The Social PreCOP held in Venezuela left civil society, governments and the delegation of the hosting country with mixed feelings. Can I accept the outcome as is? The answer is ‘no’.
After a long fight to establish an official dialogue with governments on the issue of international climate negotiations, civil society welcomed the space that the Venezuelan government provided “to deliver a joint official message to the ministers.” But things did not quite go the way we expected. Putting in place a platform that civil society can use to express its opinion is an important step forward and must create a precedent during the UNFCCC negotiations. Back in Copenhagen, the Venezuelan government could have been proud of such a stunt. It gave the promise of letting civil society drive the outcome but the PreCOP did not deliver.
Contradicting the spirit of the Social PreCOP session held in July where civil society actually led the process, the first two days of civil society debates now were conducted by the government of Venezuela. The draft of the final document that the Presidency had presented to the civil society as a ‘recap’ omitted many of the key issues previously agreed to by a large number of organizations. There is large disagreement surrounding the document and a lack of appetite from the Venezuelan government to address these concerns. A few hours later, they agreed to accept the text as a ‘Presidential Summary’.
The Venezuelan government failed to deliver on key points and Greenpeace — as well as some other organizations — cannot endorse the ‘Presidential Summary’.
It lacks any reference to two key issues that ministers have to bear in mind in Lima:
- The need to reflect a global mitigation goal in the upcoming agreement with a fair transition period that allows us to phase out fossil fuels and phase in 100% renewable energy for all no later than 2050. According to the latest report of the IPCC, it is not only the path to avoid the worst impacts of climate change it also speaks of the livelihoods of millions of people that will be in danger. It is also essential to achieve the international goal of providing global access to affordable energy and avoiding all the impacts linked to the lack of this basic resource. In addition, nations may unlock the economic benefits of shifting away from fossil fuels.
- The importance that EVERY country offers adequate commitments for the climate agreement in Paris. We can expect the contributions to be submitted by March 2015, June the latest. There is a clear need to establish a proper international assessment process well before the COP21 in December 2015.
The division between developed and developing countries is not acceptable anymore in the current geopolitical reality. The challenge of climate change has to be taken head-on and by every country.
The world is moving fast and the paradigm that was valid in the nineteen nineties does not reflect the current reality anymore. Fighting climate change requires bold action by all parties. They must agree on legally binding yet adequate commitments according to their fair share. Countries need to move away from guilt- and debt-based speeches and start focusing on the national and international responsibility by taking into account the different national historic responsibilities and trajectories, as well as the diverse social and economic realities. We need to move away from carbon-based economies and shift international and bilateral finance and cooperation mechanisms towards the solutions. We must take care of the affected sectors, poorest countries and most vulnerable communities so the global vision of a 100% renewable future becomes a reality.
We, the people, are already shifting towards this paradigm of global responsibility and solidarity. We come together in key moments – take the People’s Climate March in September in New York – but also put in place renewable energy solutions. Governments can learn a lot from our hands-on approach. Especially the French should take note for the Social PreCOP to be held next year as their representative already acknowledged in Venezuela. The one take-away from this experience in Venezuela is that organizing a social PreCOP carries a sober responsibility. It starts with promoting broad participation in the process — without exclusions — and ends with listening to and respecting the views of the participants, so that the message passed on to the ministers comes genuinely from the people. Before this is not in place, we, the civil society, are not the only ones losing. Both, the time of the ministers to hear civil society concerns and the credibility of the hosting country are at stake.
Mauro Fernandez is Climate and Energy Expert with Greenpeace Argentina
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