Bali Road Map more like Road Kill for Pacific countries

14 December 2007

Bula from Bali.

It is day 5 of the second week and the Bali Road Map is looking more and more like it is going to be “Road Kill” for the small Pacific Island Countries.

The Official Opening for the High Level Ministerial took place on Wednesday and the heads of states present, the UN SG, the IPCC all said the same thing – the time for urgent action in upon us.

Yet, for those of us in the environmental NGO community present here, alarm bells are ringing. Last night, the ministers debated in the Lagune Resort whilst their negotiators battled each other over the final text.

After 1:00am today, we heard that the texts for 3 pillars were agreed to by the technocrats and would be presented to the larger meeting of ministers and government delegates today.

On the dialogue process – there are some critical issues still to be resolved. Key amongst this is the ranges commitment. We want the final text to commit the countries to reducing their emissions to within a 25-40% range. The sciences demand this. Yet, the USA, backed by Australia are refusing to cooperate on this. The EU has been good on this and has threatened the US on this saying that if the US does not commit to this range, then, France will not host the Major Economies Meeting in January next year. The EU is also demanding the know what Australia’s stance is on this.

The only pillar to seem to be a done deal is the one on adaptation – and the adaptation fund.

On Wednesday night, the friends of the Chair (which are a select group of 25 ministers handpicked by the chair of the COP/MOP and one negotiator) met behind closed doors and tight security as they thrashed out issues under the dialogue track. The other track in the Ad Hoc Working grp track.

The one positive thing that has come out since is that this group managed to revive the debate on technology transfer. This is good because it had died earlier and was to be forwarded to be discussed on Bonn in June 2008. Technology transfer is important for developing economies like India and China because of the issue of their rapidly developing economies. Tey will not be dictated to by the developed countries to cut their emissions and sacrifice economic growth so, this pillar provides a space for dialogue on how this whole thing of their economic growth and emissions and new technology will pan out.

The one issue of real concern to the Pacific Islands represented here is the one on adaptation. Under adaptation, there is the issue of funding for adaptation measures. For small PICs, as the global leaders dilly dally and negotiate till the cows come home, the islands are sinking; the coastal lines are rapidly eroding; water sources are drying up or becoming unusable due to penetration of the water tables by sea water; health risks are increasing’; cyclones are becoming more frequent and violent. This is all well documented in the IPCC report.

So, at this COP/MOP, the government of Tuvalu put fwd a proposal that the adaptation fund be up and running immediately because it has to adapt now. It proposed that the financial systems, financing agreements, governance, accountability and transparency structures be set in place before deciding which particular agency could provide the necessary services.

It did this because it did not want the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to be this fund due to previous experiences with the fund which have not been empowering and timely in delivery.
The GEF CEO and her team were out here in full force and we have been reliably informed that the CEO has been bullying delegates to get their vote for GEF to be this fund; she has been on a vote buying spree in our region and we have also been told me that the GEF CEO found out via a leak that during an AOSIS closed meeting at which a particular govt delegate raised concerns about GEF being this fund when it was proposed by GEF’s cronies in that closed meeting, the GEF CEO sought this govt delegate out and “lashed out” at the person. “a UN meeting is a meeting of governments, the UN agencies are servants of the leaders will and commitment. An agency like this does not go around behaving like this”.

Well ,to cut a long story short, GEF won its campaign to be the fund. The one consolation for Tuvalu and those who supported its position is that the Board to be made up of 16 reps – 1 per UN regional voting block; 1 rep from LDCs, one from AOSIS. We will have to wait and see how this pans out.
But, the one thing that GEF did during this process was to split the Pacific Small Island Developing States (Pacific SIDS) on this issue, with Tuvalu on one side vs. the rest of them.

Tuvalu also wanted the financing of this fund to be increased and to be financed by innovative sources instead of the current plan -i. by annex 1 countries- which as projected, will fall far short of the amount needed to cater for adaptation needs. The amount projected under the current plan is around 20 million; yet, scientists are saying that this fund will need at least 50 billion dollars!

Briefly, for the other pillars, the USA, Japan, Canada, Saudi ARabia, Russia, Australia- are being difficult – as to be expected with such UN meetings and one gets the sense that the small island states probably just stop talking because they get bulldozed and wonder if their presence is even noticed.
Those historically responsible for the problem derail the process, play hard ball- and in the process play with the lives and future of the Pacific islanders.
The one thing i must say that is missing from this forum is the human element. For the big bad boys- it is about numbers, dollar signs, fossil fuel campaign money, etc
for small PICs – it is about our nation states existing into the next century. It is about our descendants growing up with dignity and cultural identity in their island homes and not second class citizens in a foreign land as environmental refugees. I wonder how this can get on the agenda?

For me these last few hectic days- all i have heard is numbers, ranges, carbon credits, trade offs, SBSTA, SBI, AWG, etc – too technical?

And i have wondered- where are the faces- the human lives, the children, the old people who refuse to leave their island homes despite rising sea levels – who will be their voice at the official negotiating table?

selamat tinggal from Bali,
Greenpeace Pacific