Critique and Illustration by: Chris Talbot-Heindl
So, yet another U.N. climate change summit began yesterday and is scheduled through November 22. Good for you, U.N. Congratulations on starting the yearly roundtable discussion that has done literally nothing since its inception in 1995.
The summit involves representatives from 200 nations talking ad infinitem about creating a comprehensive global treaty on how to deal with emissions and climate change. This is really just akin to a gigantic circle jerk, with each nation publicizing the effort with no real solutions made.
I have an idea. Instead of getting together every goddamned year to talk it through and come out with literally bupkis, why doesn’t each nation do whatever they can do until we really have an idea of what a global effort would really look like?
Each year, we talk about global this and global that, except we are so entrenched in our imaginary lines and what it means on this side and that side of each line that we couldn’t cooperate “globally” to sing happy birthday at the same time; never mind create a solution or steps toward reducing emissions.
Let’s look at what has happened – in 2012, many nations have introduced significant climate or energy-related legislation and regulation laws. In the US, we have the Rooftop Solar Challenge, the Solar Instructor Training Network, and many other groups and initiatives in the works to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels and increase our use of renewable energy.
Great! Let’s have more of that. In fact, let’s get rid of the subsidies on traditional sources of energy so that renewable energy can compete; and so that people begin to reduce their usage of electricity to a more sustainable level.
Scientists have discovered the use of thorium as a possible energy source, which has all the advantages of uranium nuclear energy without the pesky dangerous radioactive byproducts. In fact, some scientists have used thorium to neutralize radioactive materials from traditional nuclear power plants! Which means, instead of burying radioactive material on Native land, such as is practice now; maybe we can unbury it all, make it inert again, and apologize for our terrorism against the Native populations. Oh wait, we don’t apologize. I forgot.
But I digress…
Here’s a little back-story…
The first climate change conference was held in the mid-90s to create the Kyoto Protocol, which was meant to be an international treaty that listed out obligations that countries would fulfill to reduce greenhouse gases with the goal of mitigating some of the human-induced interferences of the global climate. Makes sense, no?
There were 192 countries at the convention that first year, but it didn’t really work out.
Why? Well, partly because cowboy bee-boppin’ U.S. refused to ratify the Protocol saying it would do it’s own thang, as per usual, as did other countries.
The Protocol was adopted by some countries to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997, but wasn’t even “enforced” until 2005.
All the Kyoto Protocol really did was legally restrict the amount of emissions of greenhouse gases in two commitment periods. In other words, there was a level you could not exceed between the years of 2008-2012; and another level you could not exceed as a nation between the years of 2013-2020.
Of course, when the commitment periods actually began, some countries announced that they were withdrawing from the Protocol. Really, the only nations to successfully complete their obligations in the first period are Japan, New Zealand, and Russia. Which really just reinforces my opinion that we are not ready for a global anything. We just want to take our balls home and play by ourselves.
So, what is the plan for the climate change summit this year?
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres indicated that the climate change summit this year is intending to lay the groundwork for a new pact to fight global warming. “It is time to go the extra mile,” she said.
To Figueres, I say, “Because you’ve gone anywhere so far?” What good is an extra mile when you haven’t begun to walk?
A more convoluted reason to waste time and money could not have been invented. The only thing more ironic than the goal is the location – this year’s climate talks are taking place in coal-reliant Warsaw, Poland; and during the final week of the conference, the World Coal Association will begin their conference, the International Coal and Climate Summit…in the same city.
Again I say, good for you, U.N.