ASEAN must act on climate change

Feature story - February 27, 2009
Greenpeace activists put the climate change onus on the ASEAN Summit today by unfurling a banner that says “Ten Nations, One Vision -- Climate Action Now” at a large billboard opposite the summit venue. Heads of ASEAN member states arrive in Thailand for the annual talkfest that sadly lacks climate change in its agenda in spite of worsening climate-related disasters in the region.

Greenpeace activists put the climate change onus on the ASEAN Summit today by unfurling a banner that says “Ten Nations, One Vision -- Climate Action Now” at a large billboard opposite the summit venue. Heads of ASEAN member states arrive in Thailand for the annual talkfest that sadly lacks climate change in its agenda in spite of worsening climate-related disasters in the region.

"We urge ASEAN member states to use stimulus packages to prioritize green investments which will put our economies on a growth path that helps stop climate change.  The current economic crisis provides an unprecedented opportunity for a new green deal for Southeast Asia to create jobs, rebuild critical infrastructure to support renewable energy and energy efficiency, lay the foundation for a new energy economy as well as gain financial support for forest protection," said Tara Buakamsri, Campaign Manager of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Scientists have repeatedly warned that Southeast Asia is among the most vulnerable and least prepared areas to cope with the impacts of global warming. The worsening cycles of droughts, forest fires and storms, which result to loss of lives and devastate economies, have already become an annual occurrence in the region.

Most ASEAN members are signatories to the Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment (adopted in November 2007) and the subsequent Beijing Declaration (adopted in October 2008). Both declarations recognize the urgency of combating climate change through the Kyoto Protocol and through nationally appropriate mitigation actions.

"Greenpeace is calling on your Excellencies to represent the interests of Southeast Asian communities and future generations by pushing the international community to take immediate responsibility and help avert climate catastrophe," said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a letter addressed to ASEAN heads of states.

Specifically, Greenpeace wants ASEAN member states to support the completion of a strong climate deal in Copenhagen in December 2009, and agree to the following:

1) Legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction obligations for industrialised countries, as a group, of at least 40 % below 1990 levels by 2020, at least three quarters of which must be met by domestic action. On top of this, industrialized countries should be required to pay for their emission permits in order to generate adequate and predictable funding, in the order of at least €110 billion annually, to support clean energy and other mitigation activities, forest protection and adaptation in developing countries.

2) A funding mechanism for ending gross deforestation and associated emissions in developing countries by 2020. This must be in addition to the cuts in emissions as described above. Priority protection should be given to areas with high conservation value and those areas which are important for the livelihood of indigenous peoples and forest communities.

3) Mitigation actions for developing countries in the spirit of gradual widening, deepening and strengthening of the contributions from members of the UNFCCC, to achieve a 15-30 % deviation from 'business as usual' greenhouse gas emission growth by 2020. Of these emission reductions all negative and zero-cost measures that can be achieved without external assistance should be unilaterally implemented by developing countries themselves, while the rest should be supported by industrialized countries

Adding up the needs for public financial support for clean energy, forest protection and adaptation, the total the financial architecture under the Copenhagen Agreement must generate at least €110 billion by 2020. Greenpeace urges ASEAN governments to help pressure industrialized countries to commit to providing the largest portion of this required financing in the context of the Copenhagen climate negotiations.

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