Negotiating Climate

Worried on the outcomes of the Conference of Parties (COP20) climate negotiations in Lima, Peru, I thought of the previous COPs in Doha, Qatar and Warsaw, Poland.

COP18 and COP19 saw the Philippines devastated by typhoons Pablo and Yolanda; and COP20 saw typhoon Ruby.

Two years ago, I reflected on this series of supposedly conferences to take urgent actions to walk the talk.

Every year, nations meet to address global challenges. These meetings sometimes end up with compromises.

Minds from all over the world gathered to negotiate and perhaps decide on the plight of human existence in the principles of sustainable development. Generally, there were two kinds of negotiators: brains which can control, and the other, brains which think comprehensively accepting the fact that the continuous rape of the environment, which leads to a massive imbalance in nature, is in itself the gradual extinction of homo sapiens.

Unfortunately, the clash of the overly-consuming countries and the consumed ones was definitely unavoidable: the east versus the west, or the south versus the north. But in the spirit of environmental justice, we hope that our planet can still be saved through genuine dialogue.

What may be the root-cause of this whole crisis?

Yes, we believe we control the whole universe.

The brain, seat of rationality, is the tiniest natural receptacle of all the galaxies combined.

In this consumerist generation for which all natural resources are seen as objects for utilization, it is as if existence of all things belongs to humans’ capacity to contain the essence of nature in their skull.

But can we limit nature in our brains?

The processes in nature have been fully dynamic, serving both living and non-living things. Symbiosis between the living and non-living world was evident. There was once grand harmony and order.

When ancient humans came into existence, they learned to use the non-living as instruments to survive, and the living as food. The ability to think before acting was what made humans superior.

Over time, the non-living—originally used as instruments—became the mode and food. The balancing platform supporting the life cycle was eventually used destructively. Imbalance became inevitable.

Humans, when given opportunity and power, tend to abuse.

Symbiosis may be one of the strongest forces behind evolution, but it had apathetically leapt in an unprecedented manner into extreme parasitism tampered with our desire to impose our own protective processes to survive above anything else. It can be traced to the superiority complex which occurred in the human brain – we become parasites.

We are afraid that COP20 on the road to Paris’ COP21 shall become parasitic negotiations where developed countries take advantage of the weaknesses of developing, least developed and small island nations’ luring them with climate finance and technologies which may lead to a more deadly resource curse.

Be that as it may, the human brain will still decide on the future of our home called Earth. The meeting of brains may not agree on a genuine solution, but I hope the heart and soul may help.

We faced another point in the history of climate negotiations when for the third time, we asserted the reality of climate crisis in our country with thousands of lives and livelihoods are affected. We have developed a culture of resiliency but we cannot afford to lose our loved ones again and again. How many more typhoons like this does the negotiators need? We call on the world leaders to reach a concensus that is just and fair to all humanity present and future.

Arguments based on national security is apathetic, think of global security for all humanity, especially for those who are most vulnerable.

Our Philippine negotiators are doing every way and step to avoid parasitism in negotiating climate. I see their desire to bring back symbiosisin the context of commensalism, which etymologically means ‘at table together’, the essence of negotiations – the common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR).

While on the table, mutualism, a biological process which each species benefits from each other, may be a way to come up with a fair and just decisions, however, with the urgency to address climate crisis, cleaning symbiois is necessary.

Cleaning symbiosis, ‘a mutually beneficial association’, now becomes vital in climate negotiations as it reduces the number of parasites, thus, giving justice to the victim. Climate justice is indeed a need, not a compromise.

With the new process called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) which the World Resources Institute describes as bringing “together elements of a bottom-up system—in which countries put forward their contributions in the context of their national priorities, circumstances and capabilities—with a top-down system, in which countries collectively aim to reduce global emissions enough to limit average global temperature rise to 2 degrees C, thus averting the worst impacts of climate change”, negotiators surprisingly mimic nature through a symbiotic relationship called endosymbiosis, which biologists describe as a “mutualistic relationship between a host and an organism living within its body or cells”.

Climate change is usually regarded as cause of a crisis humanity faces, but it is not a cause, in fact it is an effect of bigger causes: GAP – greed, apathy and power – an evolving mutation of parasitism.

We need to bridge that big GAP between the rich and the poor, between humanity and nature.

We must learn to negotiate fro nature itself.

(A revised version of this blog was published by Manila Standard Today on December 15, 2014.)

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