The Anti-Globalization movement meets the Climate movement (and visa versa)

Focus on Trade, the publication of Walden Bello’s group Focus on the Global South, is entirely focused on climate politics for this issue…Some excellent writings in here, and illustration that the anti-globalization / Global Justice movement in getting increasingly tapped into the climate movement, and bringing it some much needed multi-issue, anti-technofix perspectives.—————-


IN THIS ISSUE: DURING the recent United Nations Conference on Climate Change, it became clear that the core issue of “justice” – who bears the historical responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions and who pays the price — and the essential question of how to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the Global South in an ever shrinking ecological space, must be at the heart any viable future climate regime. Anything less is simply not acceptable. However, few are ready to acknowledge this because, in contrast to the techno-fixes and market mechanisms being promoted as “win, win, win” solutions, a new climate regime that reduces greenhouse gas emissions in a fair way will require rich countries to make very deep cuts in their emissions, and very soon. They will also have to make major financial and technical contributions to compensate and support transitions in the South and assist those already dislocated by climate events.

The reluctance of the rich countries – especially the US – to make these commitments is shameful. Most analysts agree that the US is unlikely to shift its position before the 2008 presidential election, but they all assume that the US will be more reasonable in the post-Bush era. But if 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry’s Bali press conference is any indication of how the Democrats are thinking, there is little cause for optimism. In a 30-minute speech aimed exclusively at the US media, Kerry spoke of the necessity for “global solutions”. This is precisely the same language used by the Bush negotiating team throughout the Bali conference, and is code for “we won’t move until China does.” Kerry also rejected totally per capita targets, championing instead a cap and trade system, which, he said, would give “certainty to the market”.

Corporations are central to Kerry’s vision of the future and he spoke enthusiastically of the 27 Fortune 500 companies – including Dupont, Dow and BP — who are positioning themselves to “take on the climate challenge” (that is “profiting from the climate challenge”). He also mentioned a recent meeting at Clarence House (that’s where Prince Charles lives) of 150 companies where they all happily agreed that there is money to be made in a “green economy.” In fact Kerry was so gung-ho about the central role of corporations in solving the problem that I had the unworthy thought that the US is dragging out the negotiations simply to give American corporations time to position themselves to reap the climate change windfall. (In the meantime, big coal and big oil will continue to make a lot of money blowing the tops off mountains and digging up the boreal forests.)

In the Kerry vision of the future, some corporations will win and others will loose, but capitalism itself will survive. For some, capitalism is the problem, for some it is the solution. Others argue that the climate crisis is too urgent to even ask this question: we simply have to do what needs to be done to reduce emissions. However, we are inevitably entering a new energy paradigm that will necessitate new patterns of production and consumption and possibly new forms of ownership and control. The opportunity for transforming our societies is real, not theoretical, because things will (indeed must) change. It’s not too late to put justice at the centre of that future, rather than leaving it to the corporations.

In this “Bali special” issue of Focus on Trade, six people who were at the climate change conference give their take on what happened, and what didn’t, and what we need to do next. We have also included the press statement from the newly formed “Climate Justice” coalition which is starting to bring together the environmental and global justice movements: this is definitely the most positive outcome of the Bali conference. And just to remind us that some things never change, we finish with an article by Aileen Kwa about the EU’s dirty tactics in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations.

Enjoy the articles and best wishes for the New Year.











TRADE-AFRICA EU is Using ”Bully Tactics” to Push Through EPAs Aileen Kwa


THE DAY AFTER… Walden Bello*

(Bali, 16 December 2007) — A day after the dramatic ending of the Bali climate talks, many are wondering if the result was indeed the best outcome possible given the circumstances. The US was brought back to the fold, but at the cost of excising from the final document — the so-called Bali Roadmap — any reference to the need for a 25 to 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020 to keep the mean global temperature increase to 2.0 to 2.4 degrees Celsius in the 21st century.

Reference to quantitative figures was reduced to a footnote referring readers to some pages in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Report which simply enumerates several climate stabilization scenarios. The alternative scenarios ranged from a 2.0 to 2.4 degree rise in temperature to a 4.9 to 6.1 degree increase. This prompted one civil society participant to remark that “The Bali roadmap is a roadmap to anywhere.”

Would it have been better to have simply let the US walk out, allowing the rest of the world to forge a strong agreement containing deep mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on the part of the developed countries? With a new US president with a new policy on climate change expected at the beginning of 2009, the US would have rejoined a process that would already be moving along with strong binding targets. As it is now, having been part of the Bali consensus, Bush administration negotiators, say sceptics, will be able to continue their obstructionist tactics to further water-down global action throughout the negotiations in 2008.

One wonders what would have happened had Washington remained true to its ideological propensities and decided to stomp out of the room when the delegate from Papua New Guinea, releasing the conference’s pent up collective frustration, issued his now historic challenge: “We ask for your leadership and we seek your leadership. If you are not willing to lead, please get out of the way.” As everyone now knows, after last-minute consultations with Washington, the American negotiator backed down from the US’s hard-line position on an Indian amendment seeking the conference’s understanding for the different capacities of developing countries to deal with climate change and said Washington “will go forward and join the consensus.”

The single-minded focus on getting Washington on board resulted in the dearth of hard obligations agreed upon at the meeting except for the deadline for the negotiating body, the “Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention,” to have its work ready for adoption at the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in 2009 (COP 15).

Many delegates also felt ambivalent about the institutional arrangements that were agreed upon after over a week of hard North-South negotiations.

* An Adaptation Fund was set up, but it was put under the administration of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of the US-dominated World Bank. Moreover, the seed funds from the developed countries are expected to come to only between $18.6 million to US$37.2 million — sums which are deemed severely inadequate to support the emergency efforts to address the ongoing ravages of climate change in the small island states and others on the “frontlines” of climate change. Oxfam estimates that a minimum of US$50 billion a year will be needed to assist all developing countries adapt to climate change.

* A “strategic program” for technology development and transfer was also approved, again with troubling compromises. The developing countries had initially held out for the mechanism to be a designated a “facility” but finally had to agree to the watered-down characterization of the initiative as a “program” on account of US intransigence. Moreover, the program was also placed under the GEF with no firm levels of funding stated for an enterprise that is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

* The REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) initiative pushed by host Indonesia and several other developing countries with large forests that are being cut down rapidly was adopted. The idea is to get the developed world to channel money to these countries, via aid or market mechanisms, to maintain these forests as carbon sinks. However, many climate activists fear that indigenous communities will be victimized by predatory private interests that will position themselves to become the main recipients of the funds raised.

Still, many felt that the meager and mixed results were better than nothing.

Perhaps the best indication on whether the conference was right to bend over backward almost 180 degrees to accommodate the US will come next month in Honolulu during the Major Economies Meeting, a Washington-initiated conference that was originally designed to subvert the United Nations process. The question on everyone’s lips is: Will the Bush administration revert to form and use the conference to launch a separate process to derail the Bali Roadmap?

*Walden Bello is senior analyst at Focus on the Global South and professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines. He was an NGO participant at the Bali Conference on Climate Change.



BALI, Indonesia, Dec 18 (IPS) – This resort island, better known for drawing foreign tourists due to its tropical splendour and its deep spiritual traditions, is poised to enter the vocabulary of another international set — the rapidly expanding global civil society movement.

Bali will soon join the ranks of places that have served as milestones in the world of activism, such as Seattle, in the United States, and Porto Alegre, in Brazil, for hosting the hugely contentious two-week international conference on climate change that just ended here.

The presence of Walden Bello at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), held from Dec. 3 – 14, hinted at Bali’s emerging significance. For the 62-year-old Filipino had, till this month, stayed clear from the debates raging about a warming planet due to greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions, the major cause of climate change.

Bello’s central interests in almost 35 years of activism lay in combating dictatorships, opposing the economic policies of the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, and protesting against United States -led military campaigns in Asia and the Middle East. The thin, slightly greying Bello, who heads Focus of the Global South, a Bangkok-based think tank, had consequently become a fixture among civil society activists drawn to campaigns against exploitation, injustice and the abuse of power.

So what has changed? Why have climate change policies attracted new faces like his to join the more regular crowd of activists from the traditional environmental groups like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund at the Bali meeting?

”We are here because of the broadening character of the climate change crisis and the solutions being proposed at the Bali meeting,” Bello told IPS. ”It is no more about techno-fixes. It has become a global emergency for which issues such as trade, justice, equity and democracy have to be factored in. And that is where our strengths lie.”

It was a view echoed by other non-governmental groups and think tanks known for their work in development, poverty alleviation and humanitarian assistance, such as the Third World Network, Action Aid, Oxfam and Via Campesina. They were prominent in the meetings on the consequences of climate change policy for the world’s poor that took place on the sidelines of the main Bali event, which had attracted ministers and government leaders from nearly 190 countries.

According to Bello, there were at least 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who have an interest in trade and justice issues out of the nearly 350 NGOs that participated in the UNCCC. ”Now there are more players in the arena, because we need to stop powerful governments and corporations trying to profit from the economic issues at stake,” he added. ”These are areas where the traditional climate change groups have not paid much attention.”

The five major themes that came under scrutiny during the two-week meeting illustrated this shift in climate change politics. Only one of them — a blueprint to reduce GhG emissions through urgent mitigation policies — was limited to science and technology. Others touched on economic, social and development issues, having a direct bearing on the world’s poor, who, according to scientific reports, will bear the heaviest burden as the climate changes. They included an ‘Adaptation Fund,’ to finance programmes to help the poor in the developing world cope with dramatic changes in the environment.

Environmentalists who have long been involved in the shaping of climate change policies are welcoming the new alliances within the civil society organisations (CSOs) that were forged during the Bali conference. ”These new voices are welcome, since the classic environmental NGOs, like ours, have been focusing most of our attention on mitigation and in trying to reduce greenhouse gases,” says Michael Goo, climate legislative director, at the Natural Resources Defence Council, a Washington D.C.-based green lobby.

“Five years ago, adaptation was seen as a kind of dirty word among environmental NGOs. There was concern that adaptation was going to be used as an excuse to avoid mitigation,” he said here in an interview. ”But, there has clearly been a shift over the past few years in the climate change world.”

Government officials from the developing world who were in Bali to draft a roadmap to deal with the future challenges of climate change also gained from the new CSOs who have stepped into the climate change arena. During the second week of the conference, activists from the global humanitarian agency Action Aid held a briefing with the Group of 77 and China, a bloc that represents 130 developing countries, to expand on the links between a warming planet and poverty.

”The analysis they presented to us at that meeting became very useful during the official negotiations here. It revealed the depth of inequity the poor would face from some of the solutions that were being discussed,” Pakistani ambassador Munir Akram, chairman of the G-77 and China group, told IPS on the last evening of the UNCCC. ”One case in point was the per capita emission levels between the developing and developed countries and also the difficulty developing countries will face in addressing poverty with sustainable development.”

That meeting was to drive home the message that there was a ”missing perspective in the discussion,” said Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, regional policy coordinator for Asia at Action Aid. ”It can no more be limited to a discussion only about the environment. What we have in Bali are questions about politics and power, like the issues of trade and finance being taken up. That is why we are here.”

His group used the meeting in Bali, which attracted some 11,000 people, to drum up support for a new perspective ”based on environmental justice.” ”There has to be a comprehensive approach, integrating climate change with the poor’s right to development,” said Rashed, who, like Bello, has long years as a political activist but was a first-timer at a climate change conference. ”We cannot be fence-sitters anymore.”

* This article was first published by Inter Press Service, IPS.



*This article has been edited because we are unable to reproduce graphs in the email version of Focus on Trade. For the full text go to

It’s important, this time, to draw conclusions, and to do so publicly. Because Bali has taken us — barely and painfully — over a line and into a new and even more difficult level in the climate game we’ll be playing for the rest of our lives. In fact, it’s not too much to say that, with the realizations of the last year and their culmination at the 13th Conference of Parties, the game has, finally, belatedly, begun in earnest.

First up, we knew going into Bali that if the old routine continued without variation, we’d really be in trouble. The timing of this meeting alone made this clear. Here we were, after the skeptics, after the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, after Gore’s (and the IPCC’s) Nobel Prize. We know now how grave the situation is. So it’s with great relief that I’m able to say that, judging at least by Bali, the game has indeed changed — except, of course, for the United States.

The most important change was that the G77, the South’s negotiating bloc, did not put its unity above all else. This unity was always easy to understand, for the South is weak and the G77’s members know all too well that when they don’t hang together they hang separately. But it’s been clear for years now that the G77’s unity can itself be a terrible problem, one that allowed its most retrograde members (the Saudis come to mind) to override the interests of weaker parties (like, for example, the Alliance of Small Island States). So Bali, the COP where China, South Africa, and Brazil stepped forward to announce their willingness to take on binding “commitments or actions,” was a real breakthrough, not least because the attached condition — “measurable, reportable and verifiable” assistance from the industrialized to the developing countries — was so widely understood as being both just and inevitable.

Not that we didn’t already know that, without southern support for rapid action, there won’t be any. But the G77’s “flexibility” gave us a different kind of knowledge, concrete knowledge of a deal made and a way forward. While it didn’t change everything, it changed a great deal.

Second, there’s the matter of money. Money for adaptation. Money for technology transfer. Money for capacity building, and money, most of all, for development, which must go on, albeit in new ways, even in this climate constrained and otherwise strained world. We knew about the money, too, of course. How could we not? But not like we know it today, when the need for rapid global emissions cuts of at least 50 percent has, as Bali made absolutely clear, become the consensus position.

Case in point: Nicolas Stern, who only a few days before the Bush delegation’s humiliation at Saturday morning’s overtime plenary heartened the attendees of a small, poorly attended side event by telling them that the rich countries would have to not only make sharp domestic reductions, but would also have to finance parallel reductions in the developing world. This because, as he put it in a published commentary called “now the rich must pay,” “even a minimal view of equity demands that the rich countries’ reductions should be at least 80% — either made directly or purchased.” Moreover, and significantly, Stern went out of his way to note that the needed financing would not result from a regime in which equal per-capita emissions rights were taken as proxies for the necessary rich-world financial commitments. “Contraction and Convergence,” he said, is “a very weak equity principle,” and something stronger would be needed.

Third, Bali saw the long-overdue encounter between the climate movement and the global justice movement finally pass beyond its scattered preliminaries. These are still early days, of course — for a quick review of how things played out in Bali see Walden Bello’s article below — but it’s already clear that neither movement will ever be the same. Even mainline climate folks talk often about equity now, and this is new. Moreover, they do so even though they fear its implications, which, frankly, they’re right to do: Taken seriously, climate equity has the potential to raise the stakes visibly and dangerously high, so high that both our politicians and our populations would tend to balk. That’s all the more reason to admire the ground crossed, because fewer and fewer people within the climate movement can imagine a future without justice, and for the most part they do not wish to try.

Nor will the greens be the only ones transformed by this encounter. Global justice activists will also have to shed old skins for larger, more capacious frameworks and approaches. There’s much to say here, but the key is that a “radical” movement — which has, to this point, made its mark by exposing the charade of the Clean Development Mechanism and then going on to oppose all market mechanisms — is now visibly confronting a larger challenge in which mere opposition is not enough. If it would speak effectively for the poor and the vulnerable, then it must find a larger frame. The question now is motion, very rapid motion, and if false solutions are a terrible danger, so too is the illusion that by exposing that danger we have done all we must, all that we are called upon to do.

This too was clear at Bali. Or so at least it seems so in the final statement of the grassroots groups that joined together in a “Solidarity Village” near the Bali conference center. That statement says that, “By climate justice, we understand that countries and sectors that have contributed the most to the climate crisis — the rich countries and transnational corporations of the North — must pay the cost of ensuring that all peoples and future generations can live in a healthy and just world, respecting the ecological limits of the planet.”

In any case, global emissions must peak, and very soon. In the face of the astonishing arrogance and duplicity of the Bush administration, the final Bali Action Plan ( did not make this explicitly clear, but there are at least clear references to the Fourth Assessment Report, and they will do. Everyone knows what they mean. If we’re to bend the emissions curves as we will need to, we’ll have to start soon, and we’ll have to create new understandings and institutions as we go. It’s not enough to oppose false solutions. We need real ones.

So Bali was perhaps as great a success as could be expected under the shadow of today’s Washington. The negotiations are go, and we shall fight another day. And we’ll do so within a framework that — by the insistence of the G77! — calls for measurable, verifiable, and monitorable progress on finance and technology. To be sure, this is not a concrete success. Bali did not lay out national obligations, or even a global target, and its outcome is easy to criticize. I could do it myself, no problem. But the truth is that Bali was never going to lay out the details, or even a comprehensive framework. And it did manage to lay down the challenges, to be faced again in the real battle, the one that will be fought in two years time. Bali is all that was possible, and it’s enough.

Moreover, we are wiser now — and, hopefully, more ready for the coming rounds. They will be vicious indeed. And I must add that, from here on out, they will not be won with frameworks and good intentions. We now need to step beyond the conditions of possibility of a fair and viable global accord, and spell out the thing itself.

When we get down to cases, we’ll have no choice but to face the details of an extremely daunting reality. Fortunately, Bali brought good news on this front as well. Not just the fact that, a few skeptical dead-enders notwithstanding, the threat was taken all around as justifying emergency action. But also that, at least as far as I could tell, people were ready, if not actually eager, to connect the dots.

Those dots do not lay out a pretty picture. The truth is more than inconvenient. It’s shocking, even terrifying. Because what the science tells us is that we’re going to have to get this right, and soon. And what the politics tell us is that the battle of 2009 will be a real doozy. And there will be no way to win it without both trust and technology, and both of them on a grand scale. And before we get either we’ll need breakthroughs in financing and, of course, burden sharing. And we’ll also need to step outside the climate negotiations to fight for “policy coherence,” in which the institutions of trade and investment are brought quickly into line with the imperatives of the climate regime.

And we’ll need justice. For without it there will not be cooperation, or solidarity. And without global solidarity, we will fail.

* Tom Athanasiou is executive director of EcoEquity, a research and advocacy organization dedicated to the promotion of a just and adequate solution to the climate crisis. This commentary was first published in Grist: Environmental News and Commentary (c)2007. Grist Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Gloom and doom with a sense of humor(r).



Very little, it seems, at the end of two weeks of climate negotiations that were less about climate than business and more about calculated obstruction than negotiation.

The unprecedented booing of US under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs Paula Dobriansky was far less disturbing than the cheering that followed soon after. The dramatic close to the Bali talks has helped create a public impression that by reaching consensus on a roadmap for post-2012 treaty negotiations something useful happened here.

Depending on whose interests we’re talking about, this impression might be right. The Bali mandate entrenches the power of big business, and the global financial institutions that work on its behalf, without committing any government to tangible emissions reductions. The assertion that Bali should be considered a success for those most affected by climate change — residents of small island states threatened by rising waters, forest dwellers that stand to lose more land to agrofuel plantations — should be seriously questioned.

MORE TRADING, MORE BANK The proposals for climate change mitigation and adaptation put forward in the Bali agreement lack much detail, but they are articulated clearly enough to see that trading in carbon credits, both through existing Kyoto mechanisms and newly envisioned sectoral schemes, will likely be at the center of a global treaty.

Outlined in the road map is an Adaptation Fund that could reach $500 million by 2012, which would be administered by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with the World Bank acting as trustee. One funding proposal suggests augmenting donations to the Fund from industrialized countries by recouping a 2% fee on revenues from carbon offset projects carried out under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. Proponents of the Adaptation Fund claim that by using the CDM, rich countries would be ‘forced’ to finance clean energy projects in poorer countries.

The Fund’s total capital is almost insignificant compared to the $50 billion that Oxfam estimates the developing world will need every year to cope with climate changes. But by naming the CDM as a major source of funding for adaptation, the Bali mandate entrenches carbon trading in future negotiations. The proposal ensures that developing countries have an increasingly vested interest in seeing market mechanisms flourish, and secures the role of the World Bank in setting the rules of that market.

Leaving aside the fact that the Bank has continued to finance oil and gas companies with public money to the tune of $8 billion since 2000 (82% of which was for export to industrialized countries), the Bank’s existing carbon finance portfolio has done little to mitigate climate change or support the development of sustainable energy for the 1.6 billion people living without access to electricity.

To date, the Bank has channeled more that $1 billion from the most polluting companies in the industrialized north to the most environmentally destructive industries in the global south. Only a fifth of the active projects are in the renewable energy sector, while more than 80% of the funds dispersed have gone to coal, metal, cement and industrial gas companies. Of the Bank’s entire carbon finance portfolio only 2% of the total $2 billion of capital raised is earmarked for projects with explicit sustainable community development requirements.

CODE REDD Considering the World Bank’s less than stellar track record, it is surprising to see the Bank called on to take the lead in a proposal emerging from the Bali talks to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD).

Delegates’ inclusion of REDD in the roadmap essentially folds forests into the carbon market, but does little to explain the process by which forested countries would be compensated for slowing deforestation.

The World Bank has stepped in to guide a market in REDD credits through its newly launched Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. The FCPF will select countries to pilot a programmatic approach to carbon trading. These programs would differ from the CDM by setting national-level reduction targets for a country’s entire forest sector, instead of creating baselines and targets on a project by project basis.

Indigenous rights and sustainable forestry groups have protested that there is nothing built into the facility ensuring that the benefits of a global forest trading scheme would reach forest peoples. In particular, critics have raised warnings of massive displacement as companies rush to acquire forested land and governments shift public policy to facilitate industrial land grabs.

Investors, however, are quite pleased, having long asked for the Bank to establish consistency throughout the carbon market to help lower market entry risk and transaction costs in carbon offset projects. By moving to a sectoral approach, credits can be normalized across entire industries.

The Bank has in fact begun designing a new Carbon Partnership Facility to expand the programmatic approach into markets for carbon credits generated from power sector development, gas flaring, energy efficiency, transportation and waste management systems.

KEEPING AN EYE ON THE BANK The growing role of the World Bank in clearing a path for private capital in an expanded carbon market was not lost on climate justice groups in Bali. Hundreds of activists from groups from around the world demonstrated outside the FCPF launch. World Bank side events and press conferences were peppered with demands for the Bank to get out of the carbon market. As climate negotiations unfold in the next two years scrutiny of the Bank’s climate programs will be increasingly important to ensure that markets do not determine the shape of an international agreement to stem greenhouse gas emissions.

* Janet Redman is a researcher for the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. She was in Bali as an NGO observer of the UNFCCC climate negotiations.



The tune “The money keeps rolling” from the musical “Evita” kept playing in my mind as I witnessed the forest-related wheeling and dealing that took place during the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali in December. The song describes how populist governments try to win public support by throwing money at people, instead of introducing responsible policies that will alleviate people’s poverty in a sustainable manner. Governments’ attitudes to proposals on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) showed some clear parallels.

The meeting itself was a meager success, agreeing to a two-year (and very carbon-intensive) negotiating process. However, in a desperate attempt to keep all Parties, including the US, on board, the meeting failed to agree upon a firm basis for future action on mitigating climate change. A proposal to accept a minimum target for developed countries’ emissions reductions, of 25-40 %, as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was watered down during the final late-night negotiating sessions. It is now just a microscopic footnote suggesting governments refer to the IPCC’s reports.

Decisions on forests also failed to reconfirm existing legally-binding commitments to reduce deforestation, as laid down in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Instead, the final decision merely recommends that governments “take note” of these commitments.

Nor do the outcomes address the major outstanding issue of the need for an improved definition of forests. In the absence of such a new definition, any collection of trees, be it native or alien and invasive, standing or “temporarily unstocked”, still counts as a forest under the Kyoto Protocol.

This flawed definition is becoming more problematic than ever, now that the meeting agreed to apply simplified procedures allowing medium-scale “reforestation and afforestation projects” (read: tree plantations) to be financed under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Governments’ ignorance about the significance of the difference between forests and tree plantations was illustrated by the fact that all over the Bali conference grounds participants were invited to offset the emissions of their long flight by helping to finance the establishment of teak and mahogany plantations on the island. As if the insecticide-soaked conference grounds were not artificial enough.

DANCING DOLLARS, DWINDLING RIGHTS More importantly, the Bali outcomes are almost totally devoid of any recognition of human rights or social justice. The rights of Indigenous Peoples, which are enshrined in the recently adopted UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, are still squarely ignored by the UNFCCC process. The social dimension of forest policy was condensed into one vague reference to addressing the needs of local and indigenous communities in the preamble of the decision. The outcomes also fail to recognize the specific needs and rights of women, in relation to forests and climate change in general.

Yet, despite the virtual absence of any guarantee of sound policies to reduce deforestation and promote forest conservation, the money was very visibly rolling in Bali.

Donor countries demonstrated their commitment to reducing deforestation by throwing millions of dollars into the World Bank’s newly launched Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. This was truly remarkable given that the last annual meeting of the World Bank was dominated by the release of a report by the World Bank’s own Inspection Panel slamming the World Bank’s latest forest scandal: a post-conflict loan to the forestry sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The loan was stated to have violated practically every internal standard and guideline the World Bank has, by opening up the Congo Basin to large-scale logging companies that destroyed massive tracks of pristine rainforests and trampled the rights and livelihoods of Indigenous communities.

Less than two months later almost a dozen governments lined up to contribute between 5 and 40 million dollars each to another major World Bank undertaking on forests. This demonstrates, perhaps more clearly than anything else, that Northern countries are more interested in creating a carbon offset market from which they can buy cheap emission reduction credits, than in establishing rights-based, effective and equitable forest conservation mechanisms and policies.

The millions literally danced across the floor of the Grand Ballroom of the Bali Hyatt on 11 December 2008, when the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank was launched, with applause and self-congratulation almost drowning out the shouts of people outside the room, who were calling for the World Bank to stay out of their forests and respect their land rights.

A WIN-WIN-WIN FOR NORTHERN DONORS The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility certainly represents a “win-win-win” option for donor countries. It presents an easy way of pretending to be generous and contributing to tropical forest conservation, without having to bother about responsible funding strategies. If the Facility turns out to be a disaster, the Bank is an easy black sheep to blame.

The Facility also encourages potentially unwilling developing countries to include their forests in the international carbon market after 2012, providing donor countries with access to an abundance of cheap credits that help them avoid painful emission reductions in their own countries.

As an extra bonus, most of the Facility’s funds will undoubtedly flow back into the pockets of an eager forestry consultancy sector in these same donor countries. Careful reading of the draft proposal reveals that the majority of funds will go to the kind of activities the booming forest carbon consultants sector is very good at: setting up monitoring and accounting methodologies to estimate carbon stocks and building countries’ capacity to market existing forest conservation projects as “new and additional” (and thus eligible for carbon credits).

This new forest carbon industry clearly showed its face at the first Forest Day conference, organized by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with other Collaborative Partnership on Forest partners, on December 8.

Despite CIFOR’s own attempts to add some Indigenous perspectives and gender balance to the meeting, the day was dominated by hundreds of mainly male and Northern forestry consultants who flocked together to promote what will undoubtedly become a very profitable business for them. After all, it is the forestry consultancy sector that will be called upon to assist developing countries in their efforts to get ‘ready’ for the carbon market.

The World Bank will undoubtedly ask them to develop monitoring systems and carbon accounting methodologies, and to design and implement the “pilot projects” the World Bank has been proposing. Furthermore, the consultancy overhead in World Bank projects has always been very high. The failed World Bank-administered Global Environmental Facility Sundarbans Biodiversity Conservation project in Bangladesh, for example, wasted no less than 53% of the budget on foreign consultants and an additional 19% on local consultants and consultancy-related travel.

THE HUMAN GUINEA PIGS WHO LOSE-LOSE-LOSE Meanwhile, the forest peoples who will be the human guinea pigs in this “learning process” will be at the lose-lose-lose end of the scale. Firstly, they will lose their forests, due to land grabbing. This has already started now that (potential) large landholders are realizing they can apply a “pay-or-I-cut” approach to every hectare of forest land they succeed in wresting from Indigenous Peoples and landless farmers.

Payment for environmental services schemes are already having a negative effect on both Indigenous land rights claims and land reform, and large-scale indirect effects will not be resolved with vague promises of prior informed consultation in relation to specific projects. Of course, as UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues chair Vicky Tauli-Corpuz made clear at the World Bank launch, prior informed consent regarding initiatives like the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility itself is entirely different to prior informed consultation on the ground – especially when there is no guarantee that the outcomes of that consultation will be taken seriously. The World Bank’s proposed response — a rushed three months of additional consultations with Indigenous communities — provides very little confidence in this respect.

Secondly, most Indigenous Peoples and local communities will not benefit from “pilot projects” to reduce deforestation, as they do not have deforestation rates to reduce as most of them have successfully conserved their forests for centuries. But the Facility and similar REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) proposals are clearly directed towards compensating destructive logging, soy and oil palm companies and countries engaged in deforestation. Those same companies and countries that have, for years, been financed by the World Bank and other banks to destroy the forests, will now be compensated for a potential willingness not to do so.

Thirdly, these women and men will lose because they are in the climate change frontline, with little or no protection from the coming impacts. Carbon offsets through avoided or reduced deforestation will compromise the tough but equitable and rights-based climate regime that is so desperately needed to deal with the greatest social and moral challenge the world community has ever dealt with.


As expected the formal Bali outcomes on REDD do not prejudge the all-important question of whether reducing deforestation will contribute to mitigating climate change, or whether it will in fact undermine the climate change regime by being included in the international carbon trade market.

Per definition, carbon offsets do not reduce emissions (they simply compensate for continued emissions elsewhere ). Thus including forest-related activities does not mean that reduced deforestation mechanisms will necessarily lead to reduced emissions.

Despite this simple fact, and the deafening rhetoric about the need for urgent action in Bali, a large number of countries and many conservation groups are still in favor of financing REDD activities through slow and ineffective carbon markets. Obviously the El Dorado of billions of dollars going to their forest conservation activities is too tempting to ignore. Nevertheless, awareness that efficient carbon offset projects are at odds with equity, conservation, people’s rights and an effective climate regime does seem to be increasing. And happily, there are alternatives too. One clear alternative being the Norwegian government’s announcement that they would donate a generous US$545 million per year for the period 2008 – 2012, to help developing countries conserve forests. This money will come on top of their emission cuts, not instead of it.

The argument that “there is not enough official aid money” to conserve forests is false. The challenge is not so much in the quantity of forest conservation funding, but in its quality. If dedicated towards constructing the political will to conserve forests through awareness raising, education and building the capacity of civil society groups and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, effective forest conservation policy does not have to be expensive.

Equitable, rights-based and cost-effective forest policies include the recognition of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ land rights and promoting the hundreds of small-scale, often women-led forest conservation and restoration projects that have already succeeded in saving millions of hectares of forests. Such initiatives also improve forest governance, which is perhaps the greatest challenge of global forest policy in times of agrofuel expansion. Because they are cost effective, however, these projects are far less attractive to the forestry consultancy sector.

One may only hope that governments will be willing to prioritize the interests of forests and forest peoples, instead of foresters and their tree plantations, when they proceed on the road from Bali.

* Simone Lovera is with the Global Forest Coalition, Paraguay. This article was first published in Forest Cover, the newsletter of the Global Forest Coalition, which can be downloaded from For more information on the UNFCCC and forests, please visit: and in particular



The world’s economic policymakers are addressing climate change with an unprecedented level of engagement at the Bali conference. While the negotiations for a new global climate accord to replace the Kyoto Protocol wrap up in Nusa Dua, numerous trade ministers are meeting to initiate an informal dialogue on climate, as are finance ministers.

Trade and finance officials are getting involved because cutting emissions in time to avoid catastrophe will inevitably have an impact on the global economy. It also means that global economic institutions must adapt to today’s ecological realities. If climate change is indeed the global emergency we believe it to be, then climate protection must become a new lens through which we view the rules of trade and finance. Re-prioritized values must guide global governance to recognize ecological limits and to agree on equitable ways to live within them.

Trade ministers aim to discuss in Bali how trade policy can contribute to climate protection. Several proposals have been informally tabled for discussion.

EMPOWERING POLICYMAKERS A critical question in Bali is whether any proposals ultimately empower trade policymakers or climate policymakers. At a time when governments urgently need to intervene in markets by sending clear signals that shift the decisions of energy investors and consumers, the idea of reducing the rights of government through binding trade disciplines is, at best, unhelpful, and, at worst, antithetical to the new directions we need to explore. Even proponents of more trade liberalization, such as the US Trade Representative and the World Bank, in their reports on trade and climate admit that the most important factor for shifting energy investment, production, and technology transfer toward a new carbonless economy is government action to internalize carbon costs.

No decisions or positions taken in Bali should foreclose any policy options for climate protection. The most important contribution trade policy can make to climate protection is to not only safeguard but actively increase the policy space that climate negotiators need to act urgently. Trade Ministers could also declare that whatever is agreed to at the Bali climate change conference will not be subject to challenge at the World Trade Organization.

ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS AND SERVICES The United States and European Union proposed in Geneva on the eve of this meeting a two-tiered scheme to eliminate barriers on goods and services, starting with import tariffs on the trade in technology that reduces greenhouse gases. The proposal is based on the World Bank’s recently released report arguing how trade liberalization can contribute not to protecting our climate but to increasing trade in energy technologies, specifically clean-coal, wind, solar, and energy-efficient lighting.

While the transfer of clean energy technologies certainly needs to be accelerated, reducing marginal tariffs is a disappointing and possibly dangerous idea for our climate. Nations are free to lower tariffs by their own will, so there’s no need to force liberalization and bind nations to zero tariffs. Efforts to combine climate and job creation policies may also be set back if tariffs are eliminated in these infant industries. Other areas of trade policy could facilitate transfer of clean energy technology.

The only outcome claimed by the World Bank study is the huge gains in trade volumes, from 3.6% to 63.6%. Amazingly, even though trade in cargo is fueled by one of the dirtiest of all energy sources (bunker fuel), not one proponent seems to ask about the inherently increasing carbon footprint that will result from shipping around the planet more of the goods on the proposed list of 50 types of turbines, towers, tanks, tubes, and other goods. The Bali conference could easily undertake a climate assessment of any trade liberalization proposal, with a view to the principal of first do no damage to climate.

WRONG VENUE The WTO is not a competent venue to determine which technologies are climate friendly, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) already has a mechanism to accelerate transfer. Waiting for results from the finalization of the WTO’s Doha Round, which are hung up due in large part to developed country failures to deliver on past promises from the previous round of trade negotiations, is too far off in the distance for adequately dealing with emergency actions needed now. Climate concerns should not be used to give Doha new legitimacy. Moreover, the US-EU breakthrough priorities for a Doha deal have included the opening of markets for energy services companies like Halliburton in countries with large oil and gas reserves, so any benefits from trade in clean tech would be offset with the WTO’s deepening our dependence on fossil fuels.

The fundamental flaw in the US-EU-World Bank proposal is its failure to recognize some of its own basic assumptions and findings, particularly the fact that the most important factor driving the adoption of new clean energy technologies is government action to internalize carbon costs. Putting a predictable price on greenhouse gases is what will move markets most, yet empowering trade rules can only reduce the necessary role governments must play in shifting to new energy supplies by sending signals to energy investors, producers, and consumers. Cost internalization can come in many forms, including caps and/or taxes on carbon, renewable energy criteria, or even energy-efficiency standards.

The imperative to internalize carbon costs should compel policymakers to protect and expand the policy space of climate policy makers so that they have the freedom to enact necessary measures. Subsidies

As suggested in the background papers for trade ministers meeting in Bali, one area where trade policy could reduce its restraints on climate policy is by increasing flexibilities to allow the many forms of public support needed to accelerate the research, development, and deployment of clean, efficient, energy technologies.

International cooperation should expand, but national and sub-national governments must still be allowed to support their own transitions. Even President George W. Bush’s programs and proposals for supporting industry efforts to increase innovation of energy- efficient equipment and to accelerate the adoption of climate-friendly technologies may face uncertainty under world trade rules. Emissions allocations also face uncertainty as unfair subsidies, raising questions about Kyoto’s extension of carbon markets, Brussels attempt to include aviation, and Washington’s efforts to enact almost anything Congress is currently considering. Investors are also asking for incentives in renewable energy outlay costs, so getting the incentives right may also require getting the trade rules right.

Governments should share a common interest in safeguarding the policy space for specific subsidies aimed at shifting to socially stable and ecologically sustainable energy supplies.

INVESTMENT BARRIERS The trade ministers gathered in Bali are also discussing the question of non-tariff barriers to investment, which could cover zoning codes, tax incentives, operating permits, or just about any measure governments enact that somehow impact investment. Non-tariff barriers have too often in recent trade policies implied the legal protections for the environment or community development. Again, trade policy must keep away from restricting governments from internalizing costs in energy investment and production.

The rules on new investment in energy infrastructure will determine the future of our climate. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently forecast that $22 trillion in new energy infrastructure will need to be financed over the next 25 years to meet what it calls runaway demand for energy, led by China and India. That’s why investors everywhere are calling for governments to put a price on carbon so that they can plan which energy infrastructure projects to finance. Even OPEC’s recent Riyadh Declaration communicated the need for oil-importing countries to clarify their intentions about future demand for petroleum. Why invest in something that must be phased out?

Some of the most important mechanisms for guiding energy investment are the permitting processes that determine which production facilities will be built, where, and for whose benefit. Licensing processes need to be public and participatory if we are to ensure that energy production is ecologically sustainable and actually helping the poor.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY The transfer of clean energy technologies, and the funds to finance it, is one of the most glaring broken promises of the Rio de Janeiro 1992 Earth Summit that today remain undelivered by industrialized nations. If developing nations are to leapfrog over the dirty development model industrialized nations have used, then the world will need governments to embody a new spirit of international cooperation.

Even in one of the emerging clean energy technology sector’s key epicenters of activity, the San Francisco Bay Area of California, there is no consensus within the industry about the necessity for global monopoly patents on important new clean energy technologies. Its world-class hub of universities, innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors working with environmentalists make it a microcosm of the energy revolution. Yet among many leaders it is not clear how much a barrier, if at all, intellectual property is in transferring clean energy technologies. Many agree that, if climate change is indeed the emergency we believe it is, then patents should not be used to withhold important innovations.

More assessment of these issues is needed. The Bali conference, in collaboration with trade policy community, could be the appropriate arena through which to carry out such an assessment in order to guarantee its climate-first perspective.

Anyone wishing that the WTO would take up the issue of energy subsidies in its official agenda need only observe how it rules on agriculture subsidies have been developed and applied to see reasons to justify the deep lack of trust among the public and WTO Member Nations. Energy subsidies offer an example where expanding the WTO’s mandate, which is almost one-way in its outlook to remove government’s role in the economy in order to increase trade, could complicate if not make impossible a final product that actually protects the climate. Governments should cooperate multilaterally to eliminate perverse subsidies for fossil fuels that endanger our climate, but they should be carried out in the appropriate arenas with missions focused on doing so. Conclusions

International relations are increasingly viewed through the lens of energy concerns, so governments can keep open all their options by rejecting any new restraints on their exercising appropriate responsibilities to pro-actively shape the new clean energy economy. Expanding trade rules over climate can only complicate and delay our pursuing what is needed most: strategic intervention by governments to correct what has been called history’s most massive market failure.

No decisions or positions taken in Bali should foreclose any policy options for climate protection. The most important contribution trade policy can make to climate protection is to not only safeguard but actively increase the policy space that climate negotiators need to act urgently. Trade Ministers could also declare that whatever is agreed to in Bali won’t be subject to WTO complaints.

* Victor Menotti is program director at the International Forum on Globalization. He was in Bali for the climate change conference and this article first appeared in Foreign Policy In Focus (



(BALI, 13 December 2007) — With 48 hrs to go before the Bali climate conference comes to a close, it is now universally expected that the COP (Conference of Parties) 13 will produced a watered-down “Bali Roadmap” that reflects countries bending over backward again to seduce the United States to join a post-Kyoto multilateral process to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.

The expected declaration is supposed to get the parties to agree to hammer out the details of a negotiating framework by COP 14 in Poland in 2008 and to come out with a final agreement by COP 15 in Denmark in 2009.

It is also expected to contain a reference to a 25 to 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, though Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) was quick to disavow that this was “not a target.”

AUSTRALIA REJOINS THE FOLD The opening of the ‘high-level segment’ of the meeting, which has been going on for nearly 10 days, was marked by a dramatic appearance by Australia’s Prime Minister of 10 days Kevin Rudd, who personally delivered his country’s instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to United

Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Under the previous government of John Howard, Australia had allied itself with the United States in not ratifying the protocol. As if making up for the sins of his predecessor, Rudd voiced his support for a new multilateral agreement with binding emission targets and promised a 60 per cent GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction by 2050 from 1990 levels for his country. “There is no Plan B,” he told the participants. “There is no escaping to another planet.”

Some climate activists, however, have not been swept away by Rudd, complaining that his words still have to be reflected in the behavior of Australia(c)ˆs negotiators in Bali, who are said to be imprisoned in the obstructionist paradigm of the Howard regime.

OBSTRUCTIONISTS INC. The repeated urging by speaker after speaker for binding targets contrasted with the background realities of continued absence of a positive attitude on the part of the US, obstructionism on the part of Canada, which has replaced Australia as George W. Bush(c)ˆs closest ideological ally, and Japan’s ill-concealed backtracking from mandatory emission cuts owing to strong pressure from Japanese industry. On the other hand, China and the Group of 77 have struck some longtime observers of the Kyoto process as projecting an attitude of being willing to do their share if the developed world was ready to decree meaningful GHG cuts and finance the development and transfer of technology to assist the developing countries to achieve the transition to a low-carbon economy.

NORTH-SOUTH North-South tensions have been high, and on Tuesday, Dec 11, talks broke down on three issues, one of them being on the key problem of transfer of technology to assist countries of the South cope with global warming. The transfer of technology talks broke down over whether to use the term ‘facilitate’ as the developing countries wanted, or ‘program,’ the preferred word of the North, according to Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram, chairman of the Group of 77 and China bloc. According to one developing country deputy environmental minister who did not wish to be identified, “the US has sent dinosaurs to these negotiations, and that’s why we(c)ˆre stalemated on 80 per cent of the issues.” Washington is the bete noire in Bali, and none are more frustrated than US climate change activists who constantly apologize for the Bush administration(c)ˆs intransigence.

Intra-Group of 77 differences, while much less visible, have not been absent. Malaysia, for instance, surprised developing country delegates at the beginning of the negotiations when its representative appeared to hew to the US line that it wanted an institutional outcome to the negotiations that was “flexible” and “non-binding.” At a side-event sponsored by the government of India on Wednesday, Dec. 12, one speaker suggested that commitments to GHG emission cuts would depend on whether a country belonged to the OECD or rich-country bloc, to the developing world, or to a third category made up of “one big country.” This was obviously a reference to China, whose presence in the Group of 77 bloc has made many–especially the smaller island countries that are clamoring for emergency aid to meet the sea-level rise that is already drowning them–uncomfortable since they see their interests as being entangled in the dynamics of the negotiations between the North and China. The rich countries want China, which is on track to surpass the United States as the biggest GHG emitter and is experiencing record but environmentally destabilizing economic growth, to be eventually included in a regime of mandatory emission reductions. The same demand has been made, though not as strongly, with respect to India and Brazil.

BIG BUSINESS ROARS IN Bali will probably be remembered as the conference where big business came to climate change in big way. A significant number of the side events have focused on market solutions to the GHG problem such as emissions trading arrangements. Under such schemes, GHG intensive countries can “offset” their emissions by paying non-GHG intensive countries to forego pollution-intensive activities, with the market serving as the mediator.

Shell and other big-time polluters have been making the rounds touting the market as the prime solution to the climate crisis, a position that articulates well with the US position against mandatory emission cuts set by government. UN officials justify the greater private sector presence by saying that 84 per cent of the $50 billion needed to combat climate change in the next few years will need to come from the private sector and the latter needs to be “incentivized.”

Climate change activists have been appalled and stunned by the business takeover of the climate change discourse. One Indian activist walked out of a session on “linking emissions trading markets” muttering, “I can’t believe it. These guys have their own specialized jargon. I did not understand one word of what they were saying.”

According to Kevin Smith of the Durban Network on Climate Justice, “The carbon market was originally a very minor part of the architecture of climate architecture, one that climate activists agreed to in order to get the US on board the Kyoto express. Well, the US did not get on board, and we are now stuck with carbon markets driving the process since the corporations have found that there is money to be made from climate change.”

Smith and others claim that the carbon market as a solution is a panacea that will merely allow polluters in the North to keep on polluting while allowing private interests in the South to displace smallholders so they can set up unmonitored and unregulated tree plantations that are supposed to absorb carbon dioxide.

WORLD BANK PROVOKES PROTESTS The World Bank has had a major presence at the conference. This has not been to the liking of many parties. For over a week, negotiators haggled over the mechanism to manage funds that would go towards assisting countries that were on the frontline of the climate crisis. The developed countries wanted the World Bank to act as trustee for the funds and the Bank-managed Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to serve as the administrator for the funds. This did not please the developing country governments, which have had many negative experiences with Bank control of the GEF. The impasse was resolved only when the negotiating parties agreed to establish an “Adaptation Fund Board,” composed mainly of developing states, that would oversee the administration of the funds by the GEF.

An even bigger reaction greeted the Bank’s launching of its $160 million Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, which is designed to use market mechanisms to compensate developing countries with large tracts of forest, including host country Indonesia, for not cutting them down. Some 100 activists staged a one-hour-long lightning demonstration at the Grand Hyatt Hotel that put Bank President Robert Zoellick on the defensive. The protestors, which included members of the Indonesian Civil Society Forum, Friends of the Earth International, World Rainforest Movement, Global Forest Coalition, Jubilee South, the Durban Group on Climate Justice, and Focus on the Global South, warned that incorporating forests into the carbon market would simply guarantee their passing into the hands of big private interests.

Of special concern to the protestors was the fate of indigenous communities. The proposed Bank facility, they warned in a statement, “could trigger further displacement, conflict, and violence. As forests themselves increase in value, they [would be] declared off limits’ to communities that live in them or depend on them for their livelihoods.

GLOBAL CIVIL SOCIETY ERUPTS INTO THE SCENE The mass action against Zoellick within the conference site underlined another reason Bali will be remembered. It marked the entry of the global justice movement into the climate change negotiations. The meeting was attended not only by civil society organizations working on trade and development like Oxfam and the World Development Movement but also by mass movement networks like Via Campesina and Jubilee South. A venue called Solidarity Village for a Cool Planet less than a kilometer from the conference site was organized by Gerak Lawan or The Indonesian People’s Movement Against Neo-colonialism and Imperialism, together with a number of regional and international social movements and organizations, to serve as a site for a parallel conference that drew hundreds of participants. Representatives of environmental refugees from the Pacific Islands, indigenous peoples threatened by forest carbon trading schemes, and farmers from Via Campesina were among those who participated in the week-long gathering.

The eruption into the scene of trade justice and development activists brought a conflictive World Trade Organization ministerial-like atmosphere to the negotiations that had formerly been marked by a civil if not chummy relationship between government negotiators and climate lobbyists. “This opening up of the process to folks who are bringing new issues like trade and justice and people’s empowerment into the equation has been a bit disconcerting to the traditional climate NGOs,” said Emma Brindal of Friends of the Earth-Australia.

“Climate Justice” was the call that united the groups at the Solidarity Village. In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, the participants stated: “By climate justice, we understand that countries and sectors that have contributed the most to the climate crisis — the rich countries and transnational corporations of the North — must pay the cost of ensuring that all peoples and future generations can live in a healthy and just world, respecting the ecological limits of the planet. In Bali, we took another step towards building a global movement for climate justice.”

*Walden Bello is senior analyst at the Bangkok-based research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South and professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines. He is also the president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition of the Philippines.


PRESS RELEASE 14 December 2007


BALI (INDONESIA), 14 December 2007 – Peoples from social organizations and movements from across the globe brought the fight for social, ecological and gender justice into the negotiating rooms and onto the streets during the UN climate summit in Bali. [1]

Inside and outside the convention centre, activists demanded alternative policies and practices that protect livelihoods and the environment.

In dozens of side events, reports, impromptu protests and press conferences, the false solutions to climate change – such as carbon offsetting, carbon trading for forests, agro-fuels, trade liberalization and privatization pushed by governments, financial institutions and multinational corporations – have been exposed.

Affected communities, Indigenous Peoples, women and peasant farmers called for real solutions to the climate crisis, solutions which have failed to capture the attention of political leaders. These genuine solutions include: – reduced consumption. – huge financial transfers from North to South based on historical responsibility and ecological debt for adaptation and mitigation costs paid for by redirecting military budgets, innovative taxes and debt cancellation. – leaving fossil fuels in the ground and investing in appropriate energy-efficiency and safe, clean and community-led renewable energy. – community-based resource conservation that enforces Indigenous land rights and promotes peoples’ sovereignty over energy, forests, land and water. – sustainable family farming and peoples’ food sovereignty.

Inside the negotiations, the rich industrialized countries have put unjustifiable pressure on Southern governments to commit to emissions’ reductions. At the same time, they have refused to live up to their own legal and moral obligations to radically cut emissions and support developing countries’ efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Once again, the majority world is being forced to pay for the excesses of the minority.

Compared to the outcomes of the official negotiations, the major success of Bali is the momentum that has been built towards creating a diverse, global movement for climate justice.

We will take our struggle forward not just in the talks, but on the ground and in the streets – Climate Justice Now!

Notes [1] Many social movements and groups that came together in Bali have agreed to establish a coalition called Climate Justice Now! in order to enhance exchange of information and cooperation among themselves and with other groups with the aim of intensifying actions to prevent and respond to climate change. Justice must be at the heart of tackling climate change, and must in no way be sacrificed.

Members of this coalition include: Biofuelwatch; Carbon Trade Watch, Transnational Institute; Center for Environmental Concerns; Focus on the Global South; Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines; Friends of the Earth International; Gendercc – Women for Climate Justice, Global Forest Coalition; Global Justice Ecology Project; International Forum on Globalization; Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE); La Via Campesina; Members of the Durban Group for Climate Justice; Oilwatch; Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition, Aotearoa/New Zealand; Sustainable Energy and Economy Network; The Indigenous Environmental Network; Third World Network; WALHI/ Friends of the Earth Indonesia; World Rainforest Movement



“We succumbed,” lamented a diplomat from Namibia. “We signed on the 12th of December. The pressure was too much. The private sector felt that they would be disproportionately affected. In terms of markets, they would be losing access for beef, grapes, fish and fish products.”

“The political and economic strength of the European Commission [EC] is in itself a threat and a pressure in the negotiations,” he explained on condition of anonymity.

“When negotiating with a stronger partner, you end up only being on the receiving end. Bully tactics are used with the threat ‘you either sign or you don’t have the market’,” he said.

Up to the last moment, Namibia’s government had tried to resist the pressures from both their own private sector and the EU. Until late last week, trade minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko had categorically stated that the demands the EPA placed on Namibia were “not acceptable”.

He insisted that the EPA should be helping with “regional integration and not to disintegrate” the region.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” the diplomat told IPS. “There was no proper coordination amongst the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The EC has successfully fragmented the ACP, not only in terms of regions, but also within regions.”

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) consists of 15 countries. “While we used to get EU development aid for the region as a whole, now only seven SADC countries (those party to the SADC EPA) will get development aid that is related to the EPAs. This will have ramifications.”

The intra-SADC free trade area is also supposed to be formalized by 2008. How this will play out, with some countries being signatories to the EPAs while a country such as Angola chose not to sign the EPA, remains to be seen.

The Namibian diplomat was quick to add that whilst the country had signed the interim EPA on December 12, it had done so with explicit reservations on certain clauses. “If these concerns are not satisfactorily addressed in the next phase of negotiations, then we can say that we are not in a position to ratify the final agreement and opt out. But in the meantime, we need to do other things, such as finding alternative markets.”

The problem is that Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa have a common customs union — the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), established in 1910. Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland have signed the SADC EPA which contains clauses that Namibia is not comfortable with.

One of these clauses restricts local content requirements in the manufacturing sector. In order to support local industries, Namibia does not want to abolish any legislation that requires investors to use locally produced inputs. Another clause deals with the freezing of export taxes. The EC does not want ACP countries to put in place export taxes. Namibia, however, wants the freedom to use export taxes to discourage the export of raw materials and to encourage local industries to add value to their products before export.

The EC has asked SADC countries to provide it with the same level of market access SADC gives to other significant trade partners. SADC is currently negotiating free trade agreements with India and with the MERCOSUR. MERCOSUR is the Southern Common Market trade area which includes Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay.

If more favourable terms of market access are provided in these and other future trade agreements, the same level of liberalization will have to be extended to the European Union (EU).

The SADC EPA also states that goods entering any one of the SADC EPA signatories should be allowed to move freely to the other signatory countries. However, SADC has yet to formalize its own regional customs union. There are still issues to be sorted out internally.

In contrast to countries which have caved in and signed the interim EPAs, Senegal in West Africa remains steadfastly opposed to the EPAs. An expert from Senegal, who declined to be named, commented on President Abdoulaye Wade’s firm stance taken at the Africa-EU Summit in Lisbon earlier this week.

“He was simply reflecting the national position. The private sector, civil society, parliament and the opposition are all opposed to the EPAs. To have an EPA right now will create a lot of problems for our economy. It will open our markets to products from the EU, some of which are subsidized,” said the Senegalese trade expert.

“Senegal is a least developed country. The industry and agricultural sectors are not ready to compete with the EU on a level playing field. In the next phase of EPA negotiations, we would also have to bring in investment, competition and government procurement, issues which have been rejected at the WTO (World Trade Organisation).

“So the EPAs are WTO-plus. On the other side, in development cooperation, we are not sure that what is on the table can offset any negative liberalization impact,” said the expert.

He also underscored the problems the EPA poses for the West African region, in particular the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAMU / UMOA). The monetary union consists of eight members — Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Togo and Guinea-Bissau.

Of these, Cote d’Ivoire is the only country which has signed the interim EPA in an attempt to safeguard its banana exports to the EU. The country is the main economic powerhouse within WAMU, accounting for 40 percent of the union’s gross domestic product.

According to the Senegalese expert, “Cote d’Ivoire’s signing of the interim EPA will definitely have an impact on WAMU.” Given the high level of economic integration in that region, EU products flowing into Cote d’Ivoire can easily find their way into the other WAMU countries.

“I don’t think they (the EU) did an impact assessment on regional integration,” he said.

He also underscored the tensions the EPA negotiations have created for the WTO negotiations. “They have put the LDCs (least developed countries) in a very bad position in the WTO. Since the 2005 Hong Kong ministerial meeting, LDCs have asked for duty-free and quota-free market access to all developed countries.

“Under the EPA, the duty-free and quota-free market access is reciprocal. Now other countries will say, ‘You have given this to the EU, now you will also have to give me something in return’,” he said.

“So there are many unanswered questions and a lot of uncertainty,” he concluded.

Kenya has also signed an EPA, together with others from the East African Community. A trade diplomat from Nairobi, alluding to the threats the EPAs pose for Africa, summed the position up in the following way: “They say love is blind. This must be real love because we are going along without knowing where we are going.”

Kenyan civil society groups are working hard to make the EPAs a major issue in Kenya’s national elections taking place later this month.

According to Ezekiel Mpapale of the Initiatives for Community and Enterprise Development, “One of the things we are doing is to make sure that Dr Mukhisa Kituyi (the current trade and industry minister) is not re-elected. We think he has betrayed us Kenyans.”

* Aileen Kwa is an independent trade policy consultant. Her main activities include research, writing and training on trade and alternative economic policies. She is co-author of ‘Behind the Scenes at the WTO’, and author of ‘Rethinking the Trading System’. She is currently on leave from Focus on the Global South. This article was first published by Inter Press Service, IPS.


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