VICTORY: Climate Campaigners Achieve Their Greatest Success Ever at Montreal
The global movement to stabilize climate which includes YOU scored an amazing victory this past week during the Montreal climate conference. No, the internal combustion engine and other users of fossil fuels were not retired. Nor were required 60-80% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions mandated. While these are the climate policies necessary to stabilize the Earth's climatic system, they were not on the agenda, nor were they feasible at this stage. But real and substantial progress to establish mechanisms to regulate greenhouse gases — demanded by the climate change movement including ClimateArk's network — were in fact approved despite tremendous pressure by the Bush regime (much more coverage here).
Kyoto Treaty members have agreed in principle to make deeper cuts in the pollution emissions causing climate change, extending their present commitments beyond 2012. They have agreed to negotiate these cuts by 2008 in order to ensure continuity of carbon markets. Meanwhile the US (against its will), along with China and India, have agreed to non-binding talks on new measures that all nations can take on combating the threat posed by climate change. A proposal by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica was approved which will allow developing nations to receive financial compensation from richer countries for agreeing to preserve their rainforests. The conference also adopted the Kyoto rule book, formally making the protocol operational.
ClimateArk's network including YOU generated nearly one million protest emails to conference delegates (crashing our servers in the process), and our demands were met in full. Clearly OUR protest, as part of the larger climate change protests surrounding the conference, was highly effective. Again YOU have significantly contributed to providing the global ecological conscience necessary to address life threatening global ecological change.
The Kyoto mechanisms are not perfect. Clearly the hard part of all nations negotiating sizeable yet equitable reductions in emissions sufficient to stabilize the global atmosphere remains ahead. But the mechanisms for establishing, implementing, monitoring and extending emission reductions are in place. Economic restructuring on the scale required by climate change — which touches every aspect of our lives including transportation, housing and food — is going to happen in an untidy manner, with fits and spurts of progress, and against great obstacles. It is not practicable to expect the world to immediately end greenhouse gas emissions, no matter how desirable and necessary it may be.
Kyoto is the only game in town to achieve climate stabilization, other than a complete collapse of the global economic system (which will occur if international policy-making fails), to bring greenhouse gas emissions in line with the carrying capacity of the Earth. Successful climate change policy-making is going to require incremental, steady and accelerating change; heralded into being by radical protest in support of truly adequate policies based upon scientific requirements for global ecological sustainability. As climate change impacts accumulate, humanity will not be starting from scratch as it scrambles to survive.
It has been pointed out to me that EcoInternet's climate change policy strategy is in contrast to our calls to immediately end ancient forest logging. In the case of primary forests, there is not a comparable body of international law and conferences going back for over a decade to build upon. Ancient forest logging could be ended now with minimal economic disruption, and should be to ensure large contiguous forests required for global ecological sustainability continue to exist. Doing so would not result in comparable immediate economic hardship, and compensation for the disruption that would occur is feasible and affordable. For example, the new carbon monies that can now flow into tropical rainforest shrouded countries may change tropical rainforest timber markets – helping to make standing forests more valuable than their logs.
Different climate and rainforest ecological and economic realities and necessities require different strategies, tactics and timetables. Yet both must be ecological science based and willing to embrace radical solutions; providing the highest quality, truly sufficient, policy responses.