What Next -- Climate Watch

The politics of climate change and the global crisis

Check out this new book by Praful Bidwai, who's been associated with the What Next initiative since the very beginning. The book came out just before the Durban meeting and discusses, among other things, climate change in both an international equity context as well as the Indian domestic equity context. Below a brief about the book from the Transnational Institute website.
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Post-Durban, India has its task cut out

Interesting analysis and reflections on what happened in Durban and India's role.
Hindu_5 jan 2012
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Major Clash of Paradigms in the Durban Climate Talks

South Centre bulletin 58
Here is a detailed account and analysis by Meena Raman of Third World Network of what happened in the dramatic end of the Durban COP17 negotiations, and implications for the future. The article was originally published in South Centre's South Bulletin (

Download a pdf-version of the whole issue here. Link to South Centre web page here.

Major Clash of Paradigms in the Durban Climate Talks
[South Bulletin 58 Article]

By Meena Raman

The main outcome of the two-week Durban climate change conference was the launching of a new round of negotiations known as the Durban Platform aimed at a new regime (whether a protocol or other legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and involving all countries.

The draft decision on this was provided at an informal plenary late on the night of Saturday 10 December long after the Conference was scheduled to end and when many Ministers and senior officials had already left Durban.

It was given to participants as part of a package of four decisions on a take-it-or-leave it basis with little time for the members to consider or discuss among themselves in an unusual and unprecedented set of procedures.
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Time out: Analysis of Durban and its outcome by Centre for Science and Environment

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What really happened in Durban? Check out this extensive coverage by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India, in their magazine Down to Earth, 31 December issue.

The 17th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Durban in December 2011. Negotiations were heated and acrimonious, as the world desperately searched for new ways to avoid the toughest of questions -- how to drastically reduce emissions to keep the world somewhat within safe levels and how to do this while ensuring equity. With uneasy answers, the easy solution was to push the world to another round of messy negotiations for a new treaty, protocol or legal instrument or something like that. But one move of the developed world was to change the nature of the original treaty that differentiates between past polluters, responsible for the first action, and the rest. The aim at Durban was to erase equity as the basis of any global agreement to cut emissions. Ironically, the world chose the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela to set the scene to build a new apartheid in climate talks. Down To Earth and the Centre for Science and Environment bring you an analysis…

To continute read, download the 17-page pdf-version of the thorough feature story with graphs, boxes and explanations. Or click here to find the original story at the CSE website.

You may also want to read this prophetic reflection by Sunita Narain of CSE, only a few hours before the COP finally ended.

And -- here's a link to a Guardian article by Sunita Narain "The EU's climate evangelism has got us nowhere: Europe must stop trying to bend developing countries to agree to a legal deal in the hope that this will bring the US on board", published 9 December.
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Who Will Control the Green Economy?

News Release

15 December 2011

ETC_ Green_Economy_shadow_186pxl
Who Will Control the Green Economy?
New report on Corporate Concentration in the Life Industries

From the UN Rio+20 preparatory meetings in New York, ETC Group today launches Who Will Control the Green Economy? The 60-page report connects the dots between the climate and oil crises, new technologies and corporate power. The report warns that the world’s largest companies are riding the coattails of the “Green Economy” while gearing up for their boldest coup to-date – not just by making strategic acquisitions and tapping new markets, but also by penetrating new industrial sectors.
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Equity: The next frontier in climate talks

Down to Earth Editorial:
Equity: The next frontier in climate talks
by Sunita Narain

In 1992, when the world met to discuss an agreement on climate change, equity was a simple concept: sharing the global commons -- the atmosphere in this case -- equally among all. It did not provoke much anxiety, for there were no real claimants. However, this does not mean the concept was readily accepted. A small group of industrialized countries had burnt fossil fuels for 100 years and built up enormous wealth. This club had to decide what to do to cut emissions, and it claimed all countries were equally responsible for the problem. In 1991, just as the climate convention was being finalised, a report, released by an influential Washington think tank, broke the news that its analysis showed India, China and other developing countries were equally responsible for greenhouse gases. Anil Agarwal and I rebutted this and brought in the issue of equitable access to the global commons. We also showed, beyond doubt, that the industrialised countries were singularly responsible for the increased greenhouse gases.
In 1992, it was accepted
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Third World Network: News Updates from COP17 Durban


For detailed coverage of all the key discussions sessions and negotiations at COP17, Durban, the 28 (!) Third World Network News Updates are indispensable. Links to pdf versions in reversed chronological order below. For Third World Networks homepage with News Updates and Briefing papers from other negotiations sessions, go to: http://www.twnside.org.sg

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Update No. 29: Movement of Technology Mechanism in Durban Outcome
by Elpidio V. Peria (21 Dec 11)

Update No. 28: Kyoto Protocol "second commitment period" remains uncertain
by Chee Yoke Ling (16 Dec 11)

Update No. 27: Decision on Green Climate Fund adopted
by Meena Raman (15 Dec 11)

Update No. 26: AWGLCA Chair transmits report for adoption despite strong protests
by Meena Raman (14 Dec 11)

Update No. 25: Major clash of paradigms in launch of new climate talks
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Sivan Kartha on the Durban outcomes: "Deeply worrying"


We have a glass, and time will tell whether it is half-full, half-empty, or purely decorative. We will see whether the yet-to-be-negotiated "protocol, legal instrument, or agreed outcome with legal force" is actually be capable of ramping up global ambition.

And on that score, I'm deeply worried. Yes, Durban gave us (something like) the "legally binding" language that we wanted. But, as far as I can see, Durban also took us several LARGE steps backward in terms of "trust-building", which many of us have believed for a long time is inexpendable if a real global solution to the crisis is to be found. And this further undermining of trust makes it less likely that the dearly sought language on "legally binding" will actually lead to something meaningful.

Specifically, here's how I fear trust has been undermined:
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On the "Durban Platform for Enhanced Action"

The decision to establish an Ad Hoc Working Group on the "Durban Platform for Enhanced Action" (DPEA), i.e. the controversial "Durban Mandate", was a remarkable show of bad process in the last hours of the conference -- already on 30 hours overtime with many Ministers (particularly from developing countries) already on their way home.

The implications will be felt for a long time to come…

We are likely to see an erosion of the science-based "top-down" (i.e. starting with emissions reductions as deemed required based on science) principled climate regime of the Kyoto Protocol -- with a further shift towards the US-championed voluntary, bottom-up "pledge" system where countries just notify what they intend to do: currently this amounts to only 13-18% cuts by the rich countries (which could in reality amount to zero cuts due to the extensive "loopholes" that the rich countries refuse to remove). It's naive to believe that pledges will be sufficient to ramp up commitments towards the 40-50% that is needed by 2020, and the the 90-100% needed by 2050!

The mandate for the new agreement is remarkable open, which paves the ground for endless negotiations with little prospect to reach anywhere near the regime -- the Bali Action Plan -- that was still the basis for negotiations when the Durban meeting started. There are also reasons to be very worried from an equity and climate justice perspective -- although the new platform is placed under the Climate Convention with its fundamental principle of "common but differentiated responsibility", USA and other Annex 1 countries will press hard to erode any equity related mechanisms.

In short, by opening up for the Durban mandate, the world has given a blank check to the US and others to effectively stall and weaken the future climate regime -- while squandering the relative firm basis that already existed: the Bali Action Plan. Considering the effectiveness of the US negotiations since Copenhagen (they have likely attained most of their stated goals), and the dismal domestic political situation (with climate change denying Republicans dominating Congress, and Obama acting more destructive than George W Bush as he actively steers the world onto the wrong path rather than just standing aside), it is naive to believe there could be anything meaningful coming out of open-ended negotiations on the DPEA over the next few years.
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Friends of the Earth International: Diastrous “Durban Package” accelerates onset of climate catastrophe.


13 December 2011

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, 13 DECEMBER 2011 – The UN climate talks in Durban were a failure and take the world a significant step back by further undermining an already flawed, inadequate multilateral system that is supposed to address the climate crisis, according to Friends of the Earth International.

Developed countries engaged in a smoke and mirrors trick of delivering rhetoric but no action, failed to commit to urgently needed deep emissions cuts, and even backtracked on past commitments to address the climate crisis, said Friends of the Earth International.

  • The outcome of the Durban talks, heralded by some as a step forward, in fact amounts to:
  • No progress on fair and binding action on reducing emissions
  • No progress on urgently needed climate finance
  • Increased likelihood of further expansion of false solutions like carbon trading
  • The further locking in of economies based on polluting fossil fuels
  • The further unravelling of the legally-binding international framework to deliver climate action on the basis of science and equity.

While there was resistance from developing countries to the destructive proposals on the table in Durban, the final Durban outcome amounts to:
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Christian Aid Press release: "Durban Climate Talks: A disastrous outcome for poor people"

Sunday 12th December 2011

Christian aid press release
'This Durban outcome is a compromise which saves the climate talks but endangers people living in poverty,' said Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's expert on the UN negotiations held this year in Durban, South Africa.

'It is a disastrous, profoundly distressing outcome - the worst I have ever seen from such a process. At a time when scientists are queuing up to warn about terrifying consequences if emissions keep rising, what we have here in Durban is a betrayal of people across the world.
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UNFCCC press release on Durban

UNFCCC Durban press release

Here's the UN press release immediately following the conclusion of the Durban COP17 negotiations. Quite a different conclusion than the many critical assessments of civil society.
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Naturskyddsföreningen om Durban

Läs Naturskyddsföreningens kommentarer om Durbanmötet.
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INDIA - 'Grim Reaper' of Durban -- Really?

As increasing pressure and preparations for a nasty blame game was mounted against India principled refusal to abandon the Bali Action Plan -- from both rich countries, several island states, as well as major parts of the mainstream environmental CSOs -- Stockholm Environment Institute's Sivan Kartha felt the need to set the record straight. Read this important and revealing note with facts that should constitute the basis for any conversation about India's role and responsibility in relation to other countries.

INDIA - 'Grim Reaper' of Durban -- Really?
By Sivan Kartha
The common wisdom is that we've come here to save Africa. Africa, we hear every day, is a continent populated with poor people on the front lines of climate change, where immediate adaptation is a priority and climate delay means death. India, we hear, is the grim reaper. And the purpose of COP17 is, in large part, to compel India to step back from the brink and help save Africa. India should stop being an obstructionist like the US, and should come to the rescue of Africa.
Well... some comparisons are in order.
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Globally funded Feed-in tariffs in focus at Durban COP17

The bold, visionary idea of establishing a system of globally funded feed-in tariffs to simultaneously tackle climate change and poverty/energy access gained lots of traction during the Durban COP17. Several side events highlighted the approach with numerous researchers, civil society activists as well as government representatives pointing to the unique effectiveness of feed-in tariffs to rapidly drive massive investments in renewable energy.

Flyer SSNC feed-in side event_shadow_186pxl
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) organized a well attended side event on 2 December with the International Network for Renewable Energy (INFORSE) and Helio International. The INFORSE presentations provided a number of concrete, successful cases of renewable energy initiatives on the ground, while the SSNC presentation (by Niclas Hällström) focused on the idea of enabling local, bottom-up initiatives through global financing in line with common but differentiated responsibility.

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Here' are Niclas and SSNC's powerpoint presentation on the idea of globally funded feed-in tariffs.
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