Sunday, December 6, 2009
Public demands action at Copenhagen conference
by Ben O’Halloran
CLIMATE change is no longer an issue for scientists.
Since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, climate change has become the issue of our times.
The ‘green movement’ has gained momentum and there is widespread concern for the health of our planet.
People from all walks of life are getting involved in the debate, the COP15 conference in Copenhagen representing a chance for the world’s leaders to tackle some of the key issues, such as sea level rise and rising global temperatures.
A lot is at stake, with more and more people aware of the consequences of not protecting the environment. People are recycling, becoming more energy efficient in their homes and at work and more is now being done to achieve a carbon neutral world.
People are also voting with their feet as tens of thousands yesterday rallied in the streets of London, Paris, Stockholm and Dublin to ensure delegates in Copenhagen moved towards finding an international solution to reducing industrial emissions before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam, which helped organise the protests, said the COP15 negotiators must return home with a fair and comprehensive climate deal.
Stop Climate Chaos director Ashok Sinha said negotiators had to make the summit count by “committing rich countries to reduce their emissions by at least 40 per cent in the next 10 years, finally putting the right sort of money on the table to help poor countries, and urgently starting the process of decarbonising our energy supply”.
Protesters in Copenhagen plan to voice their concerns later this week.
In the meantime, the climate debate runs hot, both at home and abroad, our own political parties locked in a fierce battle over the Australian Government’s defeated emissions trading scheme.
We have also seen scepticism raised by ‘climate deniers’ who question the legitimacy of decades of climate science.
Australia is in a unique and powerful position at the COP15 conference. With strong political ties globally and a number of world leaders voicing support for an Australian ETS before Copenhagen, eyes are on the world’s biggest per capita producer of polluting greenhouse gases.
The conference in Copenhagen will be the single biggest opportunity for Australia to show leadership on the world stage.
The conference is a chance for world leaders to discuss the fate of the planet, to take positive steps towards implementing polices to ensure coming generations live in a world that is viable and sustainable.
Our leaders and policy makers have a big responsibility at COP15, the decisions they make in Copenhagen will affect billions of people around the world.
It is important they get it right.
Climate change and global warming is an issue that must be solved by the global community and COP15 is the best chance for world leaders to come to some agreement, or at the very least clarify what needs to be done after they have gonehome.
Some commentators are already calling COP15 a failure due to the unlikelihood of a new treaty being signed. But binding agreements are not all we should hope for from the Copenhagen talks.
I believe pre-empting the conference as a failure is pessimistic and mischievous. I am excited to see what develops from Copenhagen.
I believe the environment will be THE issue of the coming decades. It’s overwhelming to see a large number of young people getting behind environmental issues, both in idea and action, as it will be up to today’s young people to carry the legacy of Kyoto and the ideas of COP15 in to the future.
I am in Copenhagen for the COP15 conference to see first hand what emerges from the talks. I will keep a close eye on Australia's involvement at COP15 - what issues are given importance, what commitments are made and how it is perceived by the media and the Australian public.
In 2010, I will take the outcomes of COP15 to Greece where I will be studying environmental journalism at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki as part of the Global Environmental Journalism Initiative in which Murdoch University is a member.
As a student of journalism and a product of Gen Y, I feel the need to be trained and educated in the scientific and environmental issues.
My contribution will serve an important function in society by covering the environment in a responsible and informative way, allowing people to form their own opinions on this controversial issue.