After months of debate about climate change and the environment, the Copenhagen summit – long heralded as the last chance for a binding agreement on carbon emissions – ended on 18 December with a non-binding Accord. It was a disappointing result – no targets, no defined timetables, no commitment to an upper limit of 2°C temperature increase and only a fund of up to $10 billion over three years to assist developing countries adjust with more carbon neutral policies.
The Accord was hammered out at the last minute meetings involving US President Obama and the leaders of China, India and Brazil – a reflection of the new multi-polar world that the 21st century is ushering in. To judge from conflicting accounts, China appears to have led the resistance to specific targets and international monitoring.
For all their talk and offers of cash and emissions targets, EU leaders – with their comparatively rich and prosperous populations – failed to stitch together a deal which could unite a deeply divided world. All we could find to cheer here was energy and climate Secretary Ed Miliband speaking up to ensure that even the Accord – a small step – was not thrown out on the final day.
Reducing carbon emissions is not easy. Providing green energy is expensive and can be controversial. Developing countries want the benefits that industrialisation can bring. Politicians, mindful of elections, know that they can’t count on public opinion to support mitigation policies.
All this is true, but we need leaders who will take bold decisions that can lead to low carbon economies and avoid the devastation that global warming will surely bring. With political will, solutions can be found; and we need to support the politicians who promote these solutions. One way you can make a personal contribution is by signing up with Avaaz.org – The World in Action, a global web movement committed to promoting positive action to protect our environment. We discuss in Good Practice some of the actions we are taking at The Larches.
This is not a dry academic exercise. Climate change is happening now as we stand on the eve of the twenty-tens decade. It is affecting large areas of the world. Glaciers are melting. Weather patterns are more volatile. People in Bangladesh live with the daily fear of rising water levels flooding their houses and leaving thousands destitute.
Other examples can be seen in John Vidal’s account in the Guardian (6 December) of a recent journey (see opposite) from Nepal to the Bay of Bengal; and in the Economist Special report Getting Warmer – Stopping climate change (5 December 2009), which includes a good summary article reviewing the evidence for global warming. More good sources are referenced in the Eco-friendly section of this Lakeland Belvedere website.
The possibilities for change are there. We need new green industries and a commitment to provide seed finance for them in the early stages. New technologies have transformed economies and so many facets of our life over the last two decades. Now we need green technologies, which can help limit carbon emissions and build a sustainable future for us all. We need to act now before it is too late.
In an article in The Guardian (January 1st, 2010) Government must ‘green economy and create jobs’ Lord Adair Turner, Chairman of the Financial Services Authority, spells out the practical implications involved in the last paragraph of this blog posting.