No more business as usual when it comes to climate change
While little good news came out of a dramatic three-day scientific meeting on global warming held this week in Copenhagen, next week’s four-day European Wind Energy Conference (EWEC 2009) in Marseille should prove to be decidedly more upbeat in tempo, tenor and timing.
Both the Copenhagen climate congress and EWEC 2009 share a desire to mitigate the most vexing problem facing humankind today – runaway man-made greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) dangerously heating up our atmosphere.
Yet the estimated 2,500 delegates attending the conference in Denmark believed so strongly that politicians still aren’t taking climate change seriously enough that they prepared a six-point summary that sternly rebukes ineffective policy makers concerned with maintaining the status quo.
Four of their key messages include a warning that GHGs are already altering the climate in a negative manner, and faster than we previously thought possible. Temperature increases of more than 2 degrees Celsius will make it extremely difficult for poor countries to cope, the summary noted, adding quick and effective mitigation is required to avoid “dangerous climate change.” The scientists said a “well-funded adaptation safety net” is needed for vulnerable nations and regions.
Their last two points are extraordinary considering that scientists don’t usually criticise politicians.
“There is no excuse for inaction,” the summary says. “We already have many tools and approaches – economic, technological, behavioural, management – to effectively deal with the climate change challenge. But they must be vigorously and widely implemented to achieve the societal transformation required to decarbonise economies.”
Continuing in the same vein, the last point said that meeting this daunting challenge will require critical opportunities to be seized and constraints to be overcome.
“These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; removing implicit and explicit subsidies; reducing the influence of vested interests that increase emissions and reduce resilience.”
The European Wind Energy Association applauds the scientists’ courage in putting pressure on policy makers, many of whom seem more interested in dealing with the short-term goal of economic wellbeing rather than the long-term vision of a sustainable world free of CO₂ from burning fossil fuels.
While the conference in France will celebrate the wind power sector riding high after last year’s new Renewable Energy Directive paved the way for a large increase in green electricity, the estimated 6,000 EWEC delegates will no doubt also reflect upon the latest scientific warnings.
For everybody’s sake, let’s hope the politicians do too.