Poznan Climate Change Summit
31 Dec 2008
After spending two weeks in Poznan, our special correspondent, David Woollcombe, reports back on some of the more positive aspects of the climate change summit.
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There were many positives about the Poznan meeting: it was held in a former Soviet era barracks converted into a massive conference area, stimulated by a variety of events, presentations and exhibits. There was a massive hangar devoted to 118 industry exhibits of post-carbon technologies ñ everything from windmills to a disco where dancers pounding the floor generate electricity! There were also over 300 workshops and presentations about climate change by many of the finest world experts on these issues! In fact, I learnt more about these issues in 2 weeks than any student could from several, expensive 3-year university courses.
The education community was conspicuous by its absence from Poznan. Of the 300+ side events and seminars, not one dealt with education about climate change. The 2-degree threshold remains the strongest campaigning point of most of the UK’s campaigning groups. And yet, as one who visits schools regularly, I have yet to find a student who can explain to me the 2-degree threshold. When will policy makers realize the importance of education and that it is the town hall meetings, and movements like Transition Towns that will awaken the hunger and the appetite for genuine convergence on a climate change agreement in Copenhagen next year?
What, in light of Poznan, should the public expect from Copenhagen? Of all the speakers, Al Gore put it best. In his special address to the summit, he said: “Where Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!” — I say, ‘increased CO2 emissions anywhere are a threat to this planet’s climate balance and integrity everywhere.’ The old divide between North and South is obsolete. We must, together, embrace today what few generations have ever had the privilege of embracing ñ a generational mission. A compelling moral purpose, because ultimately this is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, and a spiritual issue. A question of right versus. wrong. It is clearly wrong for this generation to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every future generation. Our children have a right to hold us to a higher goal. They deserve better than politicians who sit on their hands in the face of the biggest challenge that humanity has ever faced.’
Echoing the calls we heard at the Schumacher Lectures this year, Al Gore told the delegates: “The truth is ñ the goals we are reaching towards are incredibly difficult: and a goal of 450ppm, which seems so difficult today, is inadequate. We will soon have to toughen that goal to 350ppmÖ” At this point he was applauded with a standing ovation! “We have to make the link between stating the goal ñ and reaching the goal. Once we start going for those right, tough goals, we will find it gets easier. The process will strengthen our economies, it will create millions of new jobs and it will increase the standard of living. To those who are fearful that it is too difficult to reach a decision in Copenhagen a year from now, I say: “It can be done. It must be done.” To view the whole speech, click here.
2009 has to be a year of mobilization the like of which has never been seen on the planet. Few observing the bleary-eyed bureaucrats walking the halls in Poznan and listening to their hedged-about statements, would disagree with one young commentator: “If the fate of the planet is in the hands of these guys, we may as well not get up in the morning.” But ñ of course ñ our fate is not in the hands of those guys. It is in our hands! The Youth Delegation in Poznan led the way: in between their jokey and irreverent Fossil of The Day Award and ‘Yvo da Bear’ video. They got 80 governments to sign up to a defining resolution: “The survival of all countries and all people must be assured!”
Photo courtesy of the UNFCCC
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