I have, from Copenhagen, a piece of paper.

Or a blank pdf document anyway.

Yesterday the world was supposed to have given substance to that accord, by signing up with (non-binding) agreements on carbon reductions.

I couldn’t find any information yesterday, but today there is some. Supposedly 51 nations (out of 192) have signed up, including the US, China, the 27 countries of the EU, Australia, Indonesia, Canada, Japan and India. So that is something.

I can’t find what these nations have committed to; the presumption being that it will be what they said before Copenhagen.

On the down side, the BASIC countries (Brasil, South Africa, India, China) were only willing to sign up after being reassured by the secretary-general of the UN that the accord did not mean anything.

The accord is non-binding. No one but the EU paid attention to Kyoto, which was binding. Am I to believe that anything significant will come of this paper?

Remember no one has made any significant commitments beyond what they had at Copenhagen. And some commitments have been reduced (the EU went in to Copenhagen saying they would reduce by 30% if other countries joined in. Other countries did not, and their offer has fallen to 20% — better than anyone else though). Estimates at the time said the cuts on offer would lead to at best a 3°C rise. Now a 3°C rise will have some pretty horrific consequences:

After a 3C global temperature rise, global warming may run out of control and efforts to mitigate it may be in vain. Millions of square kilometres of Amazon rainforest could burn down, releasing carbon from the wood, leaves and soil and thus making the warming even worse, perhaps by another 1.5C. In southern Africa, Australia and the western US, deserts take over. Billions of people are forced to move from their traditional agricultural lands, in search of scarcer food and water. Around 30-50% less water is available in Africa and around the Mediterranean. In the UK, summers of droughts are followed by winter floods. Sea levels rise to engulf small islands and low-lying areas such as Florida, New York and London. The Gulf Stream, which warms the UK all year round, will decline and changes in weather patterns will lead to higher sea levels at the Atlantic coasts.

Copenhagen was a media circus. It even reached the eyes of the US press. Yesterday seems to have been very quiet. But yesterday was the day when numbers were committed to. Yesterday mattered. Why the silence? This is probably most worrying of all. We don’t care.

We won’t do anything.

2 Feb The count of nations who submitted a response is up to 55 now, supposedly representing 78% of carbon emissions. The UN itself admits that the proposed cuts are not enough to reach 2°C but offers no guess as to what the increase might be.

“That is the bottom line, but you can look at it negatively and positively,” Pasztor (top climate adviser to the UN) said. “The negative part is that it’s not good enough. The positive side is that for the first time, we have a goal, a clear goal that we’re all working toward … Before we would just talk.”

I don’t understand this quote. Before we had the Kyoto treaty. Which actually had a goal and some teeth in it. Now we have non-binding commitments. I don’t see the positive side myself.

I get very angry when people try to spin something which will lead to disaster in a positive light. I think it is  an extremely dangerous thing to do. It reduces the urgency, it gives people a warm fuzzy feeling, they come away thinking everything is alright.

It isn’t.


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