The world can’t wait until 2020

As the world is facing bigger climate challenges than ever before, and a possible gloomy future is being painted out by the UN climate panel researchers in vivid colors, the world’s leaders are getting together once again to negotiate political action to try and stall the negative development at the COP17 neg. in Durban.

This is a do or die for a global national treaty. The Kyoto Protocol, established fourteen years ago, exipires next year, and there are no plans for binding commitments beyond that point. Now is the time to get together and try to work out a new and ambitious agreement.

The Kyoto Protocol is an important ground work for the future climate politics. It’s a gigantic acheivement that so many countries actually agreed on working together to cut carbon emissions. And because of that agreement, it should be even easier to prolong that initiative by agreeing on a new treaty. But even so, rich countries are trying to pull put.

The Guardian says that rich countries are basically giving up trying to forge an agreement that is effective during this decade. It seems the wealthiest have decided to settle for an option that postpones the problems as long as it is possible to ignore them. Not only will the concequences of this be that irreversible climate changes will take place, but it also entails that the longer we wait in forging a new treaty, the harder it will be to make one. Chances are, if we don’t get an agreement now, we never will.

There is absolutely no good reason for delaying this. The longer we wait, the more devestating will the consequences be, and all the more money is going to be needed to patch up problems that not only could be prevented, but could be prevented with a cheaper cost than it will take to fix it afterwards. It’s the perfect example of the tragedy of the commons, where we only have one patch of land to share. If everyone lets it linger and waits for everyone else to take responibility, than nothing will happen and we all end up with an overgrazed patch of land.

Fatih Birol, who is chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said: “If we do not have an international agreement whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door to [holding temperatures below 2C] will be closed forever.” IEA says that irreversible climate change will happen if we don’t get restrictions in the next five years (Read more here). These are obviously guys who know what they are talking about. If we don’t get an agreement, it is likely that eveyone will just keep on doing what they already do; relying on fossil fuels and digging ever deeper to search for more oil, as Norway do.

Now, apparently the leaders of the rich countries are not too worried about that. They obviously have great faith in a system where “everyone contributes as much as the can” (or at least as much as they want to). Chances are, with a bottom-up-system (that amongst others the US wants) where everyone decides there own cuts, the cuts in total won’t even be half of what is required to stall the climate changes. The act of relying on such a kind of system to fix things, is at best naive, at worst, a major betrayal to all of human kind. Now, one might say that a little is better than none at all, but is it really better to settle for less when we now actually have a real chance at doing some major changes? Should we really just accept that because some don’t “bother” or don’t “like” the idea of having to adjust their consumtpion patterns, than it’s OK that even more people have to suffer from hunger and poverty in the years to come than today, not to mention that we as tax payers have to pay enormous sums in the future to make up for today’s leaders’ lack of ambition?

I say that there’s no better time than the present to really take the climate seriously. We already see that the way we live today isn’t viable or sustainable. It’s a fact. And when so many national economies is on the verge of a break-down, or at least recession, then it’s all the more reason to grasp the chance to think in new ways, to change, to plan for the future.

The world don’t have time to wait for 2020. It’s time to act now, and to save the Kyoto Protocol.

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