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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

 

Good news for the Arctic from Scotland and Greenland

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | 28 March, 2013 1 comment

The Scottish Court of Session has denied Cairn Energy (the wildcat oil firm that spent over US $1 billion failing to find oil off the coast of Greenland) a permanent injunction against Greenpeace International following a peaceful...

The word is out: Shell 'screwed up' in 2012

Blog entry by Aaron Gray-Block | 15 March, 2013 5 comments

No truer words were said than US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when he bluntly pointed out on Thursday that Shell "screwed up in 2012" during its chaotic attempt to drill for Arctic oil. In a damning assessment of Shell's...

UN report: human progress may be reversed by climate change

Blog entry by Susan Cavanagh | 15 March, 2013 6 comments

When it comes to political action on climate change, it’s the richest nations in the North that demand developing nations also act, which seems fair at first glance. But it’s the rich nations of the North that reaped the benefits of...

A bad day for the climate

Blog entry by Stephanie Tunmore | 8 March, 2013

It’s a truly bad news day for the global climate. Scientists in the US have found that the Earth is warming faster than at any time since the last Ice Age 11,300 years ago and maybe even further back. They found that most of that...

The melting Arctic must not be an excuse for a resource grab: UNEP

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen | 27 February, 2013 1 comment

The speed of changes in the Arctic is hard to grasp. The Arctic Ocean has been covered by sea ice for most of the past three million years. But now it is melting before our eyes and could see its first ice-free summer in a couple of...

Australian coal exports: a climate change boomerang

Blog entry by Aaron Gray-Block | 26 February, 2013 2 comments

The Australian continent might be about 4,000 km wide from east to west, but even the far west coast cannot escape the winds of Cyclone Rusty and the alarming impacts of climate change caused by coal mining, such as the planned Galilee...

It’s no secret: climate change is a threat to peace and security

Blog entry by Jen Maman | 21 February, 2013 9 comments

Last week, the UN Security Council met for a special session on the  ‘Security Dimensions of Climate Change’. You may have not heard about this. The meeting was held behind closed doors because some permanent members of the Council...

Obama's climate legacy will start when Shell’s Arctic drilling stops

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | 21 February, 2013 1 comment

Since Shell's Kulluk rig ran aground off Alaska, the US Department of Interior and the US Coast Guard have both launched independent investigations to find out what went wrong with the company's drilling operations in the far north. ...

What climate scientists have to say about super blizzard Nemo

Blog entry by Stephanie Tunmore | 10 February, 2013 3 comments

The USA is no stranger to severe winter storms but the monster – known as Nemo – that hammered the north east coastal states over the weekend may have been supercharged by climate change according to some climate scientists. The...

In Davos, Shell fuel station shut down in Arctic protest

Blog entry by Ben Stewart | 25 January, 2013 2 comments

I'm standing outside a Shell petrol station in Davos, looking at polar bears on the roof with a huge banner that says ARCTIC OIL - TOO RISKY. Twenty-five activists have shut down the station, some of whom are chained to the pumps.

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