Doha / UN climate change talks: “Of course it’s about money, but it’s also about solidarity,” says UN expert

GENEVA (23 November 2012) – United Nations Independent Expert Virginia Dandan urged world governments to see beyond the cost of climate change in terms of money, and to adopt a strong commitment to international solidarity as a key element towards a successful round of UN climate change talks due to start next week in Doha, Qatar.

Representatives from 194 countries will meet in Doha from November 26 to December 7 to try, among other issues, to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that expires at the end of 2012.

“The costs of climate change to humanity cannot be covered only by accomplishing the commitments in finance for adaptation and mitigation,” warned the expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to study the issue of international solidarity. “The international community must be prepared to give much more than money.”

“International solidarity can be the bridge to support nations affected by impacts of climate change, whether rich or poor,” Ms. Dandan stressed. “International solidarity on climate change is key to help building a global constituency for more equitable arrangements for climate change, particularly on investments, finance, aid, debt, technology transfer, intellectual property, migration, environment and the global partnership for development.”

The UN Independent Expert also called upon developed countries not to back down from their longstanding commitments, and at the same time, asked those new polluters to do their part in the process. “Most vulnerable nations cannot pay for what other nations have done or are doing today,” she noted.
“In this project, we are all together.”

Ms. Dandan sees an urgent need for a new cooperation model built upon a multilateral response to the mounting challenges of climate change, guided by the human rights approach to the principles of equity and of common but differentiated responsibilities, and implemented in the spirit of international solidarity.

Climate negotiations held last year in Durban established a momentum shaped from important outcomes including the agreement for a second commitment for the Kyoto Protocol; progress on the financing tracks for transfer of technology, adaptation and mitigation with the launching of the Green Climate Fund; and the Durban Platform towards a new global legally binding agreement to be negotiated by 2015 and implemented from 2020.

However, she noted, there remains a need for implementing decisive measures to achieve financial support for developing countries that are most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, and for deepening and reinforcing international solidarity and cooperation on all relevant issues.

“We have all witnessed in alarming frequency how, in the blink of an eye, human lives and decades of development gains can be totally wiped out, resulting in heart-breaking loss of lives, property and for many, hope for the future,” Ms. Dandan noted. “No country in the world today has been spared the effects of some form of extreme weather occurrence; not a single country can move forward in isolation.”

The expert urged those around the negotiating table in Doha “to focus their hearts and minds on their families and communities back home, as well as on the rest of the human family, whose very right to life is at stake on that table and whose common present and future, are in their hands.”

“We need world leaders with the courage to rise above narrow political and economic self-interest, towards fulfilling the promise of sustainable development made in Rio+20, and the eradication of poverty that is both the cause and effect of deeply entrenched inequalities and human rights deprivations particularly of the most marginalized and vulnerable,” the Independent Expert underscored.

In her view, the positive achievements reached in Durban last year must move forward in Doha to bring the climate negotiations back on track for a new global deal to take full effect in 2020 at the very latest. “Clearly, the continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions must be reversed to slow climate change and climate change must be addressed through international law,” she said.

The expert urged parties not to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, and not to allow the expiration of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action without a clear transfer of unresolved issues linked to the principles of equity and of common, but differentiated responsibilities, while taking into full account, the standards enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“What happens to one of us, happens to all of us. We are all in this together,” Ms. Dandan reiterated.

Virginia Dandan was appointed Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council. She is independent from any government or organisation. Learn more, visit:

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