Gort and Klaatu's International Climate Slam-Down
The story so far...
The United Nations agreed a ‘Framework Convention’ on climate change (UNFCCC) all the way back in 1992, in Rio (the ‘Earth Summit’). It was ratified by most countries, including the US. It legally committed the world to taking action on climate change. But talk is cheap, and implementation hard.
The UN kept meeting. In 1997, at Kyoto, a Protocol was agreed that had some rich nations (not the US, in the end) saying they would make minor cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions. The Protocol only came into force in 2005, when Russia signed up.
Most countries are missing their targets by a long way. Others only got to them by accident. Those targets were very low, not enough to make a dent in the upward trajectory of emissions. And they expire in 2012.
Deal or no deal
So a New Deal is needed: one that the Americans will sign (that means the poor nations, that didn’t cause the problem, have to agree emissions cuts) and that China and India will sign (that means rich nations, which did cause the problem, have to make deep cuts in their emissions).
This New Deal has to supply a lot of money for adaptation to climate change, to help poor countries currently being hit hard (Maldives, Bangladesh, everyone else in the coming decades). And enable technology transfer – the poor countries need this to ‘go green’.
All this is supposed to be sorted out at Copenhagen, so that a deal can be taken back to home countries and ratified before Kyoto runs out. Business needs to know what the rules are so that long-term investment decisions can be made. Scientists are desperate for a deal that agrees deep cuts in emissions. Poor people are mostly too busy staying alive and not drowning or dying in heat-waves to worry about Copenhagen.
So: is this species smart enough to get itself out of the problem some of its paler members started?
Page 6 ‘The World’s Media’
There are various explanations as to why mass media coverage of these events is so terrible. Beyond accusations that ‘it’s Rupert’s fault’ and ‘journalists are lazy/stupid’ lie theories about systematic media bias in favour of advertisers’ interests and those of prevailing élites. See Medialens http://medialens.org The climate story is particularly slippery. Reading ‘Mediarology: the roles of citizens, journalists and scientists in debunking climate change myths’ by Stephen Schneider will leave you wiser. http://tinyurl.com/4wdjmm
Page 7 ‘They’re giving away a lot in weight and reach’
One of the inspirations for this cartoon was the work of Oilwatch, which has highlighted just how hampered are developing nations, which can afford to send few or no delegates to enormous conferences where meetings are happening in parallel. http://tinyurl.com/mmvfp4
Page 11 ‘Doc Fiendish Institute for Advanced Techno-Magic’
There’s no lie or fantasy too outlandish that we won’t tell to ourselves if it can delay the evil day when we have to look at our assumption that Growth Must Go On. On the outlandish technofixes being proposed in lieu of the rich world curbing its emissions, see Corporate Watch’s recent report: www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3126
Page 12 ‘Last round, folks’
We’re not sure if Copenhagen is ‘the last chance to save the Earth’. But if it’s not the end of the world, you can sure see it from here. So, what is to be done? Get involved in a group that is taking sensible local sustainable action on climate change. Think beyond Copenhagen. Read Anthony Kelly’s ‘Avoiding the post cop doldrums’: http://tinyurl.com/y9hauja
Coping with Copenhagen
Deal or No Deal
New Internationalist Issue 419: Climate Justice
Especially ‘Just or bust: can the Copenhagen climate talks deliver climate justice?’
The Financial Times on climate change
The rulers of the world need accurate information so they can keep ruling the world in their own interests. This is one of the places they get it from. www.ft.com/indepth/climatechange
This article is from
the December 2009 issue
of New Internationalist.
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