SWEDISH LEADER OF SCHOOL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE SCOLDS UN CLIMATE CONFERENCE FOR ACTING LIKE IRRESPONSIBLE CHILDREN. WWW.THEGUARDIAN.COM
COP24 – the latest big climate meeting – ends Thursday in Katowice Poland. This 24th “Conference of the Parties” (COP) is the now-annual world summit to deal with the crisis of climate change. Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia, and Kuwait played power politics. They would not agree to “welcome” the findings of the stunning technical report two months ago that warned as starkly as possible, that time was running out.
Knowing that the rules require unanimous consent, those four petro-powers wanted merely to “note” the results of the latest science study that sounded the alarm bells. The recent report was unambiguous: continued use of fossil fuels would have catastrophic and irreversible affects, as early as 2030. It urged emergency action to reduce greenhouse gases without further delay.
When the latest report was released in early October, even conservative business media such as Forbes Magazine had almost the same headline as the sensationalist New York Post, as shown in my October blog post, “12 Years to Avoid Climate Doomsday.” Three years of work by some sixty experts went into that study, answering thousands of questions and challenges during the comment period, in a transparent process. It came to its own unanimous consent, saying that we are on the verge of “closing the door” to avert climate catastrophe. That was the scientific folk. The two-week meeting now underway in Poland is more the political hierarchy, with more than 120 nations represented.
Surprisingly the problem is not so much the oil companies themselves. They get it. Statements from the major companies tend to no longer dispute the science. This recent statement by the CEO of Shell Oil is an example of welcome leadership:
“Meeting the challenge of tackling climate change requires unprecedented collaboration and this is demonstrated by our engagements with investors….We are taking important steps towards turning our Net Carbon Footprint ambition into reality by setting shorter-term targets. This ambition positions the company well for the future and seeks to ensure we thrive as the world works to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.” Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden statement December 3, 2018
What the fossil fuel companies need are governmental policies to create a level playing field as we transition to renewable energy. In other words if we are going to leave a large valuable quantity of fossil fuel “in the ground” for our common good, there need to be rules, by which to operate. The idea for an escalating global price on carbon is one policy that is being widely promoted, sometimes considered a carbon tax, buy also structured as “fee and dividend” to make it “revenue neutral.” (For more on the carbon fee and dividend, visit ‘Citizens Climate Lobby’)
Petro-Political Power Play
Back to Katowice Poland. The power play this weekend was really disheartening. What could possibly align the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait to argue over the semantics of one word. It was pure petro power politics. As we approach the year 2019, with the various holidays, family gatherings, and vacations, it may be a good time to reflect. Where are we headed? What is the human journey? Is this following a Greek tragedy, or is humanity on some destined path of discovery, teetering between disaster and enlightenment.
A half century ago, Aba Eban, a famous Israeli said,
When all else fails, nations may resort to rationality.
The UN process was supposed to be that. We must not give up. There are encouraging signs that the political tide is turning. Some times, setbacks like the veto this past weekend, are later seen as galvanizing moments for powerful public movements.
At this special time of year, let us take stock of things and redouble our efforts. To close with someone with a much more powerful voice, Sir David Attenborough the legendary British broadcaster and naturalist, gave this two minute call to action last week in Poland. His narration of dozens of stunning television programs about our natural world have educated, entertained, and inspired hundreds of millions globally. Now age 92, he remains a sane and inspired voice.
CCR REPOST from John Englander’s website: www.johnenglander.net