Powerful corporate lobby dictates environmental agenda of UNSeptember 16, 2014
KARACHI: The United Nations will host dozens of governments, corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during a one-day Climate Summit 2014 in New York on September 23rd but, according to scientists and environmentalists, the meeting will deal mainly with only one limited way of fighting climate change: carbon pricing, says Nick Fillmore, an award-winning investigative reporter and a founder of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ).
He said in recent years the UN has proven incapable of playing an important role in slowing world climate change in a meaningful way, and is now practically dictated to by a powerful lobby.
Because the UN and governments are not making enough progress, as many as 200,000 environment supporters from all over North America are expected to take part in four days of protests in New York leading up to the UN Summit.
About 120 heads of state are expected to attend, including U.S. President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minster David Cameron. Among those absent will be the leaders of China and India, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
The Summit will, among other things, hold brief discussions on theme areas such as climate, health and jobs , a climate change photo contest run by a newspaper that the UN says may be the largest ever, and a week of fun events around New York.
But what the corporations really want from the Summit is to get UN support to increase the corporate preferred action against climate change: the expansion of carbon pricing systems. The most powerful UN committee is loaded with the most influential corporations from around the globe, companies such as Coca-Cola and Cisco from the U.S., Siemens from Germany, CEMEX from Mexico, Banco do Brasil, Sinopec from China, etc.
Corporations are willing to have governments create carbon markets that will regulate how much carbon businesses are allowed to emit into the atmosphere. If corporations exceed their limit, they are, in effect, fined. But if they are under their limit, they can sell their excess credits to another company that hasn’t met its limits, often walking away with a big profit.
But there are problems.
Many corporations want to implement only carbon pricing systems. But the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says: “A cap-and-trade program alone would not be sufficient to meet the challenge of climate change.”
UCS says many other actions are required, such as having utilities to generate a higher percentage of their electricity from renewable energy, requiring automakers to increase vehicle fuel economy standards, stronger energy efficiency policies, and policies encouraging smart growth.
The heavy focus on carbon pricing means this Summit almost certainly will not deal with many other pressing environmental issues around the world.
Carbon emissions are worsening. Earlier this month the World Meteorological Organization voiced concerns that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years.
Main protests begin on Friday. Protestors will launch their activities in New York on Friday, September 19 with plenaries, speak-outs and teach-ins. The main march will take place on Sunday several blocks away from the UN, on the other side of Manhattan Island.
The more radical protestors will target the “climate profiteers” on Wall Street on Tuesday, September 22nd, the day before the UN Summit.
According to the organizers, large protests and occupations will take place in financial districts in hundreds of communities around the world.
Nick Fillmore said the New York Summit is considered to be a warm-up for the much more significant 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change to be held in Paris. With carbon emissions continuing to reach record levels, and large amounts of affluent now coming from emerging states, such as China and India, the 2015 meetings will be under tremendous pressure to come up with a world-wide agreement to slow carbon emissions.
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