Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beyond Durban

Today I participated in a climate panel organized by Beyond Durban; a week of events organized by Cemus at Uppsala University. Tomorrow they will organize a climate night at the ekocafé in Uppsala at 20:00 in the evening, so go if you can!

The climate panel was very interesting. Unfortunately, one of the speakers, Clarisse Kehler Siebert from Stockholm Environment Institute, could not come as she was stuck during her trip back from Durban but we still had trouble finishing on time even if there was only two speakers.

Bo Kjellén, Sweden’s former head climate negotiator, was the first speaker and it was an amazing opportunity to listen to someone who has acctually been to the climate negotiations before and hear about his views and impressions on Durban.

He thought it would be very important that the Kyoto protocol survives so we can have a long-term strenght in the goals for decreasing the emissions. However, he also said where there might be political will, there might not be the political capacity (eg. in Obamas case, he is probably willing to push for stronger environmental goals but that is not possible to sign as he does not have the congress behind him). In these cases it might be better to lower the requirements so that we still move forward instead of being in a locked situation. He also pointed out that many things happen in countries below national level (eg. California has agreed to adapt to Kyoto targets) and in these cases NGO's and other organisations play a big role for support and action.

Isadora Wronski, from Greenpeace Sweden, was the second speaker. She started with this video, short on what has happened in COP17 so far:

She continued to talk about Greenpeace's demands on climate action, which included at least 30% or 40% emission reductions, second period for the Kyoto protocol and climate financing (for example for green energy).

She said that, mostly, it is the business world that hinder us from achieving these targets. Greenpeace has just released a list of the "Dirty Dozen", the top representatives of the corporations that pollute most. I am not too hapy about the fact that it's a Finn on top of that list, namely, Jorma Ollilla, who is nowadays the Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell.

In the discussion afterwards some people brought up the fact that the businesses and politicians are not able to do much as we are stuck in this current political and economic system that measures everything in economical terms while all climate issues are non-economical and often about idealistic values. Some companies that have said they would like to do something about climate impact from their business activity have actually changed their mind when they realize it might cause them a 3% decrease in profits. Climate decisions are seen for corporations as a loss in short term but not as an investment in the long term; that despite the fact that investing in our own planet is not only smart, but necessary. Anyhow, the present situation (economic depression, climate change etc.) might be mature for a change, but it is not a change that will be possible in short term. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case with climate actions as well, even if it wouldn't have to take so long. However, climate change itself will not wait for us to act...

There are some things that are looking brighter though, Isadora brought up the fact that, globally, investments in renewable energy ($ 187 billion) have passed the investments in fossil fuels ($ 157 billion) so let's hope that that will lead us somewhere.

Greenpeace's ultimate goal is to have 100% renewable energies as well as forest protection. Of course, that would be great; and to hang on to that dream I thought I'd post this video that is made for UN's year of forests, which is this year.

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