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Barb wire separates the outside world from government negotiators at the Johannesburg Earth Summit.

Governments

There is a fundamental irony and injustice at the heart of the climate change problem. Today's growing body of evidence indicates very clearly that the first and worst impacts of climate change are felt by the poor in the developing world. The responsibility for the problem, however, lies primarily with the rich industrialised nations, and increasingly the rapidly industrialising nations.

Since all countries are potentially affected by and contribute toclimate change, they should all be involved in the solution. Countieswithout a mature and entrenched energy structure stand to gain by"leapfrogging" to modern energy sources like solar and wind. However,for both practical and moral reasons, it is the industrialised worldthat must take the initiative:

  • Industrialised nations are responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions - both today and historically. In the past, economic progress was linked directly to carbon dioxide emissions (via the burning of oil, coal and gas to generate energy). Renewable energy sources change this, but only a small number of nations have begun to implement them in earnest.
  • Two billion people - one third of the world's population - have no access to electricity for basic needs such as lighting or cooking. Getting people the clean and reliable energy necessary for essential needs such as clean water, health care facilities, heating and lighting is one of the most pressing problems facing humanity today.
  • Industrialised nations have the capital, resources and expertise to jump-start their renewable energy industries. Obviously, countries with advanced space programs, established higher educational systems and abundant cash for investment are better positioned to implement these new energy technologies then countries still struggling with basic energy needs.

Perhaps part of the problem, though, isthat industrialised nations are also better positioned to adapt toclimate change. Their populations can migrate more easily, newconstruction (of sea walls, etc.) is more feasible and their financialstructures are more stable (including availability of insurance). Oneneeds only think about the different level of response to a naturaldisaster, such as a hurricane, in a rich industrialised nation comparedto a less wealthy developing one to realise how climate change willlikely impact people around the world disproportionately.

However,the industrialised nations must also realize that there will be a point(perhaps already reached) beyond which adaptation alone is no longerthe cost effective choice, and beyond that a point where simplyadapting to climate change is no longer possible.

Fundamentally, we have one Earth, and only one global climate.

More information:

Climate Analysis Indicators Tool by World Resources Institute

Climate Justice

The latest updates

 

Obama lays down the climate challenge for future energy projects

Blog entry by Phil Radford | June 25, 2013 3 comments

Today, in his speech at Georgetown University, President Obama challenged us to answer the essential question for every future energy policy decision we face -- what will the net climate impact be if this project goes forward? It...

For our future, today can’t be Obama's final #ActOnClimate

Blog entry by Phil Radford | June 25, 2013 1 comment

This afternoon at Georgetown University, President Obama plans to announce a series of "steady, responsible steps" to tackle climate change. It appears that the President will finally begin to make good on his climate promises, but...

One year after Rio+20: The movement for a better world is growing

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | June 21, 2013 4 comments

One year after the biggest ever UN Summit closed at Rio de Janeiro , Brazil is in the news again. An impressive and large movement is growing as people stand up for their right to fairly-priced public transport and for a better...

Will the World Bank act boldly?

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen | June 19, 2013 1 comment

Unprecedented heatwaves, widespread food shortages, more intense cyclones and shifting rain patterns causing floods or droughts are just some of the future problems outlined in the World Bank's latest climate report today. ...

We can, must and should end the age of coal

Blog entry by Kumi Naidoo | June 12, 2013

Coal threatens everything we love and treasure and we now have new research to establish this in our report "Silent Killers". We must stand together and bring an end to the age of coal. Our renewed fight will kick off on the 29th of...

US-China agreement on climate change or HFO for Dummies

Blog entry by Paula Tejon Carbajal | June 11, 2013

This was the news that woke me up last Sunday:  'United States and China agree to work together on phase down of HFCs.' Good! Finally some political action to reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions! Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a...

Population and Ecology

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | May 6, 2013 25 comments

World  governments, the public, and the UN now recognize that the human population number matters in achieving ecological sustainability for human communities. For forty years, since the first United Nations environment meeting in...

Cisco, Google tie for first in latest Greenpeace ranking of IT sector climate leadership

Blog entry by David Pomerantz | April 24, 2013 4 comments

Can the same people who brought us search engines, Internet-powered smart phones, and the cloud also help us save the planet from climate change? At Greenpeace, we think so, which is why we’ve been pushing the technology sector to...

Cool IT Leaderboard 6

Publication | April 24, 2013 at 16:00

The Cool IT Leaderboard evaluates global IT companies on their leadership in the fight to stop climate change. The IT sector possesses the innovative spirit, technological know-how, and political influence to bring about a rapid clean energy...

Clutching at Climate Straws

Blog entry by Stephanie Tunmore | April 22, 2013

What appears at first glance to be a 'pause' in the warming of the climate has prompted much discussion in the media (and some 'I told you so' crowing from deniers) but can we really all heave a collective sigh of relief, assume we...

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