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And they're off!

It's Day One of the official Panama Climate Change Conference and already the gloves are off!  A new proposal to 'junk' the faltering Kyoto Protocol and extend the timeline for a legally-binding climate treaty until 2015 threatens further division between the rich and the poor, as developing countries run short of time and ammo in their front line battle in the World War against global warming.  

The Australia-Norway Proposal would redesignate the November UNFCCC 17th Conference of the Parties(COP17) in Durban, SA,  as the initiating meeting in a four-year process to craft a replacement for Kyoto.

"It tries to take forward the international climate negotiations into the next years, seeing how we can build a broader climate regime," Artur Runge-Metzger, the EU's chief climate negotiator, told Reuters. "We think that this seems to be a workable timeline."

"It's a gift to the United States."

Negotiators from developing countries and small island states like Tuvalu are opposed to abandoning Kyoto and view the new proposal as yet another delaying tactic, one which gives big industry time to develop new money-making methods of generating clean power, developing lucrative carbon-offset projects, and designs for ecologically friendly building.  (The Guardian Environment Carbon Offsetting section is an ideal primer for background, developing news  and a comprehensive list of carbon offsetting projects.)

In the same Reuters article, an anonymous Indian official called foul. "Such a plan takes the focus away from Kyoto and redraws negotiating paradigms. Why should the developing countries agree?"

In yesterday's pre-conference Daily Tck, GCCA Campaign Director Paul Horsman says the Australia-Norway Proposal "really only muddied the waters."

Dropping the commitment to a 2nd period of the Kyoto protocol would defy any economic or political logic.  Just this week, the EU outlined conditions to agree to supporting the Protocol.  This is in the best economic and political interests of the EU whose markets and corporations will only benefit.  A proposal has come from Norway and Australia calling for a new global pact in the future has really only muddied the waters.

We need a deal now not sometime.  The 2nd commitment period of the KP should be adopted without reservation; however countries do need to start to discuss a process and timeline for a deal that includes all major emitters while respecting the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Meanwhile, an Alternative Forum on Climate Change convenes Monday and Tuesday at the University of Panama, to discuss resistance to "false solutions such as REDD, megadams, the expansion of agrofuels and other World Bank pilot projects."

(For further analysis of World Bank and IMF projects, visit Climate Investment Funds)


Empty Coffers

Along with the future of Kyoto, discussion on investments in the Green Climate Fund are also a high priority during this week's talks. The fund, established in Cancun at COP16, currently maintains a 0 balance. (See Transitional Committee for the design of the Green Climate Fund)

Currently, Mexico and South Africa are working with the World Bank, which administers financing for the first three years, to complete the blueprint of the fund, whose 24-member board (equally represented by members of developed and developing nations) is tasked with financing sustainable growth in developing countries and providing mitigation assistance to worst affected countries.   South Africa's Planning Minister Trevor Manuel co-chairs the fund, which is tasked with raising a sizable portion of the $100-billion experts say are needed by 2020 to adequately address the challenges of climate change.

For South Africa, this is particularly important given its reliance on coal. Speaking at a symposium on innovative financing for a low-carbon economy in August, Manuel said the country made a mistake decades ago in adopting an almost complete reliance on coal but this was changing. But the perceived lack of direction in South Africa's green policy could create problems in receiving money from the Green Climate Fund.

The country's green paper, released last year, has been severely criticized for its lack of specific proposals and plans on financing. Although getting different countries to agree on it might be hard, working out who will pay the $100-million is nigh impossible.

Manuel also said it was "easier to extract teeth from chickens" than to convince G20 finance ministers to part with money. Green fund full of empty promises

Stay Tuned/Act

• GCCA: Follow the Panama Talks @ The Adopt A Negotiator Project/tcktcktck
• Climate Action Network (CAN): Durban Expectations
• Oxfam: Fill the Fund; to support innovative sources of finance in particular a levy on Bunkers.

Coverage@ Kos
COP15  & 16
Daily Cancun
Bonn Talks

3:14 PM PT: 2 Oct 11 from the Daily Tck Paul Horsman reports: "Three cheers for New Zealand for stating that they too are willing to support a 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol – the conditions under which they accept an extension are, of course, to be worked out, however their neighbours the Australians could take some lessons form NZ and come clean on their position on the Kyoto Protocol.  Australia continues to resist such calls while acknowledging that their proposed domestic legislation will help them move to the higher end of their current modest emissions reduction targets (currently between 5% and 25% from 1990 levels).   It remains a mystery what could possibly be holding Australia back from a 2nd commitment period of the KP.  The same goes for Norway who joined Australia in making a submission on a new deal at some point in the future while remaining fairly silent on the future of the Kyoto Protocol. "

10:31 PM PT: Andy Revkin publishes a map A Map of Organized Climate Change Denial

A chart of “key components of the climate change denial machine” has been produced by Riley E. Dunlap, regents professor of sociology at Oklahoma State University, and Aaron M. McCright, an associate professor of sociology at Michigan State University. The diagram below (reproduced here with permission) is from a chapter the two researchers wrote on organized opposition to efforts to curb greenhouse gases for the new Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society.

Originally posted to Beyond Kyoto on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Deborah Phelan.

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