Begin of page section: Content
Towards Copenhagen...and Beyond!
Which climate policies can still save human civilisation?
From the 7th to18th of December, the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) will take place, which is decisive for the future because the participating states must decide on a follow-up to the failed Kyoto Protocol. The UN's record of procedures to date has proved catastrophic. Since the Rio Conference of 1992, greenhouse gas emissions have not only increased but also their rate of growth has sped up .Climate change, thanks mostly to harmful emissions, has already yielded devastating consequences. The increase of natural catastrophes alone has cost the lives of 300,000 people a year, according to a current report from the Global Humanitarian Forum under the leadership of Kofi Annan. We have at present an average global warming of around 0.8 degrees celsius (since 1900), while a “business as usual” emissions scenario, according to the UNO Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC (the most widely acknowledged scientific authority), could lead to a rise of up to 6.4 degrees in global warming by the year 2100. If this situation arises “high civilization as we’ve come to know it can no longer be sustained on this planet ”, according to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, one of the most recognised climate researchers.At present, the political goal is a two degree limit that would reduce the negative consequences of climate change to an at least bearable level. This can only be achieved by the corresponding results of negotiations in Copenhagen. Above all, the conflict over emission reduction targets between the already industrialized countries and the rapidly industrializing large countries, both mainly responsible for climate change, threatens to break down negotiations. The latter have already declared that they will contribute substantially but they demand visible progression from the former. The industrialized countries must, according to current scientific projections, decide on a compulsory 40% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (in comparison to levels in 1990). They must also commit to give adequate support, both financially and technologically, to the climate protection activities of the South. While the EU has offered a 30% decrease, the USA, whose position unofficially represents key players like Canada, Japan, and others, are only ready to reduce their emissions in 2020 to the level it was in 1990, despite Obama’s promising rhetoric (up until July 2009). This corresponds to a reduction of 0% instead of the necessary 40%.With these facts in mind, in this event we'll discuss the various roles and positions in the negotiation process, as well as which directions they could possibly take during the course of the conference, and which results can be expected. The basic characteristics of the politics used in the UN procedures will also be put to question. Above all, the fixation on market-based principles such as the emissions trade and technological solutions like carbon capture and storage, industrial agrofuel or clean coal, is regarded as highly problematic by many critics. Last but not least, the discussion should also touch upon possible alternatives in climate politics, how they can be realized through progressive governmental bodies, by critical NGOs, social movements and ourselves as individuals. We also want to have a look at which debates will have to take place in society and in politics over the next ten years.
End of this page section.
Skip to overview of page sections.