"It is as if there were two worlds: on the one hand, the businesses of governments and companies, and on the other that of the peoples with their real alternatives"
“From Madrid, Silvia Ribeiro from the ETC Group, shows us the summit inside and shapes the real debates; it breaks down the 2.0 of the carbon markets and the offensive to install false solutions with geo-engineering techniques ”.
Just as when we talk about the climate crisis, we ask ourselves what is really in crisis? The resounding failure of the COP25 in Madrid in a context of the greatest global awareness that we have recorded, with huge mobilizations, with denial on the ropes , with the novel alliances between the most dissimilar sectors, leads us to ask ourselves, who really failed?
From Madrid, Silvia Ribeiro from the ETC Group, shows us the summit inside and shapes the real debates; it breaks down the 2.0 of the carbon markets and the offensive to install false solutions with geo-engineering techniques. As global powers escalate their feud like drunks fighting on the deck of the Titanic; and the owners of capital, the famous 1%, only manage to try new businesses with the disaster they made; The peoples of the world are full of concrete alternatives and walking to cool the planet.
Their failure is not ours. Drawing conclusions and expanding ongoing experiences is essential for those of us in Argentina who have been part of the defeat of the neoliberal project, and we seek to avoid the start of a new extractive cycle. There are concrete and powerful alternatives to hunger and the energy crisis, but they do not come from the hand of capital.
# COP25 | While the evidence of climate change is becoming more forceful and emission levels are recognized that, far from decreasing, increase ...
Huerquen: What is the climate crisis talking about? What is really in crisis?
Silvia Ribeiro:It is important to understand the climate crisis as one of the main crises facing humanity. The situation is really serious because there is indeed a climate imbalance, but it is part of a generalized environmental, health and economic crisis throughout the planet; economic in the sense of injustice, but also within capital itself, let's say there is a crisis. The climate crisis responds to the fact that there is a much higher concentration of carbon dioxide and other gases called "greenhouse effect" (GHG) in the atmosphere and that never in the history of our species on earth has there been a record of such a concentration from them. This makes the greenhouse effect with the solar energy that enters the earth and does not leave due to these gases producing global warming.
It is a crisis that is not separated from the crisis that exists in terms of the devastation of biodiversity, water pollution, the release of toxins and chemicals to which we are exposed; air, soil, food pollution… I mean that everything is really about the industrial production and consumption system that is the basis of capitalism, and which is dominated by very few corporations. In fact, economic concentration has never been so great. Right now the richest 1% of the world's population has the same as the poorest 50%. This desire for profit is what makes us face this environmental crisis, resources, health and enormous, enormous injustice, which is the context of the climate crisis.
The planet's climate interacts with all the living systems on the planet, so the climate imbalance is leading to an increase in phenomena such as hurricanes, droughts and floods; all symptoms of climate change. In reality, what it depends on is the emission of gases that are produced by an energy system based on fossil fuels: oil, gas and coal, and the industrial agri-food model.
The oil companies are by no means willing to give up the huge investments they have in infrastructure or the huge reserves they have. It is estimated that at the level of reserves there are about 28 trillion (millions of millions) of oil dollars and there is an installed infrastructure of around 55 trillion dollars worldwide. Furthermore, the fossil fuel industry is the industry that receives the most public subsidies in the world. In 2015 several organizations calculated that the oil industry receives $ 10,000 per minute from public subsidies… every minute, every day. In other words, in addition to destroying the planet and people's lives, they receive huge amounts of money that we all pay.
Hqn: Right now you are in Madrid at COP25. Could you share with us something about the climate in which the deliberations take place? Are there issues in debate on which the peoples can expect some concrete element to improve the situation?
MR:Now I am talking at the end of COP25, of the framework agreement on climate change. The part of the United Nations that is dedicated to this issue and theoretically to face it, but this agreement that began at the Rio Summit in 1992 in these 25 years has not succeeded, not only in stopping climate change, but in many cases it has worsened because they have allowed the installation of carbon markets.
Carbon Markets (MoC) allow someone who produces huge GHG emissions (which is mostly carbon dioxide but also methane or nitrous oxide) instead of reducing them, instead of changing, what they do is pay another country or to another place carbon credits or credits in supposed compensation. And they build a market where these bonds can be traded. The MoC that was installed from the Kyoto Protocol has had no effect in lowering gas emissions because it only works as a new business. It allows polluters to continue polluting because in theory they pay someone else not to pollute, when that other was no longer polluting. And they have a worse effect because, in addition, all these bonds and credits are sold in secondary markets to comply with legislation such as the European ones that have a "ceiling" on emissions. For example, Shell, which is one of the main oil companies in the world, may be (and has done so) killing people who oppose oil exploitation in Nigeria, who are also indigenous people who are in their territory, or Texaco in Ecuador; and at the same time saying that they are conserving a forest in that same country or in the country next door, and by conserving their forests they limit and displace the people who live there. In other words, in addition, they do nothing for the climate, they have a tremendous amount of impacts on people who live in forests or who depend on hydrological cycles. And then they sell it as if they were projects that are "helping against climate change."
What there is now is great pressure from the signing of the Paris Agreement, signed by governments within the framework of the United Nations climate change agreement, where they commit to prevent the temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees to the year 2100 (keep it below 2 degrees). The bad thing is that this Paris Agreement in its article 2 says that they do not commit to directly reduce GHG emissions but that there must be a “balance between emissions and what is reabsorbed”, that is, between emissions and sinks. That instead of taking real measures to change what causes climate change, raises an accounting that opens the door to new carbon markets. Exchanges instead of real reductions.
Until now they were referring above all to the regulations of the Kyoto Protocol, within the United Nations agreement, and the agreement ends in 2020. So one of the central things that is being discussed at this COP25 is that, as the framework that allowed the exchange of carbon, is how this mechanism will be replaced and again… (this is in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement) they talk about how these transfers will be between countries with the participation of companies; how these responsibilities are to be transferred. This is crazy. To make it clear: the carbon market framework provided by the Kyoto Protocol is ending and a new mechanism would start with the same logic. High-emitting countries can make deals with low-emitting countries and “offset”.
This has been opposed by all civil society organizations, except for the large conservation NGOs such as theWorld Wide Fund for Nature (WWF),The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, the World Resources Institute which are large organizations, especially international or based in the United States, which are called "conservationists" and are the only ones that support the use of carbon markets. In general, all the other environmental, social and indigenous organizations oppose the use of carbon markets due to the impacts they have on the environment and on territories.
So in this COP what has been discussed a bit as a central issue is that and it is one of the things that have been rejected. There was even a very large protest that took place within the agreement, not only outside as always happens and since it was not authorized (because you have to ask to do so) there was a violent repression by the United Nations police.
I tell it because the paradox of this is that while all over the world there are a number of uprisings because people do not support the installed regimes of exploitation, which do not take care of the needs in the face of crises of whatever they are, on the other hand Within the United Nations around one of the issues that has raised the most protests in the world (the entire youth movement, etc.) there is like a bubble. Here the delegates of the countries sit and what they ask is how to install new mechanisms of carbon markets, no response has been given to the need for financing of the countries of the South for, for example, technological reconversions or to face the damage already caused by climate change. The paradox is that, on the one hand, people are really on the street protesting what they live directly because of climate change or what we understand is going to happen, and on the other hand, governments and companies inside using the Spanish police and the United nations to suppress the people.
Within the conference areIberdrola, Santander, RepsoIt is the Spanish companies that have paid for the infrastructure of the COP, and they were inside the meeting rooms with the government ministers talking about the contributions they are going to make.
Hqn: Faced with this scenario, the same people responsible for the climate crisis propose "solutions" such as geoengineering. What is it?
MR:In this COP it has clearly appeared and that came from before, which is the relationship between the industries, especially fossil fuels and geoengineering, that is, the manipulation of the planet through large-scale technologies that theoretically would serve to absorb carbon and bury it, or create volcanic clouds to reflect sunlight for example. So again, they are technical forms that the oil industry has been studying for a long time and that serves as a new source of business and as a way of saying “yes, we are going to continue issuing but we have technologies to handle the symptoms of change. climate".
You can read much more about this in the Geo-engineering Monitor where several organizations, including the ETC Group, put information about what geo-engineering is, the proposed techniques, the impacts they have, and that we have a more idea precise of what we are referring to.
At this particular COP at least two technologies were very present for the first time through different events. In other words, side events while the negotiations are in progress. COPs are like a big festival where companies, such as the International Carbon Emissions Trade Association, international banks, companies, have their own booth where they show what they think would be business opportunities with climate change . It is very worrying because there has been a direct demonstration regarding geo-engineering techniques such as “carbon capture and storage”. This is a technique invented by the oil industry. In it they inject large amounts of carbon at great depths, at least 1,500 meters in oil wells that have deep reserves, so it is a way to push the oil from deep reserves to the surface. In other words, they exploit more oil, but since carbon dioxide is liquefied and remains at the bottom (it is an oil technique that has existed for decades to recover deep reserves) they change the name and give it "carbon capture and storage" and They sell it as a "climatic technique." This is not what happened at this COP, but at this COP there have been many mentions of this technique as a solution. That the carbon is emitted but then removed from the air and injected to, paradoxically, extract more oil or leave it in the seabed. The issue with these technologies is also all the dangers they imply; because carbon dioxide in large conditions is toxic and it is by no means guaranteed that it will stay at the bottom; it can even produce earth movements or tremors, a bit like fracking although it is another technology that goes much deeper. But above all it is a scam because it is a new business for the same industries that cause climate change and at the same time it is believed that with this it is not necessary to make real GHG emission reductions. It must be added that even if this type of technology were used it would not be enough: at this moment there are some 15 projects installed in the world and it would take tens of thousands to make an impact. So there are so many aspects of falsehood in that it is a technology that exploits more oil, that it is also a technique for doing business with the same companies and it is not even really available, but that gives the image that this can be used so as not to have to reduce actual emissions.
Another issue that is extremely worrying is that they are talking not only about capturing carbon and burying it, but also about making massive biomass plantations, as they call it. That is, biomass with carbon capture and storage (which in English BECCS). In this way they say that it would be necessary to plant millions and millions of hectares of monocultures of trees or other biomass that could be soybeans, and then burn it and produce "bioenergy" by capturing carbon with plants. All this is one more turn of perversion, of falsehood, because it gives the image that something is being done when it would have all the problems of the large plantations. In order for it to have any effect on climate change, an area such as 3 times Mexico or 2 times India would have to be planted ... that is, there is not the amount of land to do that, and it would be necessary to advance on territories that are now used for production of food or natural forests, and this would cause deforestation of ecosystems and displacement of indigenous people and communities where forests are part of their way of life. So the number of impacts would be enormous.
All this is spoken as part of geo-engineering and as a possible option that was also pointed out by the intergovernmental panel on climate change IPCC, which is like the scientific reference of the agreement, saying that if emissions are not reduced over time that they have to be done, it would be necessary to use this type of technology. This is also underlying the negotiations that are taking place in this agreement.
Hqn: In your opinion, what does it depend on if we can reverse the abyss course represented by the increase in global temperature?
MR:The paradox is that there is no need to despair because although the situation is serious, as in so many other things, we do have real solutions and we propose them both inside and outside the COP. I am speaking from Madrid but this has been raised at the Peoples' Summit in Chile, as here at the Social Summit. Inside, we have raised it both the Indigenous Environmental Network, the United States Climate Justice Network, organizations from Africa such as the Home Foundation, we from the ETC Group, all of us who are in the “Do not Manipulate Mother Earth” campaign, which is a campaign international organizations that oppose geo-engineering.
The solutions to climate change, of course, involve changing this extractive model based on industrial production and consumption; that is, to the foundations of capitalism and capitalism itself. The most powerful of all the alternatives is food production; change the agroindustrial chain reaffirming what today already feeds the majority of the world's population, which are the rural and indigenous networks of decentralized food production, through agroecology and urban agriculture. The GRAIN organization demonstrated that more or less half of the GHGs are related to the agro-industrial food system, not only production, but also processing and movement worldwide.
Hqn: Is there a concrete grassroots organizing experience that gives you hope in the midst of this chaos that you would like to talk to us about
MR: There are so many. Decentralized and localized, agroecological production, which already exists in many parts of the world although it is not called that, exists and reaches most of humanity. This is threatened because although the majority of the people only have 25% of the land, they barely have access to 10% of the water, they have little energy, although they recycle much of it or it is energy efficient, they do not produce waste. So this whole system is not only producing food and forms of life that are good for health and the environment, but is also preventing climate change and pollution.
Groups that work with renewable energies of different types at the local level were also presented here. Although be careful because under renewable energies, both solar and wind that would be less polluting, they are also in the hands of transnational companies. But there are also many, many examples of local solutions in the hands of the people and on a small scale.
It is important to understand that the key is not in a single technology or a single type of energy, but rather it is based on diversity, in the community, in the possibility that urban and rural communities are capable of making collective decisions about how we want and can produce everything, our energy and our food.
This is really moving forward in many places. So it is very paradoxical, as if there were two worlds: on the one hand, the world of governments and companies that use repression at many levels and the advancement of these models that are not solutions; but on the other hand, not only the forms of resistance, but also the proposals and real alternatives to all this and that are opposed to the above, are maintained and grow in many places.
What we see at COP25 is that governments, instead of moving towards what is urgent and necessary, do the opposite and seek to establish carbon markets and extremely dangerous technologies such as geo-engineering; in addition to guaranteeing that oil exploitation continues with huge public subsidies. But in contrast there is an increasingly widespread criticism and concrete solidarity networks of young people, indigenous people, peasants, environmentalists, unions, feminist organizations; All of that was present here and we continue in climate justice networks.
Source: Huerquen, collective communication