Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nairobi: High Stakes in the Commons (GCI)

High stakes in Nairobi

by openDemocracy contributor Adam Poole

The United Nations climate-change conference in Nairobi divides between a technical session in the first week and a political session when the ministers arrive for the second week. With, arguably, only 5% of atmosphere left before we cross the safety threshold (as outlined in the Exeter conference in February 2005) - perhaps ten years away - this conference should be about how to share out that 5%.

We don't seem to have got to that point yet. The talk is about keeping Kyoto on artificial respiration and now, because the "clean defence mechanism" (CDM) has all but failed Africa (which has five projects out of over 300), about how to create a special multimillion dollar fund to do the job the CDM was, in part, supposed to do.

Kyoto, however, only has another six years to go before it expires and, with COP-12 taking place in Africa, it is an opportunity for the African nations to start to explore what they want from the arrangements that will be in place after Kyoto. There is agreement that arrangements need to be more equitable but little consensus on what this should mean.

We in the Global Commons Institute believe that as we need stabilise greenhouse gases at safe levels within a full term framework, this means a per capita allocation of emission rights. Working with British Labour MP Colin Challen, we have been working with African delegations to explore the appeal of a "contraction and convergence" (C&C) framework.

It is not a new concept to the UN. As early as COP1 (April 1995), then Indian environment minister Kamal Nath went on the record in declaring: "Equity should guide the route to global ecological recovery. Policy Instruments such as 'Tradable Emissions Quotas', 'Carbon Taxes' and 'Joint Implementation' may well serve to make matters worse unless they are properly referenced to targets and time-tables for equitable emissions reductions overall. This means devising and implementing a programme for convergence at equitable and sustainable par values for consumption on a per capita basis globally". [ MORE TAG ]

More recently at COP6 (November 2000), French president Jacques Chirac said: "Europe proposes to the developing countries to join it in a partnership for sustainable development. Let us start thinking about the post- Kyoto period without further ado. Tomorrow, it will be up to us to set forth the rights and duties of each, and for long time to come. In order to move forward while respecting individual differences and special circumstances, France proposes that we set as our ultimate objective the convergence of per capita emissions. This principle would durably ensure the effectiveness, equity and solidarity of our efforts."

On the basis of a timely meeting earlier in 2006 with Kivutha Kibwana, the Kenyan minister of the environment and the COP-12 president, to explore C&C, Challen wrote to every African minister of the environment to report on the meeting.

Several supportive replies were received. The first author we met was Mostefa Kameleddhine Kara, general director of the National Agency on Climate Change, and member of the Algerian delegation. We quickly agreed to write a joint letter to all the African delegations and to invite them to a meeting to explore together what equity, and contraction and convergence, would mean.

The meeting was a success in terms of the numbers it attracted - over thirty delegates came - and in getting unanimous support for the importance of equity but it failed to get consensual support for what equity means. Rather than a per capita allocation, many present wanted something that could perhaps be described as a "per capita plus" allocation to take account of historic responsibility.

Africa has been outflanked in climate negotiations before and if it cannot find a common position that is likely to be supported by other regional blocs it is likely to get outmanoeuvred again. Much depends on the African communiqué - a common position statement by all African nations that Kibwana will seek to shepherd through on 13 November.

In an address to a side event, Kibwana has already declared: "It is therefore important of us to demand that those responsible for the greatest greenhouse emissions to take the issue of equity even more seriously and ponder over a post-Kyoto regime which will not only be equitable and therefore readily implementable, but which will allocate emissions entitlements on a per capita basis. We should aim at a process for capping total emissions, progressively reducing them and sharing emission entitlements using a formula so that in an agreed timeframe, the entitlements converge to being equal per person. The reasoning behind it is that human beings by virtue of being born equal have an equal right to the atmosphere – a global common resource".

If Africans stand for contraction and convergence, Kenya, assuming a carbon price of $10 per tonne, could expect a net cash flow of $1.2 billion a year rather than a part share in a new multi-million relief fund.

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

Caution:: Certain statements contained herein may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the NZ Securities Act. These include without limitation trends, business plans and performance. Although the writer believes that the statements are reasonable, no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct is asserted. Forward-looking statements are words like: believe, expect, anticipate, intend, planned, estimate and similar expressions, or refer to future events. Forward-looking statements made directly within or in the context of this or related correspondence are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results may differ materially as a result of various factors, including but not limited to, the ability to continue projected growth, or ability to fully implement these statements within business or other strategies proposed.
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