The Link between Emission Cuts, Right to Development and Transformation of Capitalist System
Statement from Focus on the Global South.
Humanity is running out of time. If there are no deep and real cuts
in the next five years the impacts of climate change will lead to a
situation ten times worse than what we have seen with hurricane Sandy
and other climate change related events in India, Russia, Philippines
and Africa in this past year.
That's what happens with 0.8ºC of global warming, and the current climate negotiations are leading us to a 4ºC to 8ºC scenario.
More than two-thirds of coal, oil and gas should be left under the soil
Different studies say that to limit the increase in temperature to
2ºC, all countries can only emit 565 gigatons of CO2 between 2010 and
2050. At the current rate of 31 gigatons of global CO2 emissions per year, we are going to expend that budget in 15 years.
According to the International Energy Agency, two-thirds of the known
reserves of the world’s coal, oil and gas should remain underground to
have 50 percent chance of staying below the 2ºC limit. If we want 75 percent chance, we have to leave 80 percent of these reserves under the soil.
To not surpass the limit of 565 gigatons of CO2 until 2050, less than
200 gigatons of CO2 can be sent to the atmosphere from 2010 until 2020.
Given this calculation, it is unacceptable and illogical to have a
“new” agreement that will only be implemented in 2020, while during this
decade, when deep cuts are needed, there will be a “laissez faire” situation in emission reductions with a Kyoto Protocol that is much weaker and has shrunk.
Climate negotiations should agree to leave under the soil more than
two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves and negotiate mainly how countries
are going to exploit and consume the available reserves taking into
account a) their historical emissions and b) their per-capita emission
in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated
The United States, as the main historical emitter, has to reduce its
emissions more than the others. All developed countries called Annex 1
parties should cut, until 2020, between 40 to 50 percent of their
emissions based on 1990 levels. These commitments should be translated
into concrete targets in coal, oil and gas usage per year
The right to development must not be used to promote more consumerist and capitalist societies
The right to development should be understood as the obligation of
the states to guarantee the basic needs of the population and their
right to enjoy a fulfilled and happy life in harmony with nature, and
not as free ticket for a capitalist consumer society that only caters to
the excesses of the few while causing the critical financial, social
and ecological situation that we are facing now.
China, Brazil, South Africa, India and other emerging economies
should also have targets for emission reductions because at present they
are becoming great emitters of greenhouse gases. These binding targets
should be lower than the targets of Annex 1 parties, following the
principles of historical and common but differentiated responsibility.
Developed countries must immediately transfer funds and technology to
assist developing countries to undertake mitigation action and to adapt
to climate change. Their contributions should be assessed according to
their historical and current contributions to GHG emissions and
represent at least 10 percent of their military budget for 2013. These
funds are necessary not only for GHG emission reduction but also for
adaptation and for prevention of damages and losses in developing
countries permanently suffering from the effects of typhoons, cyclones,
hurricanes, floods and droughts.
Stop the false solutions
Ending subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and limiting fossil
fuels use, although key steps and very important, will not be enough. We
also need to stop the advancement of all kinds of false solutions that
are equally detrimental to humans and nature like: agrofuels,
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Synthetic Biology,deadly nuclear
power, and Geo-engineering, land and forest grabs by big business in
collusion with governments in the name of forest protection, and carbon
credit trading schemes that traders and polluters love.
The corporations behind these inventions are arrogantly and
irresponsibly playing with nature and the planet. The goal of Synthetic
Biology to create more life forms than those that exist in nature will
have catastrophic consequences. The plan of Geo-engineering to pollute
the atmosphere with a different gas to counter balance the effect of
greenhouse gases will only worsen the situation of the whole Earth
No more speculation with carbon markets
Emission cuts have to be real, without loopholes like carbon markets,
offsets or hot air. The European Union ETS (Emission Trading System)
has demonstrated that the financial sector does not care about climate
change. Carbon credits from ETU, CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) or
REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of
forests) are in reality permits to pollute that allow those who are
actually contaminating our atmosphere to renege on their obligations.
The development of new carbon mechanism for forests, soil and coastal
vegetation will only worsen the climate crisis and create new financial
bubbles. It is unacceptable that rich countries use climate funding to
promote carbon markets through REDD and CDM.
Joint social and environmental struggles to change the balance of forces
The climate crisis caused by the capitalist system is going to be
amplified now by its current financial/economic crisis. The capitalist
system is seeking to get out of this economic crisis through a process
of reconfiguration that implies a new process of exploitation of humans
and nature through: a) reduction of social benefits and wages that
workers have won through long history of struggles, b) grabbing by
corporations of the remaining material part of nature (land, water,
forest, minerals, etc.), c) financialization and commodification of the
processes and functions of nature (payment for environmental services
like REDD, compensation for biodiversity loss, and others), and d)
development of technologies to control, patent and profit from
biodiversity and ecosystems (e.g. Synthetic Biology and
Corporations have captured governments. To confront the interests and
power of corporations, our struggle must have as starting point the
daily life of the people affected by climate change and not the UNFCCC
negotiations. The right to food and water is key component of this
fight. A new, intensifying food and water crisis is being triggered
worldwide because of climate change. Corporations are seeking to make
more profits through food derivatives, GMOs, agrofuels, public-private
partnership arrangements in water and other resources, and through other
measures. It is only possible to address the issue of food and water if
we join social and environmental struggles.
Grassroots mobilizations against coal plants, fracking, tar sands,
big dams, land grabbing, water privatization, agrofuels, GMOs, REDD are
already showing the way. We need to strengthen these fights, link them
and find connection with the social struggles against austerity plans.
Transforming the unsustainable capitalist system
The big challenge of putting a process in place for collective and
gradual transformation from fossil fuel-addicted system of consumption
and production towards a low carbon society requires also the
transformation of the unsustainable capitalist system. The carbon, oil
and gas sector can’t be led by the logic of private profit. The power of
fossil fuel corporations has to be dismantled and societies, not the
state-bureaucrats, have to take control over these resources and
To change the patterns of consumption and production we need to move
beyond the all-dominating, profit-driven and unsustainable capitalist
system that exploits people and ruin ecosystems. We need to keep a
livable planet—this planet!
The alternatives to cool the planet come from below
A "one size fits all" model like neoliberalism or centralized
bureaucratic socialism is not the answer. Instead, diversity should be
expected and encouraged, as it is in nature.
Social groups around the world have a series of alternatives that can
help cool the planet. Alternatives like food sovereignty and
agro-ecology instead of agro toxics and agribusiness; public transport
instead of unsustainable production of cars; durable goods with less use
of energy and natural resources instead of products designed for over
consumption; local production and consumption to avoid the waste of
energy in global transport; de-globalization for the people instead of
globalization for the corporations; new balance between agriculture and
industry as well as between countryside and city to reverse massive
urban slums of rural refugees; social and not private management of the
fundamental services. Many of these living alternatives have already
been tested to work, while some need the space to be implemented and
prove their superiority over the proposed false solutions.
To reestablish balance in the Earth System, we need to abandon the
anthropocentric vision of capitalism and recognize that we are only one
component of nature and that in order to live a healthy life we need to
respect the vital cycles, the integrity and the interdependence of
nature by recognizing and upholding the rights of Mother Earth.
current proven reserves of oil, coal and gas all together have a
potential of 2,795 gigatons of CO2, which is five times more than the
565 gigatons budget. This implies that at least 2,230 gigatons of CO2of
proven reserves of oil, coal and gas should be kept where they are and
not be burned. http://www.carbontracker.org/carbonbubble
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