Just like global temperatures, the stakes at global climate change negotiations continue to rise. Ever since the global negotiators lost their way in Copenhagen in 2009, those who care about saving the planet have been trying to put them back on track.
While there is some evidence that the process is following the signposts of global warming and climate threats, it is also painfully obvious that progress has been pedestrian. Without wanting to strain a metaphor, the image I have is of the collective spurning an efficient, renewably powered, high speed rail journey to our preferred destination of planetary security, in favour of a rickety horse and cart bumpily herding truculent cows towards the new pastures they want and need, but can’t quite summon the energy and wit to actively seek out.
And so the journey reaches its 18th stop in Doha, still seemingly reading the stars for directions – and certainly a long way from drawing the roadmap needed to show the possible routes, and even further from having conceived of the GPS that might show the quickest and easiest path to protecting both people and the planet.
All this despite, or perhaps because of, many of those lining the route shouting “left” or “right” at every opportunity – the question to be asked both of negotiators and those lobbying them, is where do we want to go? In WWF’s opinion the destination must be a planet that is less than 2 degrees hotter than pre-industrial temperatures, and to get there COP18 must set clear rules of the road, including:
- Be true to science and agree global emissions to peak by 2015 to prevent runaway dangerous climate change
- Historical emitters must lead a seamless transition to a 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (KP)
- Protect vulnerable people and places by taking measures to deal with existing and future impacts of climate change
- Save our forests by taking urgent action to stop their destruction and degradation
- Developed countries should commit immediate funding to the Green Climate Fund from 2013
Taking the right path in each of these areas will lead us to a sustainable future where our needs are in line with the needs of the planet. The right destination is on the horizon, but there is still a real risk of being distracted by mirages along the way. These potentially lethal diversions may look like tempting by promises of quick fixes and easy wins – but which will in fact only waste time and leave the bitter taste of failure.
Our path is a long one, and it will not always be easy, but the safe endpoint is clear, and we must work together to get there as quickly as possible.
For more information from WWF on COP 18 please visit: wwf.panda.org/cop18