Work in COP22 has been slow with parties not agreeing on any substantive ways forward
George Kurzom / Ramallah
George Kurzom presents a paper at COP22 in Marrakech about the destruction of climate system in Palestine and future prospects
Remarkable activity of Palestinians
During the two weeks of COP22 in Marrakech (November 2016), especially during its second week, the Palestinian NGOs (civil society) participation was characterized by remarkable activity, both in side events and media interviews. Myself, along with other Arab activists (Lebanon, Morocco and Jordan), participated in a panel discussion organized by Heinrich Bol Stiftung (HBS). The panel discussion was dedicated for launching the “Perspectives” periodical which is published by HBS (August 2016). The activists discussed some of the articles in “Perspectives” written by them[*]
Myself (MA’AN Development Center) and Fuad Abou Seif (Union Of Agricultural Work Committees / UAWC) presented three papers each; one in the blue zone and the other two in the Green Zone[†]
. The papers raised good interactive and debate.
In addition, some media outlets (radio and television, such as the UN Climate Radio, International Monte Carlo Radio, France 24...) conducted interviews with me about issues concerning climate change in Palestine and our climatic zone in general, and how we adapt and cope with it, especially in light of the Israeli occupation[‡]
With some other Palestinians from civil society, I also participated in the "March of Peoples" which toured the streets of Marrakech on November 13, 2016, and was attended by more than six thousands of activists from NGOs, trade unions, popular and grassroots organizations and others from significant number of countries. Some slogans raised in the march demanded climatic and social justice; others denounced the social injustice and climate destruction practiced by governments, oil companies and multinational corporations.
It is interesting that the presence of Palestinian civil society activists in COP22 was the biggest, compared with previous COPs.
Our participation in COP22, was an opportunity to learn about the experiences, mechanisms and techniques designed to reduce emissions in various countries, organizations and companies in developing and developed societies alike.
Palestinian participation was an opportunity to practice public relations, and to develop contacts and relationships with various institutions and organizations, that may be helpful in the future to formulate meaningful and useful working partnerships.
In addition, we have seen closely, how politicians "cook" agreements and statements, behind the scenes. Sometimes, declared positions and statements are contrary to what is hidden and unspoken.
In this COP, we saw very little movement on the crucial issue of finance needed from the rich and industrialized countries, for the peoples in the south; so that they can adapt and cope with extreme climatic changes. This means that the millions already experiencing floods and droughts in many areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America, will be left to help themselves. Broken promises will not help the south in general, and our Arab “Mashreq” (the Levant) in particular, to survive a climatic crisis we did not create.
The big fight in the Marrakech negotiations was around finding a clear definition of climate finance. While developing countries asked for accounting rules and grants, developed countries pushed for private sector finance and loans.
Regarding agriculture which is the most important and sensitive economic sector in the south, developed and developing countries agreed, before COP21, to treat this sector in the context of food security (adaptation). But, in last May (2016), during the UNFCCC negotiation in Bonn, developed countries led by the EU, Canada, New Zealand and Australia broke that consensus. They introduced mitigation aspect of industrial agriculture using farm lands to store carbon! This means the introduction of false solutions to climate change, such as bio-energy carbon capture and storage, and agro-fuels, both which need copious amounts of land, and hence lead to land grabs and the threatening of “food security”.
During the negotiations on agriculture (in COP22), the EU specifically said agriculture land can be used for bio-fuels. Sadly, EU, US and other developed countries, broke their promises and blocked progress on agriculture related to “food security” and adaptation that could have helped millions of farmers around the world. Representatives of developing countries were met with silence when they asked developed countries had blocked progress.
The agreement signed in Paris (in 2015) should not be re-interpreted or undermined. Governments must increase the national targets to reduce emissions that they submitted before Paris.
Ironically, the declared aim (according to Paris agreement) of a maximum temperature raise of 1.5 degrees Celsius related to the pre-industrial time, was nearly reached in the first half-year in 2016 by an increase of around1.3 degrees Celsius!
When emissions reductions and adaptation to climate change’s effects don’t work, lives and livelihoods are lost and damaged.
It is really painful that the main perpetrators of the ecological crisis are sitting worldwide in corporate centers, banks and governments.
A real partnership in renewable energy should be established to spur a race to the top; to organize an ambitious and properly financed system to resource global renewable energy initiatives; and to organize similar partnerships across other sectors, such as public transport, housing and agriculture.
All sectors of society must be engaged in these efforts, including women, workers, youth, local communities and refugees.
COP22 was intended to be an implementation COP, but work in Marrakech has been slow and procedural, with parties not particularly agreeing on any substantive ways forward.
the march of peoples in Marrakech during COP22
Legitimate demands and commitments
Communities which did not cause global warming and climate change, including Palestinian society which suffers from two “allied” enemies: the Israeli occupation and climate change- it is natural that these communities demand aid to fortify themselves against extreme climatic changes, and to strengthen their procedures in order to adapt; such as increasing the level of houses’ height, the construction of dams, the provision of aid for irrigation, seed selection and an early warning system for meteorology, and so on.
Hence, most countries of the South demand that their commitment be limited mainly to adapt to climate change, while the industrialized countries in particular, should make intensive efforts to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As Palestinians, we need to recruit the largest number of progressive and free movements and organizations, for the benefit of our struggle against the occupiers and looters of our land, water and natural resources, and against the destroyers of our climate and environment.
"Fair Share" in reducing carbon emissions, as we understand it, is reflected in the quantitative ceilings to reduce emissions, which is supposed to be commensurate with the level of the responsibility of each state in causing climate crisis; as well as the material capabilities of states to resolve this crisis. In addition that the governments of rich and industrialized countries should stop subsidies for the production and consumption of fossil fuels.
Dealing with agriculture should be in the context of "food security" and food sovereignty, that is, according to the concept of adaptation. This means the application of sustainable ecological methods to manage agricultural soils, water, fishing and forestation; without this, poverty cannot be eradicated.
Obviously, we need to work hard in order to eliminate chemical and nitrogenous farming that contribute, significantly, to the emission of greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. This requires the exercise of large crop diversification, mixed farming, and the integration of agriculture within its natural environment, through ecological farming which contributes, to a large extent, in the adaptation of small farmers with global warming. It also requires the abolition of existing negative policies in some countries, such as the supporting of agricultural patterns that are destructive to natural and climatic balances, such as subsidies for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
The following four articles were discussed during the panel discussion:
- How serious are Arab countries about climate change? (Rana El Hajj)
- Advocacy against climate change: What it takes for the civil society to attain its full potential (Suzanne Baaklini)
- “Our Local Agriculture between Extreme Heat Waves and the Art of Coping with Climate Change” (George Kurzom)
- Moroccan energy policy: From one dependence to another (Ghassan Wail El Karmouni)
Fuad (in the blue and green zones) presented a general view about the Palestinian agriculture, and Israeli policies against the Palestinian communities. My paper in the blue zone was about the destruction of climate regime in Palestine and future perspectives. My other two papers (in the green zone) were:
- Destruction of Climate Regime in Palestine: Disinformation and Falsification of Facts
- Israeli role in destroying the Palestinian agriculture sector
Please see (for example) the panel discussion organized by the International Monte Carlo Radio in the media center at the COP22 headquarters (Marrakech): http://mc-d.co/2g6cJ25