There are two main treaties governing global climate change action, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was part of the package of environmental treaties that was adopted in Rio in 1992 and entered into force in 1994, and the Kyoto Protocol (KP), which is linked to the UNFCCC and was adopted in 1997. The KP entered into force in 2005.
An important point about these treaties is that they are multilateral treaties under the UN. Under these two treaties there are two subsidiary bodies: the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). These two bodies support the KP and the UNFCCC. Continue reading “Understanding the climate change negotiations”
Waste management practices are an important, although oft-neglected, contributor to climate change. Waste disposal drives climate change directly through the release of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) from incinerators and methane (CH4) from landfills. Waste disposal also drives climate change indirectly by depriving the economy of reused, recycled and composted materials, thus requiring increased extraction of raw materials, an extremely energy-intensive process.
A climate-friendly alternative, known as Zero Waste, radically reduces greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the efficiency in managing materials. This reduces the need for extraction, processing, and transport of raw materials, while also avoiding emissions from disposal (incineration, landfilling, open dumping and open burning). However, rather than investing in Zero Waste, the waste industry continues to promote disposal technologies. It is currently engaged in greenwashing these technologies to take advantage of subsidies available to “climate-friendly” technologies – thus accelerating climate change and simultaneously depriving truly climate-friendly technologies of needed financing.
GAIA recommends that:
Governments should adopt Zero Waste as an essential strategy to combat climate change.
Mitigation funds which are to be used in the waste sector should support Zero Waste projects.
Incinerators, landfills, and other “waste-to-energy” projects which undermine Zero Waste should be ineligible for mitigation funds, offset credits and other forms of climate-related financing and subsidies.
Wastepickers are workers in the informal economy who recover recyclable materials from waste. They are invisible entrepreneurs on the frontlines of the fight against climate change, earning livelihoods from recovery and recycling, reducing demand for natural resources, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet their successes are being undermined by “waste-to-energy” technologies.