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05 December 2011

COP17’s fossil awards...... And the worst offenders are…...


DURBAN – After six days of deliberations at the United Nations COP17 climate change conference in Durban, Canada has the dubious honour of being awarded the “fossil of the day” award twice in a row. It has also notched up a second and third place, making it the most “capped” of the some 196 countries attending the forum.

For those of you new to “all things climate”, the fossil of the day awards originated at climate change talks in Bonn, Germany in 1999. While the dictionary version of fossil means relic or remnant, the reference in this instance is to fossil fuel – a swearword at any gathering of environmentalists and lobbyists for a reduction in greenhouse gases.

The awards were initiated by the German NGO Forum. Each year members of the Climate Action Network (CAN) nominate and vote for a candidate country or countries which in their view did their best to obstruct negotiations during the annual Conference of the Parties (COP). To view footage of the award ceremonies click on the following link. http://www.climatenetwork.org/fossil-of-the-day. CAN is a worldwide network of roughly 500 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit “human-induced” climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.

After the first day of negotiations on November 28 2011, Canada walked away with the laurels for failing to support a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and threatening to exit the convention. The question of a second commitment is crucial at the Durban talks with the world waiting with baited breath over whether or not a decision will be reached. The protocol is the only legally binding agreement on climate change holding signatories to account for the emission of greenhouse gases.

After day two of the talks, Canada again swept the first prize from under the noses of competitors followed by the United States in second place. This followed a statement by Canada’s environmental minister, Peter Kent: “There is an urgency to this. We don’t need a binding convention, what we need is action and a mandate to work on an eventful binding convention.”

The culprit on day three was Poland, or rather its president Bronislaw Komorowski for putting coal ahead of climate. Coal is responsible for releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere contributing to global warming.

Day four was award free, but on day five Brazil walked away with first prize because of its proposed forest law. According to CAN Brazil’s ministry of environmental affairs announced earlier that the new law would help that country meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal. Critics say the law is favourable to ranchers and loggers, bringing an outpouring of concern from environmentalists. Some say the legislation will simply contribute to further deforestation.

On the last day of the first tranche of negotiations, Turkey earned the first place for trying to acquire funding and technology under the Kyoto Protocol. CAN says Turkey has increased its emissions by 98% since 1990 and has not made any commitment to turn this around. It says Turkey is allocating its financial resources to building more coal power plants and planning two nuclear plants.

With the Durban negotiations entering its second week, the talks will no doubt produce its fair share of fossil award recipients as countries grapple with issues like the Kyoto Protocol and the establishment of a Green Climate fund to aid developing countries to bring down their emissions.

- Moneyweb