December 18th 09
The Skibbereen Eagle flies again!
Will they, won’t they – agree a deal in Copenhagen on climate change? Like the Skibbereen Eagle this Blog watches these matters.
The Heads and representatives of almost 200 states have been locked in discussions for over a week trying to reach agreement on tackling a problem that has global and life and death implications for billions of citizens.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the last twenty years has witnessed a doubling of natural disasters. That means there has been an increase in floods, tsunamis, cyclones, and earthquakes. They have also been more destructive. Consequently, last year around 36 million people were displaced by these events.
While all of this is grievous for those affected, changes in climate has also meant changes in weather patterns leading to serious droughts, and the extension of deserts across the world. The loss of glaciers in the high Himalayas threatens water provision in China and south east Asia for 1.3 billion people.
The United Nations has said that if current emission rates are not lowered significantly that nine out of ten farmers in Africa will be unable to grow food.
And all of this is significantly worsened by the growth in population and industrialisation and urbanisation and the increased demand for greater energy which places a greater demand on scare water resources.
Regular readers don’t need this Blog to tell you that the impact of all of this is clearly enormous. Most particularly because those countries worse affected by the changes wrought by climate change are those least able financially, or organisationally, or technically to tackle the problems that it is giving rise to.
The poor always bear the brunt of all disasters but no country will escape the implications of climate change. If nothing is done it is estimated that up to one billion people will be forced to move in the next 40 years. This will have significant political and economic and violent consequences for the world.
So, Copenhagen sees the world at a crossroads. Regrettably, the last week of talks in the Danish capital have seen little in the way of progress. In recent days the leaders of the industrialised world have begin to arrive as public opinion becomes increasingly vocal about the need for governments to do more.
Whatever the outcome of today’s deliberations this Blog won’t judge it on the spin from Copenhagen. Let me suggest that readers of this piece judge it on a number of important criteria.
Will any Treaty be binding on those who sign up to it? Past discussions on this issue have produced agreements which were not binding and were not implemented. This cannot be a repeat of those failures.
Will it set achievable goals that will demand a reduction of 40% of greenhouse gases by 2020 and 80% by 2050?
Will the Treaty provide a financial package to assist those developing nations meet their obligations while encouraging continued growth in their economies? It is believed that the developing nations will need up to €120 billion a year to put their industry and economies on a sustainable path and to adapt to the impact of climate change.
And if agreement is reached and a fund established, how will it be administered? A leaked draft treaty prepared by Demark and the USA and others, called for the UN to be sidelined and for this fund to be administered by the World Bank – an outcome many developing countries would understandably resent and reject.
So, it has been a fraught week of intense negotiations and no progress at Copenhagen. Today it comes to an end. The outcome that is desperately needed is one which will deliver real and effective measures to tackle greenhouse gases and help the poor and impoverished.
The fact is that the science of climate warming and of the dangers it presents for human kind is not in doubt. What is in doubt is the political will to tackle it. This Blog watches with intense interest and not a little trepidation.