Friday, December 11, 2009

Sealing the fate of a generation

Copenhagen, climate change summit

The Guardian and 56 other newspapers from around the world have joined together to call for action from the worlds leaders on climate change. A spokes person for The Guardian said, "If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too." As the Copenhagen climate change summit is underway the joint voice of the newspapers ask that the leaders do not blame each other but seize the opportunity to make a difference whether the countries are rich or poor as the outcome will inevitably seal the fate of a generation.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource. Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

The politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. In the meantime, many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

The Guardian

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