Busy Fossil Awards target US, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Russia; African Group earns Ray

fossil of the day 30Nov20118 December 2011 – Durban, South Africa – It was the busiest Fossil ceremony yet at COP17. New Zealand took third for opposing the Kyoto Protocol. Japan, Canada, and Russia earned second for their own lack of KP commitment. And the United States came in first for failing their 2 degrees C agreement. Luckily, the Africa Group earned the first Ray of the Day in Durban for consistent, constructive progress. If only the negotiations were so productive. The Fossils as presented read:

“New Zealand takes 3rd place in today’s Fossil of the Day for hardening its stance on the Kyoto Protocol. In the last 24 hours, New Zealand’s previous conditional support of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol appears to have become outright opposition. However, New Zealand has declined to answer questions or otherwise clarify its position on this issue, leading to ongoing uncertainty.”

“Japan, Canada, and Russia earn the 2nd place Fossil. We heard today and yesterday from all these ministers repeating their position on rejecting the 2nd commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.

For what are they coming to Durban? Didn’t they see people with I love KP T shirts? They are the ones who block progress on the AWG-KP discussion for a long time, and that makes the Durban agreement more difficult now. As one delegate said, they are not leaving Kyoto to make things better, but worse.

As a response to global climate change, and as big emitters, leaving Kyoto is totally irresponsible.”

“The United States of America wins the 1st place Fossil. The COP is not even over, and the United States has managed to secure what ought to be the Fossil of the 21st Century. Why? Well, not only are they the largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution in history, not only have they occupied more atmospheric space than any other country, not only have they got the most paltry emissions reduction pledge for 2020, not only did they renege on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, but they are now reneging on their commitment to keeping warming below 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

In yesterday’s press briefing, Todd Stern was asked to clarify reports that he had described the 2 degree goal as “aspirational.” His answer? That knowing ahead of time that we will overshoot the warming limit that the IPCC has identified as the point after which the globe and all of its people are thrust into out-of-control climate change did not amount to ‘some kind of mandatory obligation to change what you’re doing, whether you are in the United States or Europe, China or wherever you might be…’

For these comments, which amount to a callous disregard for the future lives and livelihoods of people everywhere… for repeatedly stating at this meeting that no one should increase the ambition of their pledge… for their willingness to throw away the last opportunity we have for keeping the two degree goal within reach, the United States earns what ought to be the title Fossil of the 21st Century.”

“The Africa Group earns a Ray of the Day. At this Durban COP/CMP the Africa Group has clearly made a big effort to be proactive and progressive. The Africa Group have put forward proposals that would reduce the loopholes that threaten to undermine mitigation pledges from developed countries. Africa Group have put forward proposals to improve the environmental integrity of accounting in land use and forestry (LULUCF) by limiting free forestry credits to Annex 1 parties and significantly reduce the ‘hot air’ (carried over AAUs). (of course extinguishing it altogether would be best!). Yesterday the Africa Group put forward a proposal under shared vision to establish a process to address equity, which if it is teamed with a commitment to agree a peak year of 2015 and a long term global goal to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 could help unlock negotiations here, and also encourage country specific longer term ambitious mitigation actions.”


About the Fossil: Climate Action Network’s 700+ member organisations regularly judge ‘Fossil of The Day’ awards, giving them to countries who have performed badly in the climate change negotiations. When earned, these slightly sarcastic yet highly prestigious awards are presented daily during climate talks. The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999 in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum