Bahasa Indonesia

Down to Earth No.76-77, May 2008

Bali and beyond - struggles for climate justice

December 2007 saw the resort of Nusa Dua on Bali crowded with thousands of government officials, academics, consultants, business representatives and activists attending the UN intergovernmental climate summit and hundreds of parallel events. The official summit agreed a 'roadmap' as a key step towards a post-Kyoto process to tackle climate change. But its failure to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its trust in market mechanisms to address global warming has caused dismay among many activists.

As in many developing countries, poor and marginalised communities in Indonesia are expected to suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change. The predicted impacts include more intense rainfall and flooding, threats to food security, sea-level rises encroaching on coastal communities and higher levels of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.1 As an archipelago, Indonesia is vulnerable to sea-level rises, storms and coral reef bleaching resulting from global warming which threaten coastal communities and their livelihoods. Some farming communities have already reported an impact on their farming activities, with weather patterns becoming less reliable for seasonal planting and harvesting (see also Meratus article).

A recent report on Indonesia by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) calls for more attention to be paid to adaptation to climate change's impacts for poor people. The Other Half of Climate Change warns that climate change is "intensifying the risks and vulnerabilities facing poor peoples, placing further stress on already over-stretched coping mechanisms" and "holding back the efforts or poor people to build a better life for themselves and their families."2

It is all the more disappointing, therefore, that government negotiators attending last December's climate summit (officially known as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 13th Conference of Parties, UNFCCC COP13) were unable to agree targets for the drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions urgently required to moderate climate change. The EU, China and most developing countries pressed for rich countries to cut emissions by 25-40%, but this was blocked by the US. In the end, the main text stated only that 'deep cuts' in global emissions were needed.3

The Bali Action Plan, one of the series of agreed documents known as the Bali Roadmap, commits signatory countries to reach a new agreement by 2009 (COP15 in Copenhagen). This will come into force in 2012, when the 'first commitment period' covered by the Kyoto Protocol ends.4 The UN climate change convention specifies that it must contain a long-term global goal for emission reductions, which takes into account different countries' responsibilities, capabilities and social and economic conditions.

The Bali Action Plan goes on to list measures for discussion, mitigation of climate change, adaptation to its impacts, technology development and transfer, and financing and investment. Under mitigation, the Plan gives the green light for 'avoided deforestation' or reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) schemes to be included in the new agreement.

One Bali Roadmap decision that was welcomed concerned the Adaptation Fund, a fund previously set up under the Kyoto Protocol for practical climate change initiatives in developing countries, but not yet operational. At Bali, a fairer representation for developing countries to manage the Fund was negotiated. However, the decision to invite the GEF, which is co-managed by the World Bank, to be the interim Secretariat, was less welcome.5 The agreement should open the door for funding for vulnerable communities - for example, those in flood-prone coastal areas - to adapt to climate change impacts.

Unofficial outcomes

As well as the official negotiations, Bali was the scene of a global gathering of activists - fertile ground for creating international solidarity, cross-cultural understanding and forging new alliances.

One rallying point was the exclusion of indigenous peoples representatives from official proceedings. Others were concerns about the dangerous promotion of agrofuels as 'green alternatives' to fossil fuels; about funding for addressing climate change and its impacts (particularly by the World Bank); and about the potential damaging social impacts of avoided deforestation schemes (for more on some of these concerns, see next article).

A coalition of over thirty Indonesian CSOs organised a series of events inside and outside the UN negotiations for national and international participants under the title of the Civil Society Forum. This included WALHI, Sawitwatch, AMAN, Greenpeace SE Asia, Telapak, ICEL, JATAM, WWF, Raca Institute, FWI and Solidaritas Perempuan. Activities centred around a main stage and workshops where communities presented their testimonies. Groups combined to issue position statements, mount displays, hold discussions and organise demonstrations to inform and impress their concerns upon official summit delegates and other civil society groups.

As a result, a new network - Climate Justice Now! - was set up. Activists from across the globe agreed to exchange information and cooperate with each other and others with the aim of intensifying actions to prevent and respond to climate change, with justice at the heart of this response. In a press release issued at Bali, the network listed carbon offsetting, carbon trading for forests, agrofuels, trade liberalisation and privatisation as false solutions to climate change. Affected communities, indigenous peoples, women and peasant farmers called for genuine solutions,including:

Down to Earth together with the Riau NGO, Elang, and local indigenous organisation, AMA Riau, mounted a display at the major Forest Day side event organised by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The aim was to promote voices of villagers affected by oil palm expansion. The joint display, created with practical support from Forest Watch Indonesia, carried the strong message that agrofuel from Indonesian palm oil is definitely not 'green' because it has severe impacts on local livelihoods as well as causing deforestation. Elang even managed to leaflet Indonesia's forestry minister and his entourage.

The dual-language publicity materials prepared for the event included posters, banners, a photo display and handouts, plus a four-page 'Bali Briefing'.7

DTE also attended other side events related to forests, people, agrofuels and climate change; participated in an initiative by Riau-based NGOs to protect swamp forests being replaced by pulpwood plantations; and took part in various workshops, including one on the role of International Finance Institutions, aid and grants in climate change-related schemes.

Bangkok talks agree on timetable, carbon markets and forest-related activities

What has been happening since Bali to move the climate change agenda forward? The first major post-Bali meeting was held in Bangkok, 31 March - 4th April 2008. A new working group under the UNFCCC, called the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, has been given the job of drafting the new agreement. It is due to meet a further three times this year, ending with COP14 in Poland. An existing group, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG), also met in Bangkok to continue negotiations on post-2012 commitments by developed countries.

The meeting reached agreement on a timetable for negotiations to be concluded in Copenhagen in 2009 and, according to UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Beer, agreed to break the task into manageable chunks. He said the AWG's discussion laid the foundation for continuing market-based mechanisms - an important signal to businesses that the carbon market would continue after 2012. "Businesses have been asking for clarity on this" he said, "and now they have it." The AWG also agreed to include forest-related activities in the period known as the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period (2012-2016)8 (see also next article).

Nicholas Stern, whose 2006 report made many world leaders take the climate change issue more seriously, now believes that greenhouse gas emissions are growing much faster than previously thought.9 This increases pressure for more investment by governments and business in new technologies and for more severe cuts in carbon emissions. Sir Stern, formerly the World Bank's Chief Economist, argues in his most recent paper - Key Elements of on Global Deal on Climate Change - that market-based solutions should be at the heart of large-scale, urgent international action.10 He also says that drafting the text for the post-Kyoto treaty "will begin as early as summer 2008".

Notes: 1 See DTE 74,
2UNDP, The Other Half of Climate Change. Why Indonesia Must Adapt to Protect its Poorest People, 2007
3 Bali Action Plan, ;The Guardian 17/Dec/07
4 See DTE 74 and DTE 69,
5 See for example initial assessment of Bali summit by Tearfund at
6 'What's Missing From the Climate Talks? Justice!' Press Release from Climate Justice Now! Coalition 17/Dec/07.
7Bali Briefing
8 'Bangkok Climate Change talks conclude',
9 Independent 17/Apr/08
10 LSE press release, 30/Apr/08

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