Friday, December 5, 2008

Act Now - Global Day of Climate Action December 6

By Juana Camacho

I am in Poznan at the moment as you may know by now and after watching the video above that was put together by the big ask campaign from Europe and after reading the news on what some delegations are commenting in the halls here on not being capable of reaching an agreement on time for Copenhagen, I feel the duty to share some deep personal thoughts on this climate crisis and negotiations.

The UNFCCC is an agreement reached in a time where people was conscious enough to understand the consequences of our way of living. During 1992, they agreed on the Rio Principles for Sustainable Development, they set the Agenda 21 and they set the principles of the international climate regime under the UNFCCC including the precautionary principle and the shared but different responsibilities principle. 16 years have passed and nothing has happened. Emissions are raising, vulnerable people are dying, cropland is disappearing and the sky is becoming darker.

Just an example, in 16 years, the LDC fund for adaptation of must vulnerable countries, that do not have any responsibility on climate change, has only recieved what a CEO from Lehman Brothers used to get for his christmas bonus in one year, USD 172 million, and this to be spent in 800 million people in 16 years. Now they aim to take 4 years to raise 1/1000 of what Bush spent in 2 weeks on the financial sector. That does not seem fair to me. Is money more relevant that our unique only home? When did we get to this?. May be because money creats money and our home just gives us shelter. Is this the set of values that now we have?

What I have seen here at the COP and last year's is people trying to figure out how can they make measures to stop and to adapt to climate change profitable so people would have incentives to act and not how to actually take action to stop and to adapt climate change. What I read from this is that people only care about money and I do not believe this. If our mother or son was in danger, would we need to be paid or make money so we would act to avoid that danger and save them? I might say no. Then why our governments and institutions believe that the only way to mobilize people to stop climate change is by paying them? People will do things if we are asked to.

Another thing is the time it is taking to get to the solutions to stop and adapt to climate change.It seems it is not that urgent. Delegations from industrialised countries are saying that they might not reach an agreement on emissions reductions obligations for Annex I countries on time for Cophenage when the FIRST COMMITMENT PERIOD of the Annex I countries under the Kyoto Protocol will expire -not the Kyoto Protocol please-. This means that nothing will be done for the next 12 years as it has not been done for the past 4.People from the Pacific, the coasts and the mountains do not have that time and they can't make the change.

Are we really aware that we have no time to waste on talking and writing and planning? We need to act now as the BIG ASK campaign says. We need as change agents make our governments accountable both developed and developing. Real emissions reductions need to happen, no more oil, no more coal, no more deforestation at least.

All this may sound a little radical but it comes from inside, from seeing both sides of the story and from the frustation from seeing that there is so little politcal will to do things the right way.

Please do not find this email offensive if you are working on cc in a government, private or NGO sector. I know people in this network are aware of all this. I just wanted to share these feelings with you because I consider you as friends and not only colleagues.

Juana - YES Alumni


Hi Juana,

Thanks a lot for your insight.

Although I firmly believe that change is the only constant, and in that constant we need to learn and adapt to it, our society is driven and involved in a mainstream momentum where all you mentioned is seen and taken as the norm, i.e. things have to 'primarily' have an economic motive to exist. I don't want to go into the debate whether this is the way it should be or not, the fact is that is the way it is... until a crisis comes along that changes and redirects 'this' mainstream momentum.

I do think things will need to get far worse for this mainstream momentum to change, and in that change our role should be to educate and prepare for adaptation. I share this thoughts as lately - and I have to admit this - I have also been absorbed by this economically-justified-sustainability-social-paradigm-change (emphasizing the economically part). It so happens that as an engineering consultant, participating in design process for new buildings (and all aspects it entails), the bottom line is cost, even when you talk to clients that have a more 'moral' obligation (i.e. mothers and fathers). And although one might try to not be as cost-benefit-driven, once you have crossed the line, you are part of the other side --- even if you have the best intentions.

Foreseeing what might happen, I think for the next decades we need to implement variables that can be included in the typical economical equations (these variables being environment, society and quality of life), this would then set the course for a new type of exchange (not so cost-benefit driven). But I am quite certain this will not happen in our lifetime, but we have the chance to help it happen. In the meantime, just be consciously aware of what being partially part of this mainstream momentum means, and how this affects our only planets, species and views on our existence.

In issues like this, my view is that no one will do anything (government, others) until everyone is affected, but truly affected, near death-life-threatening-affected, and for that we need good couple of years still (emphasizing the word - everyone - the whole 7some billion people).

Thanks again for you reflexion, and as an advice to all:

1) we should not loose hope in what we do, even if it means we will not reap the benefits our what we do in our lifetime

2) we should be conscious that we are part of this mainstream, so for every 3 steps we take forward, acknowledge we take some back too


Timo - YES Alumni