Tag: Agenda 2030

Statement NGOs Major Group during High-Level Plenary session – 20th of June

 

delivered by Wael Hmaidan, Climate Action Network

Watch the presentation Wael delivered to Rio+20 on behalf of NGOs at Rio.

 

 

Thank you, Vice-President.

I am making this statement on behalf of the NGOs in Rio+20.

It feels amazing to be in this room among all the world leaders, and feeling all this power around me that can shape the World. We all know the threat that is facing us, and I do not need to repeat the urgency. Science is very clear. If we do not change in the coming five to ten years the way our societies function, we will be threatening the survival of future generations and all other species on the planet. Nevertheless, you sitting here in this room have the power to reverse all of this. What you can do here is the ideal dream of each one of us: to have the opportunity to be the savors of the planet.

And yet we stand on the brink of Rio+20 being another failed attempt, with governments only trying to protect their narrow interests instead of inspiring the World and giving all of us back the faith in humanity that we need. If this happens, it would be a big waste of power, and a big waste of leadership opportunity.

You cannot have a document titled ‘the future we want’ without any mention of planetary boundaries, tipping points, or the Earth’s carrying capacity.  The text as it stands is completely out of touch with reality. Just to be clear, NGOs here in Rio in no way endorse this document. Already more than 1,000 organisations and individuals have signed in only one day a petition called “The Future We Don’t Want” that completely refuses the current text. It does not in any way reflect our aspiration, and therefore we demand that the words “in full participation with civil society” are removed from the first paragraph.

If you adopt the text in its current form, you will fail to secure a future for the coming generations, including your own children.

To mention a few examples of failures in the document:

In the issue of finding resources to implement sustainable development, we see countries using the economic crisis as an excuse, while at the same time spending 100s of billions of dollars subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, the most profitable industry in the world. The first thing you can do is eliminating the existing harmful subsidies, especially fossil fuel subsidies, which was voted as the number one issue during the civil society dialogue.

Under the oceans section, you have failed to give a clear mandate to even start negotiating an implementing agreement to stop the Wild West abuse of the high seas.

There are many other failures in the document related to women’s reproduction health, missed opportunities to start new global treaties on civil society participation and on sustainability reporting, the extraordinary lack of any reference to armed conflicts, nuclear energy (especially in light of the fukushima disaster), and many others.

But it is not too late. We do not believe that it is over. You are here for three more days, and you can still inspire us and the world. It would be a shame and a waste for you to only come here and sign off a document. We urge you to create new political will that would make us stand and applaud you as our true leaders.

Thank you

Topics: 

Fossil of the Day awards for ALL governments for agreeing a future we DON'T want

In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award 
was today given to ALL governments attending the Rio+20 summit. NGOs 
reacted to the adoption of a shockingly weak outcome text applauded by 
all governments in the plenary this morning, pointing out that - 
contrary to the document's title - the agreement did NOT reflect the 
future they want.

The text of today's Fossil award reads as follows:

"For the first time ever, yesterday, we awarded Big Oil a Fossil of the 
day - and the Fossil itself became the target of a protest by some angry 
billionaire CEO’s.

Today, we faced a monumental task deciding just who to award the fossil 
to. Obviously the perpetual podium contenders came up, Canada for 
tarring Rio+20 by cutting out funding, commitments and so much more. The 
United States and Japan, for weilding the literal and metaphorical 
delete button, cutting up the text like a ribbon, and the other Big Oil 
states for weakening language on subsidies and trying their best to cut 
the climate out of Rio. But for some reason we just didn’t feel like 
that was doing it justice, too many people were getting off the hook.

The outcome so far in Rio is an epic failure. Yet all governments have 
applauded it, as if selling out the planet and people were a grand 
success.

This is NOT the future we want, if anything this is the future that big 
polluters have bought.

With this text Rio+20 is turning back the clock on sustainable 
development. As nations hide behind economic uncertainty, they continue 
to give upwards of trillion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry - 
yet here in Rio they’ve all come up with empty pockets. The first step 
is to turn that trillion green and make it work for the people and the 
planet, and like I said, that's just the first step. There is still 
miles to go on oceans, the sustainable development goals, or even having 
the ambition to build a pathway to just, sustainable future.

Because every country has applauded this document, and no country has 
had the guts to step up and be a champion for the people and the planet, 
this fossil is for every single nation here, and for all the world 
leaders beginning to arrive for what has become a glorified photo op to 
sign a declaration of destruction and a plan for pollution.

There are 3 days left here in Rio, and without a change this summit 
will go down in history as more than simply a failure, and those leaders 
who sign off on its demise will be known as the architects of 
destruction. So as we hand out this, the biggest fossil yet, Heads of 
State and their representatives need to remember one thing: the whole 
world is watching, the planet is burning, and they are holding matches."

 

 

Topics: 

Fossil of the Day awards for ALL governments for agreeing a future we DON'T want

In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award 
was today given to ALL governments attending the Rio+20 summit. NGOs 
reacted to the adoption of a shockingly weak outcome text applauded by 
all governments in the plenary this morning, pointing out that - 
contrary to the document's title - the agreement did NOT reflect the 
future they want.

The text of today's Fossil award reads as follows:

"For the first time ever, yesterday, we awarded Big Oil a Fossil of the 
day - and the Fossil itself became the target of a protest by some angry 
billionaire CEO’s.

Today, we faced a monumental task deciding just who to award the fossil 
to. Obviously the perpetual podium contenders came up, Canada for 
tarring Rio+20 by cutting out funding, commitments and so much more. The 
United States and Japan, for weilding the literal and metaphorical 
delete button, cutting up the text like a ribbon, and the other Big Oil 
states for weakening language on subsidies and trying their best to cut 
the climate out of Rio. But for some reason we just didn’t feel like 
that was doing it justice, too many people were getting off the hook.

The outcome so far in Rio is an epic failure. Yet all governments have 
applauded it, as if selling out the planet and people were a grand 
success.

This is NOT the future we want, if anything this is the future that big 
polluters have bought.

With this text Rio+20 is turning back the clock on sustainable 
development. As nations hide behind economic uncertainty, they continue 
to give upwards of trillion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry - 
yet here in Rio they’ve all come up with empty pockets. The first step 
is to turn that trillion green and make it work for the people and the 
planet, and like I said, that's just the first step. There is still 
miles to go on oceans, the sustainable development goals, or even having 
the ambition to build a pathway to just, sustainable future.

Because every country has applauded this document, and no country has 
had the guts to step up and be a champion for the people and the planet, 
this fossil is for every single nation here, and for all the world 
leaders beginning to arrive for what has become a glorified photo op to 
sign a declaration of destruction and a plan for pollution.

There are 3 days left here in Rio, and without a change this summit 
will go down in history as more than simply a failure, and those leaders 
who sign off on its demise will be known as the architects of 
destruction. So as we hand out this, the biggest fossil yet, Heads of 
State and their representatives need to remember one thing: the whole 
world is watching, the planet is burning, and they are holding matches."

Topics: 

The Public is Clear: End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Negotiations here at Rio+20 appear to have come to a standstill.  Member states can’t seem to agree to much of anything; the multilateral process, intended to promote ‘cooperation, compromise and dialogue’, has turned into a frantic scramble to produce ‘some’ nay ‘any’ kind of tangible outcome of the conference. So far, ‘compromise’ has meant the deletion of entire paragraphs of text that countries have been unable to agree upon.  There is a real threat here that this enormous global opportunity could be wasted.

At this crucial moment delegations would do well to take heed to civil society groups, who have had no trouble coming to consensus on some of the most important outcomes from this summit, namely ending the nearly $1 trillion annual subsidy for fossil fuels.

Over the last several weeks thousands of people around the world have voted online for their sustainable development priorities as part of the Rio-Dialogues process.  The No.1 response was “take concrete steps to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.” In the lead up to Rio, Avaaz.org, 350.org and many others collected over a million signatures against these regressive handouts and yesterday on Twitter #endfossilfuelsubsidies was a top trending topic worldwide; while hundreds of youth and their allies marched through the Rio Centro complex to highlight that incentives for atmospheric pollution and outdated technologies are not part of the future we want. 

 The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as part of its Vision 2050 report, said that by 2020 governments must “remove subsidies that encourage over-consumption and resource degradation.”   The Trade Union Assembly on Labour and the Environment, held last week, articulated a very different vision than the business community on many issues.  However, the two groups agreed on the importance of “fair and environmentally-sound tax policies” with labor calling for a “just transition” away from fossil fuel dependency.  Over 170 NGOs have co-signed a letter calling for a socially equitable phase out.  Similar calls have been made by other major groups for the scientific and technological community, youth and women , to name just a few.

Yet, despite all of this, over the past few days the text on subsidies has gotten increasingly weaker.  We must ask why.  One explanation is that civil society has not been given an appropriate space to voice the importance of this issue.  In an attempt to move these negotitations forward, the Brazilian government took energy negotiations behind closed doors at the beginning of the prepcom.  They facilitated discussions that included only a few key states and no representatives from civil society.  While this could be seen as a pragmatic move, ECO must dissent.  Fossil fuel subsidies are clearly a critical issue for civil society globally and must be brought into the center of deliberations in the coming days. Bringing in more voices, particularly those who have already come to consensus across ideological divides, enhances the credibility and productive potential of this process.

The Brazilian Presidency and the UNCSD have an enormous opportunity but they need to act fast.  By bringing fossil fuel subsidy reform into the heart of negotiations they can demonstrate a commitment to responsive leadership,and to the global mandate they have received.  This would significantly improve the actual and perceived legitimacy of this process and would be an important first step toward advancing a more ambitious agenda.

There are no guarantees that subsidy reform will make it into a final text.  However, there is a strong case to made that by discussing it openly we can find language acceptable to all parties. For example, it appears that some countries are worried that a phase out would undermine their ability to develop or would create a domestic political backlash.  These concerns can be assuaged by discussion that includes actors like Switzerland, Costa Rica or Ethiopia.  These delegations will surely be happy to talk about how their countries have removed perverse energy incentives and found more effective ways to protect the poor and reinvest in projects that drive positive feedbacks for sustainable development.  Civil Society groups can offer enormous insight based on their research and experience in affected communities.

We have an important choice to make.  We can continue grasping at straws over issues that are stuck in the mud or we can directly tackle one of the largest obstacles to achieving a green economy that alleviates poverty and strengthens opportunities for development.  Civil society has provided a path, now leaders need to take it.

Topics: 
Related Newsletter : 

New text is a green light for fossil fuels

So the Brazilians pulled together a draft and shared it with at least some of the world on Saturday night (some delegates had not even received it on the Sunday). Like everyone else, ECO was scrambling to see what was in it, specifically for energy and climate.

Oh the irony of climate and energy

As expected, there was good and bad, but unexpected was the irony: the new text was strong on climate, reaffirming the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. There was a temperature target (2 or 1.5), and a nod, i.e. ‘recognise the importance of’ mobilising funds and transferring technology, as well as urging parties to honour their Kyoto commitments (hint hint, Canada et al).

And yet what’s driving climate change, what’s responsible for two thirds of all emissions, what’s destroying local communities and their environments – we’re talking about our addiction to dirty fossil fuels for energy – has been completely watered down.  In fact, the energy paragraphs positively promote fossil fuels. It makes achieving the climate paragraph a near impossibility.

Actively endorsing fossil fuels

Thanks to Canada, Russia and others, where we talk of ‘an increased use of renewable energy sources’, the text also adds ‘and other low-emission technologies’, and even goes further, explicitly including ‘cleaner fossil fuel technologies’. There’s a recognition that renewable technology and energy efficiency are necessary for sustainable development, but there’s no means of achieving it: all mentions of technology transfer and finance have been removed, with finance only be mentioned for energy access. While this is of course incredibly important for sustainable development – and great that it gets its own paragraph in the text, if a little weak on access for who – but it’s not the whole picture. If we’re expecting countries to leap frog our own dirty development pathways, rich, industrialised countries need to provide the adequate and appropriate technology and finance in line with commitments that have been in place for the past 20 years.

Sustainable Energy for All

Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ (SE4All) initiative, which isn’t part of the official process but was ‘welcomed’ in the zero draft, has now only been noted after a united position from G77+China. While it’s addressing the right challenges – climate change and poverty – a statement signed by over 100 civil society organisations from across the world shows how much work is needed. As it stands its unambitious targets are inadequate to meet the climate crisis, while civil society and the energy poor – those it should be helping – have been left outside a process dominated by corporate fossil fuel, finance and utility interests. Not being in the text will not mean the end of the initiative, as the Secretary General’s office have been predicting this for a while, so the challenge now is ensuring that after Rio, the initiative launches a people-driven process to see how we can genuinely deliver sustainable energy for all.

Fossil fuel subsidies

One way we can start is by ending government hand-outs to the fossil fuel industries, but they’ve been dealt a heavy blow in the latest text. Rather than honouring commitments made back in 2009, the text ‘recognises the need for further action’ – collective amnesia? Like all issues, there are nuances, so the first step is addressing subsidies given directly to dirty energy companies, but pushing them out of the text is another step backwards. Today over a million signatures are being handed to world leaders, all calling on governments to stop handing our money to dirty industry, because Rio is a real chance to make some progress. We need to make sure that happens.

The Future We Don’t Want

This text is not going to deliver a sustainable future, driven by clean, safe and affordable energy, but it reflects what’s round the table: no political commitment from those that can make it happen. We need to challenge fossil fuel interest

Topics: 
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Related Newsletter : 

Shell, Exxon Mobil, Petrobras, Chevron and BP Given First Ever “Corporate” Fossil

 

In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award broke protocol today to award a special fossil to big oil and their friends. The award is a recognition of the back room, dirty tactics that the fossil fuel industry and lobby has used here in Rio and for years to block progress on climate change and sustainable development. 

The corporations were also singled out for being some of the biggest recipients of the nearly $1 trillion in subsidies handed out each year to big polluters. The award comes on the eve of a corporate business event including a session entitled "Fossil Fuels and Sustainability" that features representatives of Petrobras, BP and Shell. The text of the Fossil Award read as follows:

Today's fossil award is an extra special one, a never before seen or heard of Fossil of the Day...a Fossil First here in Rio.

The recipients of this Fossil have for years stood in the shadows, and in the way of real progress on climate change and sustainable development. Around the globe they are the worlds largest climate criminals, responsible for spilling millions of barrels of oil in the natural world, and dumping billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Let's get a (oil) drumroll please for today's Fossils! Those big bad polluters!

Shell! Exxon-Mobil! BP! Chevron! and a special Brazilian Rio Fossil for our sponsors here at Rio+20 Petrobras!  Honorable mention goes to all the oil barons, king coals and gas giants around the globe! Our top four recipients collectively made nearly $140 billion dollars in 2011, all while working against the adoption of strong, ambitious climate legislation in countries around the globe, digging deeper into dirty energy. All four are major players in the tar sands and part of a new rush to develop oil in the Arctic - despite their roles in major disasters like the Deepwater Horizon, the Kalamazoo river spill, the Exxon Valdez and the list goes on.

Oh yeah, and they're all part of that prestigious trillion dollar club, recipients of massive polluter handouts.

Petrobras gets a special spot for coming on as a sponsor of Rio+20 while trying to break the resistance of fishermen of Rio’s Bahia de Guanabara with violence. The fishermen have been struggling to defend their livelihoods against Petrobras’ oil spills.

The Fossil of the Day ceremony was also the target of a mock protest by "Billionaires for Subsidies", a group of youth drawing attention to the influence of big polluters here in Rio and on climate progress around the globe. The fossil fuel companies were targetted for attempting to hijack the agenda in Rio, but also for lobbying to weaken climate commitments for governments around the world. 

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