The Paw Print
The annually held United Nations climate summit arrived in Durbin, South Africa this week and quite ironically, the night before the conference record breaking torrential downpours in Durbin claimed the lives of ten people in the bayside city of 3.5 million. Seven hundred homes were destroyed in the resulting landslide. As the people of Durbin struggled to deal with their losses, over 20,000 politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, scientists and activists descended on Durbin in a final attempt to revive the increasingly marginalized accords of the Kyoto Protocol.
Would the conference be able to prevent these deaths? Or perhaps we should be asking how this recent storm in Durbin is related to the human induced global change in climate, and what will those gathering in Durbin do about it? As of now Durbin has seen twice its annual average in rainfall for the month of November and scientists expect that trend to worsen in December.
Although the scientific evidence clearly displays the realness of climate change, many still adamantly deny its existence. The 2007 Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), whose scientists are the forerunner in climate change research says their mission is “to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change.” Just last week, the IPPC released a statement summarizing their findings, proclaiming yet again that climate change is related to the un-healthy increase in carbon emissions into the atmosphere over a short period of time. On top of that, The World Meteorological Organization reports to date, that 2011 is the 10th-warmest year on record, that the Arctic sea ice is at its all-time low volume this year, and that 13 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past 15 years.
This latest Climate Change Conference is number seventeen; the first conference gave birth to the Kyoto Protocol first singed in 1997. The only real tangible achievement that has come out of any of these meetings was the protocol itself, which was not ratified by the US congress due to typical partisan politics and corporate influence. The fact that the US is one of the world’s largest polluters and still refuses to agree to the Protocols accords has left a sour taste in the other 37 nations that have signed on to the Protocol.
The supposedly climate friendly administration of Obama hasn’t helped the dynamic either. In Copenhagen, the site of the previous UN climate summit, Obama swept in, making secrete backroom deals at invite-only meetings that enticed many countries to opt for the corporate friendly Obama plan of singing a voluntary, i.e. unenforceable agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.
As the climate change delegates of the UN enter into this round of discussions, the main focus will be on the nations that have overwhelmingly contributed to the carbon emission problem we face, recently China, and historically The United States. Due to China’s recent dramatic industrial leaps they have surpassed the US in carbon emissions, but refuse to join other nations in accepting stricter emission regulations. The US is claiming that unless China is willing to accept the tougher agreements then a unilateral climate agreement is unlikely. These two nations are basically de-railing the climate change talks, further stalling the necessary process needed to create a united global community focused on understanding and dealing with climate change.
Despite the lack of action from the United Nations token climate summits, the Durbin summit is a fitting place for real change to take place, a change that brings a true plan for climate justice. The African continent is the unequivocal epicenter for the evident display of climate change and its effects. On top of the already drastic climate related situations in Somalia and the African Horn, the continent of Africa is projected to experience the impact of climate change more severely than many other locales, and most African populations are less well-equipped to deal with climate disasters, without proper infrastructure or a reserve of wealth to deploy.
As we look towards the future of climate change and the world’s response, we must create binding accords that hold true weight, not ones that become softened and manipulated by corporate interests. The United Nations is beyond reform, it must be reinvented if we want to see its proclaimed abilities and goals come to fruition. The only way to achieve headway in the stagnate climate change discussion is if the prime instigators of this phenomenon accept full responsibility for their actions, and pay climate reparations to the nations that now must deal with the consequences of this excess carbon which they had no part in creating.