Climate challenge even greater after UN meeting in Bonn

Feature story - June 19, 2009
As another round of climate talks limps to a close in Bonn, Germany, and the UN Climate Summit to be held in Copenhagen this December draws closer, it’s a good opportunity to take a look at the progress (or otherwise) that’s been made so far…

Ambassadors for Greenpeace's Sign On campaign gather at the campaign launch function. The campaign aims to get John Key to sign on to a 40 % by 2020 emissions reduction target.

On the plus side, almost everything is now on the table. On the minus side, almost everything now on the table is still on the table, and doesn't look likely to be going anywhere fast. In fact, one draft document that was 50 pages long at the start of the Bonn meeting is now closer to 300 pages long. Given that one of the purposes of the latest Bonn meeting (one of several in the lead up to Copenhagen) was to narrow options down, it's safe to assume that 'progress', therefore, has not been significant.

On the other hand, money from the industrialised world to help developing countries to switch to clean energy, keep tropical rainforests intact and adapt to unavoidable climate impacts is still missing. But the biggest space of all is where the robust, effective emission cuts for industrialised countries should be. The science demands that, as a group, developed countries need to cut emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. So far they have offered - at most - 15 percent. Unless they raise their game considerably over the next six months, the world will be heading for a global temperature rise of 3° C and the distinct possibility of irreversible climate impacts.

The usual suspects - the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand - are holding everything up, and seem more obsessed with the short term, special interests of their fossil fuel industries at home. New Zealand received the unenviable fossil of the day award not once but twice in Bonn. Read more on the blog.

We can't carry on like this and still hope to get the outcome the planet needs at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. Something has to change.

Only leaders need apply

The climate change issue has to be passed right to the top of the political 'food chain'. Heads of governments must take responsibility for protecting the climate and, in so doing, protecting the planet and its people.

Think about it. There's probably not a single ministry or government department that remains untouched by this issue; energy, environment, foreign affairs, treasury, tourism, agriculture - the list goes on. And every single one of them will have its own perspectives and priorities. In every capital city around the world, the person who has the 'big picture' - the person who sits at the desk where the buck ultimately stops - needs to stand up, step up and lead. For us in New Zealand that's Prime Minister John Key and that's why thousands of New Zealanders, including Stephen Tindall, Lucy Lawless, Cliff Curtis and Jim Salinger have all Signed On to ask John Key to step up to the plate in Copenhagen.

Next chance for international action

Next month, the heads of the world's richest countries will get together in Italy for the G8 Summit. This will be an historical opportunity for these leaders to break the deadlock and send a strong signal of intent by agreeing to deep cuts in emissions and putting money on the table for developing countries.

In December around 15,000 assorted politicians, negotiators, journalists, observers, caterers and cleaners will set up camp in the Copenhagen Bellacentre for the two week Climate Summit. We expect world leaders to be there, acting in our name and taking responsibility for our future.

Sign On to give Prime Minister John Key the support he needs to be a leader in Copenhagen.

Sign On

For NZ to do its bit to help avoid catastrophic impacts, John Key needs to go to Copenhagen and he needs to Sign On to reduce New Zealand's emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 on 1990 levels. This is what the scientists tell us we need to do and this is what thousands of New Zealanders, including business leaders, community leaders and scientists are asking for via the Sign On petition.

The most effective thing you can do right now is Sign On and then invite your friends and family to sign on too! Together we can generate unprecedented support for strong action on climate change and set a course towards deep emissions cuts and away catastrophic, irreversible climate change.

Sign On

Sign On to support strong action by NZ in Copenhagen

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