Focus on Trade introduction
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.
IN THIS ISSUE
THE DAY AFTER...
See on ESSF: Bali: The Day After
NGOS REGROUP AROUND CLIMATE CHANGE AFTER BALI
See on ESSF: NGOs regroup around climate change after Bali
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? BALI, AND THE LESSONS LEARNED
WHAT WAS GAINED IN BALI? NOT MUCH...
See on ESSF: What was gained in Bali? Not much...
REDD: FUNDING FORESTS, PLANTATIONS OR FORESTERS?
TRADE, CLIMATE, AND BALI
See on ESSF: Trade, Climate and Bali
PLAYERS AND PLAYS IN THE BALI CLIMATE DRAMA
See on ESSF: Players and Plays in the Bali Climate Drama
PRESS RELEASE: WHAT’S MISSING FROM THE CLIMATE TALKS? JUSTICE!
See on ESSF: What’s missing from the climate talks? Justice!
TRADE-AFRICA: EU is Using ’’Bully
See on ESSF: EU is using “bully tactics” to push through EPAs
Focus on Trade is a regular electronic bulletin providing updates and analysis of trends in regional and world trade and finance, the political economy of globalisation and peoples resistance, and alternatives to global capitalism. Nicola Bullard edits Focus on Trade. Your contributions and comments are welcome. Write to n.bullard focusweb.org
Focus on Trade is translated into Spanish and Bahasa Indonesian.
Some articles are translated into French. The links for these pages are:
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Focus on the Global South
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