Time is Running Out!

Feature story - December 2, 2005
BANGALORE, India — The UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal is underway. The climate summit - the first since the Kyoto Protocol entered into force - opened on the 28th of November, kicking off two weeks of crucial negotiations on climate protection.

Government delegates to the Montreal Climate Conference were greeted by a giant hourglass bearing the message 'Time is Running Out.'

Consider this: Glaciers in western China are expected to have largely disappeared by 2100; summer sea ice in the Arctic could be lost well before the end of the century according to some models, leaving polar bears, ice-dependent seals, walruses and certain sea-birds facing extinction; and over the next several decades there is a risk that regional climate changes combined with the effects of forest clearing could flip the ecosystems of the Amazon from forest to grassland or desert.

If climate change continues at present rates, the effects it will have are irreversible. Global average temperature has been rising since the beginning of industrial society. We believe that to prevent or at least arrest irreversible damage, we need to keep this rise below 2 degrees Celsius.  This is a position also adopted by the European Union Heads of Government. It is still economically and scientifically possible to do this with known technological means. The decisions made in Montreal will determine whether or not those options remain viable solutions to global warming.

Greenpeace is doing all it can to make sure that these decisions are taken, no matter how difficult they are. These are some of the steps that we hope this summit will achieve:

1. To further develop the Kyoto Protocol for the Second Commitment Period (2013-2017)

2. To facilitate the introduction of low carbon emitting technology in developing countries.

3. To mobilize local, regional and international support to halt tropical deforestation.

Time is Running Out!

As government delegates to the Montreal Climate Conference crunched through the snow on their way to the Palais de Congress today, they were greeted by the sight of a giant hourglass bearing the message 'Time is Running Out.'

The hourglass is meant to remind the delegates that our environment is changing at an increasingly rapid rate, and not for the better. The time to act is now.

Governments can send a strong signal that will encourage business to invest in clean alternatives by agreeing to strengthen and expand the Kyoto Protocol. Or it can spend the next two weeks blowing smoke and following the lead of countries like the USA and Australia who would prefer to do nothing. If they decide on the latter then we will lose momentum and we will lose the small window of opportunity we have to bring down emissions of greenhouse gases.

Click here to go to the Climate Change website.

Coffee, Anyone?

Solar Generation members from around the world have set up a solar-powered coffee kiosk outside the entrance to the conference center. They are asking delegates to take a minute and reflect, over a hot cup of coffee, on the responsibilities that rest on their shoulders. The students are accompanied by P.Bear, who is there to remind the delegates and the public in an easy-to-understand way that while we may not be seeing the visible results of global warming yet, other species are. When the ice at the polar ice caps melts, polar bears lose their home and their source of food. Click here to read P Bear's blog, and see video updates of her activities at the conference.

The Indian Connection

Amruth and Kruttika, the two students from India who are attending the CoP/MoP, have been part of all this activity as well. On the 29th, they presented a copy of their film and hundreds of letters that they had carried with them, to the Indian delegates at the conference. On the 7th of December, they will be presenting copies of the film and the letters to A Raja, the Union Minister for Environment and Forests, who is attending the CoP/MoP. They will be asking that India commit to supporting the use of renewable energy, and to phasing out fossil fuels.

View the climate change flash animation.