This page was prepared as a contribution to the Geneva Environment Network's Roundtable on 26.10.2006 on Climate Change
The roundtable wants to explore how the different stakeholders can contribute to finding real solutions.
Given the names of the speakers invited, the meeting will probably focus on carbon trade and business opportunities.*)
This, however, would be a rather narrow focus on what a particular caste of people see as "solutions" but which are in fact contested. It remains to be seen how many different stakeholders are really represented at the roundtable.
Hereafter we present a concise list of problems with a brief discussion of solutions.
The apparent problem is climate change because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
The underlying core problem is overpopulation and over-exploitation of the planet, leading to pollution and resource depletion.
Greenhouse Gases are Carbon-dioxide, Methane, CFCs and Water Vapour and some others. Carbon-dioxide accounts for at least half of the man-made greenhouse effect and the resulting global climate change.
Therefore, trying to deal with carbon-dioxide alone means focusing on a part-problem, neglecting the other gases and also the core of all environmental problems, being continued expansion of human numbers and activities.
Emissions accounts per country are misleading since in a globalised economy a product or service can be produced anywhere and then imported. The resulting emissions are produced in our name.
Goods and services are counted in monetary units. Therefore, the only direct measure of responsibility for greenhouse gas - and for environmental impact in general - is the Gross Domestic Product per capita.
The time scale generally mentioned is 2050 or 2100. This is far too long, for two reasons. First it lulls people into saying, well by then I'll be dead anyway, or we still have lots of time to do something. Second, the effects of weather extremes will probably hit us much earlier.
Developing and poor countries would be hit hardest. But who says that disappearing glaciers and melting permafrost will not make the alpine regions uninhabitable and cause frequent inundations of Western Europe, rendering it uninhabitable as well? Who says East Anglia and London will be spared from the floods?
Energy shortages after "Peak Oil" could well coincide with weather extremes and thereby compounding the problem.
One easy way out is blaming the other, China for instance, or the USA, or the insatiable anonymous consumer.
Another nice way out is activism accompanied by pipe-dreams, rather than a profound analysis of causes and real solutions.
The Kyoto goals represent only one per cent of what climatologists deem necessary as greenhouse gas emission reductions (all gases, not only carbon-dioxide) to halt an increase of climate change. Because of the longivety of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, climate change is not stoppable.
The Kyoto mechanisms - Joint Implementation, Clean Development Mechanisms and Carbon Trading (Certified Emissions Reductions) cannot produce any emissions reduction.
On the contrary, JI, CDM and CER serve to maintain current emissions by the rich world, whilst increasing emissions by their projects in the developing world. Sequestration in forests and plantations is a scam since trees take years to grow and their storage is only temporary, whilst emissions are spewed into the air today. Ech development project is causing additional resource depletion and greenhouse gas emissions because of its construction and the resulting increase in economic activity.
Carbon trade has developed as predicted by its critics at the The Hague Climate conference of 2000:
Also compare Carbon trading and Carbon sequestration.
Climate Change has become a hot topic because business has discovered ways to turn it into a very financially rewarding activity, which in fact aggravates the problem.
Other problems, like the looming water shortage, a food crisis because of genetic engineering turned sour, or simply wars over the last oil and natural gas, could lead to disaster before climate change fully hits us. The world could turn into one huge "Iraq", before we know it.
Maybe we as a species can still manage one problem
but as all problems start coming in at the same time some people say
we will have no chance to avert catastrophe.
But we may have a chance if we courageously decide for an immediate turn-around from growth to steady-state policies and then to reduced economic activities.
A sustainable world is a low-speed localised one, where goods and serviced are produced locally, products have a life span of decades and much more, everything is re-used and wasteful activities and products are democratically banned.
Motivation and change
The frog that fell in the milk bucket has no choice. Even though s/he thinks that the walls are too steep and too high, that s/he will never get out, s/he must swim and try. Giving up means losing anyway.
Maybe an opinion leader understands that his son will one day applaud him for his courage rather than for his bank account. Since money does not buy back an intact environment or revive an extinct species.
One courageous leader changed could start a movement. This leader may even act solely upon the basis of the precautionary principle, assuming that the Earth might be round and finite although it has not yet been proven in his mind.
Helmut Lubbers, Geneva, 30 October 2006
Climate Change Roundtable - programme - 30 October 2006:
ASSESSING PRIORITIES FOR GLOBAL ACTION ON THE EVE OF THE NAIROBI CLIMATE
With the Kyoto Protocol targets coming into effect in 2008, the world's
governments will meet in Nairobi from 6 to 17 November to discuss the need
for future commitments under both the Protocal and its parent agreement,
the UN Climate Change Convention. Key themes shaping the discussions will
include market-based mechanisms, the respective roles of developed and
developing countries and the need to transition to a clean energy economy.
Today's roundtable will explore the current state of play in the climate
talks and how the different stakeholders can contribute to finding real
10:00 Welcome and introduction by the moderator, Annie Roncerel, Senior
Programme Coordinator, Climate Change Programme of the United Nations
Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Presentations by panel members:
- José Romero,
Federal Office for the Environment of the Swiss Confederation
- Edwin Aalders, Director International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)
- Martin Hiller, Communications Manager, Climate Change Programme, WWF
- Adam Kirkman, Programme Manager, Energy and Climate, World Business
Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
- Lisa Petrovic, Project Manager, Climate Change, UNEP Finace Initiative
11:00 Discussion with panelists and participants
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