More than 1,000 government delegates recently meet in Bonn to try to break
gridlock in international climate change negotiations amid widening public
concern and widely evident global warming impacts. This is the first time
government climate delegations have met since the U.N. sponsored
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a spate of reports this
year, drawing on the studies of some 2,500 scientists, which predict grim
consequences of global warming if swift action is not taken. These climate
change policy-makers must be challenged to develop a strengthened Kyoto regime
as soon as possible that transitions the world to low carbon societies.
This year's first IPCC report found global warming is almost certainly human
caused and the second warned of the consequences already occurring and yet to
come such as massive human death and disease, droughts, floods, and storms. The
third report said fighting global warming would not undermine the world economy,
and would be less costly if started now. Foremost, solutions were said to
require greater use of renewable energy and setting a price on carbon to drive
up the cost of using fossil fuels. Other key recommendations include not waiting
for new technologies and proceeding immediately with policies such as shifting away
from coal, embracing energy efficiency, reducing deforestation, implementing
fuel taxes and strengthening Kyoto's binding emission limits.
Current Bonn talks are preparing for a meeting of environment ministers in Bali,
Indonesia, in December. It is essential formal negotiations are launched in Bali
to widen and strengthen the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible, and
certainly before the current Kyoto agreement expires in 2012. A new more
comprehensive and aggressive international climate change policy must be
developed that is sufficient to keep warming within relatively safe parameters.
First and foremost, Kyoto's framework for cutting greenhouse emissions must be
accelerated and expanded, minimally along the lines of already adopted EU policy
to cut carbon gases by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels (30 percent
if other major polluters follow suit). The longer term goal must be to cut
greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 or earlier.
There are several other essential components of any fast tracked post-Kyoto agreement
1.) Mandatory aggressive targets for emission cuts by all developed nations, and
developing countries with large and growing industrial emissions;
2.) Poor non-industrial developing countries must be provided money and
expertise to help adapt to catastrophic effects of global warming, and provided
incentives to voluntarily cut emissions;
3.) New coal burning power plants that do not sequester their carbon must be
banned, and a binding schedule set to phase out existing coal power plants;
4.) In order to halt and reverse loss of primary and old-growth forests,
payments must to made to naturally forested countries to avoid deforestation and
diminishment of these ancient forests;
5.) Biofuels derived from clearance of primary rainforests, so called "deforestation biofuels", must not be supported by Kyoto funds nor count as carbon cuts;
6.) Establishment of an international carbon market and carbon tax regime; and
7.) International and national programs must be developed to promote reductions in consumption and movement towards sustainable individual and societal lifestyles.
With the strengthened science, evident climate impacts now, and the rapidity of
their advancement; negotiations must commence immediately, or at the latest in
Bali in December, for a strengthened and expanded Kyoto system to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. This can not wait until 2012 when the present Kyoto
protocol expires. As was done to successfully address the ozone hole under the
Montreal Protocol, timetables must be advanced and mandatory participation in
emission cuts expanded if the world is not to burn. Note this alert is going to over 200 recipients, some of whom are at the Bonn negotiations, so you may receive a flurry of away messages -- but your message is to the national Kyoto focal point and did get through.
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Greenhouse gas emissions threaten to destroy our atmosphere and biosphere
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