European Union Member States

‘Climate’ Politics – From 2007 Consensus to 2009 Fracture ?

The 2007 UNFCCC Climate Summit held in Bali, Indonesia, from 3rd-15th December … resulted in a strong global consensus in favour of immediate and concerted action on climate change … and a sharply worded document, the 2007 Bali Action Plan … key parts of which state …

‘ The Conference of the Parties,

Resolving to urgently enhance implementation of the Convention in order to achieve its ultimate objective in full accordance with its principles and commitments ;

Reaffirming that economic and social development and poverty eradication are global priorities ;   …

Recognizing that deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention and emphasizing the urgency to address climate change as indicated in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ;

1.  Decides to launch a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action, now, up to and beyond 2012, in order to reach an agreed outcome and adopt a decision at its fifteenth session, by addressing …

(a)   A shared vision for long-term co-operative action, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions … in accordance with the provisions and principles of the Convention, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities ;

(b)   Enhanced national/international action on mitigation of climate change

(c)   Enhanced action on adaptation

(d)   Enhanced action on technology development and transfer to support action on mitigation and adaptation …

(e)   Enhanced action on the provision of financial resources and investment to support action on mitigation and adaptation and technology co-operation … ‘


Just a few weeks later, on 12th February 2008, in New York … Ambassador John Ashe, Permanent Representative of Antigua & Barbuda to the United Nations, delivered an Important Statement on behalf of the Group of 77 & China (comprising 130 countries) … at the Thematic Debate of the U.N. General Assembly: ‘Addressing Climate Change – The United Nations and the World at Work’.  Fully reflecting and supporting the Bali Action Plan, this Statement clearly set out the Climate Change Priorities for the Developing and Least Developed Countries, including the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  It included the following important extract …

Climate Change as a Sustainable Development Challenge

5.  Mr. President, the Group of 77 and China is of the view that discussions on climate change should be placed within the proper context of sustainable development.  It is imperative that our discussion reinforces the promotion of sustainable development

6.  We must not lose sight of the fact that climate change is a sustainable development challenge.  As such we should adhere steadfastly to the Rio principles, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  We must take fully into account that poverty eradication, economic and social development are the paramount priorities of developing countries

7.  Mr. President, urgent action is needed now to fully implement the commitments under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, especially commitments on financing for adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building, if we are to make progress towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals of developing countries …

8.  Urgent action is particularly needed on commitments, as climate change threatens the livelihoods of the very poor and vulnerable developing countries, in particular Africa, the Least Developed Countries, the Land-Locked Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States, and disaster prone developing countries.  The G77 and China is of the view that while addressing the challenge of climate, the most affected countries and most vulnerable countries should be given adequate attention and support.

9.  Developed countries Parties must take the lead in addressing the implementation gap, since the extent to which developing countries Parties can effectively respond to the challenge depends on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments relating to financing and technology transfer.’


The Developed Countries, i.e. those listed in Annex I of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, did not listen to the words of John Ashe.  This helps to explain the Fracture of the 2007 Bali Consensus at Copenhagen, in December 2009 … the sharp division between the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have-not’s’ of our small planet.

Within Developed Countries … there may be a certain comfort, at an intellectual level, in linking Sustainable Development and Climate Change.  However, in vulnerable Developing Countries this link is critical … where poverty eradication, and economic and social development are paramount priorities.  All are ‘responsible needs’ which are clearly specified and supported by International Law.  Yet, the Developed Countries persist in disregarding their legal obligations under Articles 2.3 and 3.14 of the 1997 UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol … and, more importantly, evading their historical responsibility for causing the problem of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the first place.

Closer to home, in the European Union Member States, far too much emphasis is being placed on fully exploiting the various ‘flexibility mechanisms’ within the UNFCCC Process … rather than on direct and proper compliance with their individual Kyoto Mitigation Commitments.  There is little or no interest in Adaptation.  Meanwhile, the reality shown by the latest analysis of observations from the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme is that the globally averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2008 with CO2 at 385.2 parts per million, CH4 at 1797 parts per billion (ppb) and N2O at 321.8 ppb … higher than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 38%, 157% and 19%, respectively !




Disability Access Certificates & Accessible Toilet Facilities ? (III)

2009-10-31:  Missing so far in Ireland … but an essential starting point for any discussion about Disability & Accessibility of the Built Environment in many other countries … is the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force, i.e. became an International Legal Instrument, on 3rd May 2008.

This Convention is important because it facilitates access, for a large group of people in all of our communities, to the Rights, i.e. basic needs, of all human beings … which were first elaborated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Until now, access to Universal Rights has effectively been denied to people with disabilities.

How is Ireland responding to the UN Convention ?

Ireland signed the Convention on 30th March 2007 … but has still not signed the Convention’s Optional Protocol.  Furthermore … even though other European Union Member States have proceeded to ratify both the Convention and the Optional Protocol on their own, without waiting for all Member States to act in unison … Ireland has not ratified either.  Why is that ???

On the positive side … and at the time of writing …

  • 143 countries, including Ireland, have signed the Convention ;
  • 87 other countries have signed the Optional Protocol ;
  • 71 other countries have ratified the Convention ;
  • 45 other countries have ratified the Optional Protocol.

2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Click the Link above to read/download PDF File (215 Kb) 

With regard to Accessibility … refer, initially and directly, to Preamble Paragraph (g) and Articles 9 & 11 of the Convention.

[As a matter of routine in all of our work, I prefer to go beyond the scope of the 2006 Disability Rights Convention … and to consider Accessibility for All, i.e. including People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF), to the Human Environment.]


Accessibility Implementation in Ireland, and Toilet Facilities

How more basic can you get in every day life and living ?

The WC Cubicle shown in Diagram 13 of the existing Technical Guidance Document M does not work … a black and white / open and shut case.  It has not worked for a long, long time.   It is not ‘accessible’.   Should this come as a sudden surprise to anybody ?   No.

That toilet arrangement dates back to guidance documentation published by the Irish National Rehabilitation Board (NRB) in the early 1980’s.  And since that guidance took a long time to produce … we are talking about well before the end of the 1970’s as its true date of origin.  I know, because I was there … and I have the T-Shirt !

I am not going to show that Diagram here, because I don’t want to encourage anybody to reproduce it again in a ‘real’ building … for any reason whatsoever !


Nearly 30 years later (!) … the Wheelchair Accessible Unisex WC shown in Diagram 12 of Draft Technical Guidance Document M (2009) is not a significant improvement on the earlier version.  In fact, it is a miserable effort !   And … I am not going to show that Diagram here either … for the same reason.

What I would like to present, however, are Figures 43 & 44 from the Draft International Accessibility-for-All Standard ISO 21542.  This is the level of accessibility performance which we should all be striving to achieve … as a minimum ! 

2 colour drawings showing, on top, an Accessible Toilet Facility, with corner WC arrangement ... and, on the bottom, showing that there is sufficient space for a range of wheelchair to WC transfer options.
2 colour drawings showing, on top, an Accessible Toilet Facility, with corner WC arrangement … and, on the bottom, showing that there is sufficient space for a range of Wheelchair-to-WC transfer options. Click to enlarge.

N.B. A standard, large Wash Hand Basin must no longer be considered as an optional extra in a properly fitted out Accessible Toilet Facility.

Please also note the independent water supply, on the wall side of the corner WC, feeding a shower head type outlet which can be turned on or off at the outlet head … or within easy reach of the WC.  This is Accessibility-for-All in action !

Colour photograph showing what is supposed to be an 'Accessible' Toilet Facility, with a combined Baby Change Facility.  Inadequate management magnifies the already poor accessibility performance of the cramped space.  Click to enlarge.  Photograph taken by CJ Walsh.  2009-09-19.
Colour photograph showing what is supposed to be an ‘Accessible’ Toilet Facility, with a combined Baby Change Facility. Inadequate management magnifies the already poor accessibility performance of the cramped space. Click to enlarge. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2009-09-19.

Many building owners/managers wish to combine an Accessible WC Cubicle with a Baby Change Facility.  More space is required, therefore, above and beyond that shown in the Figures above for the Baby Change fittings and associated ‘equipment’.

Without Proper Accessibility Management … Accessibility Performance will rapidly deteriorate … as shown in the above photograph.

Once we have mastered the minimum building accessibility performance required to meet the needs of a single person with an activity limitation … our next priority must be the Social Dimension of Accessibility.  Existing Building & Fire Regulations, Standards and Design Guidance are still geared very much towards the single building user.  However, for example, if 5 or 6 or 8 wheelchair users decide to use a building’s facilities … not a concept which is off-the-wall (!) … there is almost a complete breakdown and failure in accessibility.  This is no longer acceptable !!




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