Even if the goals set in the negotiations are reached, it will probably not be enough. We need deeper change at both a local and a global level. While we may all live to regret our energy-hungry lifestyles, it is Generation C that will pay the heaviest price. The question is, how can we help them?
Many of us had hopes that the Global Climate Summit in Bali would be able to tackle the post-Kyoto landscape in a more concrete way. There were some good reasons to be optimistic: for instance, at the opening of the talks
While we may all live to regret our energy-hungry lifestyles, it is Generation C that will pay the heaviest price
Australia’s new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd finally ratified Kyoto, leaving the US as the only hold-out. And the EU and many others strongly supported an early draft which included near-term targets for reductions of 25–40% from developed countries.
The Bali talks quickly disintegrated when the US continued to drag its feet and rejected any quantitative targets, and even refused to accept a watered-down text. By the meeting’s close, Kofi Annan had flown in to try to save the day and the US finally capitulated in part and signed the Bali Action Plan. The world reached a consensus, with parties agreeing to “measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives, by all developed country parties, while ensuring the comparability of efforts among them, taking into account differences in their national circumstances”.
The next two years will show whether we can get beyond such vague language and concretely reduce our carbon footprint before it’s too late. (Encouragingly, Japan has recently announced targets for a 20% reduction by 2020.)
As mothers (or grandmothers or aunts or godmothers) of Generation C, we have our work cut out for us. We need to ensure that deep concerted action is taken now, not postponed to the ever-worsening future.
Most of us are already actively trying to reduce our own ecological footprint and to put pressure on our local municipalities and companies to improve their environmental performance. For instance, in 2001 UK mothers and toddlers marched in protest to Esso’s headquarters in a campaign against the company’s position on global warming. In the US, Mothers for Alaska, a group of mothers and grandmothers, have joined forces to fight climate change in Alaska. Around the globe, mothers are forming grassroots organisations to protest against ineffective policies and business-as-usual practices.
But we need to engage more at the global level. I believe that we have to band together and create visible and increased pressure on global climate talks, especially
Things to do Educate yourself: don’t rely on media reports. Go to the scientific sources and read at least the executive summaries. The IPCC website is a great source, as is Real Climate, a blog by climate scientists. The media frequently gives voice to so-called climate sceptics, who are often funded directly by oil-producing corporates. ExxonMobil reportedly gave US$23 million to sceptics from 1998 to 2006. Even the BBC documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle was based on faulty reporting. Household: find out what your carbon footprint is and work to reduce it. Encourage your neighbours to join you. Invest in clean energies. Employment: if your office isn’t already carbon neutral, join forces with like-minded colleagues to Green Your Office. Check out Friends of the Earth Scotland’s website for some help. www.green-office.org.uk Local: if you live in a large urban area, see how your city can contribute to the Large Cities Initiative. If you live in a smaller area, try to see how it can reduce its carbon footprint. Can it join the growing group of UK villages who have committed themselves to becoming climate neutral? National: demand that your nation commit to mandatory cuts in CO2 emissions. At the same time, resist efforts by politicians to avoid cuts by investing in nuclear energy. Continue to say no to nuclear power! Global: familiarise yourself with global developments including climate policy. Consider forming coalitions of Mothers Against Climate Change and link with your counterparts and mothers in other countries. Seriously consider attending future UN meetings like the upcoming one in Poland. Or, if you want to remain climate neutral, organise a local climate change information event, invite speakers during the Poznań conference and protest against your government’s inaction locally. That way, you don’t need to travel, which can be difficult with young people, who could more usefully be part of local action. Organise your own alternative climate summit and invite local politicians to that. Write about it, and prepare for the next talks in 2009.
over the next two years of the Bali Action Plan. We need to do so because climate is a global issue in addition to a local reality.
For instance, urban areas around the globe are responsible for over 75% of all greenhouse-gas emissions. So what we all do in our local urban ecology is fundamental to any effort to slow the pace of global warming. But what we accomplish in cities like London or New York or our own backyard will only count if New Delhi, São Paolo, Shanghai and Beijing also become carbon neutral. Former US President Clinton and London Mayor Ken Livingstone understood the need to link local and global activities when they announced a partnership between the Clinton Climate Initiative and the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group. More than forty international cities are now working together to significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
But we cannot rely upon the politicians or the business elite. We have to connect with mothers around the world who share our concern for Generation C. When the UN hosts the
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