The outcome of last week’s climate conference in the luxury resort of Cancun, Mexico, shows the utter contempt the world’s richest governments have for the planet.
Cancun wasn’t expected to produce much. The international process was hamstrung at last year’s event in Copenhagen, where US president Obama railroaded through an accord that offered no real emissions cuts.
The agreement reached at Cancun contains no enforceable reductions, and merely reiterates the voluntary targets agreed last year. Nor does it extend the very limited aims of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Indeed, some key questions—including whether a future agreement will be legally binding or not—have been further delayed.
Nevertheless, David Cameron hailed the event a “success”—despite turning down an invitation to attend.
The agreement does mean that the signatories recognise, at least on paper, the need to do more to cut emissions. Yet these “proposed reductions” don’t come close to what is needed to avoid the 2 degree temperature rise that many scientists think is coming and could trigger runaway climate change.
Plans to halt deforestation, something central to the battle against climate change, have been agreed. Yet this is based on the “monetisation” of rainforests—probably producing credits for an emissions trading scheme.
Such free market solutions have a long record of failure.
Despite the obvious failings, delegates reportedly broke into cheering when the agreement was signed.
So why was there so much relief? It can only be because, in the words of an Oxfam representative, “The talks are off the life-support machine.”
The only nation to speak out against this rotten compromise was Bolivia, a country that has been trying to create a mass movement around climate change.
The tragedy of Cancun demonstrates the need to extend our opposition.
If we are to avoid climate disaster we need to make sure that the growing battles against austerity include the planet as something that must be saved.
Martin Empson is the treasurer of the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group. He writes in a personal capacity