by Ramesh Jaura
(IPS) THE HAGUE --
actions -- such as the tossing of a cream pie into the face of the chief United States negotiator, Frank Loy -- grabbed the headlines, but the global climate change conference in the capital of the Netherlands has multiple events on the sidelines that underline non-governmental organizations' commitment to raising awareness about the issue.
One such event was the presentation of the South- South-North Project -- SSN Project -- presented by the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies.
The other was "Climate Change: Debt, Equity and Survival" co-organized by Friends of the Earth International and Oxfam.
The SSN Project is a collaboration among four countries of the South and one from the North. The objective is to determine, design and implement a number of pilot Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects.
A central aspect of this effort is a portal website through which investors and host countries of potential CDM projects can become involved in the development and direction of projects that are sustainable and embody the principle of environmental integrity, according project spokesperson Stef Raubenheimer.
"Our site aims to add to international and specifically southern capacity building, to contribute to the stabilization of atmospheric carbon, to the sustainable development of southern countries, and to assisting northern countries in meeting their greenhouse gas reduction targets," Raubenheimer said.
"As part of our experiment, we will measure the transaction costs of each project, and outline the processes followed. In doing so we will provide information and documentation that will assist in the development of the CDM," a flexible mechanism agreed at the third conference, which took place in 1997.
Hague conference is the sixth in the series of global gatherings to halt climate change that threatens all life on the planet earth.
The government of the Netherlands provides necessary funding for the project. It is in fact the project's primary northern link. The southern countries in which eight pilot CDM projects are to be set up are Brazil, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
According to Raubenheimer, the findings emanating from the SSN Project will be within the public domain: all processes, documents, precedents and policy options generated will be posted on the site and be accessible to players in CDM processes worldwide.
"We encourage others to post information and findings on our site in order that it may develop into a knowledge base for those involved in the CDM at all levels. Our knowledge base is designed to be downloadable and useful," Raubenheimer pointed out.
An eventual aim of the website is to experiment with, and contribute to, the development of an e-based CDM market, where both "buyers" and "sellers" of CDM credits will be able to use the website as an entry point into the market, in the first instance, and as a development and financial portal for CDM projects in the second instance.
In addition, the portal will provide an entry point to locate the expertise to develop CDM project possibilities.
The CDM is a flexible mechanism. The climate convention agreed 1992 and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol provide for the reduction of greenhouse gases by industrialized countries, to various set targets within a first commitment period of 2008 to 2012.
In order to assist northern countries with their responsibilities, developing countries that do not have commitments in this period, and which produce smaller quantities of greenhouse gases, may host CDM projects in which the northern countries can invest.
The aim of these projects is to employ cleaner technologies and techniques in the southern countries, contributing to their sustainable development and to the mutual responsibility of reducing greenhouse gases.
By investing in these projects, the northern countries can acquire contributions to meeting their targets. The CDM is thus designed to help northern countries to meet their commitments by giving them the flexibility to reduce greenhouse gases elsewhere in the world at a cost that may be lower than would be the case in their domestic operations.
Though controversial, the CDM, in this way, creates an incentive for northern countries to invest in the sustainable development of southern countries, while at the same time reducing global greenhouse gases.
underlying questions of justice and equity and the manner in which they affect climate change politics were the subject of a discussion event convened by Friends of the Earth International in association with Oxfam.
Tricia Feeney of Oxfam Britain spoke about the disproportionate impacts of climate change on the poor and vulnerable populations of developing countries, and reported that the pleas for justice and equity made by the G77 developing countries and China had met with little response at the ongoing Hague conference.
She added that funding proposals emerging at COP6 would only succeed in diverting already-diminished levels of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Andrew Simms, from the Britain-based New Economics Foundation, compared and contrasted the conventional debt crisis with the treatment of G7 major industrial countries that have accumulated carbon debts, which he valued at $13-$16 trillion per year. He observed that, for example, Washington-based institutions play key roles in both situations.
However, whereas the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries have adjustment programs externally imposed, the carbon debtors undergo no such impositions. On emissions trading, he questioned the legitimacy of claims of entitlement to rights over the atmosphere, by those who plan to engage in trading.
Atiq Rahman of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies, described the climate change process as a "negotiation of power, not of justice." He observed how those who initially denied climate change by citing scientific uncertainty have now rushed to embrace the disputed science of carbon reduction using "sinks."
He accused government negotiators of cheating, in full knowledge of the consequences for the Kyoto Protocol.
Panelists responded positively to a proposal from the floor that developing country representatives should withdraw from COP6 and form a cartel of their own, demanding an equitable negotiating framework based on contraction and convergence.
November 29, 2000 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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