November 21, 2013 – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advises the United Nations about our warming atmosphere and its causes and consequences. Its latest interim report states unequivocally and with 95% certainty that we humans are the cause of recent observed climate change. This certainty is equivalent to that which scientists and researchers associate the causal link between smoking and lung cancer. So we ignore this report at our own peril.
In the past few days our political leaders have been meeting in Warsaw to try and formulate a common set of policies for dealing with greenhouse gases with controlling CO2 the major task. That won’t be easy because we have built our energy infrastructure on a bed of carbon for the last two centuries using coal, oil, and gas for heating, cooling, transportation and industrial manufacturing.
Our leaders have met before on this issue. In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was signed by most of the Developed World countries. It established greenhouse gas limits for these countries. These targets have proven illusory. My country, Canada, has withdrawn its commitment to Kyoto and will fall far short of meeting any of its carbon reduction targets by 2020. This type of result is shameful and irresponsible. It cannot continue if all of humanity is to successfully address rising CO2 levels. So what needs to happen at Warsaw by this Friday, November 22, 2013. Here are five outcomes that would put us on the right track:
- We need our leaders to agree on a climate change action plan in which all countries, Developed and Developing participate.
- We need to address the energy needs of Developing countries so that they can enjoy the fruits of industrialization without the damage caused by carbon. To this purpose the Developed World needs to commit to invest in research and development to produce green, sustainable energy for use in the Developing World.
- We need a global crisis action plan to address ongoing climate change as it impacts coastal regions, food production, freshwater sources and quality of life for those on the planet who are most vulnerable.
- We need all leaders to come away from Warsaw with education strategies for citizens so that they understand why our current way of doing things has to change.
- We need industry, the scientific community and government committed to working together to implement a greenhouse gas reduction plan including industry sector monitoring and targets, carbon taxes, a cap and trade mechanism and other carbon-reducing inducements.