Buses, Penguins and Climate legislation.
Posted by Molly Walsh on December 04, 2008 at 07:21 PM
Today for the first time I successfully caught the special shuttle bus that goes from near my hotel, direct to the entrance of the convention centre. Slightly frighteningly, it said on the bus that it was going to COP 34! Thinking it might be some kind of time travel bus, Jerrieann and I hoped on it and discussed if we thought there would be a COP 34. I said that if there are still enough resources and enough people left for it in 20 years time it will be a good sign. The magical shuttle bus meant that I was sitting down with my daily program 15 minutes before the 8.30am FOE meeting. At this meeting we go through the COP agenda for the day and make sure that we have someone in every session gathering information on all the areas we need to keep track of. The good early start to the day meant that the day continued very productively. I took part in a speed penguin action to get some pictures that FOE Austria wanted for their press. It was very fast because we didn't have permission for it from security. The question the penguins are asking is "will this COP set the scene to save them?"
I was at a side event at lunchtime run by the US-German Marshall program. It was about the US's cap and trade program. It is a very profit driven market based approach for bringing down emissions and I have some reservations about it. What was really interesting was the political analysis of the situation surrounding climate at the moment in the US. One of the speakers at the event was a guy called Jonathon Pershing from the World Resources Institute. He spoke about legislation that has come before congress, especially the proposal by Senators Boxer and Liebermann. It was his opinion that climate legislation will definitely go through in the next congress and quite possible in the next year. This heartened me greatly. It would be a great relief to know that a country with such a huge footprint had permanent legal structures to bring their emissions down.
Again today, when listening to the negotiations what struck me is the justice issue or rather the injustice issue. India spoke strongly today, about how their people are suffering as a result of climate change that they did not cause. Countries like India and Bangladesh are very vulnerable to flooding as a result of changed weather patterns and rising sea levels caused by climate change. This threatens the crops, livelihoods and even lives of its citizens. Chatting with another Irish delegate from Trocaire we talked about how the climate justice issue is really not on the agenda of our politicians in Ireland. Perhaps many of them don't think about this aspect of climate change very much. That is something I really want to change.
Brian Lenihan said on Wednesday that we are living beyond our means. It was noted by RTE how much this echoed the now famous speech by Charlie Haughey from the 1980s when he said "As a Community we are living way beyond our means".
This statement applies perfectly to climate change. As a community we are living way beyond our means. That community could refer to the Irish community, the European Community or the whole community of developed countries who emit more than our fair share. This means that we are living beyond the means of our planet's atmosphere to safely absorb this pollution.
I hope that Irish politicians realise what our unfairly high emissions are doing to the world's most vulnerable people and that justice is in their hands.