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December , 2007


What hope for 2012 and beyond?

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  We always argued that the Kyoto agreement was not going to achieve its ideal objectives of producing significant cuts in greenhouse gases globally. It hasn't, but during these last few years the sane recognition by a large part of the world that something has to be done is welcome and no doubt the creation of the Kyoto Protocol was probably partly instrumental in this move. So what follows next? Well the recent UN climate change conference in Bali involving about 190 nations was designed to prepare for the follow-on strategy after 2012. Was it successful?
    Generally speaking, by most accounts, it was a terrible failure and this disastrous outcome was attributed to the USA stance, but we would like to be more optimistic. As we implied above, the Kyoto agreement indirectly achieved more than we expected and the Bali conference points towards potential progress in future. However, let's keep a proper perspective. It's already too late to avoid many major catastrophes and things are now predetermined to become much, much worse but we need to take action to exert some control over an even further worsening of the situation.
    The USA is universally criticised for its obdurate stance, but the truth is that it is a fine nation with a strong proportion of clever, logical and humanitarian folk. Where there is freedom for honest expression there is a significant evidence that these members of the population are making efforts to address the climate problem with good effect. Nor is it sufficient to blame the greedy, simpleton they adopted as 'leader'; he is not totally responsible for his shameful performance but is a cipher and there are others around him who are more culpable; then there is the considerable mass of the voters who shouldered him towards a winning position who, it seems, put greater trust in the paranormal than objective science.
    During the coming year, GW will fade away to be replaced by someone quite different but that does not necessarily mean that all will be hunky-dory. Politicians are by their very nature subject to pressures from their electorate and that may mean that the best of intentions can be quashed. The new Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, seems to have already relaxed his climate change aspirations since his election on the 3rd of this month, after checking the country's cash flow. No US president can flourish without support from Congress and he must to some extent be guided by their collective wishes. Fortunately the trend seems to be towards the 'good guys' so things should improve. Closer to home (in the UK) we have been disappointed by the antics of our man Hilary Benn. We had thought of him as a special politician (ie honest) who believed in telling it as it is but no he went over the top in celebrating the outcome. While it is understandable that he should laud everything that was gained at the conference he should also have called a spade a spade and noted the severe limitations.
    In summary what were the positive outcomes of the meeting? Everyone agreed that substantial cuts be made in emissions, poor countries would be assisted financially to cope, forest preservation would be subsidised and new technologies will be passed to less developed nations.
In summary what were the negative outcomes? Quite simply none of these aspirations were specified with guaranteed, numerical targets such as when and how much.
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Originated: 18 December , 2007,  Last amended: 7 May, 2013