Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"The time for doubt has passed"

That’s what U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at yesterday’s Climate Change summit. The chief U.N. climate scientist, Rajendra Pachauri, said, “The time is up for inaction.”

Billed as the largest ever high-level meeting on climate change, the event re-emphasised the commitment of global governments to action. The next opportunity will be the Bali conference in December, when delegates meet to design a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. This commits nations to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. The task of Bali is to set targets for future decades.

Doubts remain, however, with George W Bush. The US president did not attend the summit, although he joined the delegates for dinner. He has his own climate change event later this week and has invited the world’s sixteen top polluting nations. Environmentalists are concerned that the US wants to hijack the debate, or at least muddy the waters. The US is believed to oppose mandatory carbon targets, preferring each country to set voluntary levels. They also want developing countries to reduce their carbon emissions, even though they are far lower than American emissions.

The US has an increasingly difficult energy supply situation, though it has plenty of coal – one of the most polluting fuels. Cutting back on energy use or making energy more expensive by installing carbon clean-up technology will impact the American economy – currently showing signs of weakness - and George Bush will protect it at all costs.AAfter all, wasn’t it George Bush Snr who said, “It’s the economy, stupid”?

Some people are beginning to say, “No, it’s the environment, stupid.” Without an environment there can be no economy.

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