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작성일 : 09-12-07 16:46
Joint Statement of the COP 15 Korea NGOs Network
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Joint Statement of the COP 15 Korea NGOs Network

The world needs climate justice at Copenhagen

  No one doubts the reality of climate change today. Humanity has already lost so much and will lose more due to ever-worsening global warming. As humanity keeps delaying measures to combat climate change, ecosystems around the globe are dying out, and abnormal weather patterns are seriously endangering human lives and civilizations. People in the global south are losing their homes and turning into climate refugees, and rising sea levels have uprooted them from their very livelihoods. Unstable food supply has led to rapidly increasing populations suffering from famine. Two years have passed since the fourth IPCC report warned us of such climate disaster, but humanity is still mired in the fossil fuel trap. What is worse, more and more researchers are discovering that even the IPCC report was too optimistic to begin with. Depressing forecasts talk of arctic glaciers completely disappearing by 2020 to 2030, much earlier than the once predicted century end. There is news that even the antarctic glaciers that appeared unaffected by global warming are now rapidly melting away. Global temperatures are rising beyond human control.

  Despite looming catastrophe, the world is increasing rather than decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions. It is long past time to halt this reckless race. That is why the world is focusing on the 15th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (hereafter referred to as COP15) in Copenhagen. COP15 is where the international community has promised to conclude post-2012 discussions. It is also an important  turning point for reflecting on our past mistakes so that we can put our best foot forward in the new century. Thus, COP15 needs to be the launching pad for our generation's efforts to overcome the dire challenges that lie ahead. To this end, the COP15 Korea NGOs Network would like to make the following points.   


 Copenhagen is the Maginot line for us

  Due to conflicting interests between developed and developing nations, prospects for reaching a final agreement on a post-2012 regime do not look good. But we have too little time left to just accept such gloomy prospects. Considering COP proceedings so far, even if an agreement is reached on GHG reduction goals, a great deal of time is spent on discussing detailed implementation plans. In other words, failure to strike a deal at Copenhagen would create a time lag between 2012 - when the Kyoto Protocol goes out of force - and the implementation of countermeasures against climate change, meaning that the world will lose the opportunity for timely intervention.

  Furthermore, COP15 was set as the Maginot line for concluding post-2012 discussions according to the Bali Action Plan adopted at COP13. It is unacceptable for countries to abandon pledges they voluntarily made to the international community in their selfish pursuit of national interests. Some may point out that reaching a new political consensus is not a breach of international agreements, but that is nothing more than a cowardly attempt to rationalize their irresponsible attitude. Failure to reach a consensus at COP 15 would be morally unforgivable, not to mention economically and politically senseless. We are standing at a monumental crossroad today, and the outcomes at COP15 could open a new chapter in human history or make our generation go down in history as the most foolish one to walk the earth. Each government negotiation team must be fully aware of this and work with unlimited fervor to conclude negotiations at COP15.
 

The IPCC AR4 recommendations are not optional but mandatory

  The IPCC recommended through AR4 that in order to prevent climate change from causing irreversible damage, the world must, before the end of this century, stabilize GHG concentration to below 450 ppm and global temperature to no more than 2℃ above pre-industrial levels. These recommendations are based on irrefutable scientific facts and should be of top priority in any approach to addressing climate change. More and more critics are claiming that the IPCC recommendations are too conservative and that we should drive GHG concentrations down further to below 350 ppm if we are to actually avert disaster. In a situation where such claims are sounding ever more convincing, it is deplorable that countries are refusing to implement efforts to meet even the most conservative standards.

  COP15 must produce results in the form of agreed goals to cut emissions by at least 50%~85% of 1990 levels. The imperative of countering global warming must not be shackled by the economic self-interest of the parties. Each government delegation must immediately abandon this "chicken game" that has put the very survival of humanity at stake.

 
Industrialized countries are responsible for global warming

  That the industrialized world including the US and EU is responsible for global warming is beyond the shadow of a doubt. By monopolizing fossil fuels, developed countries have created and enjoyed great wealth. Global warming is a by-product of such wealth, and so wealthy nations are largely to blame for it. Accordingly, any attempt to disregard this climate debt and shift the blame to developing countries is morally and politically unforgivable. Everyone knows that the most basic rule in solving environmental issues is the "polluter pays principle." Industrialized countries must set for themselves emission reduction goals in accordance with their past contribution to global warming. We back the global environmentalists' demand that industrialized countries cut emissions by at least 40% of 1990 levels by 2020 and 95% by 2050. 

  In addition, the industrialized world must provide acceptable levels of financial and technical assistance to the third world that is suffering from the GHG that they emitted in the past. Increasingly, it is the least developed countries that suffer the most from climate change year after year, but the industrialized world's support falls far short of what is needed to deal with such suffering, and what little aid that is being provided is not finding the proper channels. Even at this moment, there are people who are losing their homes, their economic stability and sometimes their very lives due to climate change. Industrialized countries must take this very seriously. No longer should any country or people suffer because of the selfishness of the industrialized world. Developed nations must work actively at Copenhagen to reach an agreement on clear and substantial pledges and legally-binding mechanisms to support the third world.
 

Stop fantasizing about emissions trading

  It has become evident that the emissions trading system, introduced under the pretext of cost efficiency in dealing with global warming, has had no impact on climate change. The system has only served to recognize the "emissions rights" without actual "emissions reduction," and big market players that should be responsible for cutting emissions are more interested in exploiting the system for profits. In particular, many governments have abused this system and turned a blind eye to the moral hazard rampant in the trading market. The whole point of dealing with climate change is getting industrialized countries to give up their unsustainable energy consumption patterns and reduce GHGs in their domestic industries, NOT to help them fill some quota. The effects of cap-and-trade published so far are nothing more than a mathematically induced fantasy. 

Green hypocrisy only accelerates global warming

  There are pitfalls in the COP 15 agenda that may steer the post-2012 discussion in the wrong direction. A prime example is the agenda item on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD). Some have publicized REDD as a win-win game since it provides financial compensation to developing countries for preserving their forests. But this is an extremely one-sided perspective. Even if REDD does contribute to the universally agreed value of preserving rainforests, its implementation would also lead to many states depriving indigenous peoples whose livelihoods depend on the forests of their basic rights in favor of securing assistance from developed countries. Furthermore, if developing countries are compensated in the form of more emissions rights, which seems to be where this debate is heading, it will lead to "over-issuing" of emissions rights that will in turn lead to more GHG emissions. There is the added problem of serious degradation of biodiversity due to increased monoculture. Therefore, the parties need to accept the fact that REDD is not an appropriate measure against climate change.

  The issue of nuclear energy as a clean development mechanism (CDM) should also be revisited from the inequality perspective. Nuclear power plants produce nuclear waste, yet another environmental problem that current technology cannot solve, meaning we will be passing this on as a risk and burden to the next generation. This is typical generational inequality, in which the benefits of energy is enjoyed by the current generation while its harms are passed down to future generations. That nuclear energy can contribute greatly to stemming climate change is simply a myth.  Even IEA has published findings that while energy efficiency would contribute to 31~53% of CO2 reductions by 2050, the contribution from nuclear energy will only amount to 2~10%. Furthermore, as considerable research has pointed out, nuclear power does not make much economic sense due to decommissioning costs and social costs. What is worse, nuclear power will always retain the potential of being turned into weapons of war. On account of such inherent problems, we oppose nuclear energy being recognized as a means to counter climate change. In particular, we will condemn any attempt to recognize nuclear energy as a CDM. 

  Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is yet another misconceived solution to climate change. It is nothing but the manifestation of intentions to maintain the current energy-hungry culture and prolong the era of fossil fuel dependency. It will take tremendous amounts of time and effort to commercialize CCS technology, and safety issues have yet to be resolved. Rather than pinning our hopes on such uncertainties, our time and effort would be better invested in enhancing the scope and efficiency of new and renewable energies.

   
So the conclusion is 'CLIMATE JUSTICE'

  The UNFCCC in principle calls for a common but differentiated duty to reduce GHGs, but in practice, negotiators from both developed and developing countries have exploited it to suit their own interests. The negotiation procedure up to now has been merely a process of bickering over how to minimize economic costs to each party. In the process, policies for the socially marginalized, whose very survival - not to mention economic and environmental rights - is being threatened, have largely been disregarded.

  The institutional violence against the weak - represented by the third world, indigenous peoples, working class, peasants, women and so on - is a case in point. The damages of climate change can be divided into two types - damages caused by unnatural weather patterns and damages resulting from being left out of the process of mitigating climate change. Social players such as workers, peasants, indigenous groups and women are not just more vulnerable to the harms of climate change; even in the process of addressing climate change issues, their livelihoods are threatened and they are often forced to pay the biggest social costs. And yet they are left largely to their own defenses. Their social rights must be taken into account and guaranteed in the post-2012 regime currently under discussion.

  In order to address the inequality engendered by climate change, the new consensus at Copenhagen must embrace the principle of climate justice. To this end, we ask for clearly-worded documentation on concepts such as "greenhouse gas development rights" of the third world, "climate debt" of the industrialized world and  "basic energy rights" of the economically deprived. In addition, each country should include in no uncertain terms the principle of climate justice in formulating national measures to counter climate change. In particular, we support the principle of "just transition" that has been proposed by the International Trade Union Confederation and incorporated into the deal document.


We are ashamed of the South Korean government

  The Lee Myung-bak administration of South Korea has taken every opportunity in international gatherings to mouth pledges to become an early mover in combating climate change, to cut GHG emissions to levels befitting Korea's industrialized status and so on. But the goal it announced in November was the reduction of a pathetic 4% of 2005 levels by 2020. The administration went on to make the absurd boast that its goal is the maximum (30% of BAU) that the international community expects from developing countries. But we are quite ashamed of our own government's attitude.

  South Korea is an industrialized country that ranks 10th in terms of energy consumption and 15th in terms of GDP. Although not included in the more than 30 Annex I countries, its cumulative emissions ranks 22nd in the world. So when it comes to energy consumption and GHG emissions, Korea cannot call itself a developing country. The Korean government has set a reduction goal that could not be further from the promises it so loudly made to the world, a goal that is incommensurate with its international responsibility. This is tantamount to deceiving the whole world. The Korean delegation must commit to reduction targets that correspond to its contribution to global warming. To fulfill such a commitment, the COP15 Korea NGOs Network requires our government to reset its goal to an emissions cut of more than 25% of 2005 levels.

  International organizations and environmental groups such as the UNEP, Greenpeace, WWF and Oxfam have complimented the South Korean government for its "low carbon green growth" initiative. But their favorable assessment is based on misleading information that has caused them to misconstrue the situation. The Korean government plans to achieve low carbon green growth by expanding nuclear energy to meet and maintain Korea's power demand and by paying civil engineers and developers astronomical sums of money to "develop" the four largest rivers in the country. This is not low carbon green growth but high carbon gray growth! We hope the UNEP and international environmental groups will have a more accurate perception of the Korean situation so that they will not be fooled by the Korean government's diplomatic tactics. In this regard, we ask that they heed and support the claims of Korean civil society including the COP15 Korea NGOs Network.

 
COP 15 Korea NGOs Network states as follows:


1. COP 15 is where the world must face up to the challenge of preventing climate disaster. As the parties promised at Bali, a final agreement must be reached on a post-2012 regime before the end of this session.

2. The shared vision of the world should be a global reduction of GHG emissions by 50%~85% of 1990 levels by 2050. To this end, the interim goal should be a return to 1990 levels by 2020.

3. In particular, industrialized countries must be held accountable for causing global warming, and commit to cutting emissions by at least 40% of 1990 levels by 2020 and further by 95% by 2050. In addition, they must immediately provide third-world countries affected by climate change with enough technical and financial assistance to overcome the problems they face.

4. All parties to the convention must face up to the fact that distorted schemes like the emissions rights trading and REDD only decrease the global volume of GHG that can be reduced and create numerous and serious social problems.

5. Behind initiatives for carbon capture and storage and nuclear power lies the intention to maintain the current structure that brought about global warming in the first place. Thus, such initiatives must not be recognized as means to cut emissions in the post-2012 regime. 

6. Climate justice must be the first and foremost principle in the post-2012 regime. To this end, climate justice should be expressly stipulated in the climate deal as a principle and an institution, and special protection measures must be put in place for people such as workers, indigenous groups, peasants and women who are the most vulnerable to climate disaster. In addition, the principle of just transition as proposed by the ITUC and drafted into the deal should be supported.

7. The South Korean government must give up its selfish pursuit of national interest and actively participate in GHG reduction efforts. We demand that the Korean government pledge to cut emissions by at least 25% of 2005 levels and stop touting its low carbon green growth vision that is misleading the global community.


7 Dec. 2009

COP15 Korea NGOs Network


Action for Energy Justice,
Buan Peoples Power Plant for Renewable Energy,
Buddhist Environment Solidarity,
Citizens' Movement for Environmental Justice,
Green Korea,
Eco-Horizon Institute,
Energy & Climate Policy Institute,
Energy Peace Foundation,
Environment and Pollution Research Group,
Federation of Korean Trade Unions,
International Center for Labor Solidarity,
Korea Confederation of Trade Unions
(Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions, Korea Federation of Public Services & Transportation Workers' Union, Korea Power Plant Industry Union),
Korea Christian Environment Movement Solidarity for Integrity of Creation,
Korea Democratic Labor Party,
Korea Federation for Environmental Movements,
Korea Labor & Social Network on Energy,
Korea Peasants League,
Korea Women Peasant Association,
Korea YMCA,
 Korean Network for Green Transport,
Korean Women's Environmental Network, ,
New Progressive Party

 
 
 




 
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