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Where the fuck do they think they’re going?

floods in pakistanThis world is on the brink, but its leaders have decided to call it a day. ‘Two weeks in Mexico was lovely and everything, but it’s time we went home to continue oppressing our citizens.’

A partial agreement to sort of hopefully reduce global carbon emissions by an unspecified amount within an uncertain period of time without any concrete method of doing so is a perfectly acceptable way to end the 16th annual UN climate change conference for the unfairly elected governments of this world.

The media reports, without prior warning, that the talks have made progress. As if running the first mile of a marathon in a mediocre time and then leaving to resume the race next year is a good running strategy.

In twelve months, it will probably be too late. Twelve months after Copenhagen is likely to be too late. In Cancun, we were already in overtime and 3-0 down when our players decided to quit and try again next year.

So, on the UNFCCC farce limps, as our planet warms and people die. Apparently, ten years’ worth of rain falling in Pakistan in a week is not an alarming enough event for the talks not to be put off until December 2011.

Where the fuck do they think they’re going? Where did the British minister of state for energy and climate change, Gregory Barker, think he was going? Leaving the talks early in order to vote to make education in England three times more expensive? What. The. Fuck.

Nevermind what that fact says in 2010 about our creaking, backward parliamentary system. In 2030, when the world’s ecosystems are collapsing around us, when Mr Barker’s Bexhill and Battle constituency is being consumed into the rapidly rising English Channel, and when students are mutilating Queen Camilla’s bloody torso, how wise will Mr Barker’s decision seem then?

Chris Huhne has nothing to be proud of, either. He left the talks only a day later. And what have they achieved? How close are we to reversing global carbon emissions, as our best estimates suggest we need to do within five years to avoid runaway climate change becoming more likely than not?

We are not close, not in the slightest. The leaders of 192 countries have agreed to reduce their carbon emissions by voluntary levels, with an aim of keeping global temperatures to within two degrees of their 1990 average.

What this means is that 192 different governments will be left to get on with doing something unspecified, in order to meet an objective for which there is no financial incentive, and for which there will be no known repercussions – other than climate change itself – if the objective is missed.

Meanwhile, the multinational conglomerates that are actively digging fossil fuels out of the ground right now, at a rate faster than any time in history, have been asked to do nothing.

How many times will these supposed environmental leaders have to meet before they realise that tackling global climate change at an individual, national level is a pathway to near certain death?

If there is one thing that a national government can be relied on to do on a regular basis – any government, anywhere in the world – it is to break its promises, to lie, to miss targets, to fail in what it is trying to achieve.

Imagine 192 individuals, with different cooking abilities, and each is asked to bake a cake. They are all directed to 192 different kitchens where the cupboards are filled with different ingredients. And they are given no recipes to follow. What chances they all bake the same cake? What chances they even succeed in making any kind of cake?

That is the COP16 agreement that has just been half-baked in Cancun.

What is needed is a single global economic mechanism that forces the fossil fuel industry to reduce its carbon extraction at source, to a level agreed by the scientific community, while simultaneously generating hundreds of billions of pounds that can be redirected to the parts of the world already struggling to cope with the effects of man-made climate change.

Such a mechanism has already been devised.

Agree that now, not in twelve months’ time, and we have a fair chance of avoiding that dreaded two degree rise, and of saving the millions of lives that even just a two degree rise would threaten, and of reducing inequality, reducing poverty, stabilising the economy, improving social justice and widening people’s freedom.

So why are they going home when the job has barely even started? Sixteen years these feckless politicians have been meeting, every December, and all they have to show for it is the blood on their hands.

Ironically for them, their catastrophic economic policies are doing more now than just wrecking the climate. A new age of protest is dawning.


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