To call it a success would be a mindblowingly inaccurate description of what can only be labeled a half-arsed, inept attempt at global leadership that did nothing more than to solidify so many stereotypes on the inefficiency of politicians everywhere.
I am, of course, talking about the United Nations Climate Change Conference that was held the past month in Bali. And the ‘unanimous’ non-agreement that was patched together after America finally caved – and by caved, I mean like a sandcastle in the face of the tide – is living proof of the inaction that the majority of humanity believes the environment and planet deserve.
“We said we needed a roadmap,” Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth told the BBC, “but this conference has failed to give us a clear destination.”
Or maybe not.
Despite the lack of actual resolution to come out of the conference which held so many of our hopes, individual countries have made a step, whereas the planet has just sat down to play by the side of the road.
Where as a result of a few but significant holdouts imposing unreasonable restrictions on their involvement in a major roadmap, individual countries with a clearer view of the future have stepped up to the plate.
Countries like Costa Rica, New Zealand and Norway have each used the conference to design plans to eventually become carbon neutral.
Costa Rica not only thinks that carbon neutral is good for the environment, but good for business, and plans to hit total neutrality by 2021, their 200th anniversary of independence. They hope to reach this goal by fostering and facilitating a move to electric and hybrid vehicles, and to use methane from landfills and water treatment plants as fuel for energy.
New Zealand on the other hand, farm rich across its width and breadth, filled with the famed masses of sheep, is financing research that is targeted to reducing the greenhouse emissions from agriculture, including the sheep’s gassy export.
And from Norway, Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of Environment and Development, has announced that his country will be pursuing vigorous energy savings and efficiency measures to achieve sustainability.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, is still behind the need for a global emissions reduction plan in place by 2012. “However,” he went on to say, “it is also clear that some countries are voluntarily and already prepared to go that extra mile. And it is not just countries but a growing and widening group of companies, cities, and individual citizens who are also looking to their carbon footprints with a view to working towards climate neutrality.”
As Steiner mentioned, it is not just the countries who are putting up their proverbial hands, but the local communities as well. Led by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) – who themselves have called for their respective nations to reduce worldwide emissions by 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 – have taken an act of leadership. In a real testament to the global opinion about the environment, more than 600 cities, towns, counties and villages from across the world have committed to the above target. In addition, they have each individually committed to building sustainable energy economies, executing climate change adaption strategies, and advocating for local government representation at international climate talks.
So, am I right? Does “the majority of humanity” live for inaction when it comes to what “the environment and planet deserve?” From what we’ve read above, I would suggest that, on that case, I am wrong.
Sadly, that means that the few who are holding up such global measures are once again screwing the world over. Those countries which for such a long time have held up the belief that “10% of the world uses 90% of the resources” are once again out to ruin it for the rest of us.
Disclaimer: yes, I realize that my nation is effectively one of those “10%-ers”, but after Australia’s new Prime Minister signed the Kyoto Protocol and shown a strong environmental face, I allow myself a bit of leeway; or at least, more than I had under John Howard’s leadership.
Worldwatch Institute – Cities, Countries Make Up for What Bali Lacked
Photo courtesy of Oxfam International via Flickr