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SWS Commission

In Mexico, Socialist International outlines priorities for COP16

26-27 November 2010

Latifa Perry

On 26 and 27 November 2010, members of the Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society gathered in Mexico City to put forward the social democratic views on the crucial negotiations at the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in Cancún from 29 November to 10 December. (Statement of the Commission in Mexico)

The Commission, which has followed an extensive programme of work since 2007, had presented a detailed report at the United Nations headquarters in New York last year, ahead of COP15 in Copenhagen, outlining a series of proposals and strategies on how to move forward, from a high carbon economy to a low carbon society.

On this occasion, the eve of COP16, members of the Commission convened in Mexico to focus on the key issues and priorities of the Socialist International to obtain a meaningful agreement at the negotiations in Cancún.

Taking part in the meeting, which was hosted by the Mexican member of the Commission, Beatriz Paredes, President of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and a Vice-President of the SI, were Ricardo Lagos, Co-Chair of the Commission, former president of Chile and a Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General on Climate Change, who chaired the proceedings, SI Secretary General Luis Ayala, Commission members Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of the Interior from South Africa and Mohamed El Yazghi, Minister of State from Morocco, along with Mona Sahlin, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Sweden and a Vice-President of the SI. As on other occasions, Ministers of the Environment from SI member parties in government in the region of the meeting were invited to present their perspectives, in this case the Ministers of the Environment from Guatemala, Luis Ferraté, and from Costa Rica, Andrei Bourrouet.

The activities of the Commission in Mexico City began on 26 November with a public event, broadcast live across Mexico, in which members of the Commission presented their views and engaged in a panel discussion with a large audience of members of parliament, party leaders, trade union leaders, representatives of NGOs and environmental organisations, academics and members of the media.

The meeting of the Commission on 27 November was preceded by a meeting with the President of the Republic of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, host of the COP16, and with members of his government. During these discussions, Commission members exchanged views with the President on issues central to the agenda of the Conference and the process of the negotiations.

The Commission meeting opened with an overview of the effects of and response to climate change in Mexico, and subsequently examined the priorities for a successful outcome to the COP16 negotiations and identified a series of target objectives.

First and foremost amongst the priorities highlighted was the urgent need for an ambitious and realistic international agreement with binding commitments, objectives and deadlines, and as a minimum, the formalisation of the voluntary pledges made since Copenhagen. It was noted that even if every pledge made since Copenhagen were formalised and honoured, it would still leave the world far short of what was needed. The necessity for deeper emission cuts was emphasised, keeping in mind the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities thus ensuring that the wealthiest nations reduce their emissions first and the most.

The need for developing countries to take nationally appropriate mitigating actions to limit emissions, and for all commitments on emission reduction to be measurable, reportable and verifiable was reiterated. Great importance was attached to the potential for an agreement in Cancún on REDD+, with a call for clear targets on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which represent over 20% of all global emissions.

Another area in which the need for progress was underlined was in the field of technological and scientific cooperation, incorporating training and financing of measures for adaptation and mitigation. The principle that adaptation measures should be increased in developing countries with low Human Development Indices and in those most vulnerable to climate change was supported, in line with the long-held position of the International on climate justice.

The need to put into place the proposal to create the Copenhagen Green Fund to mobilise 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 to assist developing countries was emphasised, along with the importance to set a multilateral framework to fulfil the short-term commitment of 10 billion dollars per year in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Participants expressed concern over knock-on effects of climate change, such as water and crop shortages, food security, poverty, climate migrants and those displaced due to natural disasters, together with the political consequences which follow. In this regard, dedicated funds for affected countries were seen as necessary, along with a greater sense of solidarity.

Amongst other issues in the discussions, it was pointed out that this COP16 presented an opportunity for regaining confidence, both in the United Nations system and in multilateralism itself. It was recognised that the issue of the rules of procedure for the Conference would have to be addressed.

At the conclusion of the meeting of the Commission, the statement agreed by all members on the concrete areas in which substantive progress is required at the COP16, was presented at a press conference attended by members of the national and international media.

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