Fairness must drive negotiations for climate change

Publish date: June 4, 2009

SARPSBORG, Norway – Some of the world’s leading environmental policy and business experts have gathered at the conference CC9 to talk about what needs to be done to make the world a bit more fair — at least when it comes to climate change matters.

Fairness is the driving subject of the “Green Technology and Finance —Striking a Fair Climate Deal” hosted by the Club of Madrid, Bellona, and Hafslund, that wrapped up today at Hafslund Manor in Sarpsborg south of Oslo, Norway.

“Climate change is happening now, I have family members living in small villages who find themselves struggling day to day with the effects of climate change on the poverty they already live in," said Ibrahim Wani, chief of the Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Climate change is a human crisis which threatens to overwhelm the humanitarian system and turn back the clock on development.”

Climate justice
These sobering words were echoed by a fellow speaker at a parallel working session on climate justice, Martin Frick, Deputy Director of the Global Humanitarian Forum.

“It is a gross injustice that poor people in developing countries bare over 90 percent of the burden—through death, disease, destitution and financial loss— yet are least responsible for creating the problem of climate change,” said Frick.

Club of Madrid Member Jennifer Shipley, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, called participants’ attention with this question: “How can a new agreement address the issue of climate justice in a development perspective and ensure that action taken in the context of adaptation, mitigation and technology diffusion are in compliance with human rights frameworks on equity and gender?”

Ethical guidelines
The answer, stressed Frick, lies in the December Copenhagen negotiations on climate change considering the following eight guidelines for climate justice – presented in the Global Humanitarian Forum’s “Closing the Gaps” report – as basic ethical benchmarks for action:

1.) Take responsibility for the pollution you cause; 2.) Act according to capability and capacity: 3.) Share benefits and burdens; 4.) Respect and strengthen human rights; 5.) Reduce risk to the minimum; 6.) Integrate solutions; 7.) Act in an accountable, transparent and reliable manner, and, 8.) Act now.

Kennedy roused the crowd
[picture1]Robert F. Kennedy Jr., roused the crowd with his passionate keynote address pleading with world leaders and industrial leaders to join in what he called "the coalition of the willing" — those who are willing to do what it takes to reverse the ill effects of global warming.

"If you build an oil line you have to go to Saudi Arabia, start the occasional periodic war to protect those pipelines, poison our beaches and our children – expensive stuff!" he said to loud applause.

"But if you build a solar thermal plant it will cost us roughly what it would cost to buy oil overseas for one year, and then we have free energy without wars," he said.

Kennedy concluded his remarks reminding industry representatives that free energy, like solar energy, "is the biggest tax break you can give industry, because it creates a huge boom so you can invest in other parts of society."


This article was contributed by Victor Arango of Hasflund.