World leaders had ample opportunity to make serious commitments to tackle global warming at last week’s climate change summit in Bali, Indonesia. But they failed to take that chance.
They failed to set any targets on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. All they managed to agree was a timetable for further talks – a “roadmap” with no clear destination.
The US delegation was widely condemned for making repeated attempts to block progress at the summit.
It opposed setting targets for emissions cuts for richer nations and tried to shift the blame for climate change onto developing countries such as China.
Frustration with the US boiled over on the conference floor. “If you’re not willing to lead, get out of the way,” said one delegate from Papua New Guinea.
Yet much of the mainstream media praised the US for its last minute “turnaround” that allowed a compromise deal to be agreed.
That the US had merely acknowledged that emissions cuts were needed was hailed as some kind of “breakthrough”.
In fact the US succeeded in securing a watered down, weak and vague deal.
Crucially, their stalling tactics blocked a proposed target of up to 40 percent emissions reduction by 2020 for developed nations.
The US government will do nothing that harms the interests of big business and is thoroughly opposed to any serious moves to tackle climate change. But governments in Britain and the European Union are no better.
Britain was singled out for criticism by the United Nations (UN) for “failing to show enough ambition” in its attempts to combat climate change.
Gordon Brown’s climate bill proposes a 60 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2050.
But the UN says cuts of at least 80 percent are needed, and that Brown’s targets “are not consistent with the objective of avoiding dangerous climate change”.
Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions – yet Brown supports the expansion of airports, including Heathrow.
Scientists around the globe agree that a temperature rise of over 2 degrees Celsius will lead to a dangerous destabilisation of the planet’s climate.
It would mean billions of people facing water shortages, a threat to the world’s food supply and widespread extinction of plant and animal species.
Polls suggest that two thirds of people in Britain do not think that world leaders will solve climate change. The Bali talks show why they are right to be sceptical.
The key to stopping climate change lies with ordinary people around the world demanding the radical action that is needed to save the planet – and refusing to accept anything less.
It is not too late to halt this threat to our planet. But it requires a massive transformation in the way our society is organised – and a massive struggle on our part to make that transformation happen.