A MESSAGE TO THE UN CLIMATE NEGOTIATORS IN POZNAN

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10 november 2008

[During the first twelve days of December 2008, negotiators of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet in Poznań to prepare the Copenhagen negotiations (December 2009) for a post-Kyoto treaty. We urge you to write to the UNFCCC delegation of your country to express your insistence on a comprehensive, effective treaty that will quickly put the world on the path to a renewable, non-carbon, non-nuclear energy supply. If you prefer, you can use the following letter to the contact person of the Dutch delegation, written by the initiators of Concerned Citizens against Climate Change, as a model for your own email. Addresses of the persons responsible for the other national delegations follow our letter.]

To Mr. Maas Goote, Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer (VROM), contact person for the UNFCCC Poznań delegation of The Netherlands

Dear Mr. Goote:

We would be grateful if you would circulate this letter to the members of the Dutch delegation to Poznań.

There is little time to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emssions.1 Severe consequences of climate change have already appeared: unprecedented storms, floods, droughts, fires, and famines; worse is in the offing if we do not act quickly.

It is essential that the world shift as quicly as possible to renewable, carbon-free energy sources and that atmospheric CO2 be reduced to 350 ppm, the maximum now considered safe by climate scientists.

Under intensive lobbying by the energy industries, the G8 and the European Parliament have recently endorsed a technological fix called Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). This would pump the carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuel into allegedly “safe” locations underground.2 However, a recent McKinsey Report says that CCS will not be commercially feasible before 2030.

It would be catastrophic if, based on the hope of CCS, UN negotiators were to endorse the construction of new coal-fired power plants that would increase CO2 emissions until 2030. After 2030, for elementary safety reasons, the hundreds of billions of tons of liquified CO2 that would be pumped into geological formations would have to be monitored against leakage for hundreds of years to come. Is there any country that can give guarantees of such monitoring on its territory for future centuries? With or without accurate monitoring, these CO2 deposits would constitute a ticking planetary time bomb.3 Al Gore refers to “Clean Coal” as “imaginary” and “a cynical and self-interested illusion.” (New York Times, Nov. 9, 2008). Indeed, the mirage of CCS entails unacceptable risks to the future of human civilization.

Because of the dangers of nuclear waste leakage and the near-certainty, over time, of another Chernobyl as a result of human failure, we also dare not expand nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.

The solution to the warming problem will lie in a series of linked fiscal and regulatory measures for reducing emissions. Central to them is a crash program for a mix of genuine renewables: wind parks, concentrated solar power, geothermal, hydroelectric, and tidal energy, all linked by the new HVDC (high voltage direct current) grids that can carry renewable energy across thousands of miles with little power loss. Such “supergrids”, proposed by Robert Kennedy Jr., by twenty-five members of the European Parliament, and by Al Gore, can replace our current grids on every continent in less than the time it takes to test and implement CCS.

Like Al Gore and other environmentalists, we believe that the curbing of the climate menace can be linked to a resolution of the economic crisis through a “green new deal” that would supply tens of millions of jobs globally in the conversion from a carbon economy. ALL THAT IS NEEDED IS THE POLITICAL WILL AND THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION THAT WE MUST COMMIT OUR RESOURCES TO THIS TASK.

We ask the UNFCCC negotiators to secure the human future by endorsing a program based only on genuine renewables. We further ask them to decree and implement a well-policed ban on the logging of rain forests and, in the spirit of global equity, to have the developed West freely assist the developing countries in creating the renewable energy networks needed to reduce atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm.

Sincerely,

The initiators of Concerned Citizens against Climate Change [http://www.stopwarming.eu]:
Arthur Mitzman, (Emeritus Professor of History, University of Amsterdam)
Joep Leerssen (Professor of European Studies, University of Amsterdam)
Lucas Reijnders (Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Amsterdam)


1 Andrew Johnson and Virginia Simms.of the New Economics Foundation: 100 Months – technical note: ”We calculate that 100 months from 1 August 2008, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will begin to exceed a point whereby it is no longer likely we will be able to avert potentially irreversible climate change. 'Likely' in this context refers to the definition of risk used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to mean that, at that particular level of greenhouse gas concentration, there is only a 66 - 90 per cent chance of global average surface temperatures stabilising at 2º Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/uploads/sbfxot55p5k3kd454n14zvyy01082008141045.pdf
2 The CCS procedure has been applied on a limited scale to oil and gas, but remains in an experimental phase for coal, the worst of the carbon polluters. The electrical generation industry itself does not expect it to be ready for widespread implementation before the decade after 2020.
3 Such formations, being subject not only to movements of the earth’s surface but to the corrosive effect of carbonic acid produced by the contact of CO2 with water, can rupture, leaking the CO2 back to the atmosphere

Addresses of heads of delegations:
· Netherlands: Mr. Maas Goote, Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer (VROM):
· United Kingdom: Ms. Jan Thompson, Head, International Climate Change Negotiations
· The United States: Trigg Talley, US Department of State, Director, Office of Global Change ,
· Spain: Sra. Alicia Montalvo Santamaría, Directora General
· France : M. Paul Watkinson, Coordinateur de l’action internationale sur le climat, Ministère de l’Ecologie, du Développement durable et de l’Aménagement du territoire (MEEDDAT), and Mme Odile Roussel, Sous-directrice de l'Environnement, Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et Européennes,
· Germany : Ms Nicole Wilke, Head, International Climate Policy, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety - Berlin (BMU – Berlin,
· Belgium: Mr. Peter Wittoeck, Head, Climate Change Section FODVVVL, Peter.Wittoeck@health.fgov.be
· Australia: Ms. Jan Elizabeth Adams, Ambassador for Climate Chang/First Assistant Secretary, Department of Climate Change, .
· India: Mr. Rajesh Kumar Sethi, Dir. Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)
· Mexico: Sra Socorro Flores Liera, Directora General para Ternas Globales, Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores,
· Bulgaria: Mr. Stefan Dishovsky, Acting Head, Climate Change Policy Department, Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW),


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