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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

 

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

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | 6 June, 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 | 6 June, 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 ...

Rio+20: The Future We Want versus the Powerpoint they negotiate ...

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | 25 May, 2012 3 comments

Over the last six months I have been away from home a lot watching our governments editing a powerpoint in windowless rooms. Sounds sad, I know. But the document entitled "The Future We Want" is not just any powerpoint. It´s supposed...

Apple states bold coal-free ambition for iCloud, now must explain how it will get there

Blog entry by Gary Cook | 23 May, 2012 4 comments

Apple has made a bold claim to make all three of its data centres “coal free” and has doubled the amount of solar energy powering its data centre in North Carolina. Apple’s customers certainly appreciate boldness, and will love the...

Apple responds to customers, starts down road to clean energy iCloud

Blog entry by Gary Cook | 18 May, 2012 1 comment

This week, after hundreds of thousands of Apple customers and Greenpeace supporters asked the company to use clean energy instead of dirty coal, it announced a significant investment in local renewable energy to power its data centre...

Activists block Duke coal shipment, link mountaintop removal to iCloud

Blog entry by Gabe Wisniewski | 3 May, 2012 5 comments

A set of train tracks in rural North Carolina is not the kind of place that brings iPads to mind. But this railroad is part of the chain that links you and me – and anyone who uses the cloud – to the massive destruction caused by the...

Apple: Think Different about your dirty energy

Blog entry by Kumi Naidoo | 25 April, 2012 15 comments

The Internet and social media are extraordinary engines of change helping to drive revolutions and positive social change. They’ve become central tools for how we bring pressure on polluters and governments. But if we are not careful,...

How Clean is your Cloud - Apple responds

Blog entry by Gary Cook | 17 April, 2012 16 comments

Our new report “ How Clean is Your Cloud ” is out today - to show that the massive increase in Internet use is mainly being powered by dirty energy. Apple, Amazon and Microsoft all score badly in the report for relying on dirty coal...

News from the Energy Revolution

Blog entry by Martin Lloyd | 13 April, 2012 5 comments

News that the UK could be set to import volcano power from Iceland has also focused some attention on the number of high voltage interconnectors being built across Europe. So now is a good time to revist a report Greenpeace put out...

What world will I face on my 70th birthday?

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen | 4 April, 2012 1 comment

I turned 34 last week. On my birthday I happened to be attending the Planet Under Pressure science conference in London . So there I was, with about 3000 others, listening to world’s leading earth system scientists and trying to...

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