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Climate Change

Climate Negotiators “Sleepwalking” in Bonn

Climate change effects, such as extreme weather events, will only increase without aggressive mitigation actions. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

BONN, Oct 22 2014 (IPS) - The 410,000 people who took to the streets for climate action in New York City during the U.N. Climate Summit would have been outraged by the 90-minute delay and same-old political posturing at the first day of a crucial round of climate treaty negotiations in Bonn at the World Congress Center.

Countries blatantly ignored organisers’pleas to keep their opening statements short in order to get to work during the last week of talks before COP 20 in Lima, Peru Dec. 1-12. 

“Only a global social movement will force nations to act.” -- Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

COP 20 is where a draft climate treaty intended to prevent catastrophic overheating of the planet will take form. One year later, the leaders of nearly 200 countries are to sign a new climate treaty in Paris. If the treaty is not strong enough to ensure that countries rapidly abandon fossil fuels, then hundreds of millions will suffer and nations will collapse.

The current draft treaty is nowhere near strong enough, and country negotiators are “sleepwalking”in Bonn while “the climate science only gets more dire,”Hilary Chiew from Third World Network, a civil society organisation, told negotiators here.

Delegates are used to one or two official “interventions”by the public which are strictly time-limited and often no more than 90 seconds. Despite the passion and eloquence of many of these, few officials are moved and most can do little but follow instructions given them weeks ago by their governments.

“Sticking to positions is not negotiating,”meeting co-chair Kishan Kumarsingh of Trinidad and Tobago reminded negotiators.

There are very few members of the public and civil society in Bonn to witness how many countries’stuck to their short-term, self-interested positions than in facing humanity’s greatest ever challenge. After 20 years, these negotiations have become ‘business as usual’ themselves and seem set to continue another 20 years.

“Only a global social movement will force nations to act,”said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber,  director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Schellnhuber, a leading climate expert and former science advisor to the German government, is not in Bonn but participated in September’s U.N. Climate Summit in New York along with leaders from 120 nations. The Summit was all rhetoric and no commitments to action, yet again, he told IPS.

Without the People’s Climate March, the U.N. Summit was a failure, while the march – with 410,000 people on the streets of Manhattan – was “awesome”and “inspiring”, he said.

The two-degree C target is the only thing all nations have agreed on. Although a two-degree C rise in global temperatures is “unprecedented in human history”, it is far better than three C or worse, he said.

Achieving the two C target is still possible, according to a report by leading climate and energy experts. The Tackling the Challenge of Climate Change report outlines various steps, including increased energy efficiency in all sectors — building retrofits, for example, can achieve 70-90 percent reductions.

An effective price on carbon is also needed, one that reflects the enormous health and environmental costs of burning fossil fuels. Massive increases in wind and solar PV and closing down all ineffecient coal plants is also crucial.

Most important of all, governments need to make climate a priority. Germany and Denmark are well along this path to creating low-carbon economies and benefiting from less pollution and creation of a new economic sector, the report notes.

Making climate a top priority for all governments will take a global social movement involving tens of millions of people. Once the business sector realises the transition to a low-carbon world is underway, they will push governments to create policies needed for a low-carbon societies.

“Solutions to climate change are the biggest business opportunity in history,” Schellnhuber said.

Edited by Kitty Stapp

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  • Sarastro92

    The IPCC AR5 report completely debunked claims of increased frequency and intensity of “Extreme Weather” save for heat waves. Drought , floods, storms, cyclones have not increased in the past century.

    Climate models have been repudiated by observed temperature trends, especially the almost two-decade long “Pause” or hiatus. Climate science is in shambles searching for the “Missing Heat” that can’t be found. There are now dozens of putative explanations for the Pause… Meanwhile polar ice is expanding, especially Antarctica and sea-level rise is about on trend for the past century as the planet slowly warms from the Little Ice Age. CO2 is not the “control knob” for climate.

    Demands to enforce global energy scarcity and artificially high prices should be rejected.

  • Stephen Leahy

    You should actually read the AR5. It does say extreme events of all kinds have increased in number/severity. The evidence is overwhelming. The rest of your comments are climate denial drivel with no basis in science or fact.

  • Sarastro92

    From IPCC AR5 (WG-1) report Chapter 2 (reiterated in the ERX Report)
    — send your complaints to them.

    “Current datasets indicate no significant
    observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … Norobust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and majorhurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.”

    “In summary, confidence in large scale changes in
    the intensity of extreme extra-tropical cyclones since 1900 is low.”

    “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.”

    “In summary, there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms because of historical data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems.”

    “Based on updated studies, AR4 [the IPCC 2007 report] conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated.”

  • The Snake

    Oh yes Mr Sarastro92, throw these silly FACTS at us! But we dont need no stinking facts! The sky is falling and the only solution is higher taxes! You are clearly a climate denier! Perhaps you didnt get the memo but climate change is INDISPUTABLE! Its a religion now so get out your check book and buy yourself some indulgences…I mean carbon credits! Sincerely Friar Tetzle!

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