Program Director Air and Energy
Mexican Center of Environmental Law (CEMDA)
Panama is the last stop towards the COP17 and is a meeting that should clearly define the future of the climate regime. We are less than a year until the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012) is completed, and because of the lack of definition of clear strategies to achieve the emissions reductions needed to combat the problem, this not only risks the failure of the negotiation process, but also risks the survival of humanity.
For me, Panama is not only a stop in the process, but also an opportunity to raise the voice of Latin America that has been so quiet in these negotiations. This is not a lack of willingness of the actors in the region, but rather, there is a lack of human skills and language issues.
There are many actors in the region who wish to participate and contribute with ideas and proposals, however, cultural issues are a barrier for a small percentage of players who also speak English. This hinders their interaction with various actors: other Governments and other international organizations.
Therefore, we need to take into account that climate change will affect us all and that means we all have to make efforts to address the problem, it is not enough to simply recognize that there are different views in the process. It is necessary to create the mechanisms to achieve the understanding between actors and then build a common language that allows us to address the underlying problems.
In Panama, we should leave with a clear message that there will be consolidated climate regime to establish clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as definitions and clarity on key issues such as technology transfer, capacity building, adaptation and others that are vitally important to move forward. Without doubt, one of the great needs that must be addressed is the definition of clear targets for reducing emissions, both by developed countries and developing countries, which play a key role in the scheme of emissions and they are positioned as future leaders of the problem.
The goal of stabilizing emissions at 450 ppm to avoid a temperature rise more than 2 ºC, is necessary and we can not afford to reduce that ambition. We are at a critical juncture; we cannot allow countries to put aside what brought us to negotiate the future of mankind and not individual interests and diversions that do nothing but deepen the problem.
Taking into account all of these, the other important issue that is a key point to achieve all of this is the financing mechanisms. Where the money is going to come from? How we are going to guarantee the creation of a strong architecture, but with money inside? This is a crucial issue in Panama and is surely going to be a key point in Durban.
Time is running out and with it the lives of many people worldwide. Everyone needs to wake up and push to make things happen. We cannot continue in this scheme of vagueness and lack of will. We cannot wait. Government, business, academia and organizations cannot let the erratic visions take over the discussions. It is our commitment to make things happen, and it is our commitment that this is done better.
The next challenge is to bring this to the national level and try to get everyone domestically to discuss the implementation of public policies in our countries. I have been working in the strengthening of a climate policy in my country, México, preparing suggestions, studies and talking with key actors. My roll in México is to make things happen by having dialogues with the legislative power, the federal government, local governments, academy and civil society. We have already achieved the allocation of 300 million dollars to go towards fighting climate change, which is not enough, so we will push for more.
Sandra Guzman from CEMDA explains that countries need to increase their commitments on long-term financing before COP17.
Isaac Kabongo from Ecological Christian Organization speaks on the cost of no action on climate change and the situation in Uganda.
Mahlet Eyassu from Forum for Environment-Ethiopia speaks on what is needed on climate financing before the conclusion of the Durban UN Climate Talks in December 2011.
Wanun Permpibul from the Renewable Energy Institute of Thailand Foundation speaks about the catastrophic flooding in Thailand. She addresses what is needed in Panamá at the climate negotiations in order to make progress in Durban, at the annual COP, to help locally with adaptation to climate change in Thailand.
Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO)
The United Nations declared that 11.5m people currently need humanitarian assistance across East Africa and many more could join them. The BBC reported that millions in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa face dire food shortages due to the worst regional drought for decades. On Tell Me More today, Al-Jazeera English correspondent, Azad Essa, told host Michel Martin that "in a word, the situation is quite horrific." The Horn of Africa region is now full of environmental refugees who do not have real hope in this real world. Their hope could be in the climate talks in Panama City that represent the best and last chance to get climate change negotiations back on track and prepare for a legally binding agreement at COP17 in Durban, South Africa.
In Uganda, the impacts of climate change are continuing without serious interventions to help vulnerable communities to cope. The recent emergence of landslides in areas without such history is leaving communities isolated, their survival networks and social structures weakened. On March 2 2010 over 358 people were killed by landslides at Nametsi Village, Bududa district, in Eastern Uganda. Landslides killed more 50 people in Bulambuli district, towards the end of August 2011 in Eastern Uganda. This is a region hit by drought, with many requiring food aid following the lack of April-May rain, these torrential rains, flooding and landslides are crippling the ability of communities to overcome poverty. Climate change impacts are making it even worse for communities to meet their needs and the government of Uganda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), reduce poverty, and enhance human development. For us in Uganda, the parties attending the climate change talks in Panama City should come up with a text on long-term finance, which should be easily accessed by vulnerable Countries like Uganda.
Environmental protection is necessary to prevent climate change disasters in many countries from getting worse. In Panama City, measures must be taken to accommodate the needs of environmental refugees through expanding finance, technology, and capacity building commitments to developing countries. There is also need by parties to strengthen counting rules and methodologies to eliminate loopholes and explore innovative approaches to close the mitigation gap. Developed countries, therefore, should increase the ambition of their mitigation commitments unconditionally because of their historical responsibility. The Kyoto Protocol should be extended to the second commit period and attempts should be made to desist from failing to reach a legally binding climate change regime in Durban, South Africa, in December at the final UN Climate Talks of 2011. It is also important to note that the cost of inaction in clear and the future of the next generation is at a crossroad.