Warsaw climate summit signals much work to be done before 2015

“Walmart is failing on climate…. The company’s carbon pollution is up 14 percent while it pours millions of dollars into a misleading PR campaign around sustainability and anti-environmental public officials who obstruct solutions to climate disruption.” Sierra Club

In November the UN Climate Conference summit met in Warsaw to continue on going negotiations and see if the world’s nations can limit carbon emissions that are fueling a 2 degree Celsius increase above our pre-industrial temperature. Christiana Figueres, the UN chair of the conference, appealed to coal companies to keep most of the Earth’s coal in the ground and work towards a new vision of renewable sources of energy. Twenty-seven international scientists present at the summit confirmed her concerns by saying that at least 75 percent of coal deposits must be kept in the ground if we are not to exceed our “carbon budget”. (To Ontario’s credit, it is now shutting down its last coal-fired power station.)

The failure of the world’s richest countries to live up to their climate pledges in the wake of the disaster in the Philippines has only created a wider divide between rich and poor. Meanwhile, the decision by 800 people representing trade unions, environmental groups, young people and social organizations to walk out of the Warsaw Conference left the UN meeting at a new low. The summit’s final communiqué speaks of success that will lead us to a fruitful agreement in Paris in 2015 – but where is the map to get us there?

Canada has the dubious distinction of receiving the only “Lifetime Unachievement Award” for its continuing role in blocking and stalling progress at the talks. Canada has become the mouthpiece of many large companies. Following new research in the journal Climatic Change The Guardian newspaper said: “The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age”.

In the Blue Mountains and Collingwood, what progress has been made in confronting the climate crisis? Although local governments speak about their interest in mending their prodigal ways, little has been accomplished. It is up to young people to make the changes that older people have not been able to achieve in order to beat back devastating climate instability.

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