Thursday, November 3, 2011

Climate Change: Responsibility and Consequences

Let me digress today from my usual reports about carbon accounting, carbon markets, and government policy into the big picture perspective of why we do what we do, why we need to track every last ton of GHG emissions, account for it, reduce it, and blinking-well pay for it.

The 17th Conference of Parties (COP) takes place later this month in Durban, South Africa. This is the annual conference hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that brings together the nations of the world to work on collective solutions to the collective problem that is climate change. There are many agreements under parallel development at these meetings, but one of the most significant thrusts will be the talk of 'responsibility' for climate change and how those who are most responsible for climate change should step up to the plate and look after those who are suffering the consequences of climate change.

For example, I learned today that Bangladesh will press home for migration opportunities for the climate victims. Their foreign minister will also demand operation of the international climate fund on co-operational basis and transfer of technology for mitigation and adaptation of climate change free of cost. “Those who are responsible for carbon emissions would have to bear the cost of technology”. Full story here.

Add to this, today's new report from the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that "paints a wild future for a world already weary of weather catastrophes costing billions of dollars. The report says costs will rise and perhaps some locations will become 'increasingly marginal as places to live.'" Full story in The Guardian

Finally, there's a new map of climate vulnerability that shows in blunt strokes who causes climate change and who is suffering. When it comes to GHG emissions we are all linked into the fate of the global community and when one group of nations is clearly causing the lion's share of emissions, certainly there is no doubt where the moral and financial responsibility lies. So when you hear of the climate negotiations turning to development aid later this month, you will understand that it is simple math based on the cold hard facts of where the emissions come from and who is bearing the costs of the resulting climate change. Our high carbon lifestyle comes with a price. Is it really fair that someone else is paying it?

[photo courtesy of National Geographic]

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