Saturday, 20 June 2009

The yawning gap between climate science and politics

Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth is setting out to the Fabian/FEPS Road to Copenhagen conference what they think is the deal we need, stressing that this is developed from a coalition which is two-thirds developing world based:

1. what we most need is consistency with the science.

That is non-negotiable: no point in arguing with it, tho many people still do

2. The principles of equity and justice which underpin international agreements.

They are non-negotiable too: both ethically and as a political reality. There will not be a deal which can be delivered

Rio was a conference on environment and development. The twinning of environment and poverty was at the centre of the Convention: it must remain so.

3. "There is a yawning gap between what we are told is politically feasible and what we know is necessary".

On emissions: 40% cuts on 1990 levels by 2020 (excluding offsetting).

The Japanese doesn't think it can do more than 8%. The US thinks it can do no more than get back to 1990 levels. The Europeans think they can get to 20% or 30% - and even then with huge amounts of offsetting.

"The gap between what is needed and what is being talked about is insanity".

"There is much we would applaud the UK government for - they have brought in a strong climate change act and Friends of the Earth is encouraging other governments to do something similar".

But there are disagreements about international strategy, and he stresses offsetting too, with FoE having provided a magician to make the point earlier.

Offsetting transfers emissions from the north to the south, when there is no doubt that the science demands that we do both:

"It is too late to do one or the other. You must do both". It is far from clear that emissions reductions are being made at all.
And offsetting is simply not delivering the technology which developing countries need to not return to 'business as usual'. And developed countries are delaying changes they need to make, which will become much more painful if that is done.

"It is a disastrous short-term measure to be actively pushing offsetting as a major mechanism. If we carry on down that path, there will be the most gaping hole in the Copenhagen agreement", he says.

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