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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

93 of 211,083

The Lima-Paris Action Agenda new website launched
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Judith Adrien  JAdrien at unfccc.int via lists.iisd.ca

3:14 PM (16 hours ago)

to Climate

Dear Colleagues,

The Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) is a joint undertaking of the Peruvian and French COP Presidencies, the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UNFCCC Secretariat.

It brings both state and non-state actors together on the global stage to accelerate cooperative climate action now and into the future in support of the new, universal climate change agreement which governments will reach in Paris.

To get more information about the LPAA and the launch of the website, see our press release – available in 3 languages:

o English newsroom.unfccc.int/lpaa/lpaa/wel…

o French newsroom.unfccc.int/fr/bienvenue/…

o Spanish newsroom.unfccc.int/es/bienvenida…

To visit the website, you can go to: —  unfccc.int/lpaa/
or access it via the NAZCA portal at  climateaction.unfccc.int/.

Stay tuned for the Spanish and French versions currently being developed – they will be available soon!

Judith Adrien
Associate Communications Officer
UN Communication for development Unit
UN Communication and Outreach

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Lessons from Lima, Prospects for Paris: What Future for Climate Change?
The view, on reflection, from United Nations Headquarters, New York City.

For SustainabiliTank by George Baumgarten, United Nations Correspondent, January 18, 2015.

The United Nations Climate Conference in Lima, Peru {(known as “COP-20” (of the UNFCCC)} produced an outcome which could at least be called “hopeful”. But it really just foreshadows the real show: the forthcoming ultimate Conference, to be held in Paris, this coming December. And the Lima outcome was itself largely upstaged by the announcement — just a month earlier — of an historic bilateral agreement, between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China.

The Lima Conference was the latest in a string of annual such conferences, dating back to the one held in Berlin in 1995. These annual conclaves have plodded along now for two tortured decades, as the greenhouse gas emissions just go on, the industrial smokestacks go on belching, and the conferee politicians–slowly, deliberately, ploddingly, and tortuously–go on endlessly talking.

The most interesting product of the Lima conference was one of Hope: Perhaps—just perhaps—an agreement could be crafted, at or before Paris, to achieve the critical emissions reductions.
Charles Frank, writing for a bulletin of the Brookings Institution, notes that Chinese greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at a rate of 10% per year, with the country’s galloping rate of industrialization. Therefore, the Chinese Agreement with the U.S. — while a breakthrough — reflects a “weak” commitment, on the part of the Chinese. But his Brookings colleague Joshua Meltzer regards even this weak commitment as a plus. That China has agreed to any target at all, he sees as a “…significant step for climate change diplomacy.”

The U.S.-China Climate Accord, which overshadowed the results of the Lima conference, dealt with the thorny — and, in the U.S., controversial – issue of carbon emissions. It was the very first agreement by which China agreed on targets for the reduction of such emissions – in fact – to stop the growth of such emissions by 2030. This agreement was the product of nine long months of negotiations, and—it was hoped—would become a catalyst for a world emissions agreement at Paris next December.

By the Agreement, the U.S. undertakes to emit 26-28% less carbon by 2025 than it did in 2005. And China promised to stop increasing its carbon emissions by 2030. Commenting on this Agreement, President Obama told his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, that he wanted to take the U.S.-China relationship “to a new level.”

In the official press release giving the text of the Agreement, the very first paragraph says, succinctly and directly: “The seriousness of the challenge calls upon the two sides to work constructively together for the common good.” And they acknowledged “…the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.”

Thus – to summarize – the following paragraph states the two aforementioned goals: The U.S. commits to an “economy-wide target” of reducing its emissions by 26-28% of 2005 levels, by 2025. And China, for its part, undertakes to reduce its CO2 emissions, after their peaking no later than 2030, and to make efforts to peak early.

The Agreement also proposes that “The United States and China hope that by announcing these targets now, they can inject momentum into the global climate negotiations.” It further notes that “The global scientific community has made clear that human activity is already changing the world’s climate system.” To follow up – the agreement provides for the creation of a U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG).


Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s address, delivered on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, made very clear one of his primary hopes: “There is still a chance to stay within the internationally-agreed ceiling of less than 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise”. In short, concise, successive statements, he asserted:

“All countries must be part of the solution. All of society must be engaged.”

“This is not a time for tinkering—it is a time for transformation,” and

“The momentum for action is building.”

The Conference’s “Lima Call for Climate Action” made clear that there is still a long way to go toward the Paris Conference of next December, but it did state without elaborating that “governments have left with a far clearer vision of what the draft Paris agreement will look like…”

Among the other results were pledges that for the first time took the new “Green Climate Fund” (GCF) past the initial $10 billion budget. And “new levels of transparency” on the part of industrialized nations were said to have been achieved. This was also reflected in the “increased visibility” of National Adaptation Plans (NAP’s). New instruments were announced with regard to forests, the provision of technology to developing countries, and the role of women, which was said to be “key to the response to climate change.”

A particular initiative was established for Education and Awareness Training, so that far greater numbers of persons, worldwide, can be made aware and conscious of the challenges faced by humanity. Peru and France also announced a joint “Lima-Paris Action Agenda”, to point the way to next year’s final, climatic Conference.

The U.N.’s official response to the Lima outcome, released by the office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, congratulated the Conference, and noted that its actions “pave the way for the adoption of a universal and meaningful agreement in 2015.” He applauded the finalization of an “institutional architecture for a mechanism on loss and damage.”
The Secretary-General also called “… on all parties, especially the major economies, to submit their ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris.”

While the COP-20 Conference can point to some [long-overdue] accomplishments, this is clearly a situation of having “still very far to go, and a [relatively] short time to do so.” And an awful lot of scientists of all sorts – not to mention the diplomats and politicians – can expect to be kept very busy this year.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Pope Francis’s Edict on Climate Change Will Anger Deniers and US Churches

By John Vidal, Guardian UK, 28 December 14

Pontiff hopes to inspire action at next year’s UN meeting in Paris in December after visits to Philippines and New York

He has been called the “superman pope”, and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?

It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.

The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

“Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”

Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.

According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.

In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

“The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

“The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

In Lima last month, bishops from every continent expressed their frustration with the stalled climate talks and, for the first time, urged rich countries to act.

Sorondo, a fellow Argentinian who is known to be close to Pope Francis, said: “Just as humanity confronted revolutionary change in the 19th century at the time of industrialisation, today we have changed the natural environment so much. If current trends continue, the century will witness unprecedented climate change and destruction of the ecosystem with tragic consequences.”

According to Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Cafod, said: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”

However, Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate.

Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who has been placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is a climate change sceptic who has been criticised for claiming that global warming has ceased and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were doubled, then “plants would love it”.

Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic climate covenant, said: “There will always be 5-10% of people who will take offence. They are very vocal and have political clout. This encyclical will threaten some people and bring joy to others. The arguments are around economics and science rather than morality.

“A papal encyclical is rare. It is among the highest levels of a pope’s authority. It will be 50 to 60 pages long; it’s a big deal. But there is a contingent of Catholics here who say he should not be getting involved in political issues, that he is outside his expertise.”

Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion.

“The pope should back off,” he said. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”

Comments

We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We’ll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn’t work we’ll have to ramp up the moderation.

General guidelines: Avoid personal attacks on other forum members; Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory; Do not advocate violence, or any illegal activity.

Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

– The RSN Team

+12 # Dust 2014-12-28 16:47
“has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion” and “misled on the science”.

Bwahahahahaaa!!!!!!

How is it possible for a group that prides itself on lack of education and a complete dismissal of any science it does not like get to claim with a straight face that it knows anything about science itself?

Calvin Beisner should cite his “science” or shut up and stick to his extremely narrow interpretation of his selected religious texts.

Besides – the US is not a Christian nation, the Pope is not an evangelical, so on what possible authority does Calvin feel justified in telling the Pope to “back off”??

0 # NOMINAE 2014-12-28 23:22
Quoting Dust:

“has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion” and “misled on the science”.

Bwahahahahaaa!!!!!!

How is it possible for a group that prides itself on lack of education and a complete dismissal of any science it does not like get to claim with a straight face that it knows anything about science itself? …

It is possible (but still hilariously unconvincing) under the aegis of the same arrogance of ignorance that impels and propels all manner of these moronic statements…….

pure, unadulterated, high-octane HUBRIS.

Nothing more is required or demanded in this time of virulent and vapid anti-intellectu alism, and the accompanying anti-science, or faux science that sells this bilge-water propaganda to the masses.

These statements are not designed to convince the leading edge of the intellectual Bell Curve. They are, as ever, aimed at the bulging center of the “average masses”.

…At the “Thugs” who are eventually to be installed and elevated above the intellectual class ala the Third Reich, Suharto, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, ad infinitum – in short, an approach with a solidly proven track record enthusiasticall y and efficiently embraced by any and all Fascistic Systems, or Fascist Wannabes, in the world to date.

+5 # Dust 2014-12-28 20:09
After a wee bit of reading… Calvin Beisner is a freight train of crazy.

+7 # Activista 2014-12-28 21:20
Pope – especially in South America – has huge influence –
he is very influential on social issues – he does not have to have Phd. in climatology to see the effects of global warming –
I am agnostic – thank you Francis –

0 # Thebigkate 2014-12-28 23:50
Are we lucky, or what, to have such an enlightened pope? Now–if he would only get his act together on women in the church and the necessity of legal abortion!

0 # Regina 2014-12-28 23:51
There is reason to believe that Francis would not have sentenced Galileo to house arrest, nor called science apostasy. He uses logic where logic belongs, instead of insisting on dogma where dogma does not belong.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change is glad to inform you on updates of news and stories around Climate Science&Policy.

What really happened in Lima? Climate Science & Policy: news, stories and updates.

[CENTRO EURO-MEDITERRANEO PER I CAMBIAMENTI CLIMATICI – CMCC –
un Consorzio di istituti di ricerca e università italiane che punta
ad approfondire le conoscenze scientifiche nel campo della variabilità climatica.]

———————————————————————————

A different view on COP 20
Carlo Carraro comments the outcomes of the COP20 in this post taken from his blog: “The emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well)”.
 www.cmcc.it/article/a-different-v…

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima
As expected, the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties in Lima wrapped up with a compromise text, a road map pushing for 2015 deal in Paris
 www.cmcc.it/article/lima-climate-…

———————————————————————————

Many comments on the outcome of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) recently held in Lima have already been circulated. Most commentators focus on the broad consensus to adopt national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Some of them highlights the important benefits of reaching such broad consensus, even though not yet on ambitious mitigation targets. Others complain about the distance between existing commitments and the mitigation effort needed to maintain future temperature increase below the 2°C degree target. All of them agree on the crucial role of COP 21 in Paris to reach a final agreement on both ambitious Individually Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and on an effective verification system to compare these mitigation efforts.

This emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well), namely the difficulty of agreeing on the resources that must be devoted to achieve mitigation targets, on their distribution across different world regions, on the mechanisms to fund the huge investments that will be necessary for both mitigation and adaptation.

The discussion in Lima was centered on the Green Climate Fund, established in Copenhagen in 2009, but the debate was more on distributional issues (how much will developing countries receive and how much will they contribute) rather than on efficiency issues (how best can the fund be used).

The Green Climate Fund
While there have been some murmurings of the need to focus on technology development, technology transfer and capacity building, the climate finance debate has been overtaken by the Green Climate Fund. How much should be given? Should quantitative limits be set? Should there be a legally binding system? Since there was so much focus on the Fund, it is encouraging to see that the first real milestone in this process – USD 10.2 billion pledged by the end of 2014 – has been achieved. Further, since 50% of the Green Climate Fund is to be allocated to adaptation measures, the prominence of adaptation in the COP 20 agenda should be welcomed. Specifically, the promise that a “loss and damage” scheme would be introduced to help poorer countries cope with the financial implications of a warming planet. Despite these steps forward, the funding required to decarbonize the global economy by 2050, address adaptation and meet the rising cost of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events, will be in the region of trillions of dollars over the upcoming decades. As such, the Green Climate Fund, even when it will hopefully reach the USD 100 billions in 2020, will be far from covering both the required investments in adaptation to deal with the impacts of ongoing climate change, particularly in developing countries, and the costs to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Policy signals:

One of government’s main roles in enabling climate finance is to send a clear, consistent, long-term signal to investors that there is a safe market for low-carbon technologies. There is a great deal of aversion to be overcome in this respect. Currently, low-carbon technologies are perceived to come only at a short to medium term trade off with economic growth.

This misconception (built into many model assessments) is based on the assumption that economies are perfectly efficient. As a result, any climate change policy is expected to lead to short and medium term costs. However, in reality, many such policies, particularly technology policies, in fact reduce market failures and the rigidities that lead to inefficient allocation of resources.

This understanding was woefully overlooked at COP20. Indeed, the very fact that governments spent so much time publicly quibbling over what to implement is signal enough to the private sector that investments in low-carbon technologies may not be supported by a sound policy environment (e.g. by a tax internalizing carbon externalities).

Some nations even went to say that private sector needs to be the driving force behind the transition. While developments in private sector do anticipate policy, their success is often dependent on a fertile policy environment.

As such, Brazil strongly cautioned against too strong a reliance on the private sector.

Even Australia was able to recognize the need to motivate businesses.

Kick-starting innovation:

There are two channels that governments can exploit to provide these policy signals.

First, government needs to stimulate innovation. Innovation is key to a low-carbon future. OECD projections of population growth indicate that population will increase from 7 billion people (2010) to more than 9 billion people (2050). With this, global GDP will nearly quadruple, requiring 80% more energy. To sustain this growth, energy must be mostly generated in a carbon neutral or low carbon manner.

At COP20, countries were asked to support all low-carbon technologies and not pick winners. Even so, each country demonstrated its aversions to specific technologies, notably nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS).The main way to incentivize innovation in low-carbon technologies is to put a price on carbon.

Carbon pricing is one of the strongest signals that governments can send to say they are serious about low-carbon. Not only does this provide a way – if effectively implemented – of progressively moving away from fossil fuel energy, it also provides financial benefits. Lobbying and sideline action abounded with pressure to develop carbon pricing mechanisms. Like the drop of water on stone, this is making an impact nation by nation. However, no concrete progress came forth from COP20 on this, even though important signals came from the UN Summit in New York last September and much more will emerge in 2015 in preparation to COP 21.

Investing:

Second, governments need to look to how and when they invest in low-carbon solutions. No public sector actors are yet fully successful in setting regulation, incentives, co-investment, risk-sharing instruments or other policy measures. Most developed countries firmly opposed internationally accountable commitments to climate finance.

Switzerland notably refused legally binding aims. Part of the unanimous aversion to strong investment is the fear that policies would require prolonged public sector support for low-carbon technologies. This assumption ignores the fact that government only needs to promote low-carbon innovation for a limited time. Just long enough to kick-start the low-carbon pathway. Once the technology is rolling along this path, the economy will be locked-in to low-carbon and there is no need for further regulatory intervention.

Another investment deterrent is the presumed high-cost, low-return nature of low-carbon energy. However, the higher upfront costs in low-carbon technologies are offset by avoiding the operating and financing costs that characterize fossil fuel energy. And by the increasing benefits of reducing GHG emissions and therefore the concrete, very costly, negative impacts of climate change on our economies.

The Lima Legacy:

COP20 concluded with a document that called for an “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that considers the “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation. This common-but-differentiated-responsibilities approach has characterized climate change talks since 1992. It reflects the strong divide and attribution of responsibility that still exists between poor and rich nations. Meek language asking countries merely to go beyond their “current undertaking” on climate action does not instill you with confidence that any of the INDCs that will be announced over the first quarter of 2015 will be sufficient to keep the globe within the 2°C limit.

Perhaps, there is hope in the fact that some of the desired measures indicated above can be developed without the need for international agreements.

Even so, at the moment, none of these issues that will really make a difference in the effective deployment and use of climate finance have been seriously addressed by COP 20.

Much of this is unsurprising. Asking 194 countries to find consensus on the many issues implicated in climate change – not only climate finance – is, as UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres puts it, “very, very challenging”. Therefore, the resulting “range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including how to better scale up and finance adaptation” should be welcomed. However, as ever, we cannot let complacency take root and must maximize the pressure for the forthcoming INDCs to be meaningful and verifiable commitments.

Overall COP 20 in Lima was consistent with expectations. Together with other important events (the UN Climate Summit in New York, the EU Policy Framework on Energy and Climate, the US-China deal, etc.) it contributed to pave the way for an important agreement in Paris. The idea of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was already circulated and debated months ago. It became concrete in Lima and this is a very positive change, crucial to achieve a large participation to the Paris agreement. Now it’s time to go back to climate finance and to agree not only on the size of additional resources to be devoted to climate mitigation and adaptation, but rather on the policy signals to redirect the huge amount of resources devoted every year to energy infrastructures, buildings, city development and transports towards a low carbon transition path.

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Almost two days later than scheduled, the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Peru, closed on Sunday, December 14th adopting a set of 32 documents aimed at progressing towards the definition of the new deal to be agreed at the COP21 in Paris next year.

Central element of the Lima deal are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which include in one term both developed and developing countries’ plans to fight climate change from 2020 on. All Parties are, indeed, invited to communicate them to the UNFCCC well in advance of the COP21 (the not mandatory deadline remains March 31, 2015). In addition, Lima made progress in elaborating the elements for a draft negotiating text that has been included as an Annex to the document and that would be the base for the future negotiating draft text to be released by May 2015.

——-

Major outcomes of the deal can be summarized as follows:

– common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances: developed and developing countries have both to act to cut their carbon emissions but considering their different financial and infrastructural capacities;

– Greenhouses gas plans: the document reiterates its invitation to all Parties to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) by the end of March 2015 in order to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding. The information provided may include quantifiable information such as time frames and / or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.?INDCs will be published on the UNFCCC website by the UN climate change secretariat which will prepare by 1 November 2015 a synthesis report on the overall climate effect of the INDCs communicated by Parties;

– Loss and Damage: a “loss and damage” mechanism was established to protect developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effect of climate change in order to receive economic compensations;

– Climate finance: the document urges developed countries to provide and mobilize enhanced financial support to developing countries for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions. Donations to a Green Climate Fund, launched to help poor countries cut their GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, have already surpassed the $10bn.

———————-

For more information:

The full text of the deal

The summary of key outcomes provided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Overview of decisions adopted at COP20 and CMP10

The infographics realized by the Italian Climate Network, a synthesis of the Parties’ different positions

Events
IAERE Third Annual Conference

Adaptation Climate Change Impacts Climate Change Risks Climate Projections Energy Efficiency ETS – Emission trading scheme Extreme events Forestry management GHG – Greenhouse gases Hydrogeological Risk International negotiations IPCC Land use Mediterranean Area

Mitigation National policies Public opinion Rio+20 Sustainable development UN Climate Change Conference – COP

Related content:

COP20, a positive step forward or a skirmish before the real battle?

A different view on Lima COP 20

From Lima to Paris 2015: challenges on the road to 2°C

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima

Safe navigation in the Mediterranean sea

Research papers:
RP0233 – High resolution climate scenarios on Mediterranean test case areas for the hydro-climate integrated system
RP0232 – The Passive Use Value of the Mediterranean Forest
RP0231 – Loss & Damage: a Critical Discourse Analysis
RP0230 – Performance evaluation of integrated system to model the climate change impacts on hydro-geological hazard
RP0229 – The stability and effectiveness of climate coalitions:
A comparative analysis of multiple integrated assessment models


Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici
Via Augusto Imperatore 16, 73100 Lecce, Italy
Tel. +39 0832 288650 Fax +39 0832 277603 Email:  info at cmcc.it

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the IISD Reporting Services that help the UN manage its information flow to Conference participants.

Lima Climate Change Conference – December 2014
1-12 December 2014 | Lima, Peru

 www.iisd.ca/climate/cop20/

The Lima Climate Change Conference convened from 1-14 December 2014, in Lima, Peru. It included the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 10). Three subsidiary bodies (SBs) also met: the 41st sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 41) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 41), and the seventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-7).

The Lima Climate Change Conference brought together over 11,000 participants, including approximately 6,300 government officials, 4,000 representatives from UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 900 members of the media.

Negotiations in Lima focused on outcomes under the ADP necessary to advance towards an agreement in Paris at COP 21 in 2015, including elaboration of the information, and process, required for submission of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) as early as possible in 2015 and progress on elements of a draft negotiating text. Following lengthy negotiations on a draft decision for advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, COP 20 adopted the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action,’ which sets in motion the negotiations in the coming year towards a 2015 agreement, the process for submitting and reviewing INDCs, and enhancing pre-2020 ambition.

Parties also adopted 19 decisions, 17 under the COP and two under the CMP that, inter alia: help operationalize the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage; establish the Lima work programme on gender; and adopt the Lima Declaration on Education and Awareness Raising. The Lima Climate Change Conference was able to lay the groundwork for Paris next year, by capturing progress made in elaborating the elements of a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement and adopting a decision on INDCs, including their scope, upfront information, and steps to be taken by the Secretariat after their submission.

The Summary and Analysis of this meeting is now available in PDF format

at  www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb12619… and in HTML format at

 www.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12619e.html

=======================================================

A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE LIMA CLIMATE CONFERENCE

“Brick by brick my citizens, brick by brick.”
– Attributed to Roman Emperor Hadrian

Arriving in Peru, delegates were welcomed by a decidedly positive spirit. As COP 20/CMP 10 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal observed in his opening speech, prior to the Lima Conference, the world had received a number of “good signals” from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, the initial resource mobilization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), “historic” announcements by several major greenhouse gas emitting countries, including the EU, the US and China, as well as momentum generated from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. This spirit of “unprecedented optimism and achievement,” as described by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, was expected to help advance work on a number of key deliverables intended to provide what ADP Co-Chair Kishan Kumarsingh referred to as a “solid foundation” upon which to build a new agreement to be adopted in Paris.

In October, in an address to the ADP, Pulgar-Vidal indicated the outcomes he expected in Lima, including: a clear, structured and substantive text on the elements of the new agreement; defining the information to be submitted in 2015 as part of parties’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs); and a concrete plan for the pre-2020 period, including actions to ensure compliance with existing obligations, and the implementation of policy options with the greatest mitigation potential. He also emphasized the importance of confidence and trust in the process, as well as among parties. As many have learned from previous climate change meetings, no foundation for the future can be built without confidence and trust.

This brief analysis will assess to what extent these outcomes expected from Lima have been delivered, the implications of the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ for the negotiations towards the new climate agreement, and whether the Lima Conference succeeded in laying a solid foundation for constructing an ambitious global climate agreement in Paris, under which each country is able to find a “room.”

LAYING BRICKS

A fervent facilitator and an invisible enabler, the Peruvian Presidency spared no effort in ensuring that time during the Lima Conference was managed effectively. With most formal negotiating sessions scarcely going over the 6:00 pm mark and the Subsidiary Bodies concluding their work unprecedentedly early, delegates were able to roll up their sleeves and get down to work on the building blocks for the new agreement, the draft decision text on INDCs, and enhanced pre-2020 climate action.

Over six days, parties exchanged views on the Co-Chairs’ non-paper containing the elements for a draft negotiating text and made various proposals, which were all reflected in a revised document published on the UNFCCC website early in the morning on Monday, 8 December, by which time the text had swollen from 23 to 33 pages. Some worried that a proliferation of options, while indicating that the negotiating process is clearly party-driven, did not add to the draft negotiating text’s clarity and structure, and could complicate future work.

In the end, delegates agreed to annex this text to the COP decision on further advancing the Durban Platform with a disclaimer contained in a footnote stating that the elements for a draft negotiating text reflect “work in progress” and “neither indicate convergence on the proposals presented, nor do they preclude new proposals from emerging in the course of negotiations in 2015.” This disclaimer addressed concerns raised by many developing countries that annexing the elements text to the COP decision might preempt the legal form, structure or content of the Paris agreement and were therefore against “formalizing” any language that could potentially exclude some options from consideration in 2015, while locking in others. Limited substantive progress on the elements will no doubt put pressure on ADP negotiators meeting in Geneva in February 2015, which is expected to deliver a draft negotiating text for parties’ consideration later in the year.

MOVING WALLS IN A “DIVIDED” HOUSE

Discussions on elements for a draft negotiating text and on the draft decision advancing the Durban Platform were both underpinned by a number of broad political issues. These included differentiation, the role of the Convention and its principles and provisions in the future agreement, and the issue of legal parity between mitigation and adaptation, on the one hand, and mitigation and financial and other means of support, on the other. Many delegates pointed out that on those issues the ADP had a distinctly “divided house”?to the point that some felt trust among parties dissipating.

The question of how differentiation will be reflected in the Paris agreement permeated the ADP negotiations. For example, most developing countries, in particular the LMDCs, maintained that there should be differentiation, both in the 2015 agreement and the INDCs, in accordance with parties’ obligations under the Convention, and reflecting the principles of CBDR and equity. On the other side, the US advocated differentiation in accordance with CBDR and respective capabilities in line with varying national circumstances. The LMDCs also strongly opposed the formulation “parties in a position to do so” in relation to providing support to developing countries for the preparation and implementation of their INDCs, and to providing additional resources to the GCF, the GEF, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Fund, arguing that such language disrupted Convention-based bifurcation, effectively dismantling the wall between Annex I and non-Annex I parties.

A related issue, namely that of legal parity between different components of the 2015 agreement, was also the subject of heated debate. Developing countries repeatedly cautioned against a “mitigation-centric” approach to INDCs, and urged for a balanced reflection of adaptation and means of implementation, with provision of finance taking the center stage. Of particular importance to AOSIS and the LDCs was that loss and damage be reflected as a separate element of the future agreement not only in the elements text, but also in the decision on the ADP.

Parties’ inability to reach consensus led to the adoption of a three-pronged approach, including continued negotiations under the ADP, ministerial consultations, and consultations by the COP President. After the Presidency’s consultations with negotiating groups that continued late into Saturday night?many hours after the Conference was supposed to conclude at 6:00 pm on Friday, the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ was concluded. This outcome document, arguably, shifts the wall of differentiation. Although the work of the ADP “shall be under the Convention and guided by its principles” and the new agreement “shall address in a balanced manner” not only mitigation, but also adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building, and transparency of action and support, the ADP’s commitment to reaching an ambitious agreement in 2015 is nevertheless described as reflecting CBDR and respective capabilities “in light of different national circumstances.” This formulation appears to open the door to a subjective interpretation of differentiation. Some also wondered if it modifies the interpretation of CBDR as reflecting historical responsibility, even if it avoids using the controversial terms “dynamic” or “evolving.” On the issue of parity, however, the final text provides some assurances to developing countries by giving adaptation a more prominent role in the future agreement and parties’ INDCs, as well as, and in relation to, provision of support.

The Lima Call for Climate Action also refers to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage in the preamble. Following the adoption of the decision by the COP, Tuvalu, for the LDCs, made a statement requesting that it be recorded in the report of the meeting. He stressed that the preambular text on the Warsaw International Mechanism, in conjunction with “inter alia” in the operative paragraph listing INDCs components, is, in the LDCs’ understanding, a “clear intention” that the new agreement will “properly, effectively and progressively” address loss and damage. While legally redundant, such declarations reaffirm parties’ positions and interpretations of agreed text, maintaining their relevance and visibility.

During the negotiations, an additional concern expressed by developing countries, similar to the one raised in relation to the elements text, was that a COP 20 decision on advancing the Durban Platform could be prejudicial to the outcome in Paris. In this regard, the Lima Call for Climate Action explicitly states that the INDCs-related arrangements specified in it “are without prejudice to the legal nature and content” of parties’ INDCs, or to the content of the future agreement.

TEARING DOWN THE WALL?

COP 20 was generally expected to help strengthen INDCs as a core component of the new agreement by clarifying their scope and specifying information required to facilitate their clarity, transparency and understanding. However, parties were also divided on their expectations for the text on INDCs, relating to information-related requirements, scope and communication. While the Lima Conference fulfilled these expectations to some extent, many parties and observers felt the decision has important shortcomings.

The Lima Call for Climate Action succeeds in delivering on a mandate from Warsaw to identify the “information that parties will provide when putting forward their contributions,” by referring to quantifiable information, time frames, coverage, methodological assumptions, and a subjective evaluation of fairness and ambitiousness. However, by stating that INDCs “may include, as appropriate, inter alia,” these various aspects, the text fails to set a minimum level of common types of information to be communicated by all parties, thus significantly weakening the prospects of comparability across, and a meaningful aggregation of, contributions.

A major area of divergence of views related to the scope of INDCs. This debate centered on the interpretation of the Warsaw decision, which states that INDCs should be aimed “at achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2.” Developed countries interpreted this as referring to mitigation being the only component of INDCs, while developing countries insisted on the need to include adaptation and means of implementation as well, with developing countries providing information on their means of implementation needs and developed countries providing information on their financial contributions, as a precondition of enhanced action by developing countries. As a compromise between these two views, the Lima Call for Climate Action invites parties to “consider including” an adaptation component in their INDCs, which reflects broad agreement that adaptation action requires strengthening alongside mitigation. Parties were also able to agree on recognizing the special circumstances of LDCs and SIDS by allowing them to present “strategies, plans and actions” for low-emission development. Meanwhile, all other countries are implicitly expected to do something more. This latter aspect is yet another example of built-in flexibility, which translates into a lack of a clear requirement for parties to prepare a strong, quantitative mitigation component in their INDCs. Furthermore, in relation to the scope of INDCs, parties were unable to agree on any language on finance or other means of implementation, which left developing countries disappointed. Issues related to finance, therefore, remain a fundamental area for further trust building in 2015.

Another issue on which parties disagreed was how INDCs would be communicated and what their possible ex ante consideration or review might look like. Many developing countries insisted that Lima should only focus on the process of communication. Some delegations, including the US, preferred a “consultative” process or period. Others, such as the EU and AOSIS, demanded a strong review that would assess the aggregate effect of INDCs against the latest climate science and what is deemed necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. Considered by some the weakest link of the Lima outcome, the decision text simply requests that the Secretariat publish the communicated INDCs on the UNFCCC website and prepare, by 1 November 2015, a synthesis report on their aggregate effect. This translates into an absence of any kind of ex ante review of individual contributions in 2015. Further, it also leaves parties with less than a month for possible upward adjustment prior to COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. Resulting from strong opposition by some, such as the LMDCs, to a review of their INDCs, this outcome left many disappointed. Some disenchanted observers, however, felt that, irrespective of its content, the decision would not have strong implications for global climate action, suggesting that the major factors driving the level of ambition of national contributions are in any event external to the UNFCCC process.

RAISING THE CEILING

With regard to enhancing pre-2020 ambition (ADP workstream 2), the technical expert meetings (TEMs) emerged as an area where countries could find a common cause. Relating to the key question of how to carry work forward under workstream 2 beyond Paris, there was broad agreement that the TEMs, which have created a technical and less political space for discussions around scaling up implementation and which allow for “bringing down the brick wall of the UNFCCC” by engaging non-state actors, would be the proper vehicle. The Lima outcome sets out a clear process for building on the TEMs’ experience by providing guidance on their purpose, organization and follow-up, and seeking to further engage key institutions and mechanisms under the Convention. Views still diverged, however, on how to ensure the implementation of the Bali Action Plan, in particular with regard to the provision of means of implementation to developing countries, and enhancing mitigation efforts by all parties under the Convention. As a result, the final text does not include a proposed ‘Accelerated Implementation Mechanism’ to assess progress made in these areas?an idea originating in the conviction of developing countries that developed countries’ leadership pre-2020, which currently remains insufficient, will be essential for both addressing climate change and ensuring a successful 2015 agreement.

Discussions under the COP on long-term finance, which developing countries wanted to result in further assurances?such as quantitative milestones?on scaling up of climate finance by developed countries to US$100 billion annually by 2020, and beyond, were also disappointing to developing countries. Yet, an undeniable success was the initial resource mobilization of the GCF, which reached its target of US$10 billion, collecting a total of US$10.2 billion in pledges by the end of the Lima Conference from both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. While developed countries considered it a show of commitment and something they should be recognized for, developing countries felt GCF capitalization, together with the first biennial ministerial dialogue on climate finance organized during the second week as well as biennial submissions by developed countries on scaling up climate finance, were still insufficient. Some suggested that before celebrating the GCF pledges, they would first need to see how and whether they would translate into resources for the Fund.

The first session of the multilateral assessment of developed countries’ mitigation targets, organized as part of SBI 41, reflected a similar divergence in views. Annex I countries celebrated the event for “going beyond simple reporting,” and increasing transparency and building trust, while some developing countries felt the process required further strengthening in the form of a clear “follow-up,” such as substantive conclusions for the SBI’s consideration. Notwithstanding these differences and given the positive “Lima Spirit” characterized by an open exchange of views and transparency that persisted throughout the conference, these developments may have succeeded in “raising the ceiling” of pre-2020 ambition, and thus rebuilding some of the confidence and trust for the tough year ahead.

ENABLING CONSTRUCTION

Many expected that momentum created by the political events of the previous months would contribute to an atmosphere of trust in Lima. These events included the GCF initial capitalization, the EU’s announcement of its 2030 mitigation target and, in particular, the bilateral announcements by the US and China, on their respective mitigation targets for 2025 and 2030, as well as by the US and India, on expanded cooperation on climate change, including on phasing down HFCs. However, it soon became evident that too little time had passed for these external political events and high-level signals of change to translate into cardinal shifts in negotiating positions. Yet, some found discernible indications of a more immediate impact. For example, how CBDR and respective capabilities are defined in the Lima Call for Climate Action decision “in light of different national circumstances,” is a near-verbatim citation from the November joint announcement by the US and China. It remains to be seen if the ADP session in February will see further shifts in negotiating positions when parties have had the time to reflect on these events.

In spite of parties arriving in Peru with different expectations and widely diverging views, at the end most felt that, in the words of the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, the Lima Conference managed to strike a “delicate balance between very difficult issues” and laid “a solid foundation” for work towards Paris.

But did it really? The two key outcomes from Lima, the decision on Advancing the Durban Platform and its annex containing elements for a draft negotiating text, may have served to move the process forward and create a shared feeling of achievement and confidence in the process. However, given that key political issues, including differentiation and finance, remain unresolved, many parties are unwilling to declare the Lima outcome an absolute success.

The year of 2015 will be one that defines the true significance of the Lima Climate Conference. Many wonder if the positive “Lima Spirit” can continue in the run-up to Paris. But perhaps more importantly, the question may be if the Lima outcome can enable the construction in Paris of a “house” where all parties can coexist, while keeping in mind that in this process there is one party that does not negotiate?nature.

This analysis, taken from the summary issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin ©  enb at iisd.org, is written and edited by Beate Antonich, Rishikesh Bhandry, Elena Kosolapova, Ph.D., Mari Luomi, Ph.D., Anna Schulz, and Mihaela Secrieru. The Digital Editor is Kiara Worth. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMATE), the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2014 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Specific funding for coverage of this session has been provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the EC (DG-CLIMA). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA

———————————————————————
Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI
Vice President, Reporting Services and United Nations Liaison
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) — United Nations Office
300 E 56th St. Apt. 11D – New York, NY 10022 USA

Direct Line: +1 973 273 5860 – Plaxo public business card: kimogoree.myplaxo.com

Email:  kimo at iisd.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For the link to the BBC reporting from Lima – including all the added material – please see – “Deal reached at UN climate talks.” www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-enviro…

Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who chaired the summit, told reporters: “As a text it’s not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties.”

Miguel Arias Canete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said the EU had wanted a more ambitious outcome but he still believed that “we are on track to agree a global deal” at a summit in Paris, France, next year.

“We’ve got what we wanted,” Indian environment minister Prakash Javedekar told reporters, saying the document preserved the notion that richer nations had to lead the way in making cuts in emissions.

It also restored a promise to poorer countries that a “loss and damage” scheme would be established to help them cope with the financial implications of rising temperatures.

However, it weakened language on national pledges, saying countries “may” instead of “shall” include quantifiable information showing how they intend to meet their emissions targets.

The agreed document calls for:

– An “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that reflects “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation

– Developed countries to provide financial support to “vulnerable” developing nations

– National pledges to be submitted by the first quarter of 2015 by those states “ready to do so”

– Countries to set targets that go beyond their “current undertaking”

– The UN climate change body to report back on the national pledges in November 2015

None of the 194 countries attending the talks walked away with everything they wanted, but everybody got something.

As well as pledges and finance, the agreement points towards a new classification of nations. Rather than just being divided into rich and poor, the text attempts to reflects the more complex world of today, where the bulk of emissions originate in developing countries.

While progress in Lima was limited, and many decisions were simply postponed, the fact that 194 nations assented to this document means there is still momentum for a deal in Paris.

And yes – we at SustainabiliTank add – not being an agreed treaty it does not require ratification – and so it is not exposed to a recalcitrant US Senate that would have blocked anything that comes its way. That was the Obama genius and Al Gore failure.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


With Compromises, a Global Accord to Fight Climate Change Is in Sight.

By CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times World, December 9, 2014

LIMA, Peru — Diplomats from 196 countries are closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its planet-warming fossil fuel emissions — but would still not be enough to stop the early impacts of global warming.

The draft, now circulating among negotiators at a global climate summit meeting here, represents a fundamental breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations for two decades as it has tried to forge a new treaty to counter global warming.

But the key to the political success of the draft — and its main shortcoming, negotiators concede — is that it does not bind nations to a single, global benchmark for emissions reductions.

Instead, the draft puts forward lower, more achievable, policy goals. Under the terms of the draft, every country will publicly commit to enacting its own plans to reduce emissions — with governments choosing their own targets, guided by their domestic politics, rather than by the amounts that scientists say are necessary.

The idea is to reach a global deal to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year, incorporating 196 separate emissions pledges.

“It’s a breakthrough, because it gives meaning to the idea that every country will make cuts,” said Yvo de Boer, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change.


“But the great hopes for the process are also gone,” he added. “Many people are resigned,” he said, to the likelihood that even a historic new deal would not reduce greenhouse gas levels enough to keep the planet’s atmospheric temperature from rising 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

That is the point at which, scientists say, it will become impossible to avoid the dangerous and costly early effects of climate change — such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, extreme drought, food shortages and more violent storms.

The Lima draft represents the input of all the negotiating countries, though there are still several major hurdles to work out. But even then, experts say, at best the new deal might be enough only to curb global warming by about half as much as scientists say is necessary.

Until recently, the United States and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters, have been at the center of the impasse over a climate deal.

Until this year, the United States had never arrived at the United Nations’ annual climate negotiations with a domestic policy to cut its own carbon emissions. Instead, it merely demanded that other nations cut their use of coal and gasoline, while promising that it would do so in the future.

China, meanwhile, was the lead voice among nations demanding that developing economies should not be required to commit to any cuts.

But in November, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China announced plans to reduce emissions, helping inject new life into the global climate talks.

Negotiators here call the joint announcement between China and the United States the catalyst for the new draft, which, if approved at the climate summit meeting this week, would set the stage for a final deal to be signed by world leaders next year in Paris.

In the United Nations’ first effort to enact a climate change treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding language of the agreement prescribed that the world’s largest economies make ambitious, specific emissions cuts — but it exempted developing nations. The United States Senate refused to ratify the treaty, effectively leaving it a failure.

The Lima draft does not include Kyoto-style, top-down mandates that countries cut emissions by specific levels. Instead, it includes provisions requiring that all nations, rich and poor, commit to policies to mitigate their emissions. Countries that sign on to the deal will commit to announcing, by March, detailed, hard-numbers plans laying out how they will cut emissions after 2020.

The draft that emerges this week “will look like a game of Mad Libs,” said one negotiator who was not authorized to speak publicly. Over the coming months, as countries put forth their emissions reduction pledges, the details of the final deal will be filled in.

It is expected that many countries will miss that March deadline. Officials from India and other countries have said that they are unlikely to present a plan before June.

In order to ensure that all countries are included in the deal, late announcers will get a pass. The point, United Nations officials say, is to ensure that the information exists to finalize a Paris deal by December 2015.

Negotiators concede that the “each according to their abilities” approach is less than perfect — but that it represents what is achievable.

“The reality of it is that nobody was able to come up with a different way of going about it that would actually get countries to participate and be in the agreement,” said Todd D. Stern, the lead American climate change negotiator. “You could write a paper, in theory, assigning a certain amount of emissions cuts to every country. That would get the reduction you need. But you wouldn’t get an agreement. We live in the real world. It’s not going to be perfect.”

And there are still many hurdles ahead.

While many major developing economies are now expected to follow China’s lead in preparing emissions plans, some countries remain wild cards. This year, the government of Australia repealed a landmark climate change law that taxed carbon pollution. Since then, its emissions have soared.

“Australia is left without any viable policy to cut emissions,” said Senator Christine Milne, the leader of the Australian opposition Green Party. “It’s going to drag its heels.”

Money, as always, is a sticking point.

The increasing likelihood that the planet’s atmosphere will warm past the 3.6 degree threshold, with or without a deal in Paris, is driving demands by vulnerable nations — particularly island states and African countries — that the industrialized world open up its wallet to pay for the damage incurred by its fossil fuel consumption. Under the terms of a 2009 climate change accord reached in Copenhagen, rich countries have agreed to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to help poor countries adapt to the ravages of climate change. But a report this month by the United Nations Environmental Program estimates that the cost to poor countries of adapting to climate change could rise to as high as $300 billion annually — and vulnerable countries are stepping up their demands that more money be included in any final deal. Many vulnerable and developing countries insist that each country’s national pledge include not just a plan to cut emissions, but also money for adaptation.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

“The financing question will be one of the deepest divides,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert in climate change negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

Another element to be hashed out by negotiators will be devising an international number-crunching system to monitor, verify and compare countries’ pledged emissions cuts.

China has always balked at any outside monitoring of its major economic sectors, and is pushing back on proposals for rigorous outside scrutiny.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that his country “always supports increasing transparency” but that the new reporting system should reflect “the reality that developing countries’ basic capacities in areas like national statistics and assessment are still insufficient.” He added that “developed countries should provide appropriate support to developing countries.”

The United States has urged that a final deal not take the form of a legally binding treaty requiring Senate ratification, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol experience.

But many countries continue to press for a legally binding deal.

French officials have already given the yet-to-be-signed deal a working title: the “Paris Alliance.”

The name, they say, is meant to signify that many different economies are working together, rather than complying with a single, top-down mandate.

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Edward Wong contributed reporting from Beijing.

Related Coverage:
Smog obscures the skyline in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. Populist anger over toxic smog has convinced some Chinese leaders that industrial coal consumption must be curbed.
At Climate Meeting, China Balks at Verifying Cuts in Carbon EmissionsDEC. 9, 2014
Burning debris from Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines. At a United Nations summit meeting, officials from the nation, which scientists say is among the most vulnerable to climate change, are pressing every nation to reduce their use of fossil fuels.
Philippines Pushes Developing Countries to Cut Their Emissions DEC. 8, 2014
Investors Recruited to Restore Farmland in Latin AmericaDEC. 7, 2014
World Briefing: Secretary General Expresses Optimism About Climate MeetingDEC. 4, 2014
A child walking near her home with a coal-fired power plant in the background in Beijing, China.
Optimism Faces Grave Realities at Climate TalksNOV. 30, 2014
Global Warming Concerns GrowSEPT. 22, 2014

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A version of this article appears in print on December 10, 2014, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: With Compromises, a Global Accord to Fight Climate Change Is in Sight.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Columbia University, Center for Climate Change Law
Lima Report: Thursday, December 4, 2014 & Friday, December 5, 2014

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by Jennifer Klein
 blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatecha…

Jennifer M. Klein, Esq., Associate Director & Fellow
Meredith Wilensky, Esq., 2013-2014 Associate Director & Fellow

During the past two days, negotiators have continued to work their way through draft text. When observing negotiations, it quickly becomes clear that the COP has its own distinct vernacular, with commonplace terms taking on new meaning. Here, we define a few of the most prevalent terms demonstrating key issues underlying the negotiations.

Adequacy – This term refers to the ability of any agreement to achieve the COP’s ultimate objective to stabilize atmospheric GHG levels so as to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Parties have repeatedly noted that for the 2015 agreement to be “adequate,” countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions must reduce GHG emissions enough to stay within the global carbon budget. Dr. Pachauri emphasized during the opening session on Monday that, according to the IPCCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, we have already used 65% of this budget.

Ambition – This term refers to the collective will of the Parties to cut global GHG emissions enough to achieve adequacy. Throughout the Lima negotiations and side events, parties have worked to raise ambition for the 2015 agreement by highlighting the need to commit to deeper emissions cuts.

Carbon Neutral
– The goal of reaching net zero GHG emissions is referred to as “carbon neutrality.” Even though the term only refers to carbon, the concept applies to all GHGs. Most people following the climate change negotiations are familiar with the concept (the phrase was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word Of The Year for 2006). However, climate neutrality has become a virtual mantra at the Lima talks following the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report’s finding that we must lower emissions to near-zero by the end of this century to have a good chance of meeting the 2°C goal.

Differentiation
– In the UNFCCC, the Parties commit to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” This equity-based principle acknowledges that countries’ responsibility to combat climate change differs both by their historical GHG contributions and by their current capacity to tackle climate change. In negotiations, a number of developing countries challenged the lack of differentiation in proposed texts, raising concerns that treating all Parties similarly would place undue burden on developing nations.

Political Parity
– The ADP draft decision includes this term in an attempt to express the need to balance mitigation and adaptation efforts. However, this term has not been used in any previous UNFCCC texts, and in the afternoon session yesterday, delegates repeatedly expressed confusion about its meaning. In short, a clear definition of this term is yet to be determined.

We find this specially interesting because we believe that in order to come up with a product that will be approved at the Paris Summit in 2015, the whole concept of a Diplomatic Agreement will eventually turn to be in effect an UMBRELLA agreement that incorporates unilateral and bi-lateral declarations of the UN Member States, rather then a Consensus Declaration that was unattainable during these wasted decades of conference hoping.
– See more at: blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatecha…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Mobilization and the March #IMarch10D

This December 10th, International Human Rights Day, the city of Lima will see a huge Global People’s March in defense of Mother Earth “Let’s change the system, not the climate”.
Do not hesitate in joining the preparatory action of November 10th and the big event on December 10th from your own community and follow the mobilizations on our live social hub

Seven Central Themes of The People’s Summit in Lima, Peru – the real COP20 of the UNFCCC:

A seventh theme “Women and the Sustainability of Life” has been incorporated into the Summit.

The official e-mail is  cumbredelospuebloscop20 at gmail.com.
Depending on the specific communication or requirement of information, you can send an email to:
General information, Logistics, Communications, International topics.

¡Cambiemos el sistema,
No el clima!

To remind you of all of the themes are:

1. Civilization Change and Development Models;
2. Global Warming and Climate Change;
3. Energy;
4. Food Sovereignty and Security;
5. Sustainable Land Management;
6. Finance, Technology Transfer, and Knowledge Exchange;
7. Women and the Sustainability of Life.

10th of November: preparing a preliminary day of global action – Let’s change the System, not the Climate!

This November 10th, with only 30 days until the “Global People’s March in defense of Mother Earth”, we are using the hashtag #YoMarcho10D #IMarch10D as a call to action on the road to the People’s Summit. We invite everyone who wants to take action to take a photo with phrases like “#YoMarcho10D #IMarch10D to change the system not the climate,” or otherwise allude to the process of struggle that is coming.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

[COP20-Lima] Por un Mundo habitable con justicia climática |
For Climate Justice and a World Fit to Be Lived |
Pour un Monde habitable et une justice climatique

Castellano | English | Français | Português

For Climate Justice and a World Fit to Be Lived
in Lima, December 8 to 11, 2014

In a spirit of solidarity, we call on all civil-society organizations, networks, social movements, research centers, and citizens in general to join in the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change to be held from December 8 to 11, 2014. The Peoples’ Summit will be a major alternative event during the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 20) scheduled for the first half of December in Lima, Peru.
Read more

Welcome!
Welcome everyone to the official mailing list of the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change – Peru 2014. This list is unidirectional and you will only receive summary information of the Communication Commission of the People’s Summit. With this message we want to bring information related to People’s Summit.
Six Major Themes
Debates and events will be organized under six major themes:
1. Civilizatory change and Development model.
2. Global Warming and Climate Change.
3. Energy
4. Food Security and Sovereignty
5. Sustainable Land Management
6. Financing, technology transfer and inter-learning.
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Participation and self organized activities
The Summit is the independent space for civil society, an alternative space to the Twentieth Conference of the Parties (COP20) from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The People’s Summit will be held from December 8 to 11th in downtown Lima. The Central Mobilization will happen December 10th, Global Day of Human Rights. Participation at the people’s summit is completely free and open. You can register your event here. We recommend you review our list of FAQ.
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General information, Logistics, Communications, International topics.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Dirty Secret About Quinoa – And Its Real Cost.

Posted on January 18, 2013 by in and The Green Prophet.

quinoa sustainable This healthy superfood filling up kitchen cupboards of ethical and vegetarian eaters comes at a high price for those in Peru and Bolivia 

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian or someone who is just trying to eat a little more consciously, you know that shopping can be something of a nightmare. Taking into consideration food miles, sustainability, water footprints, animal-friendly production as well as making sure the food is organic and healthy is a minefield. So when something as tasty and low fat (I remember ‘superfood’ was being bandied about) as quinoa comes along it’s something of a blessing. The fact it is high in protein is also perfect for those cutting out meat. However, new research has shown that affluent westerner’s love for quinoa is pushing up prices and denying Peruvians and Bolivians the crop which was once was a staple of the poor.

Since 2006, the price of quinoa has tripled and in Lima, Peru, the once unheard of grain now costs more than chicken. Overseas demand for the grain continues to grow which is all putting pressure on land in Peru and Bolivia that once produced a diverse range of crops to simply harvest quinoa. Writing in the Guardian, investigative journalist Joanna Blythman states: “the quinoa trade is yet another troubling example of a damaging north-south exchange, with well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here unwittingly driving poverty there. It’s beginning to look like a cautionary tale of how a focus on exporting premium foods can damage the producer country’s food security. ”

Another example that Blythman highlights is that Peruvian asparagus which is grown in the arid Ica region has depleted water resources on which the locals depend. She also adds that soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America along with cattle ranching. It is worth pointing out however that according to a UN report in 2006, 97% of soya production was used for animal feed and not to fill vegetarian’s fridges. Even so, the food insecurity caused by the rising popularity of Quinoa is troubling and highlights the need for a more localised approach to food production and consumption. Especially when we are importing from countries with high poverty rates.

: Guardian

:: Tabbouleh Quinoa with Tomatoes via Shutterstock.com

– See more at: www.greenprophet.com/2013/01/the-dirty-secret-about-quinoa/#sthash.HLoENVOp.dpuf

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Ahead of the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20) to be held this year in Lima, Americas Society/Council of the Americas hosted UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, the principal voice on the international climate change negotiations, on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

At the November 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, governments took a step toward a new, universal climate change agreement said Ms. Figueres in her presentation at AS/COA, Ms. Figueres  addressed the concrete steps that must be taken in 2014, which will pave the way for the 2015 conference in Paris, where a new global climate agreement for the post-2020 period is to be adopted.

With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties and its ultimate objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

Christiana Figueres was appointed executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 and was reappointed for a second three year term in July 2013. Ms. Figueres has been involved in climate change negotiations since 1995.

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Americas Society (AS) is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship,” it says.

Council of the Americas (COA) is the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Contacts to the outside:  Adriana La Rotta at alarotta@as-coa.org or 1-212-277-8384
and  
Kariela Almonte at  as-coa.org
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The following day – January 15, 2014, Ms. Christiana Figueres, participated at the UN Headquarters at the

Investor Summit on Climate Risk at UN Headquarters – 15 January 2014 – co-hosted by the UN Foundation, UN Office for Partnerships,and Ceres.

Complete agenda can be found at: www.ceres.org/press/press-releases/500-global-investors-to-gather-at-united-nations-summit-on-climate-change

In that room were insurance company and re-insurance companies and other investors – and I was told that about $13 Trillion were represented there. The talk was that $1 Trillion will be invested in clean energy – this is an economics must.

Christiana Figueres – on a panel that included the relentless Timothy Worth who as maverick Senator was part of the US “B” (the Senate) delegation to the Rio 1992 Conference and now heads the UN Foundation that was created with a one Billion US Dollars by Ted Turner, and Mr. Orr representing the UN Secretariat. The agreed conclusion was that INVESTORS OUGHT TO MOVE OUT OF HIGH-CARBON ASSETS.

We posted at the time: “Costs to the economy – The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through global financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. The costs to human and environmental health that is another matter. But luckily – fossil fuel consumption is already in decline — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. But do not count on it – the financial moghuls will not step aside easily.” – See more at:
 Financing Solutions for Clean Energy in Latin America,” which seems to be a – Microfinance Panel: Financing Solutions for Clean Energy in Latin America.

Why this enhanced interest of Latin America in Climate Change? Is this only because of Brazil that over-extended itself in these topics?

Brazil was host of the Rio 1992 Conference that introduced Environment and Development into the routine lingo of the UN as a double helix of Sustainable Development. They were hosts to creation of the high-level product AGENDA 21 and the three conventions – on  Biodiversity, Desertification, and Climate Change. But the majority of the Developing Countries were not ready for it yet – they just wanted DEVELOPMENT – read INDUSTRIALIZATION – and professed not to be the address for Global Sustainability.

The Developed/Industrialized States on the other hand thought that the whole concept was just a give-away to the poorer Nations – something that the established ethics thought to take care of with simple hand-outs of Foreign aid – not an issue of rights.Sustainable Development just did not work in practice.

Then we had the stale-birth of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and the answer five years later – the Millennium Development Goals.

After another 10 years, at the Rio 2012 meeting, Brazil stepped into the breach again, and with excellent diplomacy, and got rid of the Sustainable Development Commission establishing a new debating platform that will channel its activities to a new Agenda – the post 2015 Global Agenda built on a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Part of this process is anchored in Paris at a COP21 meeting of the UNFCCC.

To get there we have the Lima, Peru, meeting of 2014 – and that is the last chance for Latin America to have an impact.

So, here we get to the Latin Year of which Costa Rican Chrstiana Figueres  wants to take advantage of, and she is lucky in many respects. The UN stars seem to line up in her direction.

The idea was to  have the 2014 UNFCCC meeting in Latin America and at first it was Venezuela that wanted to host the event. In parallel they also wanted to be at the UN – the G77 leaders this year. Bolivia decided to contest  both posts. Bolivia won the G77 position – but with the strong opposition from the US  to both original candidates – it was Peru that got to be the location of the COP with Venezuela hosting – as a consolation prize – the last preparatory meeting. That is how this year’s Latin UN stars are  Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela.

Considering the central place of Bolivia in all of this – them speaking for the ALBA group – the micro-finance answer to the mega-finance of the UN makes sense as well and the Latin Year might turn out to be an ALBA year to be followed by a Developed & Already Emerged Economic States at the Paris Summit with the real power to lead.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Administration Is Seen as Retreating on Environment in Talks on Pacific Trade.

By Coral Davenport of The New York Times, January 15, 2014

Documents obtained by WikiLeaks show that the Obama administration is pulling back on environmental protections to reach a trade deal that is a pillar of the president’s strategic shift to Asia.
Read more at www.onenewspage.com/n/Science/7509arywd/Administration-Is-Seen-as-Retreating-on-Environment-in.htm#ur9WIpYRBZj7S6E2.99 

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is retreating from previous demands of strong international environmental protections in order to reach agreement on a sweeping Pacific trade deal that is a pillar of President Obama’s strategic shift to Asia, according to documents obtained by WikiLeaks, environmentalists and people close to the contentious trade talks.The negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be one of the world’s biggest trade agreements, have exposed deep rifts over environmental policy between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. As it stands now, the documents, viewed by The New York Times, show that the disputes could undo key global environmental protections.

The environmental chapter of the trade deal has been among most highly disputed elements of negotiations in the pact. Participants in the talks, which have dragged on for three years, had hoped to complete the deal by the end of 2013.

Environmentalists said that the draft appears to signal that the United States will retreat on a variety of environmental protections — including legally binding pollution control requirements and logging regulations and a ban on harvesting sharks’ fins — to advance a trade deal that is a top priority for Mr. Obama.

Launch media viewer

Michael Froman, the United States trade representative, said, “We’re pushing hard.”  Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesIlana Solomon, the director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, said the draft omits crucial language ensuring that increased trade will not lead to further environmental destruction.

“It rolls back key standards set by Congress to ensure that the environment chapters are legally enforceable, in the same way the commercial parts of free-trade agreements are,” Ms. Solomon said. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund have been following the negotiations closely and are expected to release a report on Wednesday criticizing the draft.

American officials countered that they had put forward strong environmental proposals in the pact.

“It is an uphill battle, but we’re pushing hard,” said Michael Froman, the United States trade representative. “We have worked closely with the environmental community from the start and have made our commitment clear.” Mr. Froman said he continued to pursue a robust, enforceable environmental standard that he said would be stronger than those in previous free-trade agreements.

The draft documents are dated Nov. 24 and there has been one meeting since then.

The documents consist of the environmental chapter as well as a “Report from the Chairs,” which offers an unusual behind-the-scenes look into the divisive trade negotiations, until now shrouded in secrecy. The report indicates that the United States has been pushing for tough environmental provisions, particularly legally binding language that would provide for sanctions against participating countries for environmental violations. The United States is also insisting that the nations follow existing global environmental treaties.

But many of those proposals are opposed by most or all of the other Pacific Rim nations working on the deal, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Peru. Developing Asian countries, in particular, have long resisted outside efforts to enforce strong environmental controls, arguing that they could hurt their growing economies.

The report appears to indicate that the United States is losing many of those fights, and bluntly notes the rifts: “While the chair sought to accommodate all the concerns and red lines that were identified by parties regarding the issues in the text, many of the red lines for some parties were in direct opposition to the red lines expressed by other parties.”

As of now, the draft environmental chapter does not require the nations to follow legally binding environmental provisions or other global environmental treaties. The text notes only, for example, that pollution controls could vary depending on a country’s “domestic circumstances and capabilities.”

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Recent Comments

KarlosTJ

11 minutes agoLet’s not worry about getting the best trades we can – let’s worry about the environment. Because after all, allowing Americans to save…

Amy Haible

25 minutes agoOnce again, WikiLeaks shows us what we need to know. The environment is the economy. We can learn it now or after much suffering. But it…

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In addition, the draft does not contain clear requirements for a ban on shark finning, which is the practice of capturing sharks and cutting off their fins — commonly used in shark-fin soup — and throwing back the sharks to die. The dish is a delicacy in many of the Asian negotiating countries. At this point the draft says that the countries “may include” bans “as appropriate” on such practices.

Earlier pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement included only appendices, which called for cooperation on environmental issues but not legally binding terms or requirements. Environmentalists derided them as “green window dressing.”

But in May 2007, President George W. Bush struck an environmental deal with Democrats in the Senate and the House as he sought to move a free-trade agreement with Peru through Congress. In what became known as the May 10 Agreement, Democrats got Mr. Bush to agree that all American free-trade deals would include a chapter with environmental provisions, phrased in the same legally binding language as chapters on labor, agriculture and intellectual property. The Democrats also insisted that the chapter require nations to recognize existing global environmental treaties.

Since then, every American free-trade deal has included that strong language, although all have been between the United States and only one other country. It appears to be much tougher to negotiate environmental provisions in a 12-nation agreement.

“Bilateral negotiations are a very different thing,” said Jennifer Haverkamp, the former head of the United States trade representative’s environmental office. “Here, if the U.S. is the only one pushing for this, it’s a real uphill battle to get others to agree if they don’t like it.”

But business groups say the deal may need to ease up. “There are some governments with developing economies that will need more time and leeway,” said Cal Cohen, president of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, a group of about 100 executives and trade associations that lobbies the United States trade negotiator on the deal. “When you think about the evolution of labor provisions, you realize how many centuries the development of high standards took.”

Since the trade talks began, lawmakers and advocacy groups have assailed the negotiators for keeping the process secret, and WikiLeaks has been among the most critical voices. The environment chapter is the third in a series of Trans-Pacific Partnership documents released by WikiLeaks. In November, the group posted the draft chapter on intellectual property. In December, the site posted documents detailing disagreements between the negotiating parties on other issues. The site is expected to release more documents as the negotiations unfold.

A version of this article appears in print on January 15, 2014, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Administration Is Seen as Retreating on Environment in Talks on Pacific Trade.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Is the Pope Getting the Catholics Ready for an Economic Revolution? (Maybe He Read Marx)

 

Photo Credit: shutterstock.com –  A specter is haunting the Vatican.

 

November 27, 2013
by Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

In 1992, the Catholic Church officially apologized for persecuting 17th-century astronomer Galileo, who dared to assert that the Earth revolved around the sun. In 2008, the Vatican even considered putting up a statue of him.

Could a certain 19th-century atheist philosopher be next?

It is true that in 2009, a Vatican newspaper article put a positive spin on one Karl Marx. The author, German historian Georg Sans, praised Marx for his criticism of the alienation and injustice faced by working people in a world where the privileged few own the capital. Sans suggested that Marx’s view was relevant today: “We have to ask ourselves, with Marx, whether the forms of alienation of which he spoke have their origin in the capitalist system….” Indeed.

 

Pope Benedict XVI certainly sang a different tune, denouncing Marxism as one of the great scourges of the modern age (of course we must always distinguish the “ism” from the man). But Francis is a pope of a different feather. His recent comments on capitalism suggest that he is a man who understands something about economics — specifically the link between unbridled capitalism and inequality.

In an 84-page document released Tuesday, Pope Francis launched a tirade against a brutally unjust economic system that Marx himself would have cheered:

 

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills….As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

 

Whoa! Where did that come from? To understand the answer, you need to know something about liberation theology, a movement that originated in Pope Francis’s home region of Latin America. Liberation theology, a Catholic phenomenon centered on actively fighting economic and social oppression, is the fascinating place where Karl Marx and the Catholic Church meet.

 

Though Marx was certainly an atheist, Catholics who support liberation theology understand that his attitude toward religion was nuanced. He saw it as a coin with two sides: a conservative force that could block positive changes as well as a reservoir of energy that could resist and challenge injustice. In the United States, religious movements such as the Social Gospel movement, seen today in the Reverend William Barber’s Moral Monday crusade against right-wing oppression of the poor in North Carolina, express the protest potential of Christianity.

 

Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian Catholic priest who grew up in abject poverty, used Marx’s ideas about ideology, class and capitalism to develop a perspective on how Christianity could be used to help the poor while they were on here on Earth rather than simply offer them solace in heaven. As Latin America saw the rise of military dictatorships in the 1960s and ‘70s, Gutiérrez called on Catholics to love their neighbor and to transform society for the better. Followers of the new liberation theology insisted on active engagement in social and economic change. They talked about alternative structures and creative, usually non-violent ways to free the poor from all forms of abuse.

 

The official Church hierarchy has had a tense relationship with liberation theology, but some Francis watchers detect that a new chapter in that history is opening. In early September, the new Pope had a private meeting with Gutiérrez. Reacting to the event, the Vatican newspaper published an essay arguing that with a Latin American pope guiding the Church, liberation theology could no longer “remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe.”

The Catholic world has now snapped to attention as the faithful pore over the Pope Francis’s recent communication, which calls upon politicians to guarantee “dignified work, education and healthcare” and blasts the “idolatry of money.” The flock is on notice:  Francis will be talking a great deal about economic inequality and defending the poor. Unfortunately, his opposition to women as priests indicates that he is not yet ready to embrace equal treatment for women, something that would greatly enhance progress on both of those issues, but Francis did take a step forward in saying that women should have more influence in the Church.

 

While the Vatican has become a cesspool for some of the most shady financiers and corrupt bankers on the planet (see: “ God’s Racket”), Pope Francis has made clear his abhorrence of greed, eschewing the Apostolic Palace for a modest guest house and recently suspending a bishop who blew $41 million on renovations and improvements to his residence, including a $20,000 bathtub.

 

Catholics, particularly in the United States and Europe, are not sure what to make of all this solidarity with the poor and anti-capitalist rhetoric. For a long time now, many have considered Marx and his critique of capitalism over and done with. But others have watched deregulation, globalization and redistribution toward the rich unleash a particularly nasty and aggressive form of capitalism that seems increasingly at odds with Christian values. Instead of becoming more fair and moderate, capitalism has become more brutal and extreme. Marx, who predicted that capitalism would engender massive inequalities, is looking rather prescient just about now.

 

Pope Francis may prove himself open to considering Marx’s ideas in order to think about a more human-centered economic system. The American press is already buzzing nervously with the idea: “It would make for some pretty amazing headlines if Pope Francis turned out to be a Marxist,” wrote Helen Horn of the Atlantic, before quickly concluding that, no, “happily for church leaders,” such a thing couldn’t be true.

 

Maybe not. What is true is that, like his fascinating predecessor, Pope Leo XIII (who presided from 1848-1903), Francis has specifically denounced the complete rule of the market over human beings — the cornerstone of the kind of neoclassical economic theory embraced by Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan and much of the American political establishment. He wrote:

 

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

 

That’s a pretty good start. We’ll take it. 

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project.

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AN UPDATE FROM THE RIGHT.

 

Op-Ed Columnist

 

The Pope and the Right

 

 

 

“NOW it’s your turn to be part of the loyal opposition,” a fellow Catholic journalist said to me earlier this year, as Pope Francis’s agenda was beginning to take shape.

 

Readers’ Comments — Read All Comments (130) »

 

 

The friend was a political liberal and lifelong Democrat, accustomed to being on the wrong side of his church’s teaching on issues like abortion, bioethics and same-sex marriage.

Now, he cheerfully suggested, right-leaning Catholics like me would get a taste of the same experience, from a pope who seemed intent on skirting the culture war and stressing the church’s mission to the poor instead.

 

After Francis’s latest headline-making exhortation, which roves across the entire life of the church but includes a sharp critique of consumer capitalism and financial laissez-faire, politically conservative Catholics have reached for several explanations for why my friend is wrong, and why they aren’t the new “cafeteria Catholics.”

First, they have pointed out that there’s nothing truly novel here, apart from a lazy media narrative that pits Good Pope Francis against his bad reactionary predecessors. (Many of the new pope’s comments track with what Benedict XVI said in his own economic encyclical, and with past papal criticisms of commercial capitalism’s discontents.)

Second, they have sought to depoliticize the pope’s comments, recasting them as a general brief against avarice and consumerism rather than a call for specific government interventions.

And finally, they have insisted on the difference between church teaching on faith and morals, and papal pronouncements on economic issues, noting that there’s nothing that obliges Catholics to believe the pontiff is infallible on questions of public policy.

All three responses have their merits, but they still seem insufficient to the Francis era’s challenge to Catholics on the limited-government, free-market right.

It’s true that there is far more continuity between Francis and Benedict than media accounts suggest. But the new pope clearly intends to foreground the church’s social teaching in new ways, and probably seeks roughly the press coverage he’s getting.

It’s also true that Francis’s framework is pastoral rather than political. But his plain language tilts leftward in ways that no serious reader can deny.

Finally, it’s true that there is no Catholic position on, say, the correct marginal tax rate, and that Catholics are not obliged to heed the pope when he suggests that global inequality is increasing when the statistical evidence suggests otherwise.

But the church’s social teaching is no less an official teaching for allowing room for disagreement on its policy implications. And for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them — on us — to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions.

That explanation rests, I think, on three ideas. First, that when it comes to lifting the poor out of poverty, global capitalism, faults and all, has a better track record by far than any other system or approach.

Second, that Catholic social teaching, properly understood, emphasizes both solidarity and subsidiarity — that is, a small-c conservative preference for local efforts over national ones, voluntarism over bureaucracy.

Third, that on recent evidence, the most expansive welfare states can crowd out what Christianity considers the most basic human goods — by lowering birthrates, discouraging private charity and restricting the church’s freedom to minister in subtle but increasingly consequential ways.

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Here my journalist friend’s “loyal opposition” line oversimplified the options for Catholic political engagement. His Catholic liberalism didn’t go into eclipse because it failed to let the Vatican dictate every jot and tittle of its social agenda. Rather, it lost influence because it failed to articulate any kind of clear Catholic difference, within the bigger liberal tent, on issues like abortion, sex and marriage.

Now the challenge for conservative Catholics is to do somewhat better in our turn, and to spend the Francis era not in opposition but seeking integration — meaning an economic vision that remains conservative, but in the details reminds the world that our Catholic faith comes first.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Venezuela’s Independence Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 3, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Venezuela as you commemorate the day that Venezuela declared its independence 202 years ago.

Venezuela and the United States have much in common. For example, revolutionary leader General Francisco de Miranda also played a part in our own struggle for independence, participating in the Battle of Pensacola in 1781. His contribution is forever memorialized in a monument that stands in the heart of Philadelphia, the original capital of the United States. When a devastating earthquake struck Venezuela in 1812 the United States sent the Venezuelan people the first humanitarian assistance it ever provided to a foreign country. These two examples demonstrate that Venezuela and the United States have shared ties of friendship and common values since the birth of our two nations, and the ties between our people endure.

I wish Venezuelans everywhere health, happiness, and hope on the anniversary of your independence.

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The Washington Post of July 5, 2013 tells us:

““As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live in the homeland” of independence leader Simon Bolivar and the late President Hugo Chavez without “persecution from the empire,” Maduro said, referring to the United States.

He made the offer during a speech marking the anniversary of Venezuela’s independence. It was not immediately clear if there were any conditions to Venezuela’s offer.

Maduro added that several other Latin American governments have also expressed their intention of taking a similar stance by offering asylum for the cause of “dignity.”

In Nicaragua, Ortega said he was willing to make the same offer “if circumstances allow it.” Ortega didn’t say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.

He said the Nicaraguan embassy in Moscow received Snowden’s application for asylum and that it is studying the request.

“We have the sovereign right to help a person who felt remorse after finding out how the United States was using technology to spy on the whole world, and especially its European allies,” Ortega said.

The offers came following a flap about the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane in Europe earlier this week amid reports that Snowden might have been aboard.

Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence worker, was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane’s unexpected diversion to Austria.

It is unclear whether the United States, which has told its European allies that it wants Snowden back, warned Madrid about the Bolivian president’s plane. U.S. officials will not detail their conversations with European countries, except to say that they have stated the U.S.’s general position that it wants Snowden back.

Maduro joined other leftist South American presidents Thursday in Cochabamba, Bolivia, to rally behind Morales and denounce the rerouting incident.

President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden’s movements, saying last month that he wouldn’t be “scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”

But the drama surrounding the flight of Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Television that “they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside.”

He did not identify who “they” were and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the U.S. But he said that European countries’ decisions were based on the tip. France has since sent a letter of apology to the Bolivian government.”

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The bottom line is as reported by the Guardian:

“We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said on Thursday he and other leaders were offering full support to Morales and called the rerouting of the plane an aggression against the Americas.

Cristina Fernandez of Argentina said Latin Americans treasured freedom after fighting for independence from Europe in the 19th century and then surviving Washington’s 20th-century history of backing repressive regimes in the Americas. She demanded an apology for the plane ordeal.

“I’m asking those who violated the law in calm but serious manner, to take responsibility for the errors made, it’s the least they can do,” Fernandez said. “To apologize for once in their life, to say they’re sorry for what they’ve done.”

Morales has said that while the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and they asked to search the plane. He said he denied them permission.

“Who takes the decision to attack the president of a South American nation?” Maduro asked. Spanish prime minister Mariano “Rajoy has been abusive by trying to search Morales’ plane in Spain. He has no right to breach international law.”

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It seems like time has come for a US face-saving diplomacy before true craters open up at US borders – East, West, and South.

We have previously outlined a draft that we did not publish – but think now that the airplane flap justifies a US Presidential pardon to Snowden – just to get the issue of the World table – the damage was done and no sense for the US to dig itself deeper into the hole it created.

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US senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told little Ecuadoran that he would block the import of vegetables and flowers from Ecuador if Ecuador gives asylum to Edward Snowden. The cost to Ecuador would be one billion dollars in lost revenues. Will he also forbid trips from the US to the Galapagos?

Will he be consistent and close US imports of Venezuela oil? Of Latin oil in general?
Ecuador and Venezuela happen to be also members of OPEC which Bolivia is not. A policy of threats presents many interesting angles and possibilities.
Will there be ways to enlarge this with some reaction to what happens in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, some more grand-standing anyone?

———————————-

Thursday the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Uruguay joined Bolivia’s President Morales in Cochabamba, for a special meeting to address the diplomatic row.

At the end of the summit a statement was issued demanding answers from France, Portugal, Italy and Spain. The United States was not mentioned in the statement.

“Europe broke all the rules of the game,” Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said shortly after arriving at Cochabamba airport. “We’re here to tell president Evo Morales that he can count on us. Whoever picks a fight with Bolivia, picks a fight with Venezuela.”

Maduro said an unnamed European government minister had told Venezuela the CIA was behind the incident.

“We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said on Thursday he and other leaders were offering full support to Morales and called the rerouting of the plane an aggression against the Americas.

Cristina Fernandez of Argentina said Latin Americans treasured freedom after fighting for independence from Europe in the 19th century and then surviving Washington’s 20th-century history of backing repressive regimes in the Americas. She demanded an apology for the plane ordeal.

“I’m asking those who violated the law in calm but serious manner, to take responsibility for the errors made, it’s the least they can do,” Fernandez said. “To apologise for once in their life, to say they’re sorry for what they’ve done.”

Morales has said that while the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and they asked to search the plane. He said he denied them permission.

“Who takes the decision to attack the president of a South American nation?” Maduro asked. Spanish prime minister Mariano “Rajoy has been abusive by trying to search Morales’ plane in Spain. He has no right to breach international law.”

Before the meeting, Morales said his ordeal was part of a US plot to intimidate him and other Latin American leaders.

He urged European nations to “free themselves” from the United States. “The United States is using its agent [Snowden] and the president [of Bolivia] to intimidate the whole region,” he said.

France sent an apology to the Bolivian government. But Morales said “apologies are not enough because the stance is that international treaties must be respected”.

Spain’s foreign affairs minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said his country did not bar Morales from landing in its territory.

Amid the tensions, the US embassy in La Paz cancelled Independence Day celebrations scheduled for Thursday. In the eastern city of Santa Cruz, Bolivian government sympathisers painted protest slogans on the doors of the American consulate.

Bolivia has said it will summon the French and Italian ambassadors and the Portuguese consul to demand explanations.

Brazil was represented by Marco Aurelio Garcia, President Dilma Rousseff’s top international adviser. The presidents of Colombia, Chile and Peru, who have strong ties to the US, were not attending.

Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, said earlier on Thursday he supported Morales, but asked other leaders to remain cool and avoid an escalating dispute between Latin America and the European Union.

“We’re in solidarity with Evo Morales because what they did to him is unheard-of, but let’s not let this turn into a diplomatic crisis for Latin America and the EU,” Santos tweeted on Thursday.

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Our draft started: Thanks to the Egyptian military – their intervention got off the media front line the Snowden, Assage, Manning, WikiLeaks Warning Lighthouses – and replaced them with a renewed attention to the Islamic potential for acts of terror.

Furthermore – Latin America seems split between the go it alone States of the ALBA group – Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, their new friends – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and now Nicaragua – and their opponents – the strong US connected, Chile, Colombia, Peru and the Southern European States Italy, France, Spain, Portugal that acted out on unsightly pressure from the White House, and perhaps even Austria – if it turns out to be true that they searched the Bolivian President’s plane. What about Mexico? Will they want to be seen as residing in the US vest-pocket?

Today it seems that just the Greens, the so called Pirates, and some other non-political fringe parties, are left in Europe to stand up for Democracy – The Reds, Blacks, Blues, Yellow, Orange, and Purple – all established political parties – have abandoned the Democracy ship because of the Transatlantic breeze from the Potomac. Europe seems anew like the Europe of the thirties with governments worried about their business-ties. Any infringements of democratic inalienable rights are not noted now, like they were not noted then. But this is totally misleading – just read the Guardian where all these stories started. This at a time the voters in quite a few European States do take position on this – and we would not be surprised if Austria as well took back its “Neutral Mantle” to declare that they too are ready to give refuge to Snowden. The coming days will tell.

————————————–

And as if nothing happened – a US hand to the people of Argentina as if they have now no elected government?:

Western Hemisphere: Argentina’s Independence Day

07/05/2013 02:31 PM EDT

Argentina’s Independence Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 5, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I send best wishes to the people of Argentina as they celebrate their Independence Day this July 9.

The citizens of our two nations have a long history of productive and friendly relations, highlighted by educational and cultural exchanges and fruitful collaboration in the fields of science, technology, health, space, and energy.

The determination expressed by the patriots gathered at the Casa de Tucuman, to forge a free and independent nation, is a fundamental human longing, and one we share.

On this day, the United States wishes Argentina a happy celebration.

We look forward to working together to cultivate a strong bilateral relationship in the years to come.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Our website has proposed that geopolitics are headed to a new structure were it is needed to have a billion people in order to be considered a World Power. As such we proposed that besides China and India, the other World powers will be –

– an Anglo-American Block led by the US and that will include also the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and as well Mexico and Japan;
– a European Block led out of Brussels by a more united and reorganized EU and that will include Russia but not the UK;

– an Islamic Block led by Turkey or Indonesia that will stretch from Mauritania to Indonesia;

– and a block “Of the Rest” that will be led by Brazil and include, with a few exceptions based on the US led Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP) , Latin America, Africa, the SIDS, parts of Asia.
It is this last Block that will become the new Third World – that is the Sixth World of those outside the China, India, US, EU, and Islamic Blocks.

We see the recent news of Brazil defeating Mexico for the leadership of the WTO as an important step in above direction.

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Brazil Wins Leadership of the World Trade Organization

Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo has been chosen over Mexican candidate Herminio Blanco as the newest director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 7. El Palenque, AnimalPolitico’s debate forum for experts, discusses the effects this win will have on Mexican diplomacy, Brazil’s role in trade liberalization, and the prominence of the BRICS on the world stage. Azevêdo will be the first Latin American to head the WTO.

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The Financial Times wrote May 7, 2013:

So, Roberto Azevêdo, Brazil’s candidate for director general of the WTO, has pipped his rival Herminio Blanco of Mexico for the job.

But there is still a question to be answered: Who won? The man or the country?

Between Azevêdo and Blanco, there may not be much to choose. Both have impressive credentials. Azevêdo, a career diplomat in one of the world’s most polished diplomatic services, has been Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO since 2008. He knows the organisation inside out. Blanco is a businessman steeped in trade, a trade consultant who was formerly Mexico’s trade minister and its chief negotiator during preparation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

If the race was between two technocrats, it must have been a photo finish.

But what if the WTO members voted for the country, not the man? Then, it was a matter of chalk and cheese. Disgruntled Mexicans – whose pride will have taken a severe knock – will call this a victory of protectionism over free trade.

It will also be a victory of the developing world over the developed one.

Mexico, which has free trade agreements with 44 different countries, is the new poster child of developed world policies at work in the developing world. Brazil has free trade agreements with nobody, and has shown a tendency to renegotiate what agreements it does have as soon as they become inconvenient – not least its auto agreement with Mexico. Many developing countries – in Africa and Asia as well as in Latin America – will have felt the Brazilian was much more likely to protect their fledgling manufacturers and farmers than was the Mexican. Many of those countries, especially in Africa, already have closer ties with Brazil than they do with Mexico.

In an interview with Reuters, Azevêdo played down the issue of nationality:

“I, as candidate and as director of the WTO will not be representing Brazil,” Azevedo told Reuters in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“I made it to the final round in the election with those complaints on the table, and that doesn’t change things. It means there is an understanding between WTO members that the candidate must be independent from his country and be evaluated according to his skills.”

Asked if he considered Brazil was protectionist, he declined to comment.

To those who say that, under Azevêdo, the WTO will lose sight of its mission to promote free trade, others will reply that it never had one in the first place.

But Tuesday’s decision will make a big difference. No matter how pure a technocrat he is, Azevêdo will find it hard to fend off the influence of Brasília. It was the Brazilian that won, and not the Mexican.

Related FT reading:
Brazil wins battle for WTO leadership, FT
WTO chief must show relevance by making progress on global pact, FT
WTO candidates adopt varying stances on trade, FT
Questions for the world’s next trade chief, FT
Herminio Blanco: status quo is not an option for the WTO, beyondbrics

SO, WE WILL SAY – THE FT AGREE WITH OUR POINT OF VIEW THAT THE US CANDIDATE – MEXICO – LOST TO THE CANDIDATE OF THE THIRD WORLD – THAT IS OUR TRUE SIXTH WORLD – WHO WILL STAND UP TO THE BIGGER BOYS OF THE OTHER FIVE WORLDS – SPECIFICALLY THE US – WHO BLATANTLY USE THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD – EXCLUSIVELY!!!

=====================

FURTHER NEWS OF RELEVANCE TO THE NEW WORLD IN THE MAKING:

Clinton Global Initiative to Launch Latin America Program in Rio

Former President Bill Clinton announced on May 6 that the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) would be expanding to Latin America in December 2013, with its first meeting set to launch in Rio de Janeiro. He was joined by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes in making the announcement at the mid-year meeting for his annual conference.

Brazil Starts Small Business Ministry

President Dilma Rousseff announced the start of a small business ministry on May 6, saying that government banks will provide up to $7,500 to small businesses in 2013 and will reduce the public loan interest rate from 8 percent to 5 percent beginning on May 31. “The question of small business is indispensable for the country’s future and present,” said Rousseff. Brazil’s estimated 6 million micro and small businesses accounted for 40 percent of the country’s 15 million new jobs from 2001 to 2011.

Cuba to Send 6,000 Doctors to Brazil

Brazil plans to hire approximately 6,000 Cuban doctors to work in the country’s rural areas, said Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota on May 6. The Federal Medical Council­–a Brazilian doctor’s organization–questioned the island nation’s medical qualifications, but Patriota called Cuba “very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.” President Dilma Rousseff began the talks in January 2012, and both countries are currently consulting with the Pan American Health Organization to move forward.

A Bright Outlook for Latin American Economies?

The International Monetary Fund’s May 2013 Regional Economic Outlook predicts Latin America’s growth to increase approximately 3.5 percent by the end of the year. But, in an article for The Huffington Post, Director for the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department Alejandro Werner questions whether countries in the region will be able to “adjust policies to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability” after the near-future external benefits, such as easy external financing and high commodity prices, begin to decline.

Volcanoes and Geysers Could Fuel Chilean Energy

Chile will partner with New Zealand to develop its deep exploration drilling and to develop its geothermal energy production. Chile is home to 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes, which can be harnessed for geothermal energy. However, only 5 percent of the country’s electrical power is attributed to renewable energy resources, reports IPS News.

The Pacific Alliance Creates a Legislative Committee

Heads of Congress from Pacific Alliance members Chile, Colombia, México, and Perú signed an accord to form a Pacific Alliance Inter-Parliamentary Committee on May 6, reports La República. The committee would serve as the legislative arm of the Alliance by developing a framework to approve free trade agreements and distribution of goods, services, and capital under the Alliance. The committee will be officially presented to the Alliance at a legislative session in Chile in June.

Washington to Host Chilean and Peruvian Presidents

Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera and Peru’s President Ollanta Humala will visit Washington D.C. in June to discuss economic relations with President Obama. Piñera’s visit will take place on June 4, and Humala will visit one week later on June 11. The agenda will likely touch on negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as all three countries hope to develop closer economic ties to Asian markets.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

  • TPP foe: A protester holds a sign reading 'We oppose Japan's participation in the TPP talks' during a Thursday rally in Tokyo against the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord.
    TPP foe: A protester holds a sign reading ‘We oppose Japan’s participation in the TPP talks’ during a Thursday rally in Tokyo against the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord. | AP

Abe declares Japan will join TPP free-trade process

Government predicts 0.66% GDP bump; farmers to take ¥3 trillion hit

by Reiji Yoshida, The Japan Times on-line Staff Writer, 

After taking time to lay the groundwork amid pressure from lobby groups and lawmakers from rural constituencies, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe formally announced Friday that Japan will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks.

Abe’s government also unveiled its estimate of the possible economic impacts of joining the trade initiative, showing Japan’s participation would drive up its gross domestic product by 0.66 percent, or around ¥3.2 trillion, but that production in the farm, fishery and forestry sectors could decrease by ¥3 trillion annually if all tariffs are abolished unconditionally.

“The TPP is turning the Pacific Ocean into an inland sea and a huge economic zone,” Abe told reporters at his office.

As 11 member countries have already spent the last three years deciding rules to free up trade, services and investment in the Pacific Rim, Japan needs to actively engage in the talks to make them as advantageous as possible for the country, Abe said.

“This is the last chance. If we miss this opportunity, it would immediately mean that we would be left out of setting global regulations” on free trade, he said. “If Japan becomes only inward-looking, there will no longer be a chance of economic growth.”

At the same time, Abe admitted that “it will be difficult to overturn rules already set” by the 11 TPP member countries in past rounds of talks. But he also stressed that he will defend the nation’s interests throughout the discussions, which are scheduled to end by December, in particular by mitigating the negative impact on the domestic agriculture and fisheries industries.

He declined to answer whether Japan would withdraw from the discussions if it fails to persuade the other TPP members to allow existing tariffs on rice, pork, beef, wheat, dairy products and sugar to continue, as demanded earlier by Abe’s own Liberal Democratic Party.

“We will negotiate based on the national interests. Commenting on whether to withdraw (from the TPP) at this point won’t serve that purpose,” he said.

Still, Abe’s LDP administration faces an uphill battle with time running out for Japan to negotiate any exemptions — especially in the key areas of rice, sugar and dairy products — with the other 11 TPP member states, making it more difficult for Tokyo to exert much leverage and ensure the minimum damage to the domestic agriculture industry.

The founding members of the TPP talks have been hammering out a framework for the regional accord since 2010, and their number has swelled to 11 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Singapore, New Zealand and Peru.

With little information available to nonmember nations, many are worried that Japan is taking its place at the table far too late if it hopes to amend agreements already settled by the current TPP participants.

“If (Japan) wants to take part in the talks, it needs to obey our ‘dress code,’ which has been already decided,” an official of one of the 11 countries reportedly said.

Led by the United States, the TTP members finished the 16th round of talks covering 21 trade and service areas Thursday in Singapore, and aim to reach a final agreement by the end of the year.

Japan’s participation requires the prior approval of every other TPP member, a process that is expected to take until mid-June to complete. That means the earliest opportunity for Japan to enter the fray could be a round of talks eyed for July, giving Abe’s government less than six months to negotiate any tariff exemptions before the final accord is inked.

But failing to join the regional trade zone would still be too big a risk for Japan to run, according to Abe and many experts.

The combined gross domestic product of the 11 TPP countries comes to around $21 trillion (around ¥2 quadrillion) and if Japan’s nearly $6 trillion (roughly ¥575 trillion) GDP is included, the bloc would account for 40 percent of total global economic output.

Yorizumi Watanabe, a former trade negotiator at the Foreign Ministry who is now a professor at Keio University, said Japan’s accession to the TPP is critical because it is likely to become a key platform for Asia-Pacific countries in setting rules for cross-border trade and services.

The Doha Round of tariff elimination talks at the World Trade Organization has remained stalled for years, he said, making it even more likely the TPP framework will serve as a template for future free-trade accords.

And with China and a number of other key economies showing interest in joining the TPP, Japan’s presence will be essential not only for its firms that are trying to tap overseas markets but also for those seeking to build production bases abroad, Watanabe said, adding, “It’s a big opportunity. Japan has wasted the past three years (by not joining the TPP talks).”

That said, the damage to Japan’s agricultural sector is likely to be equally substantial.

Prompted by farm lobbies, the LDP on Thursday adopted a resolution demanding Abe’s government prioritize the exclusion of rice, wheat, beef, pork and sugar from tariff exemptions in the TPP discussions.

Farmers argue that maintaining the current level of output is vital to ensure the nation can produce the minimum food supply that would be necessary in times of severe emergencies, such as wars or global food shortages.

Opening up rice and other sectors to foreign imports would devastate rural economies and communities, but Japan’s agricultural industry already seems to be dying a slow death despite the current protections against foreign products.

According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, the average age of the nation’s 2.6 million farmers stood at 65.9 as of 2011, and most of them lacked successors. The farm industry, meanwhile, accounted for just 1 percent of Japan’s GDP that year.

“Rice consumption came to 12 million tons in 1994, but it has shrunk to 8 million tons at present,” said Kazuhito Yamashita, a former farm ministry official who now serves as research director of the Canon Institute for Global Studies. “(Agricultural) production will further shrink because of the aging society and decreasing population numbers.

“Japan will no longer be able to maintain its farm industry (at its current level). Everybody is aware of that.”

Yamashita also argued that Japan, if necessary, could still protect its farmers by providing them with direct payments if tariffs against foreign produce are scrapped. A similar policy has been adopted by many other major industrialized countries and is widely considered acceptable in a free-trade agreement like the TPP, he said.

To survive, some domestic farmers will need to begin exporting high-quality produce overseas, Yamashita argued, adding that in that sense, Japan’s participation in the TPP is essential.

 

                                      Kyodo Graphic – How Participation in TPP may impact Japan – just click on to see it.

search iconClick to enlarge

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Coca Licensing Is a Weapon in Bolivia’s Drug War.

Meridith Kohut for The New York TimesAugustine Calicho, 45, separating the seeds from dried coca leaves in Villa Tunari in the Chapare region of Bolivia. More Photos »

By
Published in The New York Times: December 26, 2012

TODOS SANTOS, Bolivia — There is nothing clandestine about Julián Rojas’s coca plot, which is tucked deep within acres of banana groves. It has been mapped with satellite imagery, cataloged in a government database, cross-referenced with his personal information and checked and rechecked by the local coca growers’ union. The same goes for the plots worked by Mr. Rojas’s neighbors and thousands of other farmers in this torrid region east of the Andes who are licensed by the Bolivian government to grow coca, the plant used to make cocaine.

President Evo Morales, who first came to prominence as a leader of coca growers, kicked out the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2009. That ouster, together with events like the arrest last year of the former head of the Bolivian anti-narcotics police on trafficking charges, led Washington to conclude that Bolivia was not meeting its global obligations to fight narcotics.

But despite the rift with the United States, Bolivia, the world’s third-largest cocaine producer, has advanced its own unorthodox approach toward controlling the growing of coca, which veers markedly from the wider war on drugs and includes high-tech monitoring of thousands of legal coca patches intended to produce coca leaf for traditional uses.

To the surprise of many, this experiment has now led to a significant drop in coca plantings in Mr. Morales’s Bolivia, an accomplishment that has largely occurred without the murders and other violence that have become the bloody byproduct of American-led measures to control trafficking in Colombia, Mexico and other parts of the region.

Yet there are also worrisome signs that such gains are being undercut as traffickers use more efficient methods to produce cocaine and outmaneuver Bolivian law enforcement to keep drugs flowing out of the country.

In one key sign of progress in Bolivia’s approach toward coca, the total acres planted with coca dropped 12 to 13 percent last year, according to separate reports by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. At the same time, the Bolivian government stepped up efforts to rip out unauthorized coca plantings and reported an increase in seizures of cocaine and cocaine base.

“It’s fascinating to look at a country that kicked out the United States ambassador and the D.E.A., and the expectation on the part of the United States is that drug war efforts would fall apart,” said Kathryn Ledebur, director of the Andean Information Network, a Bolivian research group. Instead, she said, Bolivia’s approach is “showing results.”

Still, there is skepticism. “Our perspective is they’ve made real advances, and they’re a long way from where we’d like to see them,” said Larry Memmott, chargé d’affaires of the American Embassy in La Paz. “In terms of law enforcement, a lot remains to be done.”

Although Bolivia outlaws cocaine, it permits the growing of coca for traditional uses. Bolivians chew coca leaf as a mild stimulant and use it as a medicine, as a tea and, particularly among the majority indigenous population, in religious rituals.

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Rojas placed a few dried leaves into his mouth and watched the sun set over his coca field, slightly less than two-fifths of an acre, the maximum allowed per farmer here in this region, known as the Chapare.

“This is a way to keep it under control,” he said, spitting a stream of green juice. “Everyone should have the same amount.”

Mr. Rojas is a face of a changing region. He makes far more money growing bananas for export on about 74 acres than he does growing coca. But he has no intention of giving up his tiny coca plot. “What happens if a disease attacks the bananas?” he asked. “Then we still have the coca to save us.”

The Bolivian government has persuaded growers that by limiting the amount of plantings, coca prices will remain high. And it has largely focused eradication efforts, of the kind that once spurred strong popular resistance, outside the areas controlled by growers’ unions, like in national parks.

The registration of thousands of Chapare growers, completed this year, is part of an enforcement system that relies on growers to police one another. If registered growers are found to have plantings above the maximum allowed, soldiers are called in to remove the excess. If growers violate the limit a second time, their entire crop is cut down and they lose the right to grow coca.

Growers’ unions can also be punished if there are multiple violations among their members.

“We have to be constantly vigilant,” said Nelson Sejas, a Chapare grower who was part of a team that checked coca plots to make sure they did not exceed the limit.

But there is still plenty of cheating. Officials say they are going over the registry of about 43,000 Chapare growers to find those who may have multiple plots or who may violate other rules.

“The results speak for themselves,” said Carlos Romero, the minister of government. “We have demonstrated that you can objectively do eradication work without violating human rights, without polemicizing the topic and with clear results.”

Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Meri Pintas, 30, center, harvesting coca leaves with her children in the Yungas region of Bolivia. Thousands of legal coca patches are intended to produce coca leaf for traditional uses. More Photos »

Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

A counternarcotics agent explained the eradication process to coca growers whose patch was two rows over the legal limit. More Photos »

He said that the government was on pace to eradicate more acres of coca this year than it did last year, without the violence of years past. A government report said 60 people were killed and more than 700 were wounded in the Chapare from 1998 to 2002 in violence related to eradication.

But even as Bolivia shows progress, grave concerns remain.

The White House drug office estimated that despite the decrease in total coca acreage last year, the amount of cocaine that could potentially be produced from the coca grown in Bolivia jumped by more than a quarter. That is because a large amount of recent plantings began to mature and reach higher yields; new plantings with higher yields replaced older, less productive fields; and traffickers switched to more efficient processing methods.

Yet the glaring paradox of Bolivia’s monitoring program is that vast amounts of the legally grown coca ultimately wind up in the hands of drug traffickers and are converted into cocaine and other drugs. Most of those drugs go to Brazil, considered the world’s second-largest cocaine market. Virtually no Bolivian cocaine ends up in the United States.

César Guedes, the representative in Bolivia of the United Nations drugs office, said that roughly half of the country’s coca acreage produces coca that goes to the drug trade. By some estimates, more than 90 percent of the coca in Chapare, one of two main producing regions, goes to drugs.

Two Chapare farmers explained that they generally sell one 50-pound bag of coca leaf from each harvest to the government-regulated market. The rest, often 200 pounds or more, is sold to buyers who work with traffickers and pay a premium over the government-authorized price. One of the growers said he recently delivered coca leaf directly to a lab where it would be turned into drugs.

The central question is how much coca is needed to supply traditional needs. Current government policy permits about 50,000 acres of legal coca plantings, although the actual area in cultivation is much higher. The United Nations estimated there were 67,000 acres of coca last year.

Whatever the exact figure, most analysts agree that far more is produced than is needed to supply the traditional market.

The European Union financed a study several years ago to estimate how much coca was needed for traditional uses, but the Bolivian government has refused to release it, saying that more research is needed.

The push to reduce coca acreage comes as the Morales government is lobbying other countries to amend a United Nations convention on narcotics to recognize the legality of traditional uses of coca leaf in Bolivia. A decision is expected in January.

On a recent morning just after dawn, a squad of uniformed soldiers used machetes to cut down a plot of coca plants near the town of Ivirgarzama.

They had come to chop down an old coca patch that had passed its prime and measure a replacement plot planted by the farmer. The soldiers determined that the new plot was slightly over the limit and removed about two rows of plants before going on their way.

“Before, there was more tension, more conflict, more people injured,” Lt. Col. Willy Pozo said. “This is no longer a war.”

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky contributed reporting from Ivirgarzama, Bolivia.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 24th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Toward a New Generation of Development Goals – A Day of Informal Discussions
Monday November 26, 2012, 9:30 am – 5:40 pm
United Nations, New York, NLB Conference Room 1

as per e-mail from the UN-NGLS — the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service.


Background:

Following the Rio+20 Summit, and as the world and UN system move closer to the milestone of 2015 for
realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), many discussions are underway concerning the future
of the MDGs and their relation to the new generation of development goals that will succeed them.
Simultaneous discussions have emerged about whether the world needs a new development paradigm, and if
so, what sort of framework must underpin it, what aspirational goals will guide it, and what targets and
indicators will be used to measure and evaluate its progress. This new framework will not be built in the same
way we achieved the MDGs, which were distilled from key international agreements reached during the major
development conferences of the 1990s. The current state of international agreement regarding the future of
development is not yet at the point of consensus reflected in the Millennium Declaration and MDGs. Now, in
addition, the field of development actors has broadened: the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in
Busan, Korea, in 2011 culminated in a Partnership Agreement that—for the first time—established a framework
for development co-operation that includes traditional donors, South-South co-operators, the BRICS, civil society
organisations and private funders. All of these actors, as well as the G20, now have a major influence in the
shaping of development post-2015.

—————————–
Purpose and Format:


The purpose of this day of informal discussions is to bring together key participants in the relevant stakeholder
groups – in civil society, the UN system and among political decision-makers – to further ongoing discussions on
what is needed in order to move toward a new generation of development goals. The day’s discussions are
divided into three panels that will focus on what is needed to: 1) determine the guiding principles and values for
a joint MDG/SGD agenda, 2) define the core concepts and main elements of a new development paradigm, and
3) ensure coherence in bringing the different processes together. The need to bring the remaining work on
MDGs together in a single track along with the development of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) according
to the outcomes of Rio+20 is imperative and as such is a guiding principle for the day’s discussions.


9:30 am – 9:45 am
Opening: Welcome Remarks
Rubén Campos, Programs Coordinator, Club de Madrid
Patricia Espinosa, Member, SG’s High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda; Secretary of
Foreign Affairs, Government of Mexico
Werner Puschra, Executive Director, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, New York Office

————————–
9:45 am – 11:30 am

Panel 1: Guiding Principles and Values for a Joint MDG/SDG Agenda

The Millennium Summit of September 2000 was the culmination of a decade of intense international debate on
aid in which both governments and civil society were strongly engaged. The resulting Millennium Declaration
put forward the human-rights based values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature, and
shared responsibility. This set of guiding principles informed the development of the MDGs, but the process
towards them led to the imperfect capture of the ideals of the Millennium Declaration.
Nevertheless, the Millennium Declaration is and must be the touchstone for the principles and values that will
guide a joint MDG/SDG agenda. Additionally, the UN Task Team on the Post-2015 Development Agenda has
proposed “a vision for the future that rests on the core values of human rights, equality and sustainability” that
is “reorganized along four key dimensions of a more holistic approach: (1) inclusive social development; (2)
inclusive economic development; (3) environmental sustainability; and (4) peace and security.” Panel 1
therefore brings together a set of speakers representing different stakeholder perspectives, from political
decision-makers, leaders from civil society and members of the UN Secretariat, to debate these and other
overarching principles and values that should guide the UN’s development agenda moving forward.

Moderator: Werner Puschra, Executive Director, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, New York Office
Inputs from: Alejandro Toledo, President of Peru (2001-2006); Member, Club de Madrid
Shamshad Akhtar, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, UN Department of
Economic and Social Affairs
Maria Teresa Mesquita Pessôa, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United
Nations
H.E. Mr. Jun Yamazaki, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Telma Viale, Representative, Special Representative to the United Nations and Director, International
Labour Organization
Mwangi Waituru, Co-Chair, Executive Board, Beyond 2015; Director, Seed Institute; National Cocoordinator,
GCAP Kenya
Reflections: From members of the High-Level Panel on post-2015 framework:
Patricia Espinosa, Member, SG’s High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda; Secretary of
Foreign Affairs, Government of Mexico
John Podesta, Member, SG’s High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda; Chair and
Counselor, Center for American Progress
Stefano Prato, Advisor to SG’s High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda Member Betty
Maina, Kenya; Managing Director, Society for International Development (Italy)

——————————
11:30am – 1:00 pm

Panel 2: Main Elements of a New Development Paradigm

The UN Inter Agency Task Team’s report to the Secretary General, “Realizing the Future We Want For All”,
proposes a more holistic approach toward a post-2015 development agenda. The Task Team’s recommendation
is that principles (human rights, equality and sustainability), broad objectives (environmental sustainability,
inclusive economic development, inclusive social development, and peace and security) as well as specific goals
and targets related to the objectives be embedded in an enabling environment which is characterized by
elements such as a fair and stable global trading, macroeconomic and financial system, sustainable food and
nutrition security, sustainable use of natural resources and democratic and coherent global governance
mechanisms.
Panel 2’s discussion is based upon an embrace of the idea that envisioning coherent and related national,
regional and global policy areas necessary for an enabling environment is an essential step in the creation of a
new and sustainable development paradigm. This panel will be an opportunity for interlocutors from civil society
and Member States to question and engage members of the Task Team and the broader Secretariat as well as to
present their own visions of the necessary enabling elements.

Moderator: Clem McCartney, Policy and Content Coordinator, Shared Societies Project, Club de Madrid
Inputs from: Homi Kharas, Executive Secretary, SG’s High-Level Panel on Post 2015 Development Agenda; Deputy
Director, Global Economy & Development Program, Brookings Institution
Rob Vos, Director of Development Policy, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Claire Courteille, Director, Equality Department, International Trade Union Confederation
David O’Connor, Chief, Policy Analysis and Networks Branch, Division for Sustainable Development,
UN-DESA
Kalissa Regier, Coordination Committee, International Food Security and Nutrition Civil Society
Mechanism; Representative National Farmers Union of Canada to Via Campesina
Richard Morgan, Senior Advisor, Post 2015 Agenda, UNICEF
Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President & Managing Director, World Resources Institute
Jose Dallo, Programme Specialist, Bureau for Development Policy, UN Development Programme
Minh-Thu Pham, Director of Public Policy, UN Foundation
Corinne Woods, Director, UN Millennium Campaign

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Lunch break-
——————————————————–


3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Panel 3: Ensuring Coherence—Bringing the Different Processes Together
Panel 3 gives the opportunity for a variety of Member States to elaborate upon ideas and proposals for how the
UN System can bring the MDG and SDG processes together to achieve coherence. It will be an interactive
discussion moderated by Barbara Adams, a member of the Civil Society Reflection Group, first with
representatives of Member States and then opening up a question and answer session with the audience,
including taking questions remotely from those around the world who will be watching via livestream webcast.

Moderator: Barbara Adams, Senior Policy Advisor, Global Policy Forum.

3:00 pm-3:45 pm
Inputs from: H.E. Mr. Luis-Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of
Mexico to the United Nations
H.E. Mr. Gérard Araud, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of France to
the United Nations
H.E. Mr. Enrique Román-Morey, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of
Peru to the United Nations
H.E. Mr. Hans Peter Wittig, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of
Germany to the United Nations
H.E. Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the
United Kingdom to the United Nations
H.E. Mr. Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission
of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Nations

3:45 pm-4:00 pm
Reflections: From members of the High-Level Panel on post-2015 framework:
Betty Maina, Member, SG’s High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda; Chief Executive
Officer, Kenya Association of Manufacturers
Patricia Espinosa, Member, SG’s High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda; Secretary of
Foreign Affairs, Government of Mexico

4:00 pm-5:00 pm
Q&A Session: Moderated by Barbara Adams
Questions and comments to Member State panelists and High-Level panelists will be taken from the
audience as well as via social media from those watching the livestream.

5:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Concluding Reflections
Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations
Alejandro Toledo, President of Peru (2001-2006); Member, Club de Madrid

5:30 pm – 5:40 pm
Organizers’ Wrap-up
Clem McCartney, Policy and Content Coordinator, Shared Societies Project, Club de Madrid
Werner Puschra, Executive Director, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, New York Office

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Venezuela Votes…and Latin America Catches a Cold.

By Estrella Gutiérrez

CARACAS, Oct 4 2012 (IPS) – Sunday’s elections in Venezuela will determine whether the era of President Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian revolution will continue or come to an end. The result will have an impact not only on this country but on the rest of Latin America.

In the first decade of this century, Latin America saw “a nontraumatic epochal change, sometimes manifested as constituent assemblies (to rewrite a constitution), which sought to respond to the demands of the majority and bring about political change. Chávez is its most radical expression,” said Manuel Felipe Sierra, an analyst from the traditional left and a critic of the Venezuelan president.

“This trend, which Chávez claims to have authored although it has roots and leadership in each country, has already passed, and most governments have taken a more conventional democratic route with left-wing overtones,” he told IPS.

In the campaign, Capriles said that if elected, he would maintain membership of all the blocs, including ALBA.

However, he declared that there would be an end to the “freebies” and not a single barrel of oil would leave Venezuela for free, in a country where oil now represents 93 percent of exports, compared to 70 percent in 1998. He was referring to the agreements with countries in the region for oil and gas sales at preferential prices and on easy payment terms.

Asked who would lose the most in the region if Chávez lost, the analysts who spoke to IPS agreed that the Cuban and Nicaraguan governments would be most affected, because they are the most dependent on Venezuelan oil and other resources. “Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador would not be happy, either,” said Shifter.

Capriles promised to maintain good relations with Cuba, and said he would seek a meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro after he meets with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, his priority, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

But he said the current agreements, under which Havana receives between three billion and four billion dollars a year, must be revised.

Chávez, for his part, insists that if he is ousted from the presidency, “darkness will return to Latin American society” and “the empire (the U.S.) will win.”

In Sierra’s view, “Venezuela has a specific weight in the region, as the only country that is structurally a Latin American oil power, even though others also have oil, and it must recover that role and restore it to normal, whatever happens on Sunday.”

Bolivia and Ecuador are other examples of this current, which has as its political integration mechanism the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), led by Venezuela and made up of eight Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Cuba and Nicaragua.

But the regional reform movement has another major reference point, less ideological and radical: the process led by former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011), whose programme was based on economic growth with social inclusion and a strengthening of democracy.

Both self-described left-wing and right-wing governments have expressed their support for the Brazilian model, including Venezuela’s opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who declares himself an “admirer and imitator” of Lula.

Capriles, supported by a variegated mix of 29 groups ranging from right to left, points as proof to the Zero Hunger plan he implemented as governor of the northwestern state of Miranda, modelled on Brazil’s anti-hunger strategy.

Most of the latest polls tip Chávez as the favourite to be re-elected for a third time. But growing support for his rival has made the election result uncertain.

Chávez’s style of diplomacy in Latin America has been one of confrontation with right-wing presidents, which polarised countries, governments and summits ever since he took power in February 1999, said experts consulted by IPS, including several close to the president.

“The export of the Bolivarian model, supported by the abusive use of Venezuela’s oil wealth, as well as Chávez´s style, are in decline, whatever happens on Sunday,” said Sierra.

“Furthermore, there is ‘Chávez fatigue’ in the region because of the behaviours and manners that stress even his allies, and that ceased to be useful for the collective interest,” he said.

But Roy Chaderton, Venezuela’s ambassador to the Organisation of American States (OAS), said that if Chávez exits the stage, “it would threaten Latin American independence,” especially from the United States, which Chávez refers to as “the empire.”

Chaderton said Venezuela had created in the region “a diversity of dependences, that make us more independent of others and more interdependent among ourselves.”

“In Latin America we created oxygen valves that help us breathe more freely, and that would close off” if Chávez loses, he said.

“These are not just any elections, for Venezuela or for the continent, because of the ideological primacy and polarisation promoted by Chávez, and because if he loses the elections it would confirm the demise of the left-wing neo-populist experiment he was trying to export,” said Teresa Romero, an expert in international relations.

In Romero’s view, even if Chávez is re-elected, “the regional climate has shifted towards the centre,” and within it “Brazil has won the leadership role, with progressive positions that are less strident and more efficient.”

Michael Shifter, the head of the Inter-American Dialogue, a U.S. think tank, said if Chávez left the government it would have “an enormous effect on the regional political scenario, because he has been the most aggressive and polarising voice in the hemisphere over the last decade.”

If change comes to Venezuela, “ideological conflicts will not disappear, but they will be less acute and better channeled,” he told IPS. In his view, Capriles would maintain normal relations with left-wing governments like those of Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua, “but not, as the phrase went in the 1990s, such carnal relationships.”

In addition to ALBA, the Chávez government promoted the foundation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), made up of the region’s 12 countries, and the oil aid organisation Petrocaribe. It also helped create the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as an alternative to the OAS, which it considers to be dominated by Washington.

In August the government began a process of withdrawal from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which hands down binding rulings on human rights violations committed by states. The only precedent for withdrawal from the OAS human rights court was that of Peru, 20 years ago, during the regime of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000).

Capriles announced that, if he were elected, one of his first steps would be to reverse the process of withdrawal from the Inter-American Court. He also said Venezuela would rejoin the Andean Community, the regional bloc that this country belonged to since the 1960s, which the Chávez administration pulled out of in 2011. It is currently made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Chávez’s efforts in the past six years were directed towards Venezuela becoming a full member of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) trade bloc, which he finally achieved in June, after Paraguay’s temporary suspension from the group, made up also of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

“These are changes of alliances based on political and ideological foundations, not on economic reasoning or geographical location,” Sierra said.

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And from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) backgrounder:

Stakes Are High for Venezuelan Presidential Elections

The October 7 presidential election between Hugo Chavez and Henrique Capriles Radonski holds significant implications for the direction of the country’s “socialist revolution,” its economy, and foreign policy.       Read the Backgrounder »

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Op-Ed Contributor, The New York Times

How Hugo Chávez Became Irrelevant

By FRANCISCO TORO
Published: October 5, 2012

Caracas, Venezuela

Jonathan Bartlett

AS Hugo Chávez, the icon of Latin America’s left, struggles to hang on to his job, it’s tempting to read tomorrow’s closely contested election in Venezuela as a possible signal of the region’s return to the right. That would be a mistake, because the question that’s been roiling Latin America for a dozen years isn’t “left or right?” but “which left?”

Outsiders have often interpreted Latin America’s swing to the left over the last dozen years as a movement of leaders marching in ideological lock step. But within the region, the fault lines have always been clear.

Radical revolutionary regimes in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua joined Cuba, the granddaddy of the far left, in a bloc determined to confront the capitalist world, even if that meant increasingly authoritarian government.

A more moderate set of leaders in Brazil, Uruguay and Guatemala put forth an alternative: reducing poverty through major social reforms without turning their backs on democratic institutions or private property rights.

As Fidel Castro’s favorite son, Mr. Chávez has always been the leader of the radical wing. And Brazil’s size and economic power made it the natural leader of the reformist wing.

Outwardly, the two camps have been at pains to deny that any divisions exist. There have been many pious words of solidarity and lots of regional integration accords. But behind closed doors, each side is often viciously dismissive of the other, with Chávez supporters seeing the Brazilians as weak-kneed appeasers of the bourgeoisie while the Brazilians sneer at Mr. Chávez’s outdated radicalism and chronic incompetence.

As recently as five or six years ago, there was a real ideological contest. A wildly unpopular American president prone to military adventurism helped Mr. Chávez rally the continent against Washington. One country after the next joined the radical axis. First Bolivia, then Nicaragua, Honduras and Ecuador, joined a growing roll call of radicals in 2005 and 2006.

Now the political landscape is almost entirely transformed. Barack Obama’s 2008 victory badly undermined the radicals’ ability to rally opposition to gringo imperialism. Meanwhile, the alternative was becoming increasingly attractive.

Brazil’s remarkable success in reducing poverty speaks for itself. Building on a foundation of macroeconomic stability and stable democratic institutions, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, oversaw the most remarkable period of social mobility in Latin America’s living memory.

As millions of Brazilians rose into the middle class, Mr. Chávez’s autocratic excesses came to look unnecessary and inexcusable to Venezuelans. Mr. da Silva and his successor, Dilma Rousseff, have shown that a country does not need to stack the courts, purge the army and politicize the central bank to fight poverty. Brazil proves that point, quietly, day in and day out.

It isn’t just democratic institutions that have suffered from Mr. Chávez’s radicalism; it’s the economy, too. Venezuela’s traditional dependence on oil exports has deepened, with 96 percent of export revenue now coming from the oil industry, up from 67 percent just before Mr. Chávez took office. Nationalized steel mills produce a fraction of the steel they’re designed for, forcing the state to import the difference. And nationalized electric utilities plunge most of the country into darkness several times a week. The contrast with Brazil’s high-tech, entrepreneurial, export-oriented economy couldn’t be more stark.

For all of Mr. Chávez’s talk of radical transformation, Venezuela’s child mortality and adult literacy statistics have not improved any faster under his government than they did over the several decades before he rose to power.

With oversight institutions neutered, the president now runs the country as a personal fief: expropriating businesses on a whim and deciding who goes to jail. Judges who rule against the government’s wishes are routinely fired, and one has even been jailed. Chávez-style socialism looks like the worst of both worlds: both more authoritarian and less effective at reducing poverty than the Brazilian alternative.

And the region has noticed. The key moment came in April 2011, when Ollanta Humala won the Peruvian presidency. Long seen as the most radical of Latin America’s new breed of leaders, Mr. Humala had run on a Chávez-style platform in 2006 and lost. By last year, he’d seen the way the wind was blowing and remade himself into a Brazilian-style moderate, won and proceeded to govern — so far, successfully — in the Brazilian mold.

Now, in a final indignity, Mr. Chávez is facing a tight re-election race against Henrique Capriles Radonski, a 40-year-old progressive state governor who extols the virtues of the Brazilian model.

Although Mr. Chávez’s government has done its best to paint a caricature of Mr. Capriles as an old-style right-wing oligarch, he is unmistakably within the Brazilian center-left mold: Mr. Capriles pitches himself as an ambitious but pragmatic social reformer committed to ending the Chávez era’s authoritarian excesses.

The rest of Latin America has already been through the ideological battle in which Venezuela remains mired. By and large, other nations have made their choices. The real question in this election is whether Venezuela will join the hemispheric consensus now, or later.

Francisco Toro is a journalist, political scientist and blogger.

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