Well, the academic term begins so I thought I would just post a link to the latest article from George Monbiot, which makes sobering reading and should give you something to mull over while I get back into the swing of note-taking. There are climate talks coming up in Mexico in December but after Copenhagen, I doubt anyone’s too excited about them. Certainly not Monbiot, and rightly so.
Monbiot points out that the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and there is no realistic prospect that it will be replaced before it elapses. The existing treaty took five years to negotiate and a further eight years to come into force yet it has achieved nothing. In terms of real hopes for global action on climate change, we are now far behind where we were in 1997, or even 1992. It’s not just that we have lost 18 precious years. Throughout the age of good intentions and grand announcements we spiralled backwards.
An analysis published a few days ago by the campaigning group Sandbag estimates the amount of carbon that will have been saved by the end of the second phase of the EU’s emissions trading system, in 2012. After the hopeless failure of the scheme’s first phase we were promised that the real carbon cuts would start to bite between 2008 and 2012. So how much carbon will it save by then? Less than one-third of one per cent. The full report, Cap or Trap, can be downloaded as a pdf.
Plenty of nations, including the UK, have produced what appear to be robust national plans for cutting greenhouse gases but only the Maldives has targets which might actually prevent more than two degrees of global warming if carried out globally. Worse than that though is the outsourcing of our carbon emissions, which is missing from the equation. The UK doesn’t make much anymore – it’s all about the ‘service’ industry now. Manufacturing has been outsourced to other countries, where labour and other costs are cheaper. Then we import the goods and pretend that our emissions are falling. Were these imported carbon costs included in the UK’s accounts, alongside the aviation, shipping and tourism gases excluded from official figures, the UK’s emissions would rise by 48%. Rather than cutting our contribution to global warming by 19% since 1990, as the government boasts, we have increased it by around 29%. It’s the same story in most developed nations – our apparent success results entirely from failures elsewhere. Globalisation does it again and we’re left wondering what to do – again!