Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Talk is Cheap

We are now two years on from the Copenhagen Climate Talks of 2009. I remember joining thousands of other people in London to march in The Wave just before the talks to try and raise awareness of the key issues and urgency of the problems climate change brings to us.  Unfortunately, the talks in Copenhagen didn't seem to achieve very much at all as we watched global leaders bicker and argue over even the smallest of agreements.

Now leaders are meeting in Durban for the next round of global discussions on climate change. According to the United Nations website;
The discussions will seek to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.

 At Copenhagen the emphasis was on a top-down solution to climate problems. The plan was for global institutions to work across borders and with national commitments holding countries and states to account. But, ignoring the fact that no deal could be agreed and the money couldn't be raised, many believe this plan just wouldn't work due to political leakage, bureaucracy and corruption.

With this in mind many believe it might have been a success in disguise  for the talks two years ago to have failed, as we are not committed to the "wrong" solution and are free to choose the "right" one now. To be perfectly honest I would be quite happy just to see some sign that politicians and leaders are taking the problems of climate change seriously enough to actually want to find a solution now, rather than ignoring the problem and pushing it on to the next guys.

With the top-down approach seemingly impossible to achieve a new suggestion has arisen. While not as neat as top-down, the idea of a solution driven on national, regional and local levels by citizens interests in jobs, income and security might be the way forward. This process could also be enhanced with the support of international cooperation and investment by industry. The key element would be to drive change by addressing the fears and issues within current society, by using the environmental changes we desperately need to fix the other problems we have such as unemployment, lack of skills and energy security. This method is already working in India, South Africa and Morocco as renewable energy industries are growing thanks to industry and government investments, thus creating jobs, job security and energy security for the individuals in those communities.

I don't have the answers, and I don't even have enough information to start thinking about what the answers might be, but it's important to think about the questions and problems our society faces so that we can tell our leaders who do have the information required what we need them to do on our behalf. Let's hope that talking turns to actions and actions so solutions in the very near future, or the slightly more distant future make look even darker than now.

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