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Stepping Up Slowly On Climate Change

  • September 10th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

apec-demo.jpgCOMMENTARY: The twenty-one heads of government at APEC in Sydney (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) elevated climate change to first rank on their agenda – though as expected did not do it by numbers.

Environmental groups with demonstrators in the streets of Sydney (picture) and elsewhere called the outcome “hot air, not action”.

NEGOTIATED STANCE ON CLIMATE

The summit of leaders on the weekend (8-9.9.07) included disparate major powers — China, Japan, Russia, the United States – who reported a few behind-the-scenes struggles over the wording.

Being a conference, not an actual supra-national tier of government like the European Union, they would be hard put to immediately set the seals on targets like the EU’s 20/20 – a 20% drop in carbon emissions by 2020

Instead the Sydney summit determined to work towards an agreed “stop, slow and then reverse” program on greenhouse gas emissions, by 2012, the date for renewal of the so-called Kyoto protocols on global warming.

The heads of government agreed to revisit climate change at forthcoming APEC meetings including their next annual summits, in Peru (2008), Singapore (2009) and Japan 2010.

They promised more investment in energy-saving technologies.

A few figures were attempted: Coordination to arrest over-exploitation of rainforests would aim at actually restoring at least 20-million hectares by 2020; and the drive on climate change would aim to cut energy intensity (energy use set against national Gross Domestic Product) by more than a quarter, by 2030.

GREEN DISAPPROVAL

Opposition to the proceedings was demonstrated by crowds in the order of 8000 in Sydney streets, hemmed-in by police but vocal against perceived lack of urgently needed action on carbon pollution.

Spokespersons didn’t like the idea of “aspirational” targets on emissions proclaimed at the summit, instead of binding commitments on numbers, as in the EU.

“Aspirational targets and voluntary action just don’t cut it; without binding targets it’s just a political stunt”, they said.

The global protest movement against APEC, prone to some wild and reckless actions on certain previous occasions, objects to the organisation’s championing of neo-liberal growth economics, blamed for over-taxing the Earth’s resources and opening-up disparities in wealth.

DOHA DISCUSSED

Pushing ahead on free trade, APEC declared that a return to the stalled Doha round of global trade negotiations, under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), had become urgent.

In case best-efforts should fail, it also raised the prospect of negotiating another regional Free Trade Agreement (an FTA), this time to cover the entire zone occupied by the twenty one member countries – an “Asia Pacific” FTA.

Picture: Sydney protests – Samantha Marks

Reference: See “APEC On Climate And Doha”, EUAustralia, 7.9.07

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