Climate meeting in Bonn: leaders wanted

Feature story - March 30, 2009
Bonn, Germany — When the future of the world is at stake, the last thing you need is a politician. You need a real leader. And that's our challenge to governments attending the first round of international climate talks in Bonn.

Can a billion mouseclicks save a planet?

The talks are the first in a series of negotiations this year culminating at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December.  That meeting may well be viewed in decades to come as the most important gathering of world leaders of this century.  It's the place where a global deal to prevent runaway climate change will either be agreed, or we will all face the consequences.

Game on: the planet is the prize

The race to forge a deal by the end of the year begins now. We need to see governments come off the starting blocks like cheetahs.

We marked the opening of the Bonn climate talks with a demonstration outside the meeting featuring a giant balloon depicting a globe on fire.  It was surrounded by 60 people on bicycles and a banner reading "Urgent: climate leaders wanted."

One of the key agenda items for Bonn is agreement on an overall mid-term emissions reduction target for the group of developed countries.  

Hu goes first? I don't know, you tell me.

Developed countries especially need to end the ridiculous "after you'" charade that they have been engaged in for the last decade and simply agree to cut emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020.

Despite our clean green image New Zealand is one of the worst climate performers in the developed world. Thanks to massive industrial dairy expansion and intensification and the lack of any kind of climate policy, we are increasingly being seen on the world stage as not doing our bit to help reach a global deal. The National Government has a lot of work to do and needs to get on with it for the sake of New Zealand, rather than sticking its head deeper into the sand.

When US President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao meet for the first time at the G20 in the UK, the world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters will have an opportunity to demonstrate their committment to leadership in a common cause -- or to continue the game of demanding the other commit first.

A joint US/China commitment to finding climate solutions, including securing the necessary funding and a call to other world leaders to join them, could be the critical step that breaks the stalemate.  

At the moment, all roads lead to Copenhagen. Every signal, every deal, every move on the table now will shape that crucial agreement.

What the world needs now is NOT love, sweet love.  It's action on climate change

What do we want out of the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen in December? Nothing short of a plan to save the planet:

  • Global emissions to peak by 2015 and decline rapidly thereafter reaching as close to zero as possible by mid-century
  • Developed countries, as a group, to reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). At least three quarters of these reductions must be achieved domestically.
  • Developing countries to reduce their projected emissions growth by 15-30 percent by 2020, with support from industrialised countries.
  • The establishment of a funding mechanism to stop deforestation and associated emissions in all developing countries by 2020, with key areas (Amazon, Congo Basin and the Paradise Forests in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) achieving zero deforestation by 2015.

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