Simon Johnson discusses the Durban UNFCCC international climate negotiations through the historic lens of the Second World War and the Rio 1992 Earth Summit.
In a very considered comment at Hot Topic yesterday, David Lewis questions whether the Durban UNFCCC international climate negotiations can come up with a binding treaty that effectively reduces greenhouse concentrations, given the existing public will.
“I don’t see how negotiations on an international climate treaty can proceed to an agreement that would actually stabilise the composition of the atmosphere at a level that would not cause [dangerous anthropogenic interference] without more demand for such an agreement coming from the global population”
Lewis compares the public world-wide demand for action in the international climate change negotiations with the changing British attitudes to ‘Total War’ with Hitler’s Germany in 1940. Lewis implies that in the climate change negotiations, each government is “trapped in a circumstance where it can’t generate the national will that’s necessary”.
Continue reading “Call the COPs: Neville Chamberlain only went to Munich once”
Hot off the wires: Hot Topic’s Durban correspondent Cindy Baxter posts her first insider’s view from COP 17.
As thousands of people poured into Durban’s massive conference building yesterday morning for the start of the 17th session of climate talks, we heard news that the extraordinary storm we’d gotten soaked in on Sunday night had actually killed eight people in this very city.
It was a chilling start to the two-week talks and a stark reminder to us all as to what is at stake, just a week after the IPCC warned us that extreme weather events are going to get more frequent.
Also over the weekend weekend we saw the start of a story that is playing out in the corridors. It seems that the big developing country emitters: China, Brazil and India, have joined the US and others in saying there will be no new legally binding agreement on climate change until at least 2020.
Continue reading “Lies, damned lies and brutal storms”
How better to journey to the climate conference at Durban than through the African countries along the way which are already grappling with climate change? That’s the route John Vidal, the Guardian’s environment editor, has been following over the past ten days and reporting on in a series of articles.
He started in Egypt. The impacts of climate change are difficult to disentangle from natural coastal processes and the effects of human activities on the flow of the Nile, but an inexorably rising sea level and the increasing intensity of storms threaten increased salination of groundwater and soil as well as inundation. Extreme heat will also take its toll on city life.
Continue reading “Vidal’s voyage to Durban”
“One word sums up the attitude of engineers towards climate change: frustration.” That’s Colin Brown, director of engineering at the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers, writing in the latest New Scientist. Political inertia combines with continuing noise from the vocal minority of sceptics to mean that we are doing woefully little to prevent the worsening of global warming.
It’s not as if we are lacking the technology:
Engineers know there is so much more that we could do. While the world’s politicians have been locked in predominantly fruitless talks, engineers have been developing the technologies we need to bring down emissions and help create a more stable future.
Wind, wave and solar power, zero-emissions transport, low-carbon buildings and energy-efficiency technologies have all been shown feasible. To be rolled out on a global scale, they are just waiting for the political will. Various models, such as the European Climate Foundation’s Roadmap 2050, show that implementing these existing technologies would bring about an 85 per cent drop in carbon emissions by 2050. The idea that we need silver-bullet technologies to be developed before the green technology revolution can happen is a myth. The revolution is waiting to begin.
The barriers to a low-carbon society are not technological but political and financial, he declares. That’s why at a London conference this month 11 national engineering institutions representing 1.2 million engineers from across the globe decided on a joint call for action to be presented at December’s COP17 climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.
Continue reading “We have the technology, but…”