Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Beginnings or Ignoring the Apocalypse?

The United Nations climate summit is a study of stark contrasts where hopeful aspirations coexist alongside predictions of failure. COP15 has revealed the diametrically opposed perspectives of environmental advocates and climate change deniers. The Denmark negotiations have illuminated the distinctions between policy and legislation and the differences between wealthy and developing nations.

The negotiating text released on Friday highlights the rift between wealthy and developing countries. Wealthier nations, including the US, Japan and the EU, criticised the draft agreement for not asking enough of developing countries.

While china and other emerging nations have made voluntary commitments to reduce their carbon emissions, they are resistant to being bound by international law. Their position is that industrialized countries have contributed more emissions historically and therefore they have a greater responsibility.

Disagreement is not limited to the differences between wealthier nations and emerging economies. European delegates also criticised the US for not doing more to advance the agenda.

Finding a formula to help developing nations pay for climate change is a key ingredient for a final deal. While negotiators are making progress on a short-term finance package, details of the long–term package remain unresolved.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is expected to announce a pledge of 10 billion US dollars to help developing countries fight global warming.

Despite efforts from nations like Japan, the clock is counting down and many disagreements have yet to be bridged. We are rapidly running out of time and as Phil Thornhill said on behalf of the Global Climate Campaign:

"Every year of inaction sees us slide closer to the point where a tragedy of unprecedented scale becomes irreversible. As politicians fail to find the collective will to overcome inertia, international rivalries, and the all-pervasive power of vested interests, ordinary people all around the world will be demanding decisive action now, not later when the fate of billions could already have been sealed and the catastrophe will have become unstoppable."

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