Capital Melt Down, Kyoto and civil society
A discussion paper on the Kyoto Protocol, Carbon Trading and Civil Society

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) expires in 2012. The nation states that constitute the parties to the Convention are now negotiating an agreement to succeed Kyoto. These negotiations are scheduled to be completed at the Copenhagen conference of the parties (COP) in December 2009. The process indicates that this agreement will expand on Kyoto, retaining the carbon trading mechanisms that are at its core.

In March 2009 the South African government plans to hold a national climate summit. The summit is slated to discuss:

South Africa’s own response to climate change and the positions it will adopt at Copenhagen.

The terms of debate for South Africa’s own response have been laid out in the Long Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS), a research process commissioned by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), the conclusions of which were adopted by Cabinet in July 2008. SECCP published a critical appraisal of the LTMS in September.

This paper is a companion SECCP’s LTMS Critique focusing on the climate regime created by Kyoto. While South Africa’s negotiating position for Copenhagen will be discussed at the March summit, government’s position is in fact largely pre-scripted. South Africa has repeatedly expressed its commitment to carbon trading and to the expansion of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in particular.

This paper discusses how carbon trading under Kyoto relates to global capital and the current crisis of capitalism and, in the light of that, reflects on civil society’s response to Kyoto. It concludes that people and organisations campaigning on climate change should now interrogate their own positions. As with the LTMS paper, this paper aims to contribute to people’s debates within their organisations, movements and networks. The SECCP hopes to share in a continuing dialogue but believes that it is the conclusions and decisions for action that people come to that are important.

Download the entire Capital Meltdown paper.