Contributed by Ben Wilson and Joe Montero
The COP24 summit in Poland has finally come out with an agreement. The Unites States and Australia celebrated coal. Brazil’s new Jair Bolsonaro regime showed its climate warming skepticism. Oil producing countries Russia, Saudi and Kuwait, argued to slow things down. Despite this, some progress was made.
Measures were supposed to be adopted to step up the implementation of 2015 Paris Agreement. But a compromise was made to delay this till 2020, when the next summit takes place in Chile. The agreement says that commitments already entered into must have been met by then.
Time is running short, however. The intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned just two months ago, that the global temperature rising above 1.5 Celsius will have grave consequences, and that there is little more than a decade to turn the situation around, by halving all carbon emissions.
The current path could result in the temperature rising by up to 3-4 degrees Celsius, according to the science. This suggests that the global political establishment is not yet aligning with the science.
Discussion in Poland concentrated on standardising reporting and improving transparency. Both of these are needed. But this should not delay stepping up action.
It is understandable that countries want to minimise the negative impacts of making a transition. This is best achieved through cooperation between nations and mutual assistance. The longer it takes to do enough, the higher the cost will be.
Failure to act on a sufficient scale will destroy many species, and upset the life cycle, on which human beings are also dependent.
Changing weather patterns will mean that not enough food will be available to feed the human population. Rising sea levels will mean small countries disappearing and many cities being inundated. Economic collapse, the failure of political institutions and social turmoil will be inevitable.
What is clear, is that reliance on the political elite is not enough. Only when there is sufficient pressure coming up from below, is movement on the political stage possible. The little progress that has been made has come about this way. It is only the beginning, and much more is needed to lift the game.
There must be a turning away from unrestricted capitalism that always puts the private bottom line in first place, towards the adoption of a cooperative effort. which builds new and sustainable economies, that recognise we must live in harmony with our environment and social needs.
The key sticking point in Poland was that Brazil argued to weaken the rules for carbon trading, despite vigorous counter argument by other countries, and discussion on this has been deferred for the sake of coming out with a united statement.
Poorer countries demanded compensation from those responsible for the build up of carbon emissions. This was rejected by the western industrialised countries, fearing that they would have to pay heavily for years to come. Perhaps this is so. But it remains that poorer counties need assistance to help them move forward, and this cannot be ignored.
It may not be the ideal result. At least almost 200 countries have agreed that more must be done to turn away disaster.At least, there is some progress here.
By the time of the summit, the pressure of the global people’s movement, has resulted in more than 1000 institutions in 37 countries have joining a pledge, to divest from fossil fuel. This involves $8 trillion worth of investment, and it includes major banks, insurance companies, and churches. The World Bank announced that it will invest $200 billion to help poor countries cope with damage resulting from climate change.
None of this would have come about without the weight of public opinion, boosted by a growing worldwide and active movement.
There may still be a long way to go. The target to lift action to a new level is 2020. It can be achieved, if we all get together and make it happen.