By Adam Kotin, Emily Kirkland and Guy Edwards, Brown University Following the release of two new negotiating texts yesterday, today’s high-level segment is set to chart a course for the next 36 hours of high-octane negotiations. COP16 President Patricia Espinosa said that she is optimism for a productive outcome but nothing is guaranteed at this delicate stage. During the conference numerous experts have reminded us that reaching an agreement is an extremely difficult task. However, many have consistently stated that sufficient political will could break the impasse. Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose position has been under fire for his consistent critic of developed countries’ feet dragging and climate debt, gave an impassioned speech on why the international community must make history in Cancun. Here we capture some of his remarks given earlier this morning:
The climate change debate in Latin America has thus far proved to be an elitist topic laid to rest on the periphery of political coconsciousness. In the run up to the UN climate change conference to be held this December in Mexico it is critical that the Latin American climate change debate rapidly becomes more democratic. A number of surveys carried out demonstrate the high level of concern Latin American citizens feel for this issue. Opening up greater political space to accommodate the opinions, beliefs and ideas of these actors is urgently required. Those in government and in the media should attempt to support greater involvement by Latin American citizens to uncover innovative and equitable solutions at the grass-roots to tackle climate change. This process in turn can add legitimacy and substance to policy-making led by government and inter-regional organisations working on climate change, particularly at international conferences. The following concerns presented at the Copenhagen talks by the Latin American Platform on Climate succinctly outline some of the defining issues of the climate change debate in Latin America: • Low levels of diffusion of information • Necessity of raising awareness • Low interest from politicians • There are no regional voices Other developments to be charted include the following key areas: • Regional climate change strategies versus lone-ranger national policy-making • The interaction between domestic and international climate change policies • The growth of organisations and businesses in Latin America working on global warming and developing low carbon solutions. • Latin America as a global leader on climate change and its implications for sustainable development worldwide.
The UNFCCC Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen was billed as a high-profile, ambitious and extremely tough set of negotiations to carve out a new climate change treaty. It succeeded in being a colossal, but at times almost farcical event, where the entrenched and archaic negotiating positions of a number of countries led to its downfall. In the end the conference parties had little choice but to pay lip service to a Copenhagen Accord squeezed out of the dregs of the talks by a select group of countries including China, India, South Africa, Brazil and the US. The UK sustainable development organisation, E3G, summaries what the Copenhagen Accord fails to include:
No commitment to medium term emission goals to drive significant action such as peaking by 2020 or halving global emissions by 2050. No operational reference to a 2°C or lower goal.
No agreement on specific emission reduction commitments – these are delayed until February 2010 and may be far away from a 2°C trajectory even in the short term. The EU has announced it will not move to 30% based on this deal, implying that global emissions will be far from a 2°C compatible pathway in 2020. No deadline to complete a legally binding instrument or instruments to lock in progress made during two years’ of negotiations on issues such as technology and forestry No requirement to review whether the agreement is consistent with the latest science: the Parties “call for” rather than committing that they “will review” No commitment to a compliance mechanism on US targets that would ensure comparability with other developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol No reliable public finance commitment for 2015 and weak ambition for 2020. No commitment that long term public finance for developing countries will be additional to aid for poverty reduction, leaving the door open for diversion of funds from other development objectives No clarity on closing of loopholes for surplus “hot air” credits or for emissions from land use change and international shipping and aviation. This could radically reduce the already weak mitigation pledges and leave a gap larger than the entire first Kyoto commitment period Here is a round-up of quotes from leading politicians and thinkers on climate change in the aftermath of the talks and where Latin America fits into sticky situation. The quotes demonstrate not only the complexity of negotiating climate change treaties but the tug of war context in which they exist. US President Barack Obama described negotiations as "extremely difficult and complex", but said they had laid "the foundation for international action in the years to come". European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said "I will not hide my disappointment," and that the deal was "clearly below" the European Union's goal. "We have a big job ahead to avoid climate change through effective emissions reduction targets, and this was not done here," said Brazil's climate change ambassador, Sergio Serra. Venezuelan delegate Claudia Salerno Caldera said the deal was a "coup d'etat against the authority of the United Nations". "The deal is a triumph of spin over substance. It kicks back the big decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash," said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International. “Global Leaders came to Copenhagen carrying the expectations of their populations but have failed to deliver a real solution. The political agreement struck at Copenhagen falls short in so many areas that it cannot form a reliable basis for limiting temperature rise to below 2°C. Leaders must stop presenting this as progress and realise that their citizens expect real action not greenwash.” commented Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of E3G. “I am deeply disappointed with the Copenhagen Accord. Finance was the neglected half of the deal-making, because the injustice of climate change cannot be separated from the unmet development needs of most of the world's population. So in the end we got an inadequate deal, but it was a realist's deal that may lead to some forward progress.” Professor J. Timmons Roberts, Director of the Centre for Environmental Studies, Brown University and co-author of A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy (2007, MIT Press). “Latin America is a powerful microcosm of the contrasting interests which pervade throughout the climate negotiations: there are many small countries that are highly vulnerable and need adaptation support, we have major emitting countries which argue that the differentiation between industrialized and developing countries must be maintained. We also have a group of ideologically driven countries who demand retribution for centuries of “ecological debt”. Thus Latin America cannot act as an integrated region in the climate negotiations. The global challenge is to weave a wide diversity of interests – some diametrically opposed to each other - into a basket of possibilities to begin to mitigate and adapt to climate change.” Christiana Figueres, is an independent consultant on climate change and international environmental policy and has been closely involved with the UNFCCC as an official negotiator since 1995. “While not everything is lost, much will need to happen to make a treaty viable covering all major areas, and to create a solid and useful position for a meaningful Latin America participation within it. Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica and many other low emission countries acted jointly there to achieve a sensible deal. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to have a progressive coalition and move others forwards towards it - while containing those countries, in the region and elsewhere that chose to stall the COP process. These countries frequently raised procedural issues to delay advances. The role of the major Asian economies -particularly China- in advancing a positive global deal is also yet to be seen. Brazil played on its own, while Mexico tried its best, but it is out of the G77. With Mexico hosting COP 16, a sensible deal is still possible, but new approaches will be required. The starting point is not as high as it should be.” Jose Alberto Garibaldi, Energeia Research Network, who has followed the negotiations for more than a decade, and is the author of the The Economics of Boldness which was launched at the Copenhagen Conference.
The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, would appear to be a bit like Marmite: you either love him or you hate him. However, regardless of where you sit on this spreadable fence, Venezuela will increasingly become a key player on climate change in Latin America for better or worse.

As the biggest oil exporter in the region, an outspoken member of the ALBA group, an adversary of excessive consumption in the industrialised North, and a step closer to becoming a member of Mercosur after the Brazilian congress approved its admission, Venezuela will continue to pull punches on this pressing issue.

The following speech made by President Chávez at the Copenhagen talks is indicative of his volatile and often unconstructive stance on international issues. However, we should not forget that through multilateralism alone will a legitimate international treaty on climate change be secured:

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Director, Yvo de Boer, briefs the press on the Copenhagen Accord which he describes as ‘impressive’ but not ‘legally binding’. [youtube=] Here’s the link to the Copenhagen Accord
The United Nations Framework Conference Convention on Climate Change has published a list of the heads of state and government participating at the Copenhagen climate change summit. From Latin America the following are participating:
Belize – Prime Minister Barrow Bolivia – President Morales Brazil – President Lula de Silva Colombia – President Uribe Dominican Republic – Vice President Albuquerque Guatemala – Vice President Espada Guyana – President Jagdeo México – President Calderon Republic of Cuba – Vice President Hernández Suriname – President Venetiaan Venezuela – President Chávez
Latin American countries whose leaders are not attending:
Argentina Chile Costa Rica Ecuador El Salvador Honduras Nicaragua Panamá Paraguay Perú Uruguay
The list is disappointing. With so much at stake in terms of the development opportunities open to Latin America in the face of rising temperatures, glacial melt and diminished agricultural yields, it is bewildering as to why some leaders have not bothered to attend. Chile and Honduras, for example, can be excused as they are both embroiled in important and difficult domestic circumstances. The others, however, would appear to have little excuse. One could argue that Brazil and Mexico carry sufficient clout in Latin American climate politics that the others feel they can sit back and follow their leadership. While others may cynically (or correctly) assume that the talks will achieve little so what’s the point of rocking up except for a free portion of frikadeller? Governments may also feel comfortable enough to leave the informal conversations up to regional organizations such as the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) and the Inter-American Development Bank (BID) which have, alongside the World Bank, been leading the charge on this issue in Latin America. CEPAL and BID have staged key side events in Copenhagen on topics including climate change finance in Latin America, regional initiatives in support of country efforts on climate change and a regional perspective of its economic impacts. To be fair a few government representatives from Latin America were involved in these meetings, however, the numbers are still minuscule. CEPAL argues that the costs of climate-related disasters will increase rapidly with the bill running into tens of billions of dollars. It states that Latin America and the Caribbean can position itself proactively and relatively cheaply within the international climate change regime, given the potential for managing growth by improving energy efficiency and diversifying energy sources. It also states that this enables the region to capture additional financial and technological flows allowing those countries to balance domestic priorities with a proactive international role on global warming. However, CEPAL concedes that even though some countries have made efforts to adapt to climate change, the effectiveness of these attempts is dwarfed by a lack of basic information, observation and monitoring systems, a lack of capacity building and appropriate political, institutional and technological frameworks, low income, and settlements in vulnerable areas. Latin America’s relationship with climate change reveals a varied picture with little regional consensus. However, the combination of the Copenhagen talks and the ongoing preparation of the economics of climate change reports have been a great step forward in pushing the debate up the political agenda. As we head towards 2010 and the likelihood of a Mexican hosted COP 16 being branded as the next opportunity to seal the deal, we can only hope that Latin American countries will develop a regional consensus, collaborate, and commit themselves to cultivating a new climate treaty. As the evidence suggests, this approach is after all in the region’s best interests. Note: The UNFCCC list cited includes the leaders or elected representatives leading their countries’ respective delegations. As previous lists of participants have shown, there are usually myriad representatives from a whole host of government departments. This full list of participants is currently unavailable. If anyone happens to stumble across it, please get in touch. This post therefore acknowledges that without the full list of participants the analysis can only achieve so much in assessing how seriously Latin American governments are taking the negotiations. However, as other countries are shouting from the roof tops over their leaders’ presence in Copenhagen, it would appear to be significant whether the top-dogs show their faces or not.
Here’s a short video on the Brazilian National Plan on Climate Change:

Published in Amazon
The Latin American Herald Tribune reports on Lula’s ‘disappointment’ at US and Chinese reluctance to set legally binding emission reduction targets in Copenhagen:
Brazilian President Lula said on Monday that he will telephone U.S. counterpart Barack Obama and China’s Hu Jintao to discuss the fight against climate change after Washington and Beijing agreed they are not ready to set targets for emissions reduction. “I’m disappointed, but not surprised” at the agreement reached in Singapore between Obama and Hu, but “the United States and China must sooner or later propose their targets also, although it won’t be at the Copenhagen Conference,” Lula told reporters after meeting in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The United States and China, the world’s biggest polluters, on Sunday dealt a blow to the climate conference that will begin Dec. 7 in Copenhagen after informing the Danish government that it will not be possible at that summit to achieve an accord that will set targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, the main factor in global warming. Lula emphasized that he will go to Copenhagen regardless to defend Brazil’s climate proposals.
Analysis: The convergence of the Copenhagen talks and the Brazilian presidential elections in 2010 has sparked a political battle between Lula’s potential successors. As Dr. Paraskevi Bessa-Rodrigues recently stated here, the pre-candidacy of former Environment Minister, Marina Silva for the Green Party, has forced the Workers’ Party pre-candidate Dilma Rousseff to busy herself with the climate change agenda. As a Brazilian international relations expert told IPS, the Brazilian decision to announce voluntary national emission targets before the Copenhagen talks is a historical turning point where the presidential pre-candidacy of Marina Silva played a decisive part. It is not surprising that Rousseff will lead the Brazilian delegation in Copenhagen, a move aimed to strengthen her candidacy for president and her international standing, while counterbalancing the influence of Marina Silva who is likely to attend the conference. These political manoeuvrings are arguably a positive development for international and national climate change policy-making where domestic rivals strive for the higher ground to show the world the virtues of their respective positions. It also further strengthens the discourse highlighting the evaporating distance between domestic and international policy agendas. What is perhaps counterintuitive is the fact that strong climate change policies pose significant risks and disruption to those clinging onto the status quo. The Brazilian climate strategy suggests they might be willing to risk the wrath of national and local industries because they believe the dividends to be gained from a global deal on climate change could prove more lucrative for Brazil’s long-term development. Brazil is after all a global leader on biofuels and has the largest share of the Amazon to bargain with when discussing technology transfer and finance for adaptation and low carbon development. The trade-off would therefore appear to be worth the risk.
The UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, told Latin American journalists from Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, that a politically binding deal on climate change will only be struck with the agreement of leading South American countries.


'You are countries that are growing, countries that embody some of the big issues of low carbon economic development of technology transfer and the big issue that is sometimes forgotten but should never be forgotten - deforestation that contributes 18% of total global emissions.'

'There won't be a deal unless countries like Argentina, Mexico and Brazil are clear that responsibility is being taken by advanced industrialised societies,' he said. Mr Miliband said they needed to see that advanced countries such as the UK had clear and binding commitments.

'But that there also needs to be appropriate weight for all countries to make their contributions. The richest should do the most but everyone should do something – and that's a good social justice principle'.

'With 20 days to go I think it is important that the Latin American voice is heard but it is also important that there is a dialogue between European countries and Latin American countries.'

Mr Miliband said the UK believed that there was still room to strike a climate change deal that was 'effective, fair and ambitious', which he said were the three aims of the British Government.

'Ambitious: not because every last dot and comma of a treaty is resolved in the next 20 days but ambitious because there is a serious political agreement that then be turned into a treaty following Copenhagen,' he said.

Mr Miliband said that a fair agreement would involve rich countries doing the most and emerging economies being helped to develop. A deal must be effective in terms of ensuring that money flows from rich to poor countries to help them mitigate and adapt to climate change, he said.
The Financial Times’s Ed Crooks and Fiona Harvey report on Lula’s global push to get a good turn out in Copenhagen:

Brazil’s president has challenged other world leaders to attend next month’s climate talks in Copenhagen to break the deadlock in negotiations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“We may not reach an agreement because of a deficiency of global leadership,” Mr Lula da Silva said. “The discussions have been outsourced to advisers but it is better that the ones who say yes or no are prime ministers and presidents.”

Mr Lula da Silva named Hu Jintao, China’s president, and Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, as key participants and said he would attend if other leaders did.

He made no new commitments to curb Brazil’s emissions. However, the call from a president with substantial success in the world’s ninth-largest economy, which has grown impressively in recent years, raises the pressure on other leaders to attend.

Of course this is not the last opportunity to create a global deal on climate change. However, given the momentum generated over the last two years since Bali, it would be illogical for the world’s leaders especially those of the US, China and India not to make the most of it. As for Latin American leaders, it is crucial there is a good turn out as they might just prove to be the glue that makes this mess stick.

Latin America has been leading by example by having some of the world’s lowest energy emissions per unit of GDP and its emissions per capita are more than 30 percent below the world average. Mexico and Argentina lead the pack in delivering improvements in carbon productivity required to provide a reasonable chance of limiting global warming below 2°C. While Brazil has the Amazon up its sleeve and is doing a good job at curbing deforestation and developing high-tech low carbon strategies, not least biofuels. Costa Rica also bids to go carbon neutral by 2021 and is making sound progress.

As a middle income continent Latin America can act as the matchmaker to ensure the rich industrialised countries and the emerging and developing countries sit down constructively together to make an agreement feasible.
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