With the Bonn meeting over and a huge amount of negotiating still to do, Hot Topic’s woman at the table, Cindy Baxter, gives her impression of the state of play — and she’s not a happy bunny…
I’m getting angry now.
I’ve just spent nearly two weeks in Bonn watching the train wreck of the climate negotiations as delegations stuck in their corners, most especially the officials from the industrialised world.
At one point, in a developing country move led by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), there was some great draft text for the Kyoto Protocol parties — calling for developed countries to cut emissions by an aggregate of at least 45% by 2020 which might (might) keep the carbon loading in the atmosphere below 350 ppm. Might I say because even that’s not for sure at all. The text was supported by almost every member of the 130-strong developing country “G77” + China, with the notable exception of a few OPEC countries. It simply “noted” that this was what had to be done – and that figures like this need to be on the table.
But in the end even this note went west, with the NZ delegation joining the fight against it, and the result was agreement to discuss the developed country aggregate target next time, in June. Erm, that’s what they were supposed to do this time. So much for our concern in this part of the world for our pacific neighbours.
The only real numbers in the entire meeting were the calculations on the current aggregate 2020 target, based on submissions or announcements made by the developed world to date. Greenpeace crunched the figures and it wasn’t pretty. 4% to 14% by 2020 at 1990 levels. That’s it. Pathetic. New Zealand, of course, didn’t have any targets at all to contribute to the table, but you can rest assured it would fall in the lower half.
New Zealand kept bleating about its problems — I had a conversation with one NZ delegate who was terribly pleased with himself about the adoption of a 450 ppm carbon loading limit. What, I asked, would NZ do to keep us to this? Certainly removing any reference to a strong aggregate target would be counterproductive to that. He went into a rant about how the whole world has to act together. The old “you first” charade. Never mind that the western world is historical responsibility for causing this problem in the first place.
What has to happen to move it forward? Clearly massive ice shelf break ups in the Antarctic won’t do it. We need real leadership and it ain’t gonna come from our lot, any time soon. These officials, who’ll all be back in Bonn in 6 weeks time, need very clear direction from their bosses, from the world’s leaders.
Obama wants an end to our dependence on fossil fuels. That sort of statement is a good start — although the weirdness of the US system means that he can’t introduce his own legislation and has to rely on a difficult congress to make it happen. As Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned scientists told journalists one day at a press conference “let’s call the US target a moving target. And it’s moving in the right direction.”
Leaders have to step up and direct these officials to move — and move faster. We can’t glue the Wilkins ice shelf back on. We can’t make it rain in Australia, or anywhere else for that matter. But we can change the politics. These guys need to feel the heat. Otherwise we all will.