Friday, November 6, 2009

Industrialised World Intransigence on CO2 emissions dooms Climate Negotiations

Africa abandons Barcelona's pre COP15 climate talks - Anger in the streets at rich nations inaction. Copenhagen Climate Treaty appears doomed - delays likely. Delay is not an option, delay kills.

This week (Nov 2 - 6) the Barcelona International Climate Change Talks are happening, five days of formal negotiations, in the lead up to COP 15 in Copenhagen in December 2009. Already Barcelona has seen a Manifestation in Barcelona streets - "The climate is not for sale" (Youtube vid | report), Outdoor film screening in city streets of Age of Stupid, TckTckTck wake up call for climate talks, Greenpeace banner drop (Youtube), Anarchist night greeting, Africa boycott U.N. climate talks (Grist report), Evening Water Lobby group targeted, and the Main entrance shut down by activists.

Conservation organisations have warned that the Copenhagen climate treaty threatens to subsidise the destruction of the world's remaining rainforests instead of financing their protection. In Indonesia Greenpeace established a Climate Defenders Camp to preserve Rainforest peatlands (Youtube Video). On October 24, 2009 people in 181 countries came together through 350.org calling for carbon emissions to be capped at 350ppm. It was the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history, at over 5200 events around the world, many of them reported on the Indymedia Network. (Photos)

See also: Barcelona IMC | Indymedia Ireland | Climate IMC
Climate Code Red: the Case for a Sustainability Emergency | Carbon Equity


Scientific studies have assessed the safe level in parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as 350ppm. "If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm" This finding is based on the work of James Hansen and his team in a paper titled "Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim.".

The 2007 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report talks about the developed economies needing to reduce emissions 25 to 40% below 1990 levels to have a reasonable chance of holding warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Scientists in March 2009 called for Rapid Sustained Effective Action required to avoid Dangerous Climate Change.

According to Climate policy analyst and author David Spratt "In Bali two years ago, the European Union proposed a framework that included global emissions peaking in 10-15 years and for developed countries to achieve emissions levels 20-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. The United States, supported by Australia and others, strongly opposed this. In a flood of tears and acrimony, the final Bali session sat through the night to produce a compromise that mandates 'deep cuts in global emissions', with footnote references to the 2007 IPCC report." (Climate Code Red: Copenhagen reality check: 25% by 2020 isn't in the ball park) See also: Climate Change Road map Agreement Reached in Bali Meeting

Pratt says that "The research tells us that a 2-degree warming will initiate large climate feedbacks on land and in the oceans, on sea-ice and mountain glaciers and on the tundra, taking the Earth well past significant tipping points."

"Likely impacts include large-scale disintegration of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice-sheets; sea- level rises; the extinction of an estimated 15 to 40 per cent of plant and animal species [PDF- Extinction Risk of Climate Change, Nature (2004)]; dangerous ocean acidification and widespread drought, desertification and malnutrition in Africa, Australia, Mediterranean Europe, and the western USA." said Pratt on his blog.

Sea Level is forecast to rise by 1 metre or more this century. Damien Lawson from Friends of the Earth Australia pointed out that research examining the paleoclimate record shows sea level rises of 3 metres in 50 years due to the rapid melting of ice sheets 120,000 years ago. "We need to take off the rose coloured glasses. Our planning for cuts to carbon pollution and dealing with sea level rise should be based on the worst case scenarios, not the best." he said (Australia: Impacts of Rising Sea Level a wake up call on Climate Change)

The Industrialised countries of North America, Europe, Australia and Asia Pacific (Annexe 1 Countries) have ground negotiations to a halt in Barcelona by failing to agree to their new targets under the Kyoto Protocol, according to the Group of 77 comprised mainly of African nations plus China. The African delegates boycotted talks until rich countries say how much they will reduce their carbon.

Kamese Geoffrey of NAPE/Friends of the Earth Uganda warned, "Rich countries are attempting to dodge their legal and moral responsibilities to reduce emissions. Developing countries and communities have historically had practically no fault in the creation of climate change, yet they will be the first to face the devastating impacts of climate change." according to a report on Grist.

The chief negotiator for the European Commission has announced in Barcelona that the failure of the U.S. Congress to pass legislation before December has doomed the chances for success in Copenhagen. Europe now expects that a binding climate treaty may take a year or more to achieve, while industrialised nations continue dithering on emission reductions and propose insufficient emission reduction targets of 5-20% by 2020 when scienists say 40% or more targets are required. (Grist - Europe places outcome of Copenhagen squarely on Obama)

Friends of the Earth has called called on President Obama to earn the Nobel Prize he was given for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy. "Change we can believe in isn't a continuation of Bush era climate policy," said Kate Horner, policy analyst at Friends of the Earth U.S. "To earn his Nobel, President Obama must put an end to this isolationist nonsense and commit to acting cooperatively to solve the climate crisis."

Antje von Broock, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Germany said "The rest of the world seems to be suffering from a severe case of amnesia, forgetting that we have once already allowed the United States to severely weaken international climate agreements," referring to the policy positions taken by the United States during the negotiations to establish the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. "The European Union must not fall into the same trap again." she said in a FOE media release.

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Background Video
  • James Balog: Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss - Photographer James Balog shares new image sequences from the Extreme Ice Survey, a network of time-lapse cameras recording glaciers receding at an alarming rate, some of the most vivid evidence yet of climate change. Filmed July 2009