With an issue as serious as the survival of entire nations, you would think all governments would be able to negotiate the matter seriously and in good faith. However, as last night’s teeth-rattling exercise in negotiations dentistry showed, even agreeing a technical report about potential 1.5° C scenarios is not immune.
During the SBSTA evening session, Saudi Arabia managed to plow through every possible diversion, suggesting for instance that vulnerable countries just use Google if they want more knowledge about the scientific findings relating to their survival, or that it is beyond the capacity of the Secretariat to produce a summary of recent scientific studies. Finally they hit on procedural issues as a last resort. Keep in mind that early in the week Saudi Arabia agreed to having the report, as long as references to spillover effects were included (as is now in the proposed scope). Instead of the random chaos of Copenhagen, things are reverting back to previous form, and this makes a nonsense of important matters.
Deep feeling was expressed about potential impacts on developing countries that export rice, cocoa, tomatoes, coal, oil, manufactured goods, etc. Instead, many of those countries wish there was room for serious concern about the climate impacts to which they are most vulnerable and the increasing speed at which they are experiencing them. Recent science has sounded the alarm: the 2° path might not be enough to guarantee the survival of small island states and dynamic coastlines.
Google is all well and good, but every policy maker ought to know that ‘search’ is one thing and ‘assessment’ quite another.
A group of workers were building a railway between two towns. Let’s say one town was called Copenhagen and the next was called Ourcommonfuture. The railway workers had assembled sleepers (crossties) and rails and knew the distance between the towns.
After a while, some of the railway workers looked at the pile of construction materials. Some of them realised there weren’t enough materials, and those who most needed to arrive at platform 1.5 in the next town asked for a review of the problem. If you were working on the new track would you agree to the review?
The railway bosses at Copenhagen secured broad agreement that we must limit warming to below 2 degrees, with a review of implementation and levels of ambition (considering 1.5) by 2015. So ECO’s question for delegates is this: If your political leaders are serious about the Copenhagen goal and the review, then a workshop under SBSTA is a good way to focus on the technical and scientific challenges of reaching the goal, the size of the gap between current abatement efforts and the goal, and the opportunities to make up that shortfall. These are essential elements to making sure we can reach our common future.
If there’s a gap in abatement effort, we need to understand it and find ways to resolve it. The world needs to look at sources like bunkers and industrial gases, consider the role of finance, and seek other ways to reduce the gap between what is happening and what needs to happen. ECO looks forward to a 1.5 review coming out of SBSTA today. That will give us greater hope that we may reach the final destination.