Co2lonialism and a lagging EU

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It is only my second full day here and I feel like I've been here for weeks. The big warm convention centre is already almost all familiar to me. It is an early stage in the negotiations but certain key issues seem to be generating debate in the side events and other areas outside of the negotiations themselves.

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing countries) is one of them. Yesterday Friends of the Earth held a side event on REDD. It was very well attended and the quality and diversity of the speakers was excellent.

REDD is a policy by which developing countries are paid to preserve or reforest parts of land by developed countries who can then continue to pollute by the amount that they are paying to "protect". It is a form of offsetting on a global scale. At the FOE side event I heard speakers form Peru, and Cameroon where REDD pilot projects are under way. They talked about how indigenous people are being removed from their land so that it can be a REDD area.

There are other problems with REDD, such as that it will pay destructive companies and goernments who are destroying forests to destroy them a little bit less and doesn't reward those who are conserving forests at the moment. These forests are already meant to be protected by the Convention on Biological Diversity which also came out of the Rio summit along with the original UNFCCC(United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). We should be respecting that convention already in its own right and not weakening it. However it is really the principle of the idea that sits ill with me.

The rich Global North is using money to buy up parts of land in poorer countries. This land then no longer belongs to the people who may have lived there for generations. It is a form of colonialism. As the leaflet passed around by the indigenous people's group, at the side event, said- co2lonialism. We are drivng people far away off their land just so we can drive and fly as much as we like. It highlights for me the importance of reductions targets being made domestically, lest we cause any more suffereing with our greenhouse gas emissions. I am being very inspired by other members of Friends of the Earth internationally. It is great to get to know my collegues form spain and sweden and talk about hom we are facing similiar challenges.

What is realy amazing though is getting to meet Friends of the Earth from Columbia, Malaysia and Brazil and to learn how theyface sompletly different problems. And to hear how climate change is affecting their countires now. I feel it is one of Friends of the Earth's strengths Internationally that we have such strong respected southern voives within our organisation. It is possible part of what drives the very strong justice focus within FOE.

And climate is an issue of justice. It was said particularly clearly and succintly by the Malaysian delegation in the negotiations today

"Countries that have contributed the least to the causes of climate change have been the most adversely affected'"

I have heard that sentiment expressed many times before but it carries a lot of weight for me to hear it from people who are living with the affects in their own country. The CAN (Climate Action Network) award a Fossil of the Day, each day to a group that are being slow and unprogressive. Yesterday it went to the EU. Whilst in Bali the EU showed real leadership in moving forward especially on justice issues and representation for developing countries.

The EU are not leading now. Reports coming from Brussels on the negotiations on the climate package there, sugest that member states are not willing to commit to domestic reductions or to financing adaption and mitigation in the South. The EU has come to Poznan without a serious and credible postition in place. In fact the headline in the Eco, the daily CAN paper was "Dog ate EU's homework" There is a lot of feeling here that this COP is the start of the countdown to Copenhagen. This is where COP 15 will be and where the next Kyoto is expected to be negotiated. I hope that Ireland does not replicate the mistake of the EU by going to to the next summit without firm commitments in place.

We must not go to Copenhagen without doing our homework.