México: COP-16 in Cancún

Many commentators have hailed the outcome of the sixteenth Conference of Parties (COP-16) of the United Nations Fund on Climate Change (UNFCC), which took place in Cancún from 29 November to 10 December of this year. To the surprise of many, COP-16 did in fact produce an agreement—the Cancún Accord—that has been endorsed by nearly all of the world’s country-government delegates present in Cancún. Hopes for the summit were for many months rather low, with scores of governmental ministers announcing that no agreement should be expected. Indeed, in marked contrast to COP-16’s predecessor in Copenhagen, Denmark, remarkably few heads of state even bothered to make an appearance at the Mexican resort-city. In having produced an agreement, though, Cancún succeeded where its predecessor failed, for COP-15 closed with a hastily produced back-room agreement endorsed by the small number of countries that are the major offenders with regard to greenhouse-gas emissions: the U.S., China, the E.U., India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa. The majority of countries represented in the COP were not consulted regarding the content of the Copenhagen Accord but were instead expected to agree to it, despite the fact that it mandated no binding carbon-reduction path at all and made only vague promises regarding ‘climate aid,’ or resources dedicated to adaptation to climate change. Indeed, country-governments critical of the agreement’s inadequacy saw their climate aid suspended by the U.S. altogether.

In this sense, then, that the Cancún Accord received much broader endorsement could perhaps be said to importantly reflect progress toward a more democratic and inclusive approach to climate-negotiations, but the truth of the matter is that the policy-proposals called for by the Cancún Accord, like those set forth at the end of COP-15 in December 2009, fail radically to address the problem of anthropogenic climate change, and hence imperil the welfare and even survival of much of humanity within the near term.

Photo (@mjlibertario.blogspot.com)

In a parallel way, a Global Forum for Life and Environmental and Social Justice was organized in opposition to COP-16 in Cancún from 4 to 10 December and brought to a close by Bolivian President Evo Morales. It stressed that the important thing is that conventional approaches to the problem of climate change be displaced in favor of more rational and humane ones. Such can be found for example in the proposals made by La Via Campesina, the international association of small farmers, which quite rightly noted repeatedly at that a shift from large-scale industrial farming to traditional organic farming methods could do much to resolve the climate crisis, given that campesin@ agriculture as a whole produces a fraction of the carbon emissions brought about by industrial farming. A complementary approach is to be found in the Cochabamba Accord, the product of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth organized by the government of Bolivia in April 2010, which calls on Northern societies to institute radical carbon-reduction trajectories within the next 10 years, advocating that the resources presently dedicated by such societies to militarism and ‘defense’ be re-directed to dealing with climate change, and further demands the creation of an international tribunal for climate justice to prosecute country-governments that fail to fulfill their obligations to significantly reduce their contributions to global warming within the near term. Finally, the anti-capitalist grouping Anti-C@p in Cancún stressed the dire need for anti-systemic politics in light of the enormity of the threats posed to humanity by environmental destruction and climate change.

For more information (in Spanish):

Culmina COP 16 con Acuerdos de Cancún (La Jornada, 12 de diciembre de 2010)

Inevitable, el choque de trenes en la COP 16 (La Jornada, 5 de diciembre de 2010)

Arriban caravaneros a Cancún; exhibirán la grave devastación ambiental en México (La Jornada, 4 de diciembre)

Pocas expectativas en la Cop 16 (La Jornada, 29 de noviembre de 2010)

Página Web de la Vía Campesina (incluyendo fotos, audios y videos del Foro global por la vida, la justicia ambiental y social)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Hunger in Mexico – an increasingly common phenomenon likely to be resolved bymeans of profound social change (November 2010)

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