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“Developed countries want to wipe out history”: Meena Raman, Friends of the Earth Malaysia

Friends of the Earth International held a press conference at the COP24 UN climate meeting in Katowice earlier today. Last year, at COP23 in Bonn, Meena Raman of Friends of the Earth Malaysia said, “We come every year to the COP feeling like a broken record.”

“Instead of showing real ambition, developed countries including those in the EU are blocking pre-2020 action – they are in bed with the US to screw the planet. We in civil society are calling on these governments to honour their commitments. They are failing even to honour their weak but legally binding Kyoto Protocol targets. What hope is there that they will fulfill their unambitious non-legally binding Paris commitments?”

Here’s Raman’s statement at the press conference today. Predictably, she says much the same as she did last year (and the year before that). But she’s right to do so, because there is no ambition, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, climate change is getting worse.

Raman points out that the debate over welcoming or noting the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees report is largely irrelevant. What is important is meaningful action to address climate change. And there is no sign of that happening at COP24.

I think that there’s a lot of misunderstanding and misconception in the halls and there’s a lot of confusion about what we are supposed to deliver in Katowice.

The urgency is now. The urgency is not post-2020. I think one of the outcomes that is expected at these talks is will there be a strong decision to look at the implementation gaps by the developed countries, in their emission reductions and in the finance obligations?

So what’s critical here is that in the pre-2020 time frame, one of the most important outcomes we would like to see is a strong call for the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. Now. Not post-2020.

The urgency is that the Green Climate Fund is already existing and it is struggling for resources, and it has to have resources today, so that developing countries will be on their path to a low emissions future and are able to address their adaptation without having to wait.

And so climate action now requires replenishment of the Green Climate Fund immediately.

Now, in relation to the technology transfer, even here, it’s about climate actions today. Is there real technology transfer happening? And what we see is that this is not happening fast enough, or even there is no effort to actually want to discuss the real transfer of technology of an environmentally sound kind.

Even this whole discussion around the 1.5 degree report, whether you take note or whether you welcome, what is critical is that we all realise that there is very little time to do the urgent massive transformation that’s needed all over the world. So even if you note, or even if you welcome, what are developed countries doing in terms of enabling the transformation to happen?

That’s my key message. So look at how the process is not going forward. Those who are blocking real finance on the table, and real technology on the table.

And this primarily brings me to the Paris Agreement rule book. The whole world focusses on the rule book. This rule book is about Nationally Determined Contributions, which will kick in post 2020.

So we are having a few years left. But the first round of the Nationally Determined Contributions are already on the table. Developing countries need money. Many of them have said that we can do increased ambition if we have money on the table.

That money, the resources to talk about a new goal on finance is being refused by developed countries, particularly the United States. The United States will not have any process, even to discuss a process, to talk about the needs of developed countries in terms of finance.

The United States in the rule book is deleting references to equity. Is deleting references to historical responsibility. So what they are doing is, and this includes the European Union, it includes all of them who hide behind the United States, who say, ‘We don’t have to look at history. We just look at what current emissions are and we look at future emissions, and we share the remaining carbon budget and carbon space left in a way for all of us.’

Now this is unfair, and this is unjust.

Equity demands that those that have gained their wealth and resources and who have got much more responsibility, must do their fair shares, and that means that you have to own up to that responsibility and do dramatic emission reductions, not what is there on the table at the moment, not in the NDCs.

Even in their pre-2020 commitments, they are falling short of the amibition on mitigation. And what they are coming here and saying is that all of us have to do mitigation and reductions in the same way. You can’t have it, because the burden of the rich cannot be shifted on the poor.

And this I think is fundamentally a key message, that I think we are missing the picture. Who is taking on the responsibility for addressing climate action? It’s not the climate deniers, and it’s not the historical emitters. It’s the people in the developing world who are struggling to survive.

And the injustice of all is that you have today in the Paris rule book negotiations, developed countries who want to wipe out history.

And that we cannot have.


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