Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Oathbreakers

After promising at Bali two years ago to make a real deal, world leaders have failed to keep their promises.

Due to many factors including domestic US politics, rival "national economic interests" and sheer frustration and rage, what we now have is a deal that seems to my cynical eyes to be worth nearly nothing, certainly not the emissions generated in it's making.

After all the hype and soundbytes, what do we have?
We have a weak, non-binding deal, which fails to set effective targets or a deadline, in effect, all we have is a statement of good intentions,along with much distrust and dissapointment.

Two positives to emerge from this event have been the motivation and engagement of ordinary people with the issue of climate change and awareness of the need for real and rapid change. This engagement and feeling of urgency has been communicated eloquently and forcefully to our politicians and we may hope that they will act accordingly

As I have repeatedly said on this blog, and as has been conclusively demonstrated at Copenhagen, we cannot rely on others, we must act for ourselves.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Squabbling for dominance

I am not surprised, but I am saddened.

The Danish text, a draft agreement drawn up at Copenhagen by the "circle of commitment" which, reportedly, includes the UK, has severely damaged trust between the rich and poorer nations. The text was leaked to The Guardian newspaper and published on it's website

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/datablog/2009/dec/08/copenhagen-climate-summit-text-danish-wordle

also reported on by the Guardian here
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/09/copenhagen-summit-danish-text-leak
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/08/copenhagen-climate-summit-disarray-danish-text

and the BBC here
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8402502.stm


The impact of this text and it's implications are huge. It is true that it was only a draft document, but it was drawn up outside the offical UN process and the intent, which it shows is actually very unpleasant.

To "lock in inequality" by allowing developed nations to emit more, while more severely restricting emissions from developing nations removes the fundamental ideal of equality from the negotiations and allows the already industrialised nations which bear the historic resposnsibility for a large proportion of atmospheric CO2 to benefit at the expense of those without that historic responsibility.

To also envisage placing financial control of the climate fund in the hands of the World Bank (removing the UN from centrality) and make it's distribution of money to developing nations dependent on their actions can also be viewed with understandable caution and trepidation by some, although it appears now that the proposed board to manage the fund would be accountable to the UN.

When taken with some of the criticisms of the cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme, which seems to be a central point of the negotiations, such as the profits to be made from this scheme by companies based in the developed nations, it does not paint an enchanting picture.

The intent of some to profit as climate change bites is actually quite shocking to me. Is this a symptom of our culture of consumption?

Meanwhile, the split within the ranks of the G77+China over the proposal by Tuvalu which posits emissions caps on developing nations as well as on developed nations (which are enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol), reported here by the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/09/copenhagen-tuvalu-protocol-split)
does not bode well.

I am saddened that in the face of the oncoming crisis, we have not all risen to be the best of ourselves and I am concerned that this squabbling for dominance will fritter away what limited time we have.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Calling Ed, missing The Wave and a light in the dark

Yesterday saw the largest climate change protest in the UK. Tens of thousands of people turned out in London, Glasgow and Belfast to demand a fair and binding deal at Copenhagen (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8396696.stm).

I did not attend any of these actions, living where I do it would take me 2 inter-island ferries and an overnight ferry just to reach the UK mainland,or alternatively a short haul flight. Generating that amount of carbon to attend a demonstration calling for the rapid and drastic slashing of emissions seemed, to me, more than slightly ironic.

However, I was able to take part in the mass conference call organised by 38 Degrees (www.38degrees.org.uk) with Ed Milliband and despite my cynicism (well documented on this blog) I was inspired. The questions were well thought out, intelligent and to the point. Ed Milliband seemed genuinely involved with the conversation and actually personally committed to action.

I know that he is a politician but....

It is hugely heartening to see the massive upswell in grassroots support for action on Climate Change and to see our politicians taking notice.
In the last week US President Barack Obama has comitted to include the last day of the Copenhagen conference in his attendance and Manmohan Singh, Indian Prime Minister, has also announced plans to attend, and India has pledged a 20-25% reduction in emissions by 2020.

While I still have doubts,and think that this is not enough, I hope that this may be the first step we need.

On December the 11th People around the globe will be holding candlelit vigils to call for fair and meaningful action at Copenhagen, to find out if there is one near you or to start one go to www.350.org, lets keep the light focused on the need for a binding, fair and strong treaty to come out of Copenhagen.