Wednesday, 17 October 2012

COP 11 biological diversity: Canada, UK given ‘Dodo Awards’ by Civil Society


Governments singled out on geo-engineering, biofuels and financing

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 17: The Dodo Bird is coming to Hyderabad, to give the Dodo Awards to those governments who have failed to evolve, and whose actions at the CBD are contributing to, rather than preventing, biodiversity loss.

And the Dodo Bird has spoken – the awards go to Canada and the UK. 

Canada is the clear leader, for breaching the moratorium on ocean fertilization and geo-engineering adopted by the CBD in 2008 and 2010, said Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group.  “Right in the middle of CBD negotiations, we discovered that Canada had "ignored" a huge ocean fertilization event that were recently carried out off their Pacific coast, in violation of two international conventions”, said Ribeiro. 

Helena Paul of EcoNexus said Canada was also chosen for their strong stance on biofuels.  "Canada insisted that the CBD is not a place to discuss food security, and so the impacts of biofuel expansion on food should not be considered”, she said.  Furthermore, “After asserting the biodiversity benefits of biofuels, Canada threatened that they would call for a deletion of text including socio-economic issues, and re-introduce other proposals if other governments proposed any further changes to the biofuels text”. 

The CBD Alliance, convenors of the Dodo Awards, also said that Canada was noted for their refusal to recognize the importance of the participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in the EBSA process, for trying to stop the CBD taking up Synthetic Biology as a new and emerging issue, and for blocking progress on financial commitments. 

The UK was the other winner of the Dodo Award.  “The UK is busy behind the scenes blocking attempts in the EU and the CBD to adopt a precautionary approach to synthetic biology, and establish or maintain moratoria”, said Helena Paul.   “The UK government hopes to become a leader in these technologies, primarily for the benefit of their own economy”.

“At the same time, the UK is busy commodifying biodiversity and the functions of ecosystems by developing biodiversity offsets, said Paul. “Offsets don’t reduce biodiversity loss. Instead, the idea is to ‘pay for your sins’ elsewhere. Does the UK hope that biodiversity offsets and other financial mechanisms will replace the financial commitments that industrialized countries urgently need to make to the global effort to stem biodiversity loss?  Many in the global South call this the ecological debt owed to them by developed countries”, she said. “It also seems that the UK hasn’t learned the lessons about market mechanisms from the recent and ongoing economic crisis.”

The Dodo Award winners were chosen by consensus within the CBD Alliance members.  Runners up included China, Brazil, and Paraguay.

Geoengineering

A huge commercial "ocean fertilization" project was recently carried out by a Canadian company using a Canadian ship and with Canadian personnel close to  Canada´s Pacific coast, breaching both the de facto moratorium on ocean fertilization and on geoengineering adopted by CBD in 2008 and 2010 as well as a moratorium and rules established under the IMO's London Convention on Dumping of Wastes at Sea. These moratoria were established, based on the precautionary principle, because of the grave potential impacts of geoengineering (climate manipulation) on biodiversity. The Canadian Government has yet to issue a statement about this large-scale and blatant violation and there are claims that government representatives were both involved and had prior knowledge of the scheme.

The dumping of 100 tonne of iron sulphate for geoengineering purposes  was carried out under the guise of a "salmon recovery project" by a company called Haida Salmon Recovery Corporation (HSRC)- created by Russ George. George, the former CEO of the bankrupt ocean fertilization company Planktos Inc. had previously tried to carry out  a similar commercial scheme near the Galapagos Islands and the Canary Islands and was stopped by governments who subsequently established  the CBD moratorium. In both this case and the previous case George had claimed his actions would generate carbon credits because the dumping of iron would generate a large plankton bloom which might sequester greenhouse gases. There is little evidence that ocean fertilization results in long term capture of carbon but there are significant concerns about the impact on marine biodiversity as well as atmospheric effects.

While global condemnation from scientists and civil society has been swift, Canada´s government, who have clear international responsibility for what occurred,  have been ambiguous and evasive on what they knew about this illegal experiment and do not appear to  have acted to stop it or subsequently  taken steps to enforce actions against the commercial company involved. In turn the CEO and chief scientist of HSRC have both told press that Canadian federal officials knew about the scheme and were collaborating with the company, providing funding through the National Research Council. Most of the individuals on board the dumping Ship appear to have been Canadian nationals and the ship itself is registered in Canada.

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