Dec 20, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Change Talks Likely to End On A Sour Note - What Now?

Bulatlat News reports that a tentative agreement has been reached between the major countries participating in the Conference of the Parties 15 (COP15) Climate Change Conference. (read the article here)
Last night a tentative agreement was reached between major parties at the COP15 climate change talks in Copenhagen, but will need to be approved by the 193 nations at the gathering. Initial word is that the “Copenhagen Accord” falls short of the already low expectations set for the talks.
The 12-point draft agreement (PDF file) mostly focuses on the need to limit the increase of global average temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and for countries to begin major adaptation strategies (and some mitigation as well) in light of this increase. Furthermore, the draft proposes a cash pool amounting to $30 B to be created by developed nations before 2012 that would fund "balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation, including forestry".

GMA News also reported that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has returned from Copenhagen bringing along "$310 million worth of funds for 'green' projects".
Of these funds, a bulk – at $250 million – came from the Clean Technology Fund, a program jointly funded by both the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).


The fund intends to invest in renewable energy projects, including those involving solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and others, the ADB said in its Web site.

The fund will also increase efficiency and cut emissions of the Philippines’ “existing gas plants," improve public transportation in major metropolitan areas, improve fuel economy standards or switch to cleaner fuels, and assist in the adoption of energy-efficient technologies in buildings, industries, and agriculture.
At the same time, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, speaking upon Arroyo's return to the Philippines, hinted that a binding treaty was not reached at the time of Arroyo's early departure from the talks.
While the summit was a step in the “right direction," the results were still “not enough," Remonde, who accompanied Mrs. Arroyo in the trip, said on government-run dzRB radio.

“The Philippines will continue to do its part through advocacy and support for a global treaty for the reduction of gas emissions," Remonde said. “This is the only way forward if we are to make a real difference."
What will be the implication of the possible failure of the Copenhagen talks on social development practitioners here in the Philippines? For one, the lack of a non-binding international agreement shifts the pressure to plan and implement concrete environmental solutions away from national governments towards the institutional and community levels. With resources being managed and allocated by the national government however, this might just be an uphill battle for new and existing projects for the environment. Then again, the 2010 Elections might be an opportunity to ease the tension between the government as a funding agency and NGOs and communities with regards to allocating resources for projects effectively.

Another implication that a botched international agreement on us would be a repeat of recent natural calamities here in the Philippines. As such, community workers and social development specialists will now need, more than ever, to come up with innovative disaster risk and damage management plans. We already know this by experience = typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng demonstrated the severe impact of climate change-induced shifts in weather, and the effect of not preparing for such calamities. The Philippine Blog Awards has come up with a bloggers' network they call TechTanod. This project has the potential to form a network of empowered bloggers capable of working in their communities to teach - and learn - information advocacy. Eventually, I envision those same bloggers/community organizers mobilizing for change as well.

Lastly, climate change will cause organizers and communities to reassess the current direction of sustainable environmental projects and community-based resource management plans. In coastal regions for instance - where increasing sea levels, rising water temperatures, decreasing fishing yields and declining social conditions are likely to be more pervasive in the next few years - there will be a sudden need to reassess the viability of the local community and its populace. While the effects of a failed climate change treaty aren't likely to be seen or felt immediately, they will be as soon as global temperatures hit the 1.5 degree threshold mandated by the draft agreement. And that's not going to be very pretty for those coastal communities. How will these communities survive?

In light of all of these possibilities, I ask one more question: what else can we do from here?

(Credits to darkly_seen from Flickr for the photo)

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