Climate Change: Should the rich continue polluting? - Pablo Solon, former UNFCCC negotiator and UN ambassador to Bolivia

Khadija Sharife and Vadim Nikitin

Pablo Solon, former UNFCCC negotiator and UN ambassador to Bolivia, tells The Africa Report that the biggest mistake with the Kyoto Protocol is to allow multinationals to continue polluting in a technically legal manner. "Should the rich be allowed to keep polluting?" Solon asks.

The Africa Report: What is the issue at stake here?

Solon:Here, we have a negotiation at two levels – one is this negotiation (pointing to the ICC) and the other is between the rich sector and the poor sector. It's a pity that it is not being highlighted here. There is the negotiation between nations too - that the countries responsible for 80 percent of historical emissions, US, Europe, Japan, are going to lose only 13-17 percent of emissions from the year 1990. So that is absolutely unacceptable because if they do that then the temperature will increase by more than 4 degrees Celsius. No matter what you do here ... if big emitters don't do what they must do the results will be bad.

This is the issue here – we think that at the UN level – that is, negotiation between nations, this unfair distribution of atmospheric space should end. At the national level, many countries have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and do it in a way that favours the poorest part of the population. You have countries where people don't have electricity... and areas that consume a lot of energy. So there is a problem between nations and the distribution of resources, in our countries, between our populations. How is development going to take shape and how it will benefit the majority – that is the question.

How should civil society approach COP17? What is the right approach – boycott it? Support it? What should our relationship be?

Well, if there is no pressure from civil society, there won't be the possibility to have any kind of agreement that is in some way possible to make a difference. If you want to change it, there has to be a huge movement developed outside of the main structures... The problem with climate change is that you cannot reach an agreement that stabilises the climate unless states are in agreement, and ratify that agreement.

Should the emissions from multinationals that export pollution to developing countries be included as part of the 'home' countries rather than included as developing country emissions?

Yes, absolutely, because we see that some countries, very rich countries, are saying that yes, we have reduced (our GHG), but what they have done is exported their industries and production to other developing countries, and so, in reality, they are not reducing the production of pollution, but shifting the location of it.

Why did the Kyoto Protocol create flexibility mechanisms that would allow for multinationals to continue emissions in a technically legal manner?

That is the biggest mistake of the Kyoto Protocol – because it allows rich countries that don't reduce their GHG emissions to buy polluting permits from developing countries. Our proposal – as part of the People's Agreement built in Bolivia, all emissions reductions should be accounted nationally, inside your own borders, because it is not correct to say I'm going to reduce 40 percent, but in reality you're going to buy it, but only because you have money. Should the rich be allowed to keep polluting?

But if you outsource production, doesn't that increase their industrial development and lead to an increase in investment in those countries, aren't there any positive outcomes of carbon trading?

In carbon trading? No - not at all.... Do we want to have an outcome of neutralisation in developing countries – is that positive? Yes. But another thing is to say that we are going to support this initiative but in exchange we are going to pollute the world. That is not positive at all. Many of those processes of neutralisation will happen anyway - because cheaper labour and raw material is cheaper anyway. So it is not because they want to help you neutralise. Another thing is we need to create jobs and development in the developing world but there has to be another way. Because otherwise we are going to follow the same model and we know that is unsustainable. The need for neutralisation is real but it doesn't have to follow that pathway.

Is the financialisation of ecosystems and resources potentially beneficial?

We are against financialised instruments like REDD – what it will bring. This is rubbish, a process of commodification, of privatization, ie: I'm not selling you the tree, but (rather the) capacity of that tree to absorb C02. So there will be a corporation in another country who owns the right to the tree, in terms of its capacity to absorb C02. It's a new profit of privatisation. Their argument is that we are in crisis because we have not treated nature as a capital. If we treat nature as a capital, then we can let the forces of the market bring some good distribution of resources. But that is not going to happen. It hasn't happened with the people, it won't happen with the environment.

To what extent is the issue of climate crisis a question of power and politics? Should democracy be participatory rather than representative so climate policies can include systemic change of macroeconomic policies causing the crisis?

Precisely, that is why one of the main questions that came out of the climate change conference at Cochabamba... a referendum that would give people their power back. If we keep waiting for representative democracy, in reality, this represents more the interests of corporations, than people.

Republished from The Africa Report

1 comment:

viventura said...

The care of the environment is highly publicized these days. Lately it has become aware about the care of nature, all due to natural disasters and global warming has increased globally in recent years. It's very sad to have to happen things like that to take hold. It is very remarkable that in Bolivia is trying to awareness in multinational companies, to also contribute to the preservation of the environment