who is very outspoken
on the subject of investments for mitigation and adaptation in the context
of creating a global program that allows such investments for the benefit
of all. The problem is global – so an organization like the UN is
imperative – but the UN in its present form makes it difficult to direct
activities to the achievement of real results.

The powerful group of the G77/China is lead by Pakistan, and with them,
leading speakers are from South Africa, China, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi

When Saudi Arabia speaks about “the need to consider the impact of Annex I
mitigation activities on developing countries”, what they mean is that if
the world will become less dependent on oil – they – rich Saudi Arabia –
will lose some of their export market – and as they want to be counted as
a developing country – they have to be compensated for having lost some of
their market. They were clearly seconded by South Africa that stated “the
need to address the unintended consequences of adaptation and mitigation
policies and response measures on oil exporting countries.” And small
surprise, when the Saudi speaker took the floor again to support the South
African position on “building blocks approach and the importance of
financing and need for technology transfer.”

The above was just a little bite out of the material of these first three
days in Vienna, we will obviously return with more – but let us say
already here that we, like some others before us, may actually also wonder
in the end if a bad marriage can be improved – or not.