24 november 2013

Climate Crisis: Who Will Act?

By KOFI ANNAN, The New York Times< November 24th, 2013

[Kofi Annan was secretary general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. ]

Geneva — The last-minute deal at the United Nations Climate Conference in Warsaw keeps hopes for a comprehensive successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto protocol alive. But let us be clear: Much more decisive action will be needed if we are to stand any chance at fending off the dangers of climate change.

We now have just one more shot, next year in Peru, to make more substantive progress toward a successor agreement before the crucial 2015 Paris conference. Even before then, it will be crucial for governments to put aside narrow national interests in order to ensure that the pledges made at the 2009 Copenhagen conference — to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to pre-industrial levels — are met.

The unprecedented walkouts at the Warsaw climate talks — first, by representatives of most developing countries on Wednesday, and then by green groups and N.G.O.’s on Thursday — reveal a growing level of frustration with what many perceive as a lack of political leadership at a time when it is needed most. It was clear before this latest round of talks in the Polish capital that the world’s governments must make real progress toward an ambitious, universal and legally binding climate agreement to be adopted in 2015.

It is essential that governments start phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, which currently account for about $485 billion a year, and are far greater than the global investment in renewable energy. While cutting subsidies is an issue for developed and developing countries alike, it remains true that the Group of 20 countries accounted for 78 percent of global carbon emissions from fuel combustion in 2010.

What now? If governments are unwilling to lead when leadership is required, people must. We need a global grass-roots movement that tackles climate change and its fallout....


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