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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

 

Xavante people call for justice onboard the Rainbow Warrior

Blog entry by Jess Miller | June 20, 2012

If you want an example of how little progress politicians have made since the Earth Summit in 1992, it could be heard in the voices of the Xavante people onboard the Rainbow Warrior yesterday. Twenty years ago at the first Earth...

Rio+20 Earth Summit - Xavante people

Image | June 20, 2012 at 13:35

Xavante indigenous peoples from Marãiwatsédé, located in Mato Grosso state, visit the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior ship, moored in Mauá Pier, in Rio de Janeiro. The vessel serves as a platform for the group to remember the promise, made from Eco 92...

Fossil fools from G20 to Rio+20

Blog entry by Patricia Lerner, Greenpeace International | June 19, 2012 3 comments

Three years ago I was in Pittsburgh and witnessed the G20 leaders commit to phasing out "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term". That wasn´t the urgency we were looking for then, or the one sought with the global...

Rising Powers Take the Floor at Rio+20

Blog entry by Yong Rong, Greenpeace East Asia | June 17, 2012 3 comments

Last week, I kissed my five-year-old daughter goodbye in Beijing and got on a flight bound for Rio de Janeiro. 25 hours later, I joined some 50,000 other people in Rio for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Absent from that big crowd,...

Greenwash+20

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace International | June 15, 2012 1 comment

Today here at the Rio+20 Earth Summit , corporations will start their own sustainability party , hosted by the UN Global Compact. It’s not difficult to picture what it will be like: countless speeches and glossy brochures on...

Rainbow Warrior arrives at Rio+20

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | June 14, 2012 2 comments

Like so many in Greenpeace, I love boats. Put me on water and I am happy. So when I heard back in March at one of the preparatory meetings for the Rio Earth Summit taking place in New York that our new Rainbow Warrior was there, I...

Greenwash+20

Publication | June 12, 2012 at 13:45

Today, greenwash is alive and well, as you will no doubt see at the Rio+20 conference. The Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) coalition, for example, will be there again, and we invite you to compare their rhetoric to what was...

Rio+20: High Seas protection possible; right to food? US says: "delete"

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | June 6, 2012 2 comments

If you believe the United Nations press release a lot was achieved at last week´s "informal informal" negotiations for Rio+20: "Before the negotiations, only 6 per cent of the text had been agreed upon.  Now, that number has jumped...

Error message for Microsoft’s use of coal

Blog entry by David Pomerantz | June 6, 2012

Greenpeace activists scaled Microsoft’s building in Herzliya, Israel this week to call on the company to stop using 19 th -century coal to power its 21 st -century cloud platform. The activists displayed a 100 square meter banner ...

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