“Replace NAFTA Don´t Let Trade “TRUMP” Climate: #TransformTrade”

“Find the Justice now, Keep it in the Ground, … not in this town, we will fight this NAFTA now and replace it next round.” That is the song that a group of young people from Canada and the U.S. sang in the Bonn Zone of the COP23 today.

According to the Sierra Club, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)  has empowered corporate polluters and locked in fossil fuel dependency, “boosting destructive mining in Mexico and contributing to the rise of Canada´s toxic tar sands industry.” Captura de pantalla 2017-11-14 a las 12.50.14 a.m.

President Trump signed an executive order to renegotiate NAFTA to grow the U.S economy.  Even though it was not intended, the Sierra Club believes that this renegotiation could be an opportunity to incorporate and enforce the climate goals in the Paris Agreement.

For these young people, the trade agreements are more binding than the climate agreements. Transforming NAFTA limiting fossil fuel activities and improving workers lives, will enhance the protection of workers rights, communities and the planet.

As noted by Anthony Torres from the Sierra Club, “corporate trade agreements like NAFTA have undermined the Paris Agreement´s core objective of tackling climate change. Instead leading environmentalists across North America have called for a NAFTA replacement that incorporates and enforces the Paris Agreement´s climate goals.”IMG_9274

Likewise, Maia Wikler from SustainUS and a Vancouver, BC resident said: “My government has an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure that NAFTA´s replacement enforces the Paris climate goals rather than undermining them. So far, our trade and climate agreements have gone in opposite directions- a huge gap not being addressed at this conference.”

Everyday we get to see more young people clamoring for decision makers to improve climate actions. #TransformTrade is one more. Hopefully, if the governments involved in NAFTA follow their petitions, and don´t let trade “trump” climate, the renegotiation of NAFTA will incorporate the Paris climate goals.

 

 


COP21: Threat to Public Policy?

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Schengen Area

The European Union recently celebrated 30 years of the border-free Schengen Area, a crucial pillar of the European Single Market. Schengen cooperation guards the fundamental right of 400 million E.U. citizens to cross internal borders without being subjected to cumbersome border checks. This guarantee also applies to many non-EU nationals, cross-border commuters, and tourists. With COP21 fast-approaching the city of Paris, the Schengen Area is struggling to find a balance between freedom of movement and security.

The refugee crisis in Europe has been the worst crisis since World War II. A record number of individuals are seeking asylum within the E.U. A U.N. refugee agency reported that 218,394 people crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe this October, which is close to the number from the entire year of 2014. The refugee crisis is challenging the notion of free movement of people across borders. Pressure is mounting to close the E.U.’s open borders along the migrant trail. The recent flood of refugees has overwhelmed countries outside of the E.U., which have been receiving limited support from Member States. European leaders are demanding a restoration of border control, and are questioning the concept of the Schengen area. Have citizens of the E.U. been taking Schengen and the right to move freely for granted?

cop3The French government will reintroduce border controls for the month surrounding COP21, beginning on November 13th and ending on December 13th, two days after the COP21 is scheduled to end. According to Article 23 of the Schengen Borders Code, this measure is taken “where there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security.” The possibility that any open zone of the Schengen area will be suspended “is impending dangerously over the core principle of free movement and is a further blow to the European integration.”

For this month, no one—including E.U. citizens—will be able to move freely across French borders. French officials published a document via the E.U. Council which states France’s plan to reintroduce controls at the borders of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, the Swiss Confederation, Italy and Spain “on the occasion of COP 21.Le Monde published that “since the Borders Code came into force in 2006, each time border controls have been reintroduced, it has been for the purpose of preventing terrorism and crime, and for security purposes related to the hosting of international meetings or sports events.”

Close-up page of passport with Schengen visa

passport with Schengen visa

It’s not only the refugee crisis that is persuading France to close its borders. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of COP21, Laurent Fabius, says that 80 Heads of State and foreign officials will appear at the Conference. He fears violence by protesters and green activists. The Ministry has created a special procedure for accredited participants of COP21, particularly those that require a visa to enter France.

It seems that the civil society mobilizing for COP21 is being targeted; “embassies are requesting various documents including invitations from us and proof of the applicant’s ability to pay for transport, among other requests,” says a spokesperson for Coalition Climat 21. Mouhad Gasmi is the voice against shale gas in Alegeria. He filed a visa application on October 21st, invitation to COP21 in hand. The consulate of France in Algeria gave him an appointment for one month after COP21. Climate 21 further states, “the government is choosing who they want to take part in the official summit.”

The public is “unconvinced of the French government’s claim that it is willing to include them, in all their diversity, in the COP process.” Do France and other E.U. Member States need to sacrifice freedom for safety and peace?


Negotiations Breakdown?

COP 15 President Connie Hedegaard

COP15 President Connie Hedegaard about to start 3pm meeting after suspension of the plenary re-opening the session

The morning started out with a flurry of activity.  After some discussion about the logo and how certain parties felt it represented the end of Kyoto, the COP plenary commenced with the Tuvalu delegation proposing a contact group to review its protocol, which was proposed and tabled six months ago.  As proposed, the Tuvalu protocol is a legally binding agreement meant to complement Kyoto through amendments, as well as the creation of a new protocol entitled the Copenhagen Protocol.  In no uncertain terms, Tuvalu stated it was here to “seal the deal” and wanted nothing less than a legally binding document.

In response to the request for a contact group, many of the AOSIS countries expressed great enthusiasm noting they are the states most impacted by the effects of climate change.  As Cape Verde stated, “we will be the first to diasappear…in this climate crisis.”  Other countries strongly opposed the creation of a contact group, most notably, China, India, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  The opposition was clear in expressing their feeling that the parties’ focus should not be on new texts.   The United States was unsurprisingly quiet.  Most alarmingly, however, countries within the G77 that had formerly been aligned were clearly divided.  Continue reading


Going Mobile in the Conference

So I’m experimenting with posting pics and videos on-the-fly.  If this continues to work, I’ll be bringing near-instant updates from relevant side events and happenings around the city.

If you have something you’d like covered or want more detail on please leave it in the comments and we’ll try to accommodate!

Check it out…