Sunday, 13 May 2007

US tries to block progress on climate change agreement

Every nation but the United States seems to be rightfully worried about global climate change. The warming of the earth is not a light topic, and it is morally negligible for the US to continue blocking any progress wished to be made on the subject.

The US is trying to block sections of a draft agreement on climate change prepared for next month's G8 summit.

Washington objects to the draft's targets to keep the global temperature rise below 2C this century and halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
With UN talks struggling to move beyond the current Kyoto Protocol targets, the G8 summit is seen as a key opportunity to regain political momentum.

It appears all other members of the G8 are taking global warming very seriously — Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel, and Tony Blair among them — even conservatives.

The fourth IPCC report has come out. It says greenhouse gasses can be brought down to non-dangerious levels, for relatively low costs.
IPCC assesses the likely impacts on global GDP by 2030 if cost-effective routes are used
Stabilisation between 445ppm and 535ppm would cost less than 3% of global GDP, it concludes
Between 535ppm and 590ppm would cost 0.2-2.5%
Between 590ppm and 710ppm would bring anything between a net benefit of 0.6% and a net cost of 1.2%
Different greenhouse gases have different impacts on warming per volume; total concentrations are expressed as the equivalent in parts per million of a certain volume of CO2 (ppm CO2-eq)
Current concentration is about 425ppm CO2-eq

So this newest report offers some optimism on tackling climate change. One should keep in mind the vast impact and speed of global warming. For example, it is predicted that by 2100, the Arctic will have ice-less winters.

The economics of climate change are complex, and ideas like carbon trading are hated as much or more than they are revered. Offsets — an aspect of carbon emission trading — are also seen as a cop-out by some as they can allow the country to get around tackling the real emissions problem. Ultimately greenhouse gas trading schemes may just have to do. Taking action on climate change really is the only economic option.

Greed is a basic human urge, and to get the support of the wider population, politicians must find some way to make climate change a 'sexy' issue. The other option is to use massive fear to accomplish political goals like George Bush has after 9/11. Al Gore seems to have picked up on the tactic, albeit in a more Hollywood manner. Policy makers must also refrain from crying wolf as it is, so that when climate change does come around full force people will believe them and appropriate actions can be taken.

It is no surprise of course that climate change is set to hurt the poor the most. The wealthy nation's pleasures often come at the cost of the poorer nation's well being. For example, in the case of Africa, global warming's potential impact is very worrying, especially for such a poor and already troubled continent.

We already know full well that climate change is happening, and that humans are greatly encouraging it. Now the governments of the world, even the US, must take action.

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