Thursday 9 June 2011

Call for Tax on Financial Deals to Fight Global Warming

by Frank MacDonald
from The Irish Times
8 June 2011

A tax on international financial transactions could generate “real funds immediately” to help developing countries protect tropical rain forests and fight global warming, the latest round of climate talks in Bonn heard yesterday.

Greenpeace activists burn a symbol of carbon dioxide (AFP/DDP/File, Theo Heimann)
Bolivian ambassador Pablo Solon, who called on all countries to adopt such a tax, complained that most of the $30 billion in “fast-start” finance pledged by developed nations at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 had not come through.

Instead of countries “re-branding” aid as climate finance, he said, a tax on international financial transactions “would be a mechanism that can generate real funds . . . to act immediately to address the protection of forests and fight climate change.”

Mr Solon also called for the Kyoto Protocol to be renewed at the Durban climate summit in December, on the basis that there was “no time” to negotiate new legally binding treaty” aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries. “We cannot come out of South Africa with the targets we have now, as the UN Environment Programme has shown they will lead us to 4 degrees Celsius of global warming. We must have targets that limit temperature rise to between 1C and 1.5C to preserve life.”

More than 3,000 participants from 183 countries are attending the two-week session in Bonn, which is meant to lay the groundwork for Durban. But few believe that progress will be made on crunch issues such as a renewal of Kyoto, which expires next year.

Last week carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached the highest level ever recorded, at nearly 390 parts per million, and the International Energy Agency said emissions from energy generation in 2010 were also the highest ever – despite the recession.

“With carbon emissions at record highs, it’s clear that policymakers are out of step with the speed of climate change in the real world”, said Greenpeace’s climate policy co-ordinator Tove Maria Ryding. “[They] need to start delivering proven solutions.”

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said at the opening session that governments “have an unavoidable responsibility to make clear progress towards the 2011 climate objectives” which they had agreed in at the Cancún climate conference last December.

“Governments lit a beacon in Cancún towards a low-emission world which is resilient to climate change. They committed themselves to a maximum global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius, with further consideration of a 1.5 degree maximum.

“Now, more than ever, it is critical that all efforts are mobilised towards living up to this commitment,” Ms Figueres said, adding that negotiators were “working hard to provide clarity on the architecture of the future international climate regime” to reduce emissions.

Separately, 18 Greenpeace activists who scaled an Arctic oil rig off the coast of Greenland have been arrested. They were demanding that operators Cairn Energy reveal its plans to deal with potential oil spills.

Cairn Energy had sought an injunction against Greenpeace protesting against its operations in the Artic region. But when the matter came before a court in Amsterdam on Monday, the judge also asked the company to make its oil spill response plan public.

A final ruling on the injunction application is due tomorrow.

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