Don’t bracket “Mother Earth”

14 December 2009

As the hallways of the Bella Center emptied on Saturday night, Shared Vision draft text negotiators and the Chair worked through the late hours. After three days of closed meetings, they finally managed to get through their first reading of the 32-paragraph text. (A surprising amount of debate time was spent on a proposal to bracket a reference to protecting “Mother Earth,” which led a Brazilian negotiator to say: “You can’t bracket Mother Earth.” ECO could not agree more.)

It appears that the Shared Vision negotiators had been asked to incorporate four pre-ambular paragraphs and seven operational paragraphs from their draft text into the LCA Chair’s proposed draft text. Given that this process is not likely to result in a Shared Vision COP decision or Annex, it is important that the concept of a shared vision outcome is not lost.

To be sure, the critical elements of the shared vision such as the right to survival, early and urgent action, human rights, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, gender responsibilities of developed and developing countries, just transition and public participation remain. The missing reference to the necessary emissions stabilisation level of 350 ppm carbon dioxide-equivalent in the draft LCA text sends an important signal to negotiators and civil society. It warns that important elements of the necessary requirements for a fair, ambitious and binding outcome are under threat.

The Shared Vision sets the frame and the direction for these globally critical negotiations that will set the path for our children and all future generations for whom we hold this planet as trustees. Parties must negotiate responsibly and with deep appreciation for what is at stake.

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