Nicaragua: Paris Agreement Negates Sustainable Development

The current energy crisis in Venezuela is a direct result of Climate Change as are the widespread floods in Argentina and Uruguay.

By Tortilla con Sal

The same countries that accumulated their current massive financial and economic advantage through centuries of genocide, slavery and environmental destruction are now leveraging that global advantage though abuse and manipulation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Paris Agreement’s deliberate built-in failure to address responsibly either Climate Change itself or its devastating economic and social impacts is deeply political. The former Western imperial powers and allied governments are forcing their historic victims to assume the costs of Climate Change that the predator nations themselves have brought about.

For the Western corporate elites and their governmental proxies, the impacts of Climate Change represent a geopolitical opportunity not to be wasted. In Latin America and the Caribbean, this latest abuse of the U.N. system by the former imperial powers parallels and complements the political and economic attacks by the United States and its European allies on target countries like Venezuela.

The current energy crisis in Venezuela is a direct result of Climate Change as are the widespread floods in Argentina and Uruguay. Arguably, so too is the massive financial and economic blow to the Ecuadorean government of the recent earthquake which is part of the much wider phenomenon of seismic activity all around the Pacific from Latin America to Southeast Asia.

Clearly, forcing developing countries to pay the costs of losses and damage from Climate Change externalizes the environmental costs of current and historic Western economic prosperity onto the impoverished majority world. That process is an inseparable corollary to the way the political and moral costs of Western style democracy and prosperity in terms of unimaginable human suffering have always been externalized onto the West’s former colonies.

It is impossible to exaggerate the cynicism and sadism with which the Western corporate elites and their thoroughly suborned politicians attack the world’s impoverished majority. At the U.N. high-level signing meeting on the Paris Agreement on April 22, Nicaragua’s government was among the very few to put that reality plainly, or as plainly as the procedural constraints of such meetings allow. Nicaragua’s representative stressed in the most direct possible way that the Paris Agreement categorically contradicts the U.N.’s declared policy on Sustainable Development. He was putting it mildly. Following is his speech.

Discourse of Dr Paul Oquist, Minister of the Nicaraguan Presidency and Private Secretary for National Policy at the High Level Meeting United Nations on the Paris Agreement, April 22 2016

Mr President, According to the last report of the World Meteorological Organization, in 2015 we will reach 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is 1°C above the pre-industrial era. At that level all the ice in the world is melting (in the Arctic, the Antarctic, Greenland and the world’s mountain glaciers).

Many countries, above all those in the Southern parts of the Continents, have had droughts for four years in a row. We are at the end of one of the three strongest episodes of El Niño since 1959, with prolonged droughts in some zones and floods in others.

La Niña usually distributes its effects in the opposite way and now the two phenomena are alternating with greater frequency. Thus human lives are lost, properties, harvests and the predictability of agricultural and fishery activities. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 have been the hottest years in history; the incidence of annual temperature increase in February 2016, reaching 1.35°C in 12 months, was the greatest in history. One concludes that Mother Earth is trying to tell us something, but collectively we are not assimilating that message very well.

The 13th Sustainable Development Objective, namely, “To take urgent actions to combat Climate Change and its impacts” demonstrates a clear awareness of the importance of this process for the success of the Agenda 2030 and the Objectives for Sustainable Development. The Paris Agreement does not assist in reaching the Objective number 13 thus producing an incoherence in global policies and a lack of synergy between development policy and climate policy.

The Paris Agreement does not brake the rise in temperatures to 2°C so as to help reduce the rise to 1.5°C. The result of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions is 55 additional gigatonnes of CO2 by 2030 which takes us on a trajectory towards a range of 2.7°C to 3.5°C. Since this is a global average that translates into a 4°C to 6°C in tropical countries.

That world increase of 3°C means less water, less food, more ill-health and less well being. Three of the principal results will be : an increase in the number of people suffering hunger from 795 million to 2 billion; instead of improving health there will be 250,000 additional deaths a year from heat stress, diarrhea and death from the mass diffusion of vectors bearing malaria, dengue, chikungunya and zika, including North America and Europe. At the same time the could be 45 million refugees and 9 million internally displaced people. As his Holiness Pope Francis put it in his “Laudato Si” encyclical, avoiding the scourges of climate Change is “a moral imperative”.

Nor does the Paris Agreement solve the impacts of Climate Change. There is no funding for loss or damage and worse still, it attempts to make developing countries give up any demand for compensation for loss or damage and to forgive the legal responsibilities of the countries that have caused the problem.

The solution based on quantifiable, verifiable and transparent scientific information would be indemnification for the countries that suffer the consequences without having caused the phenomenon from the countries that have historically been the biggest emitters, as was proposed by President Daniel Ortega Saavedra in his message to the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations. In addition to the danger of a world at 3°C and the lack of finance in general, and for loss and damage in particular, the Paris Agreement poses other dangers:

One has to insist on the fact that Paris Agreement is within the UN Convention on Climate Change and not outside it, so it should not be used to dent to the Convention’s members their rights to participation and to funding or the validity of the Convention’s principles such as common but differentiated responsibilities. It is not valid to change the word “Shall” for the word “Should” and then to quickly bring down the gavel so as to try and deny or dilute the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and historic responsibilities.

Nor is it either ethical or congruent to invoke human rights in the Agreement and at the same time to ask developing countries to renounce their legal rights including the right to compensation for damages and the right to litigate over legal responsibilities. On the contrary, one must emphasize the legal rights and indemnities for damages suffered for which others are responsible. This is a fundamental principle of every ethical and legal system in the world.

To give up on those rights, and too on the responsibilities of the countries that are historic polluters represents a new neocolonial asymmetry whereby developing countries are going to be responsible for their obligations and actions but the developed countries are going to be forgiven their historic responsibilities.

The Paris Agreement should not turn into a new level of conditionalities, controls and impositions on developing countries, excluding those of us who do not go along with the Agreement from access to climate funding via existing mechanisms.

We hope the developed countries assume their responsibilities, increase as soon as possible their levels of ambition in relation to mitigation, finance and other means of implementation. Only in that way will we effectively create the conditions to save the Sustainable Development Objectives, future generations, Mother Earth and life itself.

Nicaragua will not sign the Paris Agreement and hopes that other countries will put pressure o the developed countries to increase their levels of ambition to avoid a world of 3°C which will lead to disastrous increases of 4°C to 6°C in developing countries. This must be NOW, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, since 2025 the Paris Agreement target is too late. And in this way we can overcome the incoherence between international sustainable development policy and international Climate Change policy, the principal threat to the Sustainable Development Objectives, humanity and Mother Earth.