Last thoughts on the Durban package

Alright, probably not last thoughts.  Analysis and review will continue for months if not years.

By some lights it was a breakthrough to have China and India and Brazil talking about targets — even though they have only agreed to start getting there.  It is an enormous relief to have a second commitment period under Kyoto, starting immediately at the end of the first. But Canada is, of course, refusing to take part, plus Japan and Russia.  The USA remains perpetually hobbled by domestic politics and somehow year after year and COP after COP, the US ducks its responsibilities.

Canada’s role, Fossil of the Year for the 5th consecutive year is no surprise. Canada’s interventions and actions have the effect of weakening texts and hardening positions. As I head home I am so worried about the reports that the Prime Minister wants to legally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. For all the damage we have done thus far, such an action would hurt the new agreements from Durban before the ink is dry.  We need to stay on top of this threat, reportedly to be executed on December 23.

The frustrating, maddening, even terrifying aspect of climate talks is that GHG levels keep rising while multilateral negotiations try to determine the time table by which they will be reduced. – eventually. It reminds me of the unacceptable negotiations with forest companies. We used to call it “talk and log.” The climate equivalent, climate negotiators talk while profligate use of fossil fuels ramps up year on year.

We need the equivalent of a cease fire.  No new GHG added, no new tar sands projects approved.  We cannot afford to keep adding an ever increasing volume of warming gases into the atmosphere, while negotiating when we plan to begin to slow it down.

And that is why we have to find a way to pick up the pace. We are risking putting the atmosphere on an irreversible trajectory to runaway global warming. We need to stop the rise in GHG — everywhere on Earth by 2015.  On current levels of political will, we are not yet close to the actions we need. Still, thank goodness Durban gave us something in the right direction. Now we need to get back to public mobilizations to improve the agreements and really reduce GHG.