By Global Compliance Research Project and Canadians for Action on Climate Change.

Whereas the time for procrastination about on climate change has long since passed; the world is in a state of emergency and further inaction is gross negligence. The actual and anticipated impacts of climate change as well as the unintended consequences of climate change, and the short-term and long-term effects that are known and yet to be known have all contributed to the state of emergency. Any denial of the state of emergency is eclipsed by the moral imperative and legal obligation to abide by the precautionary principle, and to respect the rights of future generations.

Whereas inaction is NOT ONLY gross negligence, BUT potentially criminal negligence *


1. The State will (and will urge other States) to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent any further dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This level equates to a target global average temperature increase of below 1%C, which is the point at which global systems on land, water and air will be so affected as to create vicious feedback cycles and destabilize many ecosystems and human societies. Crucial post IPCC AR4 science must be formally tabled to be included in the science base of the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

2. Because of the global urgency of this matter, the State will strive to (and will urge all States to strive to) contain the rise in temperature to less than 1%C above pre-industrial levels, and will impose strict time frames so that overall global emissions will begin to be reversed as of 2010. There must be a target of 30% below 1990 levels by 2015, 50% below by 2020, 75% by 2030, 85% by 2040 and 100% below by 2050, and there must be adherence to the precautionary principle, the differentiated responsibility principle, and the fair and just transition principle. There must also be a commitment to fund the transfer to a 0 carbon society by 2050. In a recent analysis, from a purely traditional economic perspective, the International Energy Agency assessed the cost of inaction to be $500 billion dollars per year. The State will commit to (and will urge all States to commit to) immediately signing and ratifying an international agreement on emission reduction targets and timeframes. The emission agreement will be based on an international global target. A total maximum global emission budget of 370 GT CO2 will be available under these timeframes between now and 2050. Some initial and crude basic calculations on the required elimination to happen together with these targets suggest that between 36 and 62 GT CO2 per yr need to be removed between 2020 and 2050. The eliminations should be defined by a scientific assessment, to happen pre 2020 that identifies elimination so that by 2050 the atmospheric levels are returned to 278 ppm. Additionally the depletion of carbon sinks due to among others deforestation must end.

3. The State will immediately embark on (and will urge others to embark on) time-bound phasing out of fossil fuels and of subsidies for fossil fuels, and to prohibit any and all extraction of oil from bitumen, such as that now in progress in the Canadian tar sands. The State will (and will urge others to) phase-out biofuel and nuclear energy and end the subsidizing and incentives of biofuel, fossil fuels and of nuclear energy.  

4. States must implement the commitment made in Agenda 21 to "the reallocation of resources committed to military purposes" (33.18), and to transfer the peace dividend to seriously address the urgent issue of climate change and other serious sustainable development issues. The State will withdraw (and urge other States to withdraw) from any occupation of another State, and will convert (and urge other States to convert) military bases on foreign soil. The funds raised from the demilitarization process will be used in part to set up a fund for the implementation of the UNFCCC. The State will propose and urge other States to support additional funds being derived from reallocation of global military expenses, including budgets and arms production and sales. Part of this fund could be allocated to compensate States damaged in any way by the failure of industrialized States to discharge obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other legal obligations. 

5. The State will commit to (and urge other States to commit to) the transition to a zero carbon society which should meet the needs of all nations and people in an equitable fashion and should be based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, human rights and social justice. To achieve this end the State proposes that the industrialized States as major greenhouse gas producers must be prepared to enter into binding obligations not only through targets and time frames but also through funding mechanisms. This fund could be named the Fund for the Implementation of the UNFCCC, and it would fund socially equitable and environmentally safe and sound renewable energy, transportation, agriculture and forestry. This fund would replace the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as the main source of funding for the UNFCCC.

6. The dominant greenhouse gas-producing and emitting States, will finance (and will urge other States to finance) this international fund. Funds traditionally distributed not only through the GEF but also through the Bretton Woods institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and additional bilateral funds, such as those in the German Fund for International Climate Initiative, should be channeled through this global fund. This fund would be indispensable for preventing climate change, and for achieving the objectives of the UNFCCC.  The State will commit (and urge other States to commit) to abandoning the models of exponential growth, and of over-consumptive development with the implementation of a global ban imposed on the externalization of the social and environmental costs of global pollution. 

7. The State will propose (and will urge other States to propose) that other budgetary sources for this Fund would be the redirecting of subsidies from socially inequitable and environmentally unsound non-sustainable energy to socially equitable and environmentally safe and sound renewable energy, transportation, agriculture, forestry, etc.

8. The State will advocate (and will urge other States to advocate) measures to alleviate the impacts of climate change, two of which would include (1) the cancellation of the outstanding debt of developing States, and (2) the implementation of the minimal long-standing commitment of 0.7% of GDP being transferred to the Overseas Development Aid (ODA). The ODA must serve the needs not of the developed States but of the developing States. Any shortfall in funding should be bolstered by increased funding of ODA by nations that inequitably gain an advantage from historical emissions or reduction scenarios that are not in line with the principle of equity.

9. The State will recognize (and will urge other States to recognize) that all these funding measures would only just begin to compensate for the emissions debt owed by the developed States to the developing States. The impact, of climate change on the poor, on indigenous peoples, vulnerable communities, and especially low-lying States will be the greatest, and they must be assisted by Industrial States, which have a legal and moral imperative, to provide funds for socially equitable and renewable energy, transportation, agriculture, forestry etc.

10. The State will implement (and will urge other major greenhouse gas-producing States to implement) the actions that would discharge the obligations incurred when they signed and ratified the UNFCCC and will be forced to repay the emission debt. (Provisions of the UNFCCC have become international peremptory norms and as such are binding.) Historic emissions should be calculated and an assessment made of the degree of dereliction of duty in the implementation of the UNFCCC. From these assessments, provisions must be made to compensate the States that have been most damaged by the failure, of the major greenhouse gas emitting States, to discharge obligations under the Convention. In such cases, a fund should be set up to assist vulnerable States in taking delinquent States to the International Court of Justice.

11. The State will abandon (and will urge all States to abandon) entrenched immovable national interests that have impeded the Commission on Sustainable Development and have been blocking the adoption, in the UN General Assembly, of a strong legally binding agreement on climate change. Article 18 of the Charter of the United Nations reads: Decisions of the General Assembly on important questions shall be made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. These questions shall include recommendations with respect to the maintenance of international peace and security. Undoubtedly, the impact of climate change could be deemed to fall under this category. The State will propose (and will urge all States to propose) that in Copenhagen, given the urgency of the issue of climate change, and its potential effects on the global population and on the political, economic, ecological and social global systems, that the requirement for consensus must be waived, and a binding agreement on all States will be deemed to exist, if 66% of the States concur. It is possible that a majority of the member States could agree to a strong legally binding Copenhagen protocol to the UNFCCC. A strong Protocol to the UNFCCC could then be used against the delinquent States, and a case could be taken to the International Court of Justice under the UNFCCC, which has been signed and ratified by 192 States. Most delinquent States, including Canada and the US, have signed and ratified the UNFCCC.

12. The State will commit to (and will urge other States to commit to) a time-bound commitment to conservation, inclusive of water and carbon sinks and to subsidizing and investing in socially equitable and environmentally safe and sound renewable energy, transportation, agriculture, forestry, etc. options, that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

* Under common law, such as the following: Canadian common law provides useful guidance. Environmental negligence suits focus on compensation for loss caused by unreasonable conduct that damages legally protected interests. Unreasonable conduct means doing something that a prudent or reasonable person would not do, or failing to do something that a reasonable person would do. The plaintiff must establish certain key elements of the tort cause in fact and proximate cause, damages, legal duty, and breach of the standard of care. Note that fault may be found even in the case of unintended harm if it stems from unreasonable conduct.  The Criminal Code (Section 219) is even clearer that lack of intent to harm is no defence if damage results from conscious acts performed in careless disregard for others: Everyone is criminally negligent who (a) in doing anything, or (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons (where duty means a duty imposed by law). Significantly, Section 222(5)(b) states that a person commits homicide when, directly or indirectly, by any means, he causes the death of a human being, by being negligent (emphasis added). (Dr. Bill Rees, "Is Canada Guilty of Criminal Negligence?")

Global Compliance Research Project

Canadians for Action on Climate Change



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