Archive for the 'global warming' Category

Climate Change Mitigation: Action for a better future.

by Karl-Heinz Florenz, German MEP and member of the Environment Committee

It has been said many times through the years that the young are our hope. However, in the race to secure scarce resources and protect our climate, time has run out – we cannot wait for future generations to find solutions to today’s problems. Unless sustainable solutions are found (and put in practice) soon, our children may have no raw materials with which to heat their homes or produce goods – their hopes now rest firmly in our hands. This is a weighty responsibility; but also a unique opportunity for this generation of leaders to be the architects of the future.

Ensuring we make the right choices is a complex task which involves balancing many factors. Furthermore, there is only a small window of opportunity remaining to make sure that we get things right. Scientific consensus tells us that we must cut global carbon emissions substantially by 2050 if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. A fundamental change needs to take place in our society; we need to evolve towards a “sustainable society”.

There is however cause for optimism. In Europe, we have already taken important steps towards meeting our ambitious carbon reduction targets and global powers like America and China have signaled their intention to engage in the challenge. Within this atmosphere of change, December’s Copenhagen summit will hopefully deliver a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Hopefully, the summit will also help to make clear that climate action is not only a necessity to ensure future development, but also an imperative to overcome the current economic and financial crisis.

Through determined action in this field, we will not only protect the climate and the environment and help to strengthen our economy, but also ensure a better and fairer future for all citizens.

The European Union must lead by example on this issue – having set the benchmark for others to follow with the 2020 target to reduce carbon emissions by 20% (and 30% within the framework of an international agreement). We cannot be seen to waver if we want to progress towards this future, however, action needs to be concerted and far-seeing. “Snapshot-policies” carry with them the risk to disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged communities amongst us.

It is important that all stakeholders work hard and considerately to avoid this occurring. While it is not the role or purpose of mitigation policy to address social inequality, good governance of the issue can provide many opportunities. It has the ability to create new jobs, reinvigorate economies and, in collaboration with other policy areas, lead the way to a better future that is less driven by inequalities. Creating long term gains, however, will require short term focus and right decisions now!


Copenhagen: Chronicle of a failure.

by Carlos Martínez-Orgado, Presidente del Instituto para la Sostenibilidad de los Recursos (ISR)

In the coming days it will be held in the Danish capital, the thousand-times-announced Climate Summit. However, the main actors are carefully saying, “urbi et orbi”, there will be no meaningful results.

Indeed, we are currently witnessing the beginning of a cosmetic race for “making up the dead”, ensuring that no-one looks bad in the pictures from the Summit. Decision-makers are working to find a more meaningless agreement that avoids the absurdity of bringing thousands of people together to produce nothing.

Although the official experts have developed an accepted discourse around what is at stake and what needs to be done, in truth it is a simplistic and politically-correct version of the real situation. It is unlikely that it is even believed by those leaders who decide the fate of the world. Only this can explain the lack of interest in agreeing on measures that are defined as exceptionally urgent.

World citizens have accepted this discourse. But in the end, they do not believe it either, because obviously there is no pressure emerging from society demanding results. Politicians do not believe that the results of the Summit will in any way affect their electoral prospects. Moreover, the misinformation causes people to confuse a long-term process such as climate change with the vicissitudes of daily weather. Citizens believe that they can personally observe the effects of climate change and thus tries to explain that this week the weather is colder, warmer, wetter or drier than the previous week.

Thus, the European Union presents itself to the world as the leader in the fight against climate change. But its whole strategy is very shy and always looking askance at the other regions, so as not to endanger its short-term competitiveness.

Meanwhile, emerging countries do not want to pay the bill for what the rich countries have broken. This is the case in China and India, whose demographic weight is so important. Brazil seems to be the leader in setting a new path for these countries.

The United States and Russia, the two leading architects of the current situation, are a special case. Nothing was expected from the latter, but great expectations accompanied the election of Obama. The balloon has been deflated within ten months. Unfortunately the closest thing to a Republican President is a Democratic President. It seems that not even Obama is taking the issue seriously.

In these conditions, frustration reigns. We have been reduced to discussing changes in the proposition through improved efficiency.

Even so, it should still be possible to go slightly beyond Kyoto. Yet not even on this point is there agreement. But the great challenge of the future is to create a shift in demand, a complete paradigm shift, and re-engineer society.

But still, we must not lose sight of the paramount importance of securing the future. But it is also clear that the great pandemic that plagues the world is hunger, followed by lack of education and life prospects. Governments fall into the hysteria of the H1N1 virus but ignore these stubborn realities.

In short, to paraphrase Hemingway, after Copenhagen, “Do not ask for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for you.”


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