From 3-16 December, government officials will be in Bali, Indonesia, for climate talks. They are set to discuss the establishment of a new treaty, dubbed “Kyoto 2”, which would require all countries to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

A new Report produced by a coalition of over 41 prominent civil society organisations (csccc) from 33 countries says that governments should reject calls for a post-Kyoto treaty (“Kyoto 2”) with binding limits on carbon emissions. The report says a better strategy would be to focus on removing barriers to adaptation, such as subsidies, taxes and regulations that hinder technological innovation and economic growth.

The Civil Society Report on Climate Change concludes that such emissions caps would be counterproductive: they would undermine economic development, harm the poor, and would be unlikely to address the problem of climate change in a meaningful way.

“Kyoto 2 is the wrong solution. Such a treaty would harm billions of poor people, making energy and energy-dependent technologies, such as clean water, more expensive, and would perpetuate poverty by retarding growth”, said Wolfgang Müller, of IUF, one of the 41 organisations who published the report.

The Civil Society Report argues that adaptation is the best way to enable people to deal with a changing climate. That means:

• enabling people to utilise technologies capable of reducing the incidence of disease, such as clean water, sanitation, and medicines;• deploying technologies – e.g. flood defences, roads, sturdier houses, and early warning systems – that reduce the risk of death from weather-related disasters;• removing barriers to the use of modern agricultural technologies, which would better enable people to adapt to changing conditions;• eliminating subsidies, taxes, and regulations that undermine economic growth – thereby enabling people better to address current and future problems.

*Civil Society Report on Climate Change, Produced by the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change, Published Tuesday 27 November 2007, ISBN 1-905041-15-2, 100 pp.


Other conclusions in the Civil Society Report on Climate Change include:

• Over the course of the past century, deaths and death rates from weather-related natural disasters have declined substantially. It appears that the main drivers of this reduction have been improvements in wealth and technology (see Figure below).

• Mortality from extreme weather events is far more fettly affected by the technologies deployed by humans – such as the construction of houses, roads, and dams – than by climate.

• Human ecology and human behaviour are the key determinants of the transmission of infectious disease. Obsessive emphasis on climate is unwarranted because, given suitable economic circumstances, straightforward strategies are available to ensure the public health.

• If adaptation is not unduly restricted, production of food and other agricultural products, as well as forestry products, will keep pace with growing human demands.

• Foreign aid is being used as a ‘carrot’ to induce poor countries to restrict their emissions. But aid has mostly been wasted or even counterproductive. While there is a case for refocusing aid on projects that have a fetter chance of providing net benefits, increasing aid would do more harm than good.

• Finally, the stick of trade sanctions have been threatened as a means of enforcing the global cap – yet such sanctions harm both parties; a clear lose – lose scenario.