Notes from Lumumba’s speech at UN

12 12 2009

Here are some notes (from Karen Orenstein) from the most powerful and moving speech I have heard in the UN, from Abassador Lumumba, chair of the G77:

Most critical aspect for successful outcome:

Fundamental is issue of 1.5 degrees C and 350 ppm. Centrality of this is a deal that cannot save god, humanity and nature is not a deal we should entertain in the first place.

2 degrees is a trade off between life, humanity and profits and revenue seeking pursuits. It has no basis in science.

IPCC says 2 degrees will result in Africa warming up to 3.5. Small island states equally threatened by sea level rise. Two degrees C is certain death for Africa, certain devastation of island states. A policy decision maker, a scientist who tried to do that is definitely is not only ill advising others, he is ill advising himself. Fundamental, if not starting proposition, for beginning sound negotiations and discussions.

Second issue is issue of emissions reductions. Must be radical reductions of emissions, starting from now. In our view, by 2017, we should cut developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100% by 2050. The more you defer action, the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. The idea that you start from 4% today and achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of people who will be devastated until you pick up the pace. This is one of the reasons we have asked the American administration, people, Obama – to join the effort and to join KP. We must defend KP. Those who think not defending Kp is the way forward are totally misguided b/c if you eliminate the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries, and I’ll say this to our colleagues from western civil society you have definitely a small group of industrialists and their representatives in their executive branch. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make. Having said that, we do believe equally that a very significant, substantial financial package both for short term and long term is necessary. How do we define that? It’s simple. Developed countries must avail in the next 5 years fast track financing – 1% of GNP of developed countries — $400-500B, depending on what happens to their economies. Of this, $150B can be issued with immediate effect, b/c as we sepeak today IMF is sitting over $250SDRs that are not allocated. Many of you would say that’s a lot of money. Think about how much is poured into your defense budgets, and which wars are you fighting. Is there another war greater than this war on climate change? I don’t think so. Let me equally give you the fallacy as to how big this amount – EU proucly announce 2.4 B available for now, but $300 billion is amount bankers in London city pocketed this year. So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their utterances like UK PM that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable – his actions say he’s a climate skeptic. If he allows bankers to get $300B and says UK max is $500 million to support climate change. What are we saying? What are you saying?. I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that. Moreover, we do believe that what is important here in this particular conference is decision-making. There’s a lot of fallacy being spread that we need a new legal instrument. Well, a decision is a legal instrument. Accord decision is binding. Accord decision is biind. Legal instrument means that you as civil society are choosing that you as civil society are choosing that there shall be no action for another 15 years. How many years did it take environmentalists to convince decision makers?

Many of you equally, and I never thought one day I would accuse a civil society of such thing – helping divide G77 is simply something should be left to the CIAs, KGBs, and the rest. It’s mind-boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. I come from southern Sudan – we’ve been through wars for almost 90% of lives since independence.

US people and civil society have a very important role to play. One reason is the US is P1 and b/c it’s the greater emitter historically and per capita and it wields huge power both of influence and signaling direction. And that basically what led us to conclude that call upon Obama to join KP. We understand the difficulties he is in – a deep sense of conservative isolationism. It’s an American phenomemnon that you all know – it was reluctant to anything during WWII until Churchill persuaded them to join in, but when they joined, peace prevailed. They have this notion of exceptionalism. US signaled when they voted Obama into office. Notwittstanding difficulties, problem is not with the Congress, problem is with the conservative laggard of an industrial complex. You have to persuade your Congress to join with the 18 who wrote to Pres Obama. Occidentals and orientals – that China is the obstacle to a deal. 3 things we say about China – there are more people in China than the entire of Africa, the only way to help China to reduce rapidly its emissions is rapid tech transfer, the poor Chinese have a right which we must support – a right to development. The conservative thinking that it’s all about national strategic advantage and compeitiion is not going to help us. What I ask of Obama is to join, as a precedent, as the leader of industrialized nations, to join KP, to refuse a deal based on 2 that will condemn Africa and small islands to death and to help finance a global deal on climate change. Remember what US did after war to Europe. It was 66% of global economy. It launched a Marshall Plan that was 3.2% of US economy. When you factor in Europe had a capacity and the know how, you can see that the toal package necessary as a starting point for addressing climate change from public finance is not less than 5%. And it’s common sensical, without going to economics, if you have a house that has decayed or if you have a school in your neighborhood that has been built or infect by asbestos, how much would it cost to repair it. Not less than 30% of its price. If US did that before, Pres Obama should follow in that tradition, in saying to rest of the world, we are able, we have more htan sufficient financing and capital, to help not only the poor but to help ourselves. There will be many more Katrinas in the US. The same is true of the Europeans. How come suddenly you have turned mean, b/c that $2.5B is what some industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade. And I do want you to ask Pres. Obama a simple question – b/c as he is an American citizen, he is an extended citizen, if there is such a notion, of Africa. Doesn’t that lay on him more obligation to do what he can? Shouldn’t he commit to the principles on which many of us find ourselves fascinated and grateful that there is someone like him as president of US. B/c if it’s b/c his advisors are part and parcel of the Bush administration or the Reagenized Democrats, then he should do something about htat. He is the pres, after all. If he is thinking this will save his political life for the next term, then inaction will lead to the opposite. A leader act, takes tough stands. If healthcare is so imporatn, and he is fighting that battle, climate change is 100 times more important, and it is your as American civil society to help build that momentum. Yes, your task is a tough one b/c you ar emoving from a very low base, but that’s part of life. We will not give up b/c the West have absolute power and accept whatever choices they will make. We will continue to defend the interest of our people and the whole world. This equally applies to the Australians, New Zealand, Japan and many other develop countries’ leaders. Many of them have been elected to office b/c they claim they support climate change, but maybe I have to give it to the lobbyists to twist their minds in such a short time that Kevin Rudd, who was only p.m. who came to Bali to say climate change matters, and then his delegation is the complete opposite of that. So I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change b/c I’m confident it will come. And it will come whether you do or you don’t. But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the power that be in the West. Thank you!

Q and A
Africa Group has said 50% mitigation, 50% adaptation. 2 other areas where huge efforts need to be launched asap is renewable energy.
China is not looking for money, looking for technology cooperation.
Many western are playing divide and rule. That’s the story of the $10B. Won’t buy food or coffins.

Meeting with Pres. Obama.




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