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Posted on on October 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

As per UNFCCC Official material, at the Tianjin climate gathering governments saw that there is no agreement on actions, so they could come closer on defining what can be realistic targets for the Cancún UN Climate Change Conference .

Speaking on October 9th – the final day of the Tianjin UN Climate Change Conference (4-9 October) – UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said that governments had made progress in defining what could be achieved at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún (29 November to 10 December) – just making it crystal clear that it is agreed not to seek major goals at Cancun.

One wonders thus why this need to go to Cancun at all? Would it not have been easier to redefine the meeting as a business representatives get-together in order to iron out the potential coooperations that could then smooth the way for Government-to-Governmwnt agreements?

“This week has got us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed in Cancún. Governments addressed what is doable in Cancún, and what may have to be left to later,” she said.

Ms. Figueres said that governments had discussed each element of a package of decisions, including a long-term shared vision, adapting to the inevitable effects of climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, key operational elements of climate finance and capacity building, along with the future of the Kyoto Protocol. Governments need to finalize these decisions in Cancún – but she did not produce the details – specially on the fate of Kyoto.

The action on climate change that could be agreed in Cancún and beyond was about turning “small climate keys to unlock very big doors” into a new level of climate action among rich and poor, business and consumers, governments and citizens, she said.

“If climate financing and technology transfer make it possible to give thousands of villages efficient solar cookers and lights, not only do a nation’s entire carbon emissions drop, but children grow healthier, women work easier and families can talk, read and write into the evening,”she said. “In the end, this is about real people being given the opportunity to take control of their future stability, security and sustainability,” she added.

Nevertheless, as illusions must persist somewhat, addressing the media together with Ms. Figueres on the final day of the
Tianjin meeting, Mexican Foreign Minister and President-designate of the Cancún UN Climate Change Conference Patricia Espinosa said that the Cancún meeting can and should be a significant step forward to benefit everybody, above all the most vulnerable and poor countries.

The Tianjin climate meeting was attended by around two and half thousand participants from more than 176 countries, including government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organisations and research institutions.

The conflict between the old wealthy countries that insist on deep and verifiable cuts in emissions from major developing countries like China and India,  the poorer nations are asking the rich countries to do more to reduce their own pollution and come up with more money to help the rest of the world adapt to the changes wrought by a century of unchecked carbon gases from the industrialized world – these are the same divisions as in the past dozen years.

Developing-country negotiators continually chide American officials for the failure of the United States to enact any sort of comprehensive climate and energy legislation and this as if there was no real change of attitude in Washington. Is one supposed to think that the US Copenhagen achievements were nullified in a year of indecisions?

Todd Stern, the chief American climate negotiator, acknowledged that some countries were trying to pull back from promises made in Copenhagen. He insisted that the Obama administration stood by its international commitment to reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020 despite the lack of action in Congress.

After the Copenhagen meeting, Mr. Stern and others raised questions about whether the United Nations was the forum for dealing with such issues. They have quietly explored options involving far fewer countries and tackling the difficult pieces of a climate deal separately rather than as one grand package. But no one is quite ready to pull the plug on the global talks — yet.

Many diplomats who have long been involved in the process talk about Cancún as a meeting needed for “healing” and “reassurance” to countries that had lost faith in the treaty process.

“It’s very important that you get back on the bicycle and get it moving and that it doesn’t fall over again,” said John Ashton, Britain’s special representative for climate change. “We have to make progress on a few fronts without overreaching: we won’t be able to get over the finishing line at Cancún. The task there is to rebuild momentum and confidence,” he said.

In the light of the above, our own website will continue to post information about Cancun as a follow-up to our Copenhagen COP15 category, with the hope that serious discussions between the G2 States – China and the US – will restart after the US November elections, so that a motor involving also India, Brazil, and perhaps South Africa and Korea, could continue to meet and formulate cooperation that eventually could be presented to the full body of the UNFCCC..


Posted on on October 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

See the flyer we received from on-goings at the meeting in Tianjin – the place the BASIC countries will are following up this week on what got started in the run-up to Copenhagen when President Obama met President Hu Jintao in Beijing.

BASIC countries racing to the future: An opportunity to listen to the views of BASIC country NGOs
Tuesday, Oct 5th, 19:45 – 21:15, Room 1, Tianjin Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center (MJCEC)

Amongst the many surprises of Copenhagen, the emergence of the geopolitical alliance know as the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) that brokered the Copenhagen Accord with the US directly, seemingly bypassing such “climate leaders” as Germany, France and the UK, is surely one that we will not forget easily and that we have clearly not seen the end of either. The role that emerging economies play in the climate negotiations – both as potential leaders as well as laggards – is crucial for the eventual achievement of the FAB deal we are all working towards. But as importantly, the momentum that they can instill in the process by taking bold and ambitious actions and showing leadership at the national level is one of our greatest hopes for real change on the ground and reductions in global emissions. How can this new global force have a positive effect on emissions reductions concretely and on the international negotiation process? Can the BASIC countries show the way to the future low-carbon, equitable and sustainable society that we aspire to and that our planet needs? And what role can NGOs of these countries play to ensure that the new leadership is progressive and positive?

Our speakers are:

Leela Raina from IYCN / Negotiator Tracker for INDIA

Morrow Gaines Campbell from Viate Civilis / CAN / GCCA-Brazil for BRAZIL

Melita Steele from Greenpeace for SOUTH AFRICA

Julian Chen from China CAN for CHINA

LO Sze Ping, China Coordinator for GCCA, will be the opening speaker and moderator.

This side-event is proposed as a space during the Tianjin meeting for NGO representatives from BASIC countries to come together and share their views on how to empower their respective countries, and the group as a whole, to take the much needed leadership in the inevitable “race to the future”. In the horizon, we foresee NGOs from BASIC countries exchanging information on their respective campaign efforts nationally, planning coordinated and/or joint campaigns, and advocating at the international level for a FAB deal with one voice. This event will hopefully take us one step in that direction.

We propose to kick off the event with a short intervention to set the stage and trigger discussion that will outline the opportunities that taking leadership in the race to the future holds for the internal development dynamics of these countries and the possibilities of exploring alternative development paradigms through clean energy and low-carbon models. Then we will follow with short interventions from NGO reps from each one of the BASIC countries outlining where their countries are at with respect to a new low-carbon development paradigm, who the key political players are that will promote such a paradigm, identify the domestic and international hurdles on the way, and how civil society can play a catalyzing role in this process.

Next we will invite the participants in the event to form smaller discussion groups about possible synergies and collaboration amongst these countries (where ideally we would have at least one representative from each of the BASIC countries) and we would conclude with a plenary session where each group presents their conclusions and next steps to take forward the collaboration between BASIC country NGOs.

We hope you will participate actively in this event and bring your creative ideas and concrete proposals to the collective discussion.

For more information and to confirm your participation, please contact: Sze Ping at:  szeping1924 at or +86 13911460873


Posted on on September 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by many developing nations.

We add here that Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity, and the slow-down in Poverty Reduction are inter-related – talking about one of them while ignoring the others is counter-productive. And what do you know – Climate Change imposed on others by our own excesses is it not, indeed, a novel way of terrorism?


Peruvian President Alan García told the General Assembly today that terrorism and climate change, as well as other global illnesses, require that the United Nations be the forum for world cooperation.

Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández  called for the creation of a new global coalition under United Nations auspices of nations at risk of catastrophe to share experiences and knowledge. He told General Assembly, on the first day of its annual high-level segment,that this year alone – up to now – there have been 47 floods and landslides; 12 hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons; eight serious droughts followed by fires; seven earthquakes; and volcanic eruptions.

“Additionally, we have to include the numerous cold waves, floods, and storms that have occurred as well as the epidemics that took place as a result, particularly cholera in Africa and dengue in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Dr. Fernández proposed the establishment of a World Alliance of Countries at Risk which would be “a great contribution towards designing and implementing policies to help save lives and minimize material damages.”

Many natural disasters, he pointed out, are caused by climate change, underscoring the need to set guidelines to regulate carbon emissions and protect the planet’s biodiversity.


Calling for a new mechanism to stave off the worst effects of natural disasters at the Assembly debate today was Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

“This would also help maintain international peace and security by mitigating the threats stemming from weak governance, collapse of public order and domestic or inter-State conflicts over diminishing natural resources,” he noted.

Dedicating just a small fraction of nations’ defense expenditures to financing this new mechanism could more cost-effectively achieve results in maintaining global peace and stability, he said.

“Moreover,” the Turkish leader said, “If we could pool some of our defense equipment that lost its effective utilization in military terms but are still relevant disaster relief operations, we would swiftly build the said rapid reaction capability.


Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by small island developing States (SIDS), according to a new United Nations report.

The report points out that these events exacerbate the vulnerability of the SIDS due to their small size, remoteness, susceptibility to shocks and narrow resource bases, the publication says.

In some instances, it points out, improved economic and governance capacity in SIDS has been offset by reduced resilience to external shocks.

“Although SIDS are confronted with increasing challenges, the growing international consensus surrounding the need to support SIDS offers an unprecedented opportunity to advance their sustainable development efforts,” the report says.

Its release comes ahead of a high-level General Assembly gathering to review progress towards sustainable development made in these nations. The two-day meeting kicks off tomorrow.

In the past nearly four decades, SIDS including Samoa, Grenada, Vanuatu and Maldives top the list of 180 countries recording the highest economic losses in relative terms due to natural disasters.

In Samoa, a 1983 tropical storm and forest fire, along with three tropical storms in the late 1980s, may have set its capital stock back more than 35 years.

Despite advances made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight globally-agreed targets with a 2015 deadline, in areas such as health and gender equality, the eradication of poverty is still a major hurdle for small island nations.


In a side event at the UN, Dr. Christiana Figueres, the top UN climate change official, today stressed the urgent need for governments to move forward in their negotiations ahead of the Cancun, Mexico, meeting where the UN contends that she is expected to conclude agreements related to issues such as technology transfer, mitigation and adaptation, and funding.

“We are barely two months away from the UN climate change conference in Cancun, the place where Governments need to take the next firm step on humanity’s journey to meet the full-scale challenge of climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Ahead of the next conference of parties to the Convention, to be held in November in Cancun, governments will hold a negotiating session in Tianjin, China, next week.

It is in Tianjin, said Ms. Figueres, that they will need to “cut down the number of options they have on the table, identify what is achievable in Cancun and muster the political compromises that will deliver those outcomes.”

She told a news conference at UN Headquarters that governments are converging on the need to mandate a full set of ways and means to launch a new wave of global climate action.

“On the whole, governments have been cognizant this year that there is an urgent need to move forward and they have been collaborating in moving beyond their national positions to begin to identify common ground so that they can reach several agreements in Cancun.”

The UN climate change chief said that negotiations are on track towards reaching agreements on the sharing of technology, jump-starting activities in developing countries dealing with reducing deforestation and degradation, setting out a framework for adaptation, and establishing a fund that would help developing countries with their mitigation and adaptation efforts.

“Let me be clear: there is no magic bullet, no one climate agreement that will solve everything right now,” she said.

“To expect that is naïve. It does not do justice to the crucial steps already achieved since the beginning of the Convention and it dangerously ignores the need to keep innovating.”

She noted four major trends shaping the future – energy supply and security; natural resource depletion; population growth; and climate change.

“An unchecked climate change is the flame that would make the other three burn most seriously,” said Ms. Figueres. “Governments can either stand together to turn these four threats into a new development paradigm that harnesses the full power of society, science and business, or they will fail divided.”

But let us not think that Dr. Figueres believes in the “Seal the Deal” mantra – she is on the record of having said earlier that she does not expect a Kyoto Protocol kind of agreement to emerge from Cancun – so the Tianjin meeting is very important in order to avoid renewed failure because of exaggerated expectations.


Posted on on July 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

China seeks to reduce Internet users’ anonymity.



The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 13, 2010.
BEIJING — A leading Chinese Internet regulator has vowed to reduce anonymity in China’s portion of cyberspace, calling for new rules to require people to use their real names when buying a mobile phone or going online, according to a human rights group.


In an address to the national legislature in April, Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, called for perfecting the extensive system of censorship the government uses to manage the fast-evolving Internet, according to a text of the speech obtained by New York-based Human Rights in China.


China’s regime has a complicated relationship with the freewheeling Internet, reflected in its recent standoff with Google over censorship of search results. China this week confirmed it had renewed Google’s license to operate, after it agreed to stop automatically rerouting users to its Hong Kong site, which is not subject to China’s online censorship.

The Internet is China’s most open and lively forum for discussion, despite already pervasive censorship, but stricter controls could constrain users. The country’s online population has surged past 400 million, making it the world’s largest.

Chen’s comments were reported only briefly when they were made in April. Human Rights in China said the government quickly removed a full transcript posted on the legislature’s website. But the group said it found an unexpurgated text and the discrepancies show that Beijing is wary that its push for tighter information control might prove unpopular. 

Wang said holes that needed to be plugged included ways people could post comments or access information anonymously, according to the transcript published this week in the group’s magazine China Rights Forum.

“We will make the Internet real name system a reality as soon as possible, implement a nationwide cell phone real name system, and gradually apply the real name registration system to online interactive processes,” the journal quoted Wang as saying.

As part of that Internet “real name system,” forum moderators would have to use their real names as would users of online bulletin boards, and anonymous comments on news stories would be removed, Wang is quoted as saying.

The State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to a faxed request asking whether certain sections of Wang’s address to the legislature were altered in the official transcript.

Wang’s comments are in line with recent government statements that indicate a growing uneasiness toward the multitude of opinions found online. A Beijing-backed think tank this month accused the U.S. and other Western governments of using social-networking sites such as Facebook to spur political unrest and called for stepped-up scrutiny.

China has blocked sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, although technologically savvy users can easily jump the so-called “Great Firewall” with proxy servers or other alternatives. Websites about human rights and dissidents are also routinely banned.