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After Copenhagen: “We’re not finished yet,” civil society warns 0

COP15 proved to be a “spectacular failure even according to its own terms,” but civil society had “some successes,” such as the inclusion of certain issues on the climate agenda, and making the voice of the South heard loud and clear. That was how activists assessed their efforts at COP15 as the climate change talks came to an agonising end Saturday in Copenhagen.

Barred from the Bella Center, the official venue, and treated harshly by security forces at some of the massive demonstrations held throughout the two weeks of the conference, representatives of civil society – gathered simultaneously in the Danish capital at their own people’s climate summit, Klimaforum09 – highlighted a series of victories achieved.

“Despite the lack of transparency, civil society organisations have given visibility to positions that are more in line with climate justice, which we see as the only way to move towards a sustainable planet,” Eduardo Giesen, Latin American and Caribbean coordinator for Friends of the Earth International’s Climate Justice and Energy Programme, told TerraViva.

“We focused our efforts on supporting developing countries so they could present a united front against the demands of the industrialised world, and not give in to pressures that in some cases bordered on colonialism,” he added.

Klimaforum09 closed its two weeks of activities with a concert and a ceremony where this year’s organisers transferred organisational duties to representatives of Mexico and Latin America, where the next parallel summit will be held in 2010.

“The general sensation is that what wasn’t achieved at the Bella Center was achieved at Klimaforum” in terms of content consensus and forging of alliances, Giesen said.

For her part, Canadian journalist and researcher Naomi Klein called on activists to not give up hope. “I think it’s really important to make sure that we don’t leave this gathering feeling discouraged,” she said.

According to Klein, the fact that negotiators at the Bella Center were unable to reach an agreement even within their own conception of how to address climate change is proof that it is a failed model.

“That’s why it is very important to go forward and tell a different story of what happened here in Copenhagen. That story must be that their model reveals itself to be a spectacular failure even according to its own terms,” she said.

“And because their model failed, it’s our turn now. So don’t allow yourselves to get depressed,” she added.

In Klein’s view, the model has failed because of its emphasis on the carbon market and other market-based mechanisms.

“Discourse about climate change has been really taken over by technocrats, (it’s become) very bureaucratised, and has been extremely exclusive. This is actually similar to the discussion on trade a decade ago, where it was all acronyms, all incredible impenetrable long talks,” she said.

“And many people felt: I can’t be part of the discussion, I don’t have an advanced degree on economics, I can’t participate,” she added.

Klein underlined the need to reject “the model” in which negotiations are conducted under the Convention.

“We need to reject any measure that allows the countries that created the problem to evade their responsibility, (which is) that they need to cut their emissions,” she stressed.

For his part, Giesen condemned international NGOs that “toe the line” of industrialised countries and back counterproductive mechanisms.

“Our NGOs work with communities to achieve environmental justice. We haven’t turned into consultancy firms seeking to finance their activities by any means, like certain multinational NGOs who have found in the carbon market a way to make a lot of money. They’ve bought into capitalism,” he said.

Klein, meanwhile, highlighted what she saw as the “successes” of the last two weeks. “The rich world can no longer claim not to know (what) failing to act (entails). The voices of the South, the cost of millions of lives, the disappearance of countries and cultures – all that has landed on the agenda,” she said.

Continue reading about the Klimaforum09 and the summit on IPS

Read also the commentary of the summit closure by IPS environment correspondent Stephen Leahy on IPS

By Raúl Pierri and Daniela Estrada – IPS/TerraViva

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi