Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My sipping-coffee experience
by Diana Gultom

Friends, I want to share a bit of my ‘sipping-coffee’ experience… Prepare your nice favorite drink to read the rest of the writing…

Today, I decided to spend my time at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Kemang, Jakarta. I bought a glass of iced coffee latte since I chose to stay outdoors. While sipping it bit by bit, I’ve thought about the process how they make it.

Many places like this keep on growing, especially here in Jakarta. Not to mention “Starbucks and friends.” In these shops, they sell several coffee variations from many areas in Indonesia. They sell Gayo Coffee from Aceh, Toraja Coffee from Sulawesi, Sidikalang Coffee from North Sumatera, and Lampung Coffee from Lampung in the Southern Sumatera, among others.

My coffee is half full now. And by this time, more people are now arriving; some with their laptops, accessing the internet in this Wi-Fi area. Others are talking about political bargain over their cups of coffee since soon will be election time.

Suddenly, something crossed my mind. What has been happening to the coffee farmers who produce the marvelous and even expensive coffee in the world? I am wondering if parliamentary candidates care about their livelihood. My heart would have wanted to answer this. But then again, I don’t think so.

The coffee farmers are only getting IDR13,000 to IDR14,000 (approximately USD1.1) per kilogram! While seller will gain even much more than that for a cup of coffee. The one that I bought now cost me IDR32,000 (USD3) per cup. Much more expensive than what the farmers get.

Well, you wouldn’t pour one kilogram per glass, will you? Mainly the coffee is being blended with other ingredients, such as water, milk, and sugar.

For the brand patent, the Netherlands has bought the patent for ‘Kopi Gayo’ and Japan has also bought the patent for ‘Kopi Toraja’. The farmers are left out with the cheap coffee which they can only sell without those names now without bargaining position.

For me, this is not merely about ‘robbing’ the brand, but also about ‘robbing’ their identity. Gayo and Toraja are supposedly the people’s exclusive rights. It’s their name, their area, their rights! No one have the right to take that away it from them, not even on behalf of ‘I have the money to buy it, I can buy the patent’. It’s their indigenous’ patent.

I think this is all I want to share for now while finishing my cup of coffee. Have a nice day friends.

Oops, by the way, please do rethink over if you plan to buy coffee from Starbucks and friends. For me, I will surely have second thoughts about doing so. They have lots and lots of bucks already.

*Diana is presently with Debtwatch.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The National Imperative
by Red Constantino
Business Mirror
March 4, 2009


So, what do we do now?

For decades we were told not to mind the stink behind the altar, where pale clerics of the market faith congregated and preached the good word.

Year after year, behind the burnished marble slab, beneath the old wood cross beams of consumption, black coat and black tie delivered the liturgy of bling and the brass cross, and the sanctity of the system was upheld.

Year after year leaders chased away the phantoms of looming crises with ritual new liberalism and the prescribed brand of amen: our economic fundamentals are strong, our fundamentals are strong. Open the gates of the economy, open your heart. Peace be with you; everything is okay.

Year after year we believed, happy in our blinkered place in the constellation of dependencies.

Then came 2008, the year the valves that had been holding back the stench finally broke down, when venom too long contained rushed through the veins.

By 2009, the empire of belief had fallen apart and its pallid high priests were issuing regular missals that years ago would have been denounced by the bishops of Washington as satanic edicts.

Nationalization -- not as a question of 'if' but of 'when' and 'where'
and how much control, how much ownership, and how long the long-term intent. Re-regulation. Conservation instead of blind extraction. The cosseting of strategic domestic industries. Massive state spending to generate jobs. A green economy.

From his prison cell in 1977 the Filipino martyr Ninoy Aquino issued a national call of comparable subversion and pragmatism, but who remembers? "I believe," wrote Aquino, "that basic and strategic industries must be nationalized because it is too dangerous to leave the determination of national needs and priorities in the hands of a few. My primary concern is national interest and the general welfare, not nationalization."

How interesting the turn of events.

In 1988 in her book Unequal Alliance, Robin Broad observed the stagnation of world trade and the glut of international markets.
Transnational capital was "no longer moving to the Third World," Broad wrote; it had "already turned toward new arenas for short-term rewards at home -- consumer credit, corporate mergers, and the get-rich-quick gimmicks of financial speculation."

"As the world economy has become more integrated," Broad remarked, "effective sovereignty across the developing world has waned" while vulnerabilities have multiplied exponentially.

Yet everyone continued to be sold the idea of export-fueled growth, hinged on the magical power of the global bazaar where economic integration was the goal and the idea of "self-reliance" was considered an anachronism.

India bought and paid dearly.

Between 1997 and 2007, the journalist and Magsaysay awardee P. Sainath tells us, India recorded the "largest wave of suicides in history", which today "stands at a staggering 182,936" -- all of them ruined farmers.

"In the next five years after 2001," by the "time India was well down the WTO garden path in agriculture...." wrote Sainath, "one farmer [was taking] his or her life every 30 minutes on average." The horrific figure is probably underestimated, said Sainath, because the countless women farmers who took their own lives are recorded as mere suicide deaths because, though they do the bulk of work in agriculture, they are mere "farmers' wives." According to Sainath, "Those who killed themselves were overwhelmingly cash crop farmers – growers of cotton, coffee, sugarcane, groundnut, pepper, vanilla" while the "largest number of farm suicides [took place] in the state of Maharashtra, home to the Mumbai Stock Exchange and ... to 21 of India’s 51 dollar billionaires."
The same Mumbai of the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

All too many bought the theology of the holy market and all too readily traded away the rights of their citizens, the fields that once fed their children and the ecosystems that once sustained their very cultures.

In October 1979, a World Bank report counseled the Philippines "to take advantage of the fact that its wages had 'declined significantly relative to those in competing ... countries' such as Hong Kong and South Korea." And of course the Philippine government took advantage, not recognizing that beneath the basement is a cellar, and underneath that is another basement. An ad in the October 16, 1981 issue of Far Eastern Economic Review talked about such architecture: "Sri Lanka challenges you to match the advantages of its Free Trade Zone, against those being offered elsewhere.... Sri Lanka has the lowest labor rates in Asia."

In the midst of a global economic conflagration, autarky cannot be a solution. But neither can it be protracted national suicide based on the notion that we can only follow others because we have always had so little, and based on the childish hope that other countries will act in our interest.

Almost 47 years ago the revered senator Lorenzo Tañada reminded us of the wealth that we had always possessed but which we all too often ignored in our mad pursuit of alien promises.

"We have accepted without too much thought the oft-repeated characterization of the Philippines as a capital-poor country," said Tañada on March 10, 1962, "and that therefore we must vigorously attract foreign capital if we are to develop our country."

We paid him no attention and over the years we kept exporting what we already had. Our capital. The fruits of our soil. Our minerals. Our best and our brightest. Our dignity.

And the hemorrhage continues still. #

The article is the writer's own view and does not reflect any Forum position.

Notes:

1. Chip Ward, "The Department of Homegrown Security," Tomdispatch.com,
26 February 2009.
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175039/chip_ward_the_department_of_homegrown_security
2. Binyamin Appelbaum, "What is 'nationalization'? Depends who you ask,"
Washington Post, 25 February 2009 .
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/24/AR2009022403473.html?wprss=rss_business.
See also Krishna Guha and Edward Luce, "Greenspan backs bank nationalisation," Financial Times, 18 February 2009.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/e310cbf6-fd4e-11dd-a103-000077b07658,dwp_uuid=c59753ec-d316-11db-829f-000b5df10621,print=yes.html
3. Paul Krugman, "Can this planet be saved?" New York Times, 1 August 2008.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/opinion/01krugman.html?_r=1&ex=1218340800&en=2ce1681c34752a3b&ei=5070&emc=eta1
4. Ninoy Aquino, Testament from a Prison Cell. (Philippine Journal,
Inc.: 1988)
5. Robin Broad, Unequal Alliance, 1979-1986: The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Philippines. (Ateneo de Manila University Press, QC: 1988) 6. Ibid.
7. Robin Broad and John Cavanagh, Development Redefined: How the Market Met its Match (Paradigm Publishers, 2009) 8. The Essential Tañada, ed. by Renato Constantino (Karrel, Inc., QC: 1989)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bajaj is no longer my favorite vehicle
by Ratna Yunita

It’s been 2 months that I biked to work and really enjoyed it. At first, I really doubt myself that I dare to make it since it's too risky to cycle among motorbikes in Jakarta. Even my parents didn’t allow me to bike to main roads since they were afraid it will endanger my life. So before I bike to work, I started to bike during weekends for short journey to a park nearby home.

Day after day, I felt so tired when I have to face traffic jam whenever I went home from work. As a background, 60% of total journey time on the street is in stuck post or move very slow with speed of 20 km per hour (Indonesian Transportation Society’ survey, 2007). Can u imagine what an enormous fuel deficiency and severe air pollution from total vehicle emission?

Afterwards, I decided to try a new mode of transportation to work and I choose cycling. Why? Because I concluded I have 4 benefits at the same time when I cycle, which are:

1. Faster than bajaj or private car, especially during peak hour

On my first day of cycling, I experienced that I arrived earlier than the building security officer; the building gate was still closed. After 10 minutes of waiting in front of the gate, a man approached me and said “it’s still too early, young lady.” I looked at my watch and the time was 6.30am Wow…!!! I cycled only for 20 minutes from home to the office while it took 45 minutes by bajaj or private car. So it’s not true when people said that cycling will slow down your rhythm of life and bring bad impact on your punctuality. I’ve proven it. By arriving earlier, I still have some time to wash myself and dress up.

2. Good for my health

Beside time, health is also something that really is related to my new habit: cycling. I felt fresher and healthier than before. According to Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee Report in 2005, cycling will burn more calories than walking, while the numbers of calories reduction really depends on the weight and the intensity of cycling. It can also help to protect me against a wide range of ill health effects. In fact, physically active people such as cyclists have up to a 50% reduced risk of coronary heart disease (Department of Health). Therefore, cycling is not only as my means of transportation but also as means of exercise.

3. Good for environment

Jakarta, a densely populated city of 8.5 million people, is well-known for its paralyzing traffic jams which choke the streets with cars and motorcycles and the air with severe pollution. A SITRAMP study estimates that traffic congestion in Jakarta costs around USD1.4 billion per year, excluding the costs from the impact on health from traffic air pollution. Cycling is an alternative mode of transportation which is good for the environment which is a so called no-emission vehicle. It offers a clean, sustainable and accessible form of transport which can help to combat traffic congestion and unlike a car, it produces no noise or atmospheric pollution.

4. Cheap and exciting

Cycling will help improve the environment as well as save money. It is cheaper than riding a car. I don’t have to pay vehicle tax, parking fee, and fuel cost. Even more, bicycle maintenance cost is also cheaper than a car or motorcycle. Moreover, cycling can also give me excitement. Once, on my way to office, I had a chat with another cyclist, he’s an apothecary. He cycles everyday from Kemayoran (central Jakarta) to Grogol (west Jakarta). He cycles due to economic reason; he is able to save more money for his 3 kids from his daily transportation allowance. He has just an ordinary and a bit old bicycle and has no helmet. Wish to give him a free helmet one day. It is an exciting part of cycling where I can socialize with other cyclists with any economical or educational background.

Things which need to be considered by cyclists are about the motorcyclist's behavior and naughty words from people along the road. I should admit cyclists are not taken into account by motorcyclists on road. They honk many times whenever they felt a cyclist blockade their way. It seems that cyclists are their competitors in terms of taking lane. It gets on my nerves sometimes. But as long as I’m on the right track, I just ignore their honks and keep on my way. Sometimes, I also heard men yell at me by saying naughty words, but I completely ignore them. As often as I cycle, I'll get used to it.

Let’s safe the world by cycling now ….!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dispatch from the cold city of Poznan

Cold weather and hot discussion on climate change
by Farjana Akter

“Stop harming, start helping.” December 9, the day has began with 0 degree temperature in Poznan. Who cares? People struggle for climate justice now! Oxfam International held a demonstration in front of the main entrance of the event's venue. It was excellent! They brought with them an ice statue, saying, "START HELPING."

During the first half of the day, two important contact group meetings were held. One is on delivering on technology and financing, including consideration of institutional arrangements. The second one is on enhanced action on mitigation and its associated means of implementation. Here are some of the things that were raised in the meetings:

In the discussion on technology transfer, Pakistan focused on the necessary flexible mechanism for technology transfer. Mexico demanded for creating cooperation on technology development and building capacity at the national and local levels.

Japan, on the other hand, urged to review the effectiveness of faster technology. The Turks demanded engaging with public-private sector on all technological development process and technological cooperation.

The Indians emphasized the importance of technology and building up a regional capacity building center where the government must lead the action in a global scale. The French emphasized the importance to establish a technology resource center, technology framework and national mitigation center.

In the mitigation discussion, the Indonesians emphasized a mid and long-term global goal which must be based on most recent findings. Developed countries should first fulfill their Kyoto commitment on the basis of established benchmarks.

There is a need in the improvement on the quality of data, especially in developing countries, said Japan. Australia asked for common responsibility of all parties to take on the challenges brought by climate change issues.

Developed and developing countries should have obligations to undertake mitigation actions consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Malaysia said that Annex-1 Parties must implement their commitments under Kyoto Protocol.

All for now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Let’s get the stand
by Farjana Akter

In the last two days, i.e. 7 and 8 December, the official negotiation was closed but there are still so many side events that have continuously been happening here in Poznan. Indigenous peoples community, business and industry sector, trade union, women, youth, environmental group and other network and civil society organizations organized many events to raise everyone's awareness on climate change and unite everybody’s voice to make a fair commitment in a common ground.

CSOs from northern countries stand side by side with groups from southern countries -- developing countries -- to make their voice meaningful and to make an immediate action from the climate change agenda. Delegates from a youth network from Europe, America and Southeast Asia, and from the rest of the globe, ask climate justice from the UNFCCC.

A press conference on ‘Climate Justice Now: Climate Justice at the UNFCC’ was held, urging developed countries to reduce their emission. Rich people have to compensate the vulnerable communities. At the press conference, people tackled the lack of political will and commitment. by countries in reducing their emissions. They even alleged that developed countries have been allotting more money for military operations and war than in resolving the issue on climate change. People have also pointed out and criticized the organizers for having more delegates from the corporate sector than those from the indigenous peoples’ community and CSOs.

The role of social movement groups in addressing climate change must be inclusive and fully owned by the people. Market-led mechanism should not be the center point to solve the climate change problem.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Diary from an activist on the COP 14

The Tide of Talks
Farjana Akter
VOICE


DECEMBER 04

When I heard that I am going to join COP 14 it was amazing to me. I have never been to such a gigantic and important event. However, I am preparing for this climate meeting in Poland.

In Bangladesh there is no visa consulate of the Poland. I had to go to New Delhi for picking up my visa. Though there were many difficulties but the spirit inside me enabled to pass through these hassles and finally, I collected my visa.

I passed long way and arrived the capital of Poland, Warsaw in the morning 10.35 am. From Warsaw, I took a train to the venue, Poznan. In the rail station when I was just looking around suddenly a TV crew surfaced and asked me tell something about Global Warming. I was so surprised that my first speech about Climate Change when I just arrived in Poland!

After 3 hours train journey I arrived Poznan. Some volunteers from COP 14 were there and they help me to get a taxi to join my team at the hotel.

The COP 14 started on 1 December 2008. I joined on 4 December that means 3 days have been passed and the complex negotiations. While I arrived at the venue I saw many colourful banners with picture where showing the danger of climate change.

On 4 December morning first I registered myself and entered to the COP 14 after security frisking by the UN blue beret. Outside the conference buildings there are so many stalls mainly from UN agencies, CSOs from different countries, but mostly they are talking about energy.

I joined a meeting organized by Oxfam international where Adaptation Fund was deliberated. Adaptation fund is now monetized. The mistrust is on the air between developed and developing countries. The criticism about Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was mainly the entity run by developed countries’ company.

It is now demanded that adaptation fund should be managed by Government. So Government should make National Plan of Action for utilizing the fund. There is a need for strong political will. Bangladeshi delegates urged to change the whole process about the climate change adaptation negotiation. Bangladeshi delegates said we should develop adaptation fund in a separate manner.

There is a question that how do we define vulnerability and how do we address which project must vulnerable. Current fragmented approach should be changed immediately. The 0.07 percent contribution as ODA from developed countries should be mandatory not voluntary. Otherwise money will not come to the developing countries. There should have direct access in the Global Fund for adaptation as most developing countries are demanding for an example as G-77+ China. A mechanism should be developing to collect the money.

DECEMBER 05

A press conference was organized by Climate Action Network (CAN) said governments are explicitly needed to commit as they committed in the Bali conference. 2008 is almost end. It is a chance to sign to final compliance. In the Bali, the G 77 was disappointed. Australia said they will cut emission 5-15 per cent below 2000 level 2020. We need Australia this positive approach. They also said we can contribute beginning our traditional technology to adapt the climate change.

Indigenous people do not have access in the negotiation process and development plan. They urged that parties should engage the indigenous community in the process making effective. Also they stressed the Political will.

I also joined CAN adaptation working group meeting. They suggested as in Eco-article that eco system base adaptation program should be approaced. On the other hand they are scared about the global fund of adaptation. Because Global Fund on Adaptation is facing problem of unpredictability and also there is a question of effectiveness. Developing countries are demanding the direct access of Global Fund on Climate Change. Though there is a mechanism coming up to manage the Global Fund but still there has uncertainty. Around 50 countries from LDC get the Global fund and 38 countries are making National Plan of Action for using these funds.

They also discussed about the Clean Development Mechanism. Bilateral agreement is going on. Mitigating working group is thinking a meeting with the EU and developing countries push for government agreement on article 9.

DECEMBER 06

The whole world is now urging for adaptation program in the COP 14. Many funds have been raised so far to support the adaptation program and many technologies are coming out for the adaptation program. Global fund for the adaptation programmers have raised for helping LDC's countries. But here is also politics that China and India also part of so called LDC's country. But they are not vulnerable as like Bangladesh and many others small Island countries. The interesting thing is India and China the growing power of Asia are asking the equal distribution of money. The most vulnerable countries Bangladesh raised the question that India and China are not in vulnerable position and on the other hand as a neighbor country they are damaging Bangladesh and other neighbor countries environment.

Today I joined a participatory film show organized by IIED, CLACC on adaptation techniques from developing countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Senegal and Malawi. Among them Nepal and Malawi film were most interesting and appropriate for the country like Bangladesh.

Most of the land scape of Malawi is very low. So in the rainy season Malawi affects flooding problem very badly. Before coming flood they dig Ponds, Canals and drain very deeply surrounding the village area. However, when rain comes all water goes to the low area than high area.People get safe from water logging and also during the dry season they can use this water for irrigation in the agriculture fields.

And in the Nepal documentary was on soil erosion. In films they use mainly indigenous knowledge. People harvest that type of species and grasses which protect soil from erosion. Village people use this plant and grasses for goat foods. This indigenous technology is very cheaper and environment friendly as well.

So these are the people who can make change without any money and investment or so called technology transfer from developed countries. When developing countries are negotiating for the fund that who will manage and equal distribution of fund and so on, right now community people already trying to find out their own way to come over the curse of climate change.

In the afternoon a meeting was contact group on adaptation plan was held. Bangladesh, Australia, India, Gambia, Costarica, USA, South Africa delegates spoke at the meeting. Many of them said the Adaptation policy should be prepared with such a way which would be integrated with National Development Policy. They also urged to address the issue of adaptation at home. Some delegates said the capacity building of adaptation fund implementation and assessing the climate change migration as an adaptation strategy.
There are still growing criticism about the private sector engagement in development plan and policy but Bangladeshi delegates focused the private sector engagement in the adaptation plan. Among the other process CSOs are still left from the process. On the other hand India clearly pointed out the national leads and priority in the adaptation process. Adaptation plan should be included as a sector wise component. So climate change agenda should be introduced at the project level, programmatic level and policy level. Gambia delegated said that Adaptation Fund should be separate from ODA. It’s a good proposal from Gambia so that developed country cannot cut their ODA as part of adaptation fund. Finally all are urged to formulate an adaptation plan which would be integration with international policy.

The talks will resume on Monday……it’s a tough complex negotiations.

Photos by Circa Frankie.

Talks will go on next year as well!

Perpetual hassles of Technology Transfer in climate talks
By Maya Eralieva


Since 1992 we have been witnessing the red line between developed and developing countries on the issue of technology transfer. Has the real technology transfer occurred? Or developing countries have a right to begging for this technology transfer now in COP-14 and till COP-100!

Let’s see this example of technology transfer from Australia to Kyrgyzstan during early 1990s. The project was to support the poverty reduction through sustained economic generation from cattle farming. Under this project, thousands of Australian sheep transferred through ship from Sydney harbour to Bishkek. Beginning of the project, the Australian sheep start falling in number as they couldn’t adopt to the Kyrgyz climate as well as culture. Kyrgyz people are generally nomadic and they have an intricate relationship with animals. On this suggested transfer of sheep has nothing to do with reduce poverty but toying with spending some amount of money from developed countries. The idea was outdated to transfer the sheep from Australia to Kyrgyz.

Now, during the COP -14 talks, government representatives are asking for technology transfer to combat the climate change. Are the developing member countries waiting for the outdated technology to be transferred to their country like the sheep? Even, the government delegates from developing countries are suggesting that technology transfer should not be only government to government but also private sector has an important role. Again, we hear that private sector has a major role in addressing climate change as we see in Asian Development Bank (ADB) Strategy 2020 which is absolutely to privatize the whole world.

The private sector is looking for dirty technology to be dumped in the poor developing countries for quick or smart result. Although countries will get the technology which is outdated, this can’t resolve the climate catastrophe unless the developed countries drastically reduce their dirty emissions.

The convergence on technology transfer has yet to come in this meeting as developed countries are running away from their responsibility. The talks are not moving in right direction. Although on this COP-14, world is expecting a lot, the leaders have failed to reach that expectations so far.

Interestingly, this COP is negotiated under a special time in our life. The economic crisis, food crisis and environmental crisis has led to eerie silence among the developed countries to commit anything beyond their parochial goal. The developed countries must come out from their hard shell by showing leadership as well as putting some mandatory obligation to private sectors.

The talks are not only complex but there is a gap between what is going on in UN at this moment and on the field.

Photos by Frankie Roul.

PERSPECTIVE ON CLIMATE TALKS

Interesting process in Poznan
By Boris Gabrielyan


During last 4 days of UNFCCC, we have visited more than 10 meetings of side events and plenary sessions regarding different aspects of climate change problem. As a result of attending these meeting, it is becoming more clear the aims, objectives and approaches of the conference. As it is, the first Kyoto protocol is ending and there is necessity to work out new concepts and approaches for a second protocol, which will hopefully come into force in 2012. There is need to engage more countries to reduce their emissions, and mostly it relates to developed countries, which don’t seem to have any intention to reduce their CO2 emissions. There is impression that most of the countries try to avoid their responsibilities, create different causes, saying that to obey their obligations they need additional financial means from developed countries. For example, during of one of the plenary meetings, Russia has suggested to address individual approach to each country, taking into account physical – geographical features. In my opinion, it is correct, but this should not be the only principle without suggesting real measures to reduce own CO2 emissions, and relaying to the hope to receive help from developed countries.

Recently we had opportunity to meet government officials from Armenia and to discuss Armenian position on climate change at this stage. As it was mentioned by the head of the delegation, Mr. Aaram Gabrielyan, Armenia is suggesting new approach of problem solution - obliging countries to reduce the growth in temperatures, but not the economy growth.

During the discussion with Armenian government officials proposed to conduct a meeting of CIS governments with CIS civil society groups to talk over the possibilities of CSO engagement in decision-making process and negotiations on climate changes problems, and to discuss on more close interaction between governments and NGOs on this issue. Frankly saying, this kind of initiative was very surprising. Because, usually they avoid this kind of cooperation and release important and real information, but may be now is the time for more close engagement of CSOs and they need public awareness on this issue.

On December 5, we had a meeting with Oxfam GB representative – Kate Geary, Policy adviser – climate change/private sector and she explained the process happening in the conference and the problems at this stage of the UNFCCC and coming meeting in Copenhagen , where the second protocol will be approved or amendments will be done in the existing protocol.

Meeting on new technology transfer was very interesting on December 6, where we heard presentations prepared by Australia, Bangladesh, EU, etc. Mainly, the problems of competence and problem of new technology transfer between developed countries and developing countries have been raised. In the same day, the meeting with CIS government representatives was organized, the CACAM (Central Asia, Caucasus, Albania, Moldova) countries position and their role was discussed.

Photo by Avilash Roul.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

(Un)Clean Development Mechanism in Poznan

CDM is growing up but going out
by Avilash Roul

Whether you like it or not, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will be implemented as one of the tiny part solution to climate change. The mechanism, which has been brought into workable methods after a long bullying discussion since 1997, is going to be consolidated after the COP-14 talks. This is coming out from the discussion so far among the developing member countries in the Working Group Plenary as well as informal contact group meetings including all other official meetings.

A long discussion was kicked off by China’s presentation on CDM under the review of Kyoto Protocol. The government delegates have strongly recommended various ways and means to achieve the most number of CDM projects for their countries. Hopefully, they are unaware of severe oppositions to CDM projects back home. A section of civil society groups have been vehemently opposing the procedures and non-transparency of the CDM mechanisms, including the Secretariat who controls the fund- the UNFCCC Secretariat. And some sections are very critical about the success of the CDMs in overall GHG emission reduction issues.

During the COP-14, a clear mistrust among the developing countries is present in all negotiations on the amount of CDM and ‘who-will-get-what’ issues. It seems that countries are well prepared (only) on the issue of CDM. Also in a typical fashion of inter-governmental environmental negotiations, the country representatives are posting their strong argument to the chair of all official/informal negotiations.

Most propositions are against the countries which have received a large number of CDM projects, mainly India and China. The African member countries are not satisfied with the geographical distribution of the CDM projects so far. The delegates of Tanzania, Zambia and Senegal have registered their reservations about the procedures the DOE played so far and the difficulties to receive the project. The procedures are long and transaction costs are high for getting a nod for a CDM project. Colombia has suggested for a better channel for CDM projects rather the existing one. The Colombian delegate said, “The procedure to get a CDM project is very complex. A new methodology should be placed for smooth execution of CDM projects.” The African delegate has proposed for a certain percentage for all African countries for CDM projects.

The indigenous people group has offered a strong suggestion for CDM projects that said projects should be in free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) with the communities if they are going to be implemented in their area. The indigenous peoples have strongly conveyed their oppositions against any CDM project in forest areas; specifically if the project is destroying or altering the forest and their livelihood.

The World Bank representatives suggested for transparency in the process of CDM projects and recommended addressing the delay in the process. This is interesting to note that the Bank’s suggestions on CDM have various connotations. It seems that the Bank is going to lead in managing a climate fund for most vulnerable countries and it is in competition with the UNFCCC CDM secretariat. Is the Bank transparent enough on its Bio-Carbon Fund in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa?

Many CDM projects are waiting to be placed under the Kyoto Protocol in all developing countries. But whether the emission reduction will actually happen or not, only time can tell.

Next on Shared Vision...

Friday, December 5, 2008

DIFFERENTIATING IMPACTS
Who gets hit most and hardest? Poland questions...

By Redster

Well, yes, there is really a difference when it comes to climate impacts and issues dealing with responsibility and accountability. And it's a bit more complex - and simple - than we think.

Here are a few things to ponder on as we confront the global menace of our rapidly changing global climate:

1. Climate impacts will affect everyone. For now, a few may benefit. But very soon everyone will be hit badly - we live in one planet and the logic of physics - and the mystics - is still true: everything is connected, believe it.

2. The impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on those who are least responsible for it.

3. The developed world, which sometimes is called the North, is historically responsible for the problem. What the North needs to do is not just to cut their emissions drastically, the North also needs to pay reparations to the poor people who are now unjustly paying for their greed.

4. But the climate issue cannot just be about North versus South (which is another term used to refer to developing countries). It is also - it is really about the rich and the poor. Because in rich countries and poor nations, elites are the ones most responsible for the humongous majority of global greenhouse gas emissions. And in poor countries as well as rich nations, poor working people are the ones who end up shouldering the burden of the gluttonous ways of their respective elites.

5. But it will be extremely foolish to believe the world is divided into the rich and the poor - because we need to differentiate as well among the vulnerable. In the end, as study after study after study has shown, women end up carrying the burden of climatic impacts.

To call for climate justice is not enough. As a wise group reminds us, "There can be no climate justice without gender justice!"

The last pic is a photo taken from the parallel event "Women and Climate Justice" held at a venue just beside the Poznan convention place. The event was packed! And the free cookies were nice...

CREATURE STORIES

Strange days at the Poland Negotiations
By Redster

Well, it's been an interesting week so far. Move around the massive sprawl of the Poznan convention center and you'll come across uncommon things. Creatures even... More and more are feeling more and more anxious about the slow pace of the negotiations here, with delegates acting as if the world was not facing its most formidable crisis in recent memory. We're confronting a real countdown, as the young folks today remind us. And it's high time for climate justice.

Right after the building security, with its x-rays and so on, you'll come across this poor polar bear with a very smart plea - "No coins. It's change I need..." But no one seems to be sharing with the lonely animal any change - not even small change if the exchanges taking place in various plenaries are any indication.

There's a lot of anger generated by the indifference largely coming from countries such as Canada and Japan and the US (it's still Bush who's calling the shots, and who knows whether Obama's "Yes we can!" slogan will become "Yes we can screw things up further!" if US big business interests will continue to hold sway in Washington).

"The CDM is a lose-lose proposition that has become a corrupt and cheap way for the rich North to avoid making real emission reductions," said Tom Goldtooth today in a press event organized by the organized he heads, the Indigenous Environment Network (IEN). Goldtooth called on delegates not to expand the Clean Development Mechanism CDM), and to dump it instead.

Yuyun Ismawati of Balifokus echoed IEN's call, saying "CDM projects only create illusions and false hope for local governments." In our experience, Ismawati said, CDM "procedures and all activities related to the project application mostly beneifted only consultants, auditors and investors."

Much is expected of official delegates here in Poznan, though the international goal should be quite simple: agree on measures that will keep global temperature increase as far below 2 degrees Celsius as possible. We need to make representatives of our governments know and feel that we are watching them!

This will require massive cuts in emissions, beginning in the developed world. It will also require massive amounts of money for adaptation flowing towards those who need it most - because climate change is already taking place and there are impacts that are already unavoidable. The fight we confront, however, is the fight to prevent irreversible damage to the Earth's climate. The thin red line is called 2 degrees. We must not pass it.

Life as we know it - the future of all creatures (humans, animals, plants and delegates) is at stake.

That's Abigail by the way, smiling from beneath the Orangutan costume. I caught her walking by her lonesome, along the corridor reserved for humans, swinging her arms to and fro and doing a very good impression of Senyor Long Arms.

It's fun here at the convention center of Poznan, but it's also quite bleak. Humans need to be protected from the failures of... who else? More humans. #

Message from Kalia Moldogazieva

Dear friends,

Though here in Poland the weather is cold, at the UNFCCC conference there are hot discussions, many events, very busy agenda.

There were very interesting workshops of Green Cross International about reneable energy capacities in different countries. We took part in the different plenary sessions on several issues, such as mitigation and adaptation measures on climate changes in different countries, the responsibilities on reduction of greenhouse gases of developed and developing countries, transfering of technologies to developing countries. We visited exibition , organized by EU on new technologies on reneable energy, construction materials, wind energy, etc.

Many discussions and questions rised Clean Development Mechanism that was suggested as assistance to developing countries to achieve mitigation of global climate changes. I participated in seminar, where even small business copmanies experessed their concerns that there is created some barriers for participation of SME in this program. One women from national project on CDM related, as I understood, to East Europe said that there the requirement to monitor GHE during three years before project starts. So, CDM so complicated and creates many difficulties for implementing countries and this mechanism should be reconsidered.

Red, Savio, Avilash and Kite from Oxfam GB helping us to explain some procedures and policies in the framework of UNFCCC, that allow us to understand some realtions between cointries positions on main points of UNFCCC.

There are every day some actions from GreenPeace, Oxfam, Polska Zelena Scies on the street. Yesterday we also join to action "Stop harming, Strat helping"", and weared special glasses with such words.

Today we will have meeting with our governmental representatives at this conference, organized by Armenian government representatives after Boris spoke with him.

Best wishes,

Kalia Moldogazieva
HDC Tree of Life (Kyrgyz Republic)

Poznan Talks: Who is flying?

The Stork takes its flight...

By Avilash Roul

The Poznan climate talks began last December 1 here in Poznan-historical city of Poland. This 14 Conference of Parties (COP-14) considers to be the bridge from last year's Bali talks to next year's Copenhagen. Is it really a bridge? The beginning of the discussion shows many bumpy roads ahead to reach the Copenhagen on Dec 1, 2009. The "shared vision," as it is accepted during this climate talks, has many fissures within two days of dialogue. This COP is being considered by large number of delegates and participants a test case for the political will of many countries to look beyond individual commitments. The caution in this climate change issue is being discussed under the global economic crisis right now.

During the last couple of days, the clear battleground has been identified and the warriors are ready to take on the open-ended battle. The major contentious issue is, as usual, the greenhouse gas emission reduction target from the developed countries (Annex-1) after 2012. The developed countries have already created the fraction in the talks by showing many scientific modules of economic growth and emission reduction.

The typical climate lingo, such as Myth, slow progress, incoherent, disjointed, lack of seriousness, differentiated responsibility, historical responsibility, fractured mandate, confusion and so on, has been hurling against each other in this expensive talk shows. In the typical fashion of complex climate talks, the presentations and arguments-counter arguments and clarifications and comments have already started among the most visible actors in the negotiations. However, this is as usual in the climate talks. Media has switched off their laptop, pen and mind to write all these time and again as annual rituals.

The visibility of the US in this talk is minimal so far. The European Union has been coming up with new commitments and ideas to the negotiation so far. As usual, Saudi Arab is trying to create hurdles in any developed countries-suggested path. Kuwait is complaining the financial assistance for and as the most climate change affected country in the world! Japan is fixed with sectoral approach to the emission reduction. Russian Federation is convincing the world that the linkages of economic growth and emissions are different from country to country. China is impatient about the Annex-1 Countries’ slow progress on second commitment period and targets. India has been toying and arguing carefully to avoid any inclusion of its commitment to reduce the GHG emissions. African countries are arguing for more funds and projects under Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Colombia has been arguing for more CDM projects like Belarus. Other small countries are just taking participation to leave the battleground for the world Kaisers.

Similarly, parallel NGO meetings (closed door, as well as open door) are being strategized endlessly. The environmental NGOs from developed countries are spearheading the strategy to tackle or mold the Poznan talks by gathering intelligence and by making bridge among the major official players. Most participants are looking forward to fly to Copenhagen in 2009.

Does this mean less focus is given on Poznan? Is it going to be a talk show again? Let’s hope not. Although affected people-climate orphans around the world are not visible in this high profile conference, the world leaders must not wait or waste any time till Copenhagen.

Let’s see...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dispatch from Poland

SEEING WITH TWO EYES
red constantino

December 4, Poznan -- That's what the world needs to do. Look at the problem with two eyes.

The picture here is from this morning - the fourth day of the climate talks in Poznan, Poland. The morning was cold and when the Forum delegation got off bus C26, and we walked right into a beautiful peaceful action by Oxfam International.

That's Maya and myself having a funny moment, wearing OI's groovy glasses. One lens says "Stop harming!" Another says "Start helping!". We need both. In the incredibly complex world of the climate negotiations, the words "harm" and "help" seem so simplistic. But our world is so riven in terribly fundamental ways. The failures of our governments - and our failures as well - are so basic.

Solidarity is the only debt that people should owe one another, and unfortunately too few seem willing to understand this.

Here in the climate negotiations, it seems "Shared Vision" mostly means the big people's sense of sharing: "This is mine and that tiny thing is yours, and tomorrow I'll take some more of what you have." Ironic that it's all taking place under one sky, a cloudy one. A disfigured canopy.

At a session called "Adhoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action" a resource person referred to an interesting figure -- over the last decade, at least $600 billion is the cost incurred due to damage from natural disasters (which are often human-induced), adversely affecting 2.6 billion people. You need not have a colleage degree to know that most of the billions come from developing countries - the peoples who did not create the problem.

In Poznan, official delegates are talking about a real, equitable deal that can bring all players into one single agreement. It's hard to see any agreement deserving the title "equitable" if this conference avoids the word "reparations". Those responsible for damaging countless lives and the planet's ecosystems must pay. And our task - those who say they stand on the side of the oppressed - must be to continue to bring closer and closer those who harm and those who suffer. To stop the harm. And to help the marginalized not just by standing clearly on their side but also by taking action to achieve real wins. We have two eyes and we need to use them. #

That's part of the Forum team in Poland by the way: Kalia (hidden, from the left), Svetlana, Boris, Redster, Farjana and Maya. Circa took the photo... haha.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ode to Safeguards
by Joanna Levitt

Why do safeguard policies matter, you ask?
You want to know why so many people across Asia are calling out
protesting this roll-back of hard-won policy protections?
Taking a stand to demand that we guard
the safety
of their rights
and environments?

Because they know the Earth aches
They can feel it.

They know that so few people remember how to live in balance upon her.
And the few who do are actively threatened.
The inequality, injustice, imbalance builds upon itself
Until the sky itself groans
It cannot bear it
It cannot hold on to its age-old patterns of seasons, rains, winds, currents
The climate changes, slowly but surely
And the sky fears that these unknown changes will hit hardest among those who can least afford it.

Ceaseless demand in the North and the teaming centers
causes endless gaping wounds in the South and quiet fringes
The Earth's lifeblood and bones, her oil, water, minerals and forests
are extracted and pillaged
Her beloved inhabitants who live closest to her with humility and care,
are displaced, dispossessed, dispersed, disintegrated.

Today money travels with the speed of light
from an ivory tower investment account
to a distant corner of resource-rich earth
to fund its stripping and depletion
in the name of Development

But how slowly the voice of protest travels
of a farmer on that plot
of an indigenous woman
a child
an elder council
a neighborhood association
anyone who cries out:
"We do not want this.
You cannot force this upon us.
This is not what "development" ever meant to us, or ever will.
This is our land, our soul, our history, our future.
This is not just."

In the face of such forces
At this tipping-point time on our earth
Each tool we have won, each chance we have built
for healing and restoring balance
Must be cherished
Must be strengthened
Must be given life by the full backing of our collective wills and resources

To undo any such tool, at this time of breathtaking need on our earth
Is to condone harm to faraway families and plots of earth
It is also turning your back on your own, not just your grandchild but your self
You too have a birthright
to live on a healthy planet
to benefit from all the knowledge and knowings
of our planet's incredible array of peoples and places
To know that your own resources and convenience
do not come at the cost of others' death and dispossession

In the set of tools we need
To make a turn at this time of tipping
Safeguards are a simple—but vital—tool in this set
Or perhaps a keystone for the floor of what we are building
That ensures we shall do our utmost
To do no harm
—which, as we all know in our bones, is the bare minimum that we owe
to those with whom we share this planet.
We aspire to move far beyond this, beyond do-no-harm,
to opportunity and well-being for all

But this is a start,
this safeguard stone,
quarried from our long struggles for voice, land and livelihood.

Do not crack or file down or remove this stone in our floor
We are working hard
to build a house
for all of us
You shall not topple it

Instead,
Join us

There is work to do
For all who have come to build.

The sky knows it is not too late.