The International Climate Change Conference in Durban is coming to a close today and as far as coming to an agreement about preventing irreversible global warming, it has been a wash out. Which is exactly what is going to happen if countries like the US don’t stop putting their fingers in their ears about climate change. The United States have proposed a ten year ‘timeout’ on targets to lower emissions, until 2020. This isn’t good enough. This would be a disaster of Michael Bay proportions. Let’s remind ourselves that the US is a country where it has been suggested that 50% of people don’t believe in climate change. Don’t. Believe. In. It.
Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International, said: “On Saturday, in Durban, the US eviscerated draft language on mitigation that would have offered real protection to those who are being hardest and fastest hit by climate changes that are already happening. The time has come for the US to stand aside. If it is not willing to save lives, save jobs and save whole ecosystems then it should get out of the way and let those who are willing move on. Any failure to move beyond US obstructionism will be measured in lives.”
I can’t stop singing “Move, bitch, get out the way!” My colleagues at Oxfam who are in Durban right now to deliver a fair, ambitious and legally-binding climate treaty are wringing their hands in at the lack of motivation; leaders are sleepwalking into a world of imminent climate doom. No-one wants to be held accountable. Experts have told us what the world will be like 10 years from now if we continue at the rate we are going, but it is falling on deaf ears.
The US, along with the UK, China, India and Brazil, is the main blocker of progress at this crucial time, despite the fact that President Barack Obama originally campaigned on a promise to lead in global climate negotiations three years ago. The US will not listen to the warnings of major environmental groups, preferring to kneel in front of the fossil-fuel industry which exerts majority influence over the nation and spends tens of millions of dollars every year on lobbying and PR campaigns to shape public opinion.
It’s no surprise to say that it’s the rich countries that cause the problems and the poor that suffer. But those nations have a duty and a responsibility to clean up their mess. With blockades like a proposed ‘ten year timeout’ on the agenda, it would appear that the power nations are preparing to enter dark times. Like Waterworld but very fucking worse. By halting any negotiations until 2020, we’re more likely to see a 3 to 4 degree increase in temperature. That might sound small but a 4 degrees increase would see the world change beyond the point of return. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that 4 degrees could be the end of civilization as we know it.
Climate change is a global problem. The US should be the ones setting an example for other countries, for example China but if they aren’t prepared to except it, then they should in the very least not block discussions. With a 9 billion people population estimated for 2050, leaders need to start looking down the generations.