From the TUC

Durban diary 3: Climate sceptic language reaches into UK government

30 Nov 2011, by in Environment

UN Climate Change Conference, DurbanThe talk here at the UN climate conference is of the UK rowing two ways at once. As a party to the EU, we join its solidarity call to other developed nations to renew their Kyoto Protocol commitments. Yet in his Autumn Statement yesterday the Chancellor, George Osborne, called green policies a “ridiculous cost” to British businesses.

It’s odd to see the UK seeming to question the purpose of its own Green Economy Council, having just promised to be the greenest government ever, and abandoning hard won global leadership on the issue, here of all places.

It would help if the government were to publish its evidence that we are burdening business with “endless social and environmental goals” and losing jobs as a result. Climate sceptic language seems to be reaching to the heart of government.

The EU’s new harder line has caused some caused consternation among developed countries at the talks. But the EU alone can’t deliver global emissions reductions: only 13% of global CO2 now stems from EU industries and consumers. “It’s very important that other major economies join the effort – it would not make sense for only the EU to take on a second commitment under the Kyoto protocol,” an EU representative said.

Meanwhile, the ITUC is calling on the UN to “review” its decision to hold the next conference in Qatar. The Qatar government bans wide sections of the workforce from joining a union at all, and its control of labour law reach into the heart of union activities, as reported in the ITUC’s special investigative report “Hidden faces of the gulf miracle“.

Here, the African group, the small islands states and other national groupings are also taking a stronger position on KP2. They are also calling on the UN to ensure that the benefits of its carbon offset scheme, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), should be shared more equitably among developing nations. Congo, on behalf of the Africa Group, spoke of the “near absence” of projects in Africa. Lack of skills and capacity to design project bids have contributed to this bias.