DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, 28 November 2011 – Friends of the Earth International has expressed strong concerns over the agenda of the US and a number of other developed countries at the UN climate talks in Durban from 28 November to 9 December.

The global grassroots environmental federation is calling on other governments to stop these countries from undermining the globally-agreed framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure stronger targets for legally binding emissions cuts in line with science and equity.

The most fractious issue in the negotiations is the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  Whilst the greenhouse gas emissions targets in the current phase are extremely weak and full of dangerous loopholes like carbon trading, the Protocol itself provides the only existing international framework for legally binding targets for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. [1]

Rather than strengthen the emissions targets and cut out the loopholes to galvanise real action on climate emissions, the US, Japan, Canada and other developed countries are pushing to scrap the agreed, legally-binding framework to cut emissions and replace it with a voluntary 'pledge and eview' approach.

This would put the world squarely on track to catastrophic global warming.  These rich, industrialised countries are concealing their deadly agenda with calls for a new mandate for a totally new climate treaty to take effect as far away as 2020. [2]

"Durban could be where the greatest crime against humanity is committed. The blind greed and self-interest of developed countries could literally pass a death sentence on the peoples of Africa", said Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International.

"The US, Japan and other rich countries are using the climate talks to advance the narrow, profit-driven interests of their polluting industries, multinational corporations, and financial elites. Developing countries must resist this ruinous agenda, and the EU must prove its climateleadership or take its share of responsibility for what could be a disastrous outcome in Durban. The world can no longer stand by whilst they sell out our future" he continued.

"To tackle the climate crisis we need a transformation in our unjust and unsustainable economies and their basis in dirty, polluting fossil fuels. In South Africa, it was the power of peoples' struggle that defeated apartheid.  Once again our communities need to organize, mobilise and help build not just a new South Africa but a new just and sustainable world that puts the interests and needs of ordinary people and communities first," said Bobby Peek, director of Friends of the Earth South Africa/groundWork.

"Here in Durban delegates are already feeling the pressure from the many civil society voices who chose to demand climate justice from outside the talks," he added.



[1] Developed (Annex I) countries are responsible for three quarters of historic emissions despite only hosting 15% of the world´s population. Because of their historical responsibility for climate change they have a moral and legal obligation under the climate convention to cut their emissions first and finance action by developing countries. The first period of emission cuts agreed under the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012. A second commitment period must be agreed in Durban to avoid gaps between the two periods. Canada, Japan and Russia are determined not to commit to a second period of emission cuts under the Protocol unless all major economies – including China and the United States – agree to the same legal terms. The US is reneging on its promise to take on comparable binding emissions reductions. Instead, it is pushing for a complete dismantling of the framework of legally-binding emissions reduction targets and for its replacement with a voluntary pledge and review system where countries would decide their own emissions cuts on a national basis.

[2] According to UNEP, the voluntary emissions reductions pledges submitted at the previous UN round of climate talks (COP 16 in Cancun) would put the world on track to a catastrophic 5 degrees of warming and even higher for Africa.



Friends of the Earth International media line:  +27 791 097 223 (South African number valid only Nov. 28 – Dec.10) or  +31-6-5100 5630 (Dutch mobile) or email: media@foei.org

Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International: +234 803 727 4395 (Nigerian mobile) or   +27 716 392 542 (South African mobile valid only Nov. 28 – Dec.10), email: nnimmo@eraction.org

Bobby Peek, director of Friends of the Earth South Africa / groundWork: Bobby Peek, Director of Friends of the Earth South Africa:  +27 824 641 383 (South African mobile), email: bobby@groundwork.org.za


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