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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

 

Political Forums of the "Highest Level"

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | 9 July, 2014 1 comment

You may have heard about a new roadmap to prevent climate catastrophe that was launched at the United Nations yesterday. After the launch, Jeffrey Sachs , one of the people behind the report, came into the " High Level Segment of...

Who pays the bill for climate denialism?

Blog entry by Leanne Minshull | 28 May, 2014 2 comments

Greenpeace International, along with WWF International and the Centre for International Environmental Law, sent letters to major insurance firms and 35 fossil fuel and other carbon major companies today, asking whether they believed...

Tired of climate doom and gloom? Read this.

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen | 7 April, 2014 2 comments

I bet you read the "news" last week. Climate change impacts are now everywhere and it's going to get much worse if we continue polluting our way into the future. It's frustrating. It's infuriating. And it makes you want to switch...

Climate science scares me too, but we can choose a better future

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen | 31 March, 2014 1 comment

I had a birthday on Saturday, but there was no time to celebrate. Instead, I was busy monitoring intensive discussions on climate change in Yokohama, Japan, where climate scientists from around the world were finalising their latest...

Facing up to the climate reality

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen | 24 March, 2014 3 comments

In what is expected to be a grim reading, the world's leading climate scientists will give their latest assessment about the dangers of global warming next week. They will warn us not only what damage the burning of fossil fuels is...

The value of ancient forests

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | 20 December, 2013

I live in a forest, and know that I am fortunate. I watch flicker and siskin in the cedars. I hear thrush and vireo in the veiled vastness. Cutthroat trout inhabit the lake, wolves howl on winter nights, and raccoons venture out with...

Climate change and conflict: a controversy and a call to action

Blog entry by Jen Maman | 12 September, 2013 3 comments

What did increased domestic violence in India and Australia, a spike in assaults and murders in the US, ethnic violence in Europe and land invasions in Brazil have in common? According to new research , published last month,...

Deep sea oil and gas drilling: not in New Zealand, not anywhere

Blog entry by Aaron Gray-Block | 4 September, 2013 5 comments

Like the Arctic, the deep waters off the coast of New Zealand are under threat as oil and gas companies feverishly line up to start exploratory drilling operations in search of climate-destroying carbon fuel deposits. In a new oil...

How air pollution concerns stopped a China coal power project

Blog entry by Lauri Myllyvirta | 14 August, 2013 2 comments

In Europe or the US, a huge 2,000-megawatt coal power project next to a megacity of 10 million would top the list of polluting power plant proposals and attract intense scrutiny. In China, which has continued to add an equivalent...

Staying silent would be the real crime

Blog entry by Aaron Gray-Block | 12 August, 2013

I've sat in international courtrooms to report on crimes against humanity during wars in Africa or the Balkans, environmental degradation and conflict in South America or armed aggression between Russia and Georgia. I've also reported...

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