Mediocrity is not an option for climate deal

Feature story - 23 September, 2009
With the international climate negotiations and the climate system both in crisis, more than 100 Heads of State and Government gathered at UN HQ in New York yesterday to try to break the deadlock and move the discussions forward. But despite promising science-based emissions cuts from Japan and China, an agreement on a fair and binding deal at Copenhagen this December is still at risk.

Activists come together in New York to urge decision makers to take action on climate this week.

This was the last time that world leaders could discuss climate change before Copenhagen and this meeting could have been a place for leadership and responsibility for the Copenhagen outcome. It should have provided the guidance to negotiators that can break the logjam in the climate negotiations. It could have been the place where trust was rebuilt and momentum generated as they head toward the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh - just one day away. And it should have been the place where money was placed on the table that developing countries need to adapt to climate change, switch to a clean energy future and protect their forests.

Obama needs to show us the money

With just 10 weeks to go before the Copenhagen meeting, there are no concrete sums for developing country finance, no clarity about how forests will be protected and for the most part - totally inadequate emissions cuts on offer.

President Obama's speech did not mention the key issues that are stalling international negotiations: he failed to offer specifics about financial support for developing countries to adapt to and mitigate climate changd and he neglected US mid term targets.

By contrast Chinese President Hu Jintao announced that China will cut emissions by a 'notable margin' below 2005 levels by 2020. This, along with their earlier announcements and actions, demonstrates that China is willing to do its fair share. And Japan's new government has emerged as a leader by proposing to reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020 (below 1990 levels). Although this falls short of what is needed, and there are no details yet as to how it will be achieved, it provides a glimpse of the kind of what climate change leadership could look like.

Industrialised countries especially the US hold the key to changing the dynamic here. They have the technology and the money. After 20 years of negotiations, with emissions continuing to grow, the world is weary of excuses and compromises. Half-hearted efforts will result in global temperatures rising more than 2 degrees C -- which will lead to catastrophic climate change. It's time to stop talking - and start taking action.

Together China and Japan's announcements challenge Obama to increase US commitments. Cuts of at least 25 percent (below 1990 levels) by 2020 are needed from the US, and a minimum of US$ 56 billion annually is required to help developing countries adapt to climate change, end deforestation and switch to clean energy.

With just one day's pause, the next key opportunity for Heads of State to break the impasse on progress towards reaching a strong climate deal in Copenhagen comes at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, where climate finance is on the agenda.

Come to Copenhagen

At the very least, Ban Ki Moon's summit in New York brought the climate crisis more to the attention of world leaders. And with an official invitation for them to personally attend the Copenhagen meeting - issued by the Danish Prime Minister - it is certainly no longer on their shortlist.

"It is not often we as leaders get a chance to chart out a new course for our planet. One of these rare moments is coming up this December. At COP 15 in Copenhagen we have choice to make. The moment will be in our hands. We can either seize it or we can let it go. Whatever we chose their is no doubt that future generations will judge us on our ability to make COP 15 a decisive moment of change"[...] "December is the time, Copenhagen is the venue. I welcome you all to COP 15". -- H.E Mr. Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark.

Voices for Change

This week - people from many different organisations and communities have come together to give world leaders a global wake up call. A host of events kicked off around the world including flash mobs of people phoning their leaders from the streets and over a thousand people formed a human hourglass in Central Park, New York - urging decision makers to take action on climate this week.

Four women activists from Africa, the Pacific and the US have witnessed the effects of climate change first hand - are in New York this week calling for action. These women have either lost their homes, jobs or food supply to flooding, droughts and other disasters that are now becoming increasingly more frequent as a result of climate change. But they are taking action to rebuild their lives and they are now speaking out for their communities and their families. They are joined by over 1 million people across the world who have called on their leaders to sign a fair, ambitious and binding deal in December. World leaders need to listen - and not let international bureaucracy get in the way of averting a global catastrophe.

Take Action

the UN Summit in Copenhagen is only 10 weeks away, tell world leaders to take personal responsibility for the climate by attending this year and ensuring a fair deal for all of us.

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