New York, United States — The good news: The biggest environmental gathering of government leaders in many years showed the world is finally waking up to the urgency of climate change. The bad news: Time is running out.
Yesterday, world leaders gathered in New York City for the largest United Nations meeting on climate change since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Top officials from 150 countries (including 80 heads of state) plus big names like Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger were in attendance – and so were we.
“The time for doubt has passed,” as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening address. Ban sees the world’s response to global warming as something that, “will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations”
Gore told the world leaders, “We have to overcome the paralysis that has prevented us from acting”. Governor Schwarzenegger called for, “action, action, action”.
One by one, heads of state stood up and essentially echoed their sentiments. Our own Lo Sze Ping, from Greenpeace China, told the attendees that the world’s worst per capita emitting countries need to stop using developing countries as an excuse not to act.
Lo went on to call for an energy revolution with massive uptake in energy saving and renewable energy technology world wide, and real action by world leaders rather than more talk.
“At the climate negotiations in December, you must therefore agree to nothing short of a Bali Mandate,” he said. “Not a road map to nowhere, not a wish list.”
The next meeting on climate change negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol will take place on the island of Bali in December. Greenpeace is pushing for world leaders to strengthen the Kyoto Protocol at these meetings. Industrialized countries must begin the process of negotiating emissions reductions of 30 percent by 2020, and at least 80 percent by 2050 in order to prevent climate chaos. This is what the best and latest science tells us is needed now to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
The meetings in Bali must advance a negotiating agenda, a Bali Mandate, to combat climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, clean technologies, deforestation and resource mobilization. All countries must do what they can to reach agreement by 2009, and to have it in force at the end of the current Kyoto Protocol commitment period at the end of 2012.
US remains isolated
US President George W. Bush was not among the heads of state at the high level UN climate change meeting. He only showed up late at the end of the day to dine with a select group.
Instead, Bush has scheduled his own meeting for this Thursday and Friday in Washington, DC, limited to the countries with the largest global warming emissions. Bush’s meeting, imaginatively dubbed the “Major Emitters Meeting”, is widely seen as part of his strategy to avoid legally binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, Bush is pushing for voluntary, “aspirational” targets with no weight behind them. Bush is just pretending to care. The world must not be fooled.
At our meeting with Ban, last Wednesday, Greenpeace USA executive director, John Passacantando, reassured the UN Secretary General that people in the US are ready to tackle climate change, and dismissed the Big Emitters Meeting as a diversion tactic from a president no one is listening to anymore.
I knew it, bloody America as usual. Spend billions and billions on a war that nobody wants or that solves anything and can’t commit to the future of our planet. Says something doesn’t it. I hate to be in that ‘I told you so’ bracket but….
On a different note it’s much harder to find time to study with a small person in the house! Who knew!? Not that I would change anything 🙂
I intend for it to be a place where I can record everything that happens in her life until she can dictate to me when she is older, and finally take over the blog herself. Call it a special present from me to her.