Cancun climate summit: reduce, reuse, and recycle

Martin Lago at the UNFCCC conference in Cancun

By Martin Lago,  Climate Change Advisor for Caritas Spain and Haiti programme officer

The hope I have for this summit is that the developed countries will stick to their targets for funds on climate change adaptation. Developed countries have committed in Copenhagen to provide $100 billion in annual long-term financing by 2020 and $30 billion have been pledged for fast-start financing to address urgent adaptation and associated capacity-building needs in developing countries. Again, it is not enough to tackle the challenge that we face. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimated that $500-600 billion is needed in developing countries to adapt to the effects of climate change. But at least, these funds can be a start. Caritas in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic for example will apply for money out of these funds, we are working on the application at the moment.

In Haiti where I work, there are already several climate change adaptation and risk reduction programmes, as in many Caritas around the world. Caritas Haiti is constructing houses for displaced people. The objective is to build 4000 houses in less riskier zones. Before, those people lived in makeshift houses by the rivers that would collapse with each hurricane. Another project focuses on building terraces to contain erosion.

For the last four years, there has also been a Caritas programme on adaptation in all Central American member countries, from Mexico to Panama. It involved local communities and helped them draw risk maps of their region, develop reaction plans for emergencies and cope with risks. This 4-year project is going to be extended for another four years, but with sufficient funding for adaptation from developed countries, much more could be done on adaptation by NGOs such as Caritas.

I am unfortunately not optimistic about the results from this negotiation session thus far. The achievements of the Kyoto protocol are in danger now that Japan is threatening that it will not commit to a second commitment period. All the people here are already talking about the next COP meeting although we haven’t even finished this one.

I have had the possibility to speak to people from different delegations and other NGOs and to attend official briefings in the last days, and everywhere, I got the impression that things are not moving forward very much.

The EU has committed to a 20% reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions, but that is not enough and it doesn’t have much impact if China and the USA don’t reduce their emissions. Climate change is a global problem and it needs global solutions. There really needs to be a follow-up agreement after Kyoto.

At Caritas Spain, we wrote a letter to the Ministry of Environment urging them to get more involved on this. We have been very active on this topic since Copenhagen last year and also joined the Caritas Internationalis/CIDSE campaign on climate justice by collecting signatures in Spain for example.

A binding agreement is needed but in any case, I am not happy with the way emissions are counted either. Reduction targets should be measured at a national level. With the current compensation system, the Clean Development Mechanism, developed countries can easily buy themselves out of the problem by paying  developing countries to reduce their emissions. That does not change the economic system in developed countries.

Actually, what we need to do most of all is to change our way of life. Our current economic model is not sustainable, even with more efficient technologies. We are wasting the world’s resources and we are consuming them so fast that they can’t regenerate in time. In a society that focuses too much on consumption and where new artificial needs are created constantly, we have gotten so used to throwing things away and buying lots of things we just don’t need. It the 3Rs we should follow: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

1 Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Europe, Food, High-Level Meetings and Events, Latin America, Mexico, Spain

One response to “Cancun climate summit: reduce, reuse, and recycle

  1. Apoyamos las declaraciones de nuestro compañero desde El Surco – Proyectod e Comercio Justo de Cáritas Tenerife y difundimos, como siempre, a través de nuestro blog y redes sociales (facebook y twitter) para que el mensaje de Cáritas llegue a más gente. Muchas Gracias

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