Climate Justice Groups Call for Binding Deep and Drastic GHG Emissions Cuts by Developed Countries

Civil society organizations from different countries and regions gathered at the “Speakers’ Corner” near the International Convention Center to demand that governments in the climate talks renew binding agreements for developed countries and commit to ambitious targets for “deep and drastic GHG emissions cuts” immediately. Continue reading “Climate Justice Groups Call for Binding Deep and Drastic GHG Emissions Cuts by Developed Countries”

African Groups at COP15 Send Urgent Appeal Letter to Obama As He Receives Nobel-Release and Quotes

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Africans Appeal to Obama As He Receives Nobel: ‘Keep Alive the Dreams of Our Fathers’

African Parliamentarians and Civil Society Appeal to Obama for Climate Justice

COPENHAGEN – The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a coalition of civil society organizations in 43 countries across Africa, issued an urgent appeal to US President Barak Obama as he prepared to receive the Nobel Peace Prize Thursday night in Norway.

African Parliamentarians and members of African civil society groups were joined by representatives from US civil rights, human rights and environmental justice NGOs in Copenhagen at the UN climate talks in calling for bold American leadership on climate justice.

Recalling President Obama’s inauguration day pledge to the people of poor nations “to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds,” PACJA stated that, “we take these pledges seriously. And we intend to hold you to your word.”

The letter implores Obama to consider the impacts of a 2 degree temperature rise on Africa. The letter, echoing the IPCC findings, describes this target as a death sentence for millions of Africans. “We fear for our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers – your uncles, aunts and cousins. Your policy on climate change threatens not only our families but also your own,” it reads

The US NGOs will take the letter to President Obama as a follow up to COP15 negotiations

“Obama’s America should not be the one that turns a blind eye and deaf ear to the injustice that is causing untold misery to the world’s poor. He should earn his prize today by securing the wellbeing and prosperity of his suffering kinsmen,”  Augustine Njamnshi, PACJA Central Africa, said.

“The situation demands that America steps forward to lead the way by taking bold steps to reduce emissions and to usher in an era of equity in global agreements. We therefore join with Africa in an appeal for aggressive, just and sustainable change.” Felicia Davis, Coordinator of the Black Women’s Roundtable said.

“We urge you to fight for climate justice to seal a fair and effective deal in Copenhagen which is in line with what science demands. The future peace, security and prosperity of Africa should not be compromised to rich countries’ interests. We look to you for enlightened leadership to ensure an end to this climate injustice.” Mithika Mwenda, PACJA Coordinator, said.

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PAN AFRICAN CLIMATE JUSTICE ALLIANCE

Let Us Keep the Dreams of Our Fathers Alive

Dear Mr. President,

We write to you with great pride and respect for your leadership. You are known throughout our continent as the ‘son of Africa.’

We are your brothers and sisters from Africa – we represent an alliance of civil society organizations in 43 countries across Africa that brings together a diverse group of people who share a common concern for our continent and the growing catastrophe of climate change.

In your inaugural address to the presidency of the world’s most powerful nation, you affirmed your commitment to help the world’s poor by saying:

“To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds… And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect.”

We take these pledges seriously. And we intend to hold you to your word.

Our rivers are drying. Our crops are turning to dust. An unrelenting sun scorches our land while other areas are ravaged by storms and diseases. Scientists now say the world could warm by 6°C – and by more in Africa. This threatens nothing less than the collapse of our continent.

Today Africa grapples with a challenge that is not of our making – impacts we had little role in causing. We find no alternative but to look to those nations that contributed most to causing climate change, and to call on them to lead by example.

As the world’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas concentrations, and as the world’s wealthiest nation, the United States has a singular duty to ensure that Africa is kept safe from the rising impacts of climate change. Yet we find it failing in this duty. Along with other leaders of developed nations you have proposed:
•    That global average temperatures be limited to below 2 degrees C – yet this threatens catastrophic harm to Africa, which will likely warm by around 1.5 times this global average;
•    That global emissions be limited to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, yet this risks a 50% chance of exceeding 2 degrees C; and
•    That Annex I countries cut their emissions by 80% by 2050, which would rob Africa of its fair share of atmospheric space and limit our prospects of development while we grapple with a more hostile climate.
You are coming to Europe to receive a Nobel Prize in Oslo and to attend the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. You must live up to the dignity of the Nobel Prize when you come to Copenhagen. You must listen to the voices of other countries, including Africa.

Our greatest single concern is that the United States seems to be seeking to continue domestic pollution well into the future by “offsetting” its emissions in Africa, further transferring the burden of curbing climate change to those people who had little role in causing it.

Furthermore, we are concerned that the United States, by insisting on remaining outside the Kyoto Protocol, has become a pretext for other developed countries to seek to evade, rather than implement, their legally binding obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. This undermines the only international agreement that establishes binding international emissions targets for developed countries.

These positions are as unjust as they are unsustainable. We call on the United States and other developed countries to recognize their historical responsibilities for the causes and adverse consequences of climate change, and to repay their climate debts to Africa and other developing countries.

Allowing temperatures to rise by up to 2 degrees globally, and thus to 3 degrees in Africa, is a death sentence to literally millions of Africans. We fear for our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers – your uncles, aunts and cousins. Your policy on climate change threatens not only our families but also your own.

We implore you not to crush the dreams of our fathers.

Sincerely,

Mithika Mwenda
PACJA Coordinator

PACJA letter to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt

Prime Minister of Sweden

Rosenbad 4

SE-103 33 Stockholm

Sweden

26 November 2009

Dear Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt,

I write to applaud the important leadership role played by Sweden and the European Union ever since the negotiations on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change commenced in 1991 and in particular, the EU’s historical support for the Kyoto Protocol, and its recent commitment to unconditionally cut its emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. Sweden’s commitments to emission reductions and to development are well known and provide an important inspiration to others.

It is therefore with regret that I write to express my growing concern that the international climate negotiations remain paralysed in large part due to the unwillingness of industrialised countries to commit to deep enough greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, or to sufficient levels of long-term funding and technology transfer to address the scale of this global challenge and enable adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

With every day that passes, the intensifying impacts of climate change illustrate the need to seal a fair and effective deal in Copenhagen. And yet, the climate negotiations continue to center on that which is politically viable versus what science demands and humanity needs. The low level of commitments reflected in the latest proposals by industrialised countries leaves me with a great sense of forbidding for my continent and for the Earth.

The success of the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen depends on the role that Sweden plays as Presidency of the European Union in ensuring the EU and its member states  reduce their own excessive energy consumption, commit themselves to mandatory emission reduction targets and help to finance poorer countries’ move away from fossil fuels. Only then is there a real chance to forge the global deal that prevents climate catastrophe for once and for all.

Climate change is threatening the balance of life everywhere on Earth. But nowhere else in the world have we seen greater impacts than on the African continent. Here, the poorest and most vulnerable to climate change now stand on the frontline of a battle to which they have in no way contributed.

The people of Africa are suffering now; they are dying now.  In local communities throughout my own country in Kenya, our women and children face a myriad of stark survival challenges including poverty, inequality, underdevelopment, and unsustainable livelihoods. Over ten million Kenyans are now at risk of starvation, largely because climate change is sapping our water resources, destroying our fertile land, and spreading water-borne diseases on already over-burdened health systems.

My continent is slipping rapidly into a climate change-induced chaos. But this is a chaos not of Africa’s making. It is one due to the rich world’s historical emissions and current high-energy consumption levels.  Not only are industrialised countries responsible for global warming given their huge historical and present emissions. But as well, they owe their current prosperity to decades of overuse of our common atmospheric space.

Honouring these historical responsibilities is not only right; it is the essential basis of a fair and just solution to climate change. Unfortunately, the European Union and other industrialised countries are still a long way from acknowledging the extent of their climate debts, or recognising the need to reduce them, or of finding ways to effectively and fairly address their responsibilities.

With climate crises looming large throughout the developing world, anything less than a just and equitable agreement at COP15 will be as catastrophic as the climate change impacts that my continent is now struggling to deal with. We are called on to measure our ambition against the scale of the task, not the political barriers we must overcome to achieve it. We must evaluate our leadership against the task to be undertaken, not the actions of others. The European Union’s ambition must be raised even further. The time to do this is now.

Therefore, I call upon the EU to agree in Copenhagen to:

Copenhagen outcomes. Commit to fulfill its legally binding commitment to undertake a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol commencing in 2013. The United States’ continuing unwillingness to sign the Kyoto Protocol must not be a pretext for other countries to refuse to fulfill their obligations in international law. An outcome for the United States must be found under the Convention, as agreed in the Bali Action Plan. Sweden is called on to lead the fight to save the Kyoto Protocol, and ensure all countries particularly in the EU, honor their obligations in international law.

Mitigation. Cut its domestic emissions by much higher levels than your current conditional offer. The worlds’ largest polluters must reduce their emissions without “offsetting” the burden to developing countries. To minimize the risk of catastrophic tipping points, provide development space for developing countries and share the remaining atmospheric space fairly, the European Union and other developed countries are called on to cut your aggregate domestic emissions by 50% by 2017.

Adaptation. Compensate Africa for climate-related harms and damages. It is the historical emissions of the European nations and the other industrialized countries that are harming Africa. Those countries that have contributed most to causing climate change must compensate those affected for actual harms and damages, and for lost opportunities for our development;

Finance. Ensure financing for the full incremental costs of mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer. Polluters and not the poor should pay for the costs of mitigating and adapting to climate change. Africa did little to cause climate change, yet we bear the adverse effects. Developed countries spent trillions to stabilize their financial system. They must stand ready to make at least 5% of their GDP available to stabilize the Earth’s atmosphere and address the devastating impacts of their historical emissions on Africa and other developing countries.

Technology transfer. Transfer technologies to developing countries to enable us to mitigate and adapt. These must be accessible, affordable and adaptable. We need an emergency mobilization to place technologies in every village and town if we are to curb emissions within the next decade while bettering people’s lives. Just as a Marshall Plan supported Europe to recover from a great misfortune, an even greater effort is required to prevent further misfortune visiting Africa.

Accountable institutions. Ensure that institutions are effective and accountable to all countries – including those of Africa – under the Conference of Parties. We must move beyond the donor-driven approaches of the past towards a true partnership. Institutions must include new and enhanced mechanisms for finance, technology transfer and adaptation. They must be directly accountable to all countries, including the countries of Africa.

A shared vision to keep Africa safe. Agree a shared vision of keeping Africa and other vulnerable places safe. Africa will warm around 1.5 times the global average. A global goal of below “2 degrees” is literally a death sentence to millions of Africans. I call on you to embrace global goals for finance, technology, adaptation and mitigation that will keep temperatures on the African continent well below 1.5C, while enabling us to address the inevitable suffering and devastation even this level of warming will cause. Anything less threatens untold suffering, and massive violations of our fundamental freedoms and human rights.

The world looks to Sweden, to the European Union and to its Member States to usher in a new era of enlightened leadership and responsibility. We need the readiness of all industrialised nations to depart from the patterns of behaviour that deepen inequality and endanger the stability of the climate system. But more than anything, now we need Sweden’s steadfast commitment to ensure that Copenhagen is a key turning point for climate justice – a major milestone on the journey towards safeguarding the Earth’s climate system and ensuring a future in which the rights and aspirations of all people can be realized.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Wangari Maathai

PACJA letter to Sweden

We write to you as an alliance of civil society organizations in 43 countries across Africa that represents a diverse group of people and shares a common concern on our continent about the growing catastrophe that is climate change.

Climate change is upon us in Africa. Our rivers are drying. Our crops failing, diseases increasing, people going hungry, and thirsty. An unrelenting sun scorches our land while other areas are ravaged by storms and disease. Scientists now say the world could warm by 6°C – or more – a global average that will be exceeded in Africa. This threatens nothing less than the collapse of our continent.

Today Africa grapples with a challenge that is not of our making; effects we had little role in causing. We find no alternative but to look to those nations that contributed most to causing climate change, and to call on them to lead through their example.

We call on Sweden as the President of the European Union to fulfill its duty to ensure that Africa is kept safe from the rising impacts of climate change. Yet we find it failing in this duty. Along with other leaders of developed nations you have proposed:

That global average temperatures be limited to “below 2°C”, yet this threatens catastrophic harm to Africa (which could warm by around 1.5 times this global average);

That global emissions be limited to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, yet this risks a 50% chance of exceeding 2°C; and

That Annex I countries cut their emissions by 80% by 2050, and non-Annex 1 countries including African countries make up the rest the rest of required effort. This would rob Africa of its fair share of atmospheric space and limit our prospects of development while we grapple with a more hostile climate.

Of greatest single concern is that it seems the European Union seeks to continue its domestic pollution well into the future by “offsetting” its emissions to Africa and other developing countries, further transferring the burden of curbing climate change to those countries that had little role in causing it.

Also of concern is the European Union’s seeming willingness to ignore their legal obligations under the Kyoto Protocol; failing to agree a second commitment period of the protocol will undermine the only international emissions targets for developed countries.

These positions are as unjust as they are unsustainable. We call on the European Union and other developing countries to recognize their historical responsibilities for the causes and adverse consequences and to repay their climate debts to Africa and other developing countries. Our detailed demands are set out in the attached African Climate Justice Manifesto.

As we near Copenhagen, the eyes of the world are upon the European Union. We call on you – as a leader of nations and as friends to Africa – to ensure that Sweden, the European Union and its partners in the industrialized world address their historical responsibilities and debts, and ensure that Africans and all people can look forward to a bright future.

PACJA letter do Denmark

We write to you as an alliance of civil society organizations in 43 countries across Africa that represents a diverse group of people and shares a common concern on our continent about the growing catastrophe that is climate change.

Climate change is upon us in Africa. Our rivers are drying. Our crops failing, diseases increasing, people going hungry, and thirsty. An unrelenting sun scorches our land while other areas are ravaged by storms and disease. Scientists now say the world could warm by 6°C – and by more in Africa. This threatens nothing less than the collapse of our continent.

Today Africa grapples with a challenge that is not of our making; effects we had little role in causing. We find no alternative but to look to those nations that contributed most to causing climate change, and to call on them to lead through their example.

We call on Denmark, as the Presidency of the Conference of Parties, to fulfill its duty to all Parties to ensure a fair and balanced process and an outcome that respects the distinct mandates to implement the Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Convention. These outcomes must ensure that Africa is kept safe from the rising impacts of climate change. Yet we find it failing in this duty. Along with other leaders of developed nations you have proposed:

That global average temperatures be limited to “below 2°C”, yet this threatens catastrophic harm to Africa (which could warm by around 1.5 times this global average);  That global emissions be limited to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, yet this risks a 50% of exceeding 2°C; and there by making the costs to Africa significantly worse.

That Annex I countries cut their emissions by 80% by 2050, which would rob Africa of its fair share of atmospheric space and limit our prospects of development while we grapple with a more hostile climate and the twin challenge of tackling poverty.

Of greatest single concern is that it seems the European Union and other developed countries within the Umbrella Group seeks to continue its domestic pollution well into the future by “offsetting” its emissions to Africa and other developing countries, further transferring the burden of curbing climate change to those countries that had little role in causing it.

Also of concern is the seeming willingness of these developed countries to end rather than implement their legally binding obligations under the Kyoto Protocol; it is undermining the single international agreement that establishes binding international targets for developed countries.

These positions are as unjust as they are unsustainable mindful of the historical responsibility of developed country parties who have to take the lead in ensuring a stabilization of atmospheric concentrations while not undermining the right to development of developing countries.

We therefore call on you to ensure that the European Union and other developed country parties commit to adequately reduce their mid-term emissions under a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as well to provide additional and predictable financial and technological support for clean development and adaptation in developing countries.  Our detailed demands are set out in the attached African Climate Justice Manifesto.

As we near Copenhagen, the eyes of the world are upon Denmark. We call on you to ensure that Denmark and its partners in the industrialized world address their historical responsibilities and debts, and ensure that Africans and all people can look forward to a bright future.

Yours Sincerely,

Mithika Mwenda,

Coordinator – Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance