The first day of the COP16 has come to close. There was lots of traffic, security, speeches, ceremonies, all following the normal first day traditions of a UN climate meeting. For the next two weeks though, what I hope to see is countries breaking tradition and making the crucial decisions on how to combat climate change. Decision that will build a foundation for and energy revoliution and a great and safe future.
The most important decisions to be made in Cancun, and some of their implications, are:
The choice to keep temperature well below 2C. Rising temperatures will have impacts on the food you eat, as crops and fish will suffer if we go over that limit. It will also determine how many wars over energy, food, water and other supplies we will have. If you like to eat and don’t like wars, this is an easy one.
The choice on a mechanism to stop deforestation and freeing up the money to do so. This one, apart from being critical to keep temperature from rising, will also determine if we’ll have a chance to find cures to many illnesses, which are now hidden in the forests. It will also mean life and death for animals and plants. If you like jaguars, trees and to be healthy, consider it a no brainer.
Another choice they have is on how to provide the $100 billion a year already promised in financial support to fund measures like the deployment of clean energies in developing countries. It will influence the whole global economy, now dependent on finite, dangerous and polluting sources like oil or coal and determine if countries will power their development with expensive imports or rely on no-cost fuels as the wind or the sun. The jobs and salaries we’ll have, the quality of air we’ll breathe will all be influenced by this decision. It’s about waking up in the morning to blue skies and fresh air, or not.
The last fundamental thing they have to decide here is if they are serious about the decisions they make. If they are, they will agree to have all of these agreements written in a protocol, with legal weight. We have to sign legal documents every time we rent a house, open a bank account or get a phone, and if we don’t follow the rules, there are consequences. Why shouldn’t they have to do the same with decisions that will impact our future?
A strict and effective limit to temperature rise, zero deforestation, no to coal, to go beyond oil, an energy revolution and to make all this more than words is what they must decide on while in Cancun. What would you choice be?
João Talocchi is an energy campaigner at Greenpeace International and is currently at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico