Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The planet burns.

Every day we feel the effects of climate change—a crisis we did little to create. Today, the people of the world are saying ‘enough is enough’.

COP21 climate conference has been billed, like the last several, as the most important climate meeting ever. The goal, like that of past COPs, is to have governments commit to taking steps to cut carbon dioxide emissions in order to limit planetary warming to within 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial temperature baseline. Yet this agreed-upon limit is not based on science. Climate scientist James Hansen and other scientists have already shown that a planetary temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial baseline temperatures is enough to cause runaway climate feedback loops, extreme weather events and a disastrous sea level rise.

The UN announced that the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere has locked in another 2.7 degrees Celsius warming at a minimum, even if countries move forward with the pledges they make to cut emissions. Hence, even the 2 degree Celsius goal is already unattainable.

“Our results show that no safe limit exists and that many abrupt shifts already occur for global warming levels much lower than 2 degrees," said lead author Professor Sybren Drijfhout from Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton.

"Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives lost," said Margareta Wahlström, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), in a press release on Monday.

The report and analysis compiled by UNISDR and the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)—entitled The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters (pdf)—demonstrates that since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance, as a result of weather-related disasters including floods, storms, heatwaves, and droughts. And the numbers have been climbing along with global temperatures, as weather-related disasters occurred almost daily over the last decade. In total, an average of 335 such disasters were recorded per year between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14 percent from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-1995.

Though the report does not calculate what percentage of this rise is due to climate change, it does predict that "we will witness a continued upward trend in weather-related disasters in the decades ahead." Several recent studies have linked extreme weather with human-caused climate change. The contents of this report underline why it is so important that a new climate change agreement emerges from the COP21 in Paris, but since it was co-opted by climate denying, fossil-fuel loving corporations, it is reasonable to assume that no such thing will occur. How long are we willing to play this game? What will it take to push these corporate criminals not just out of COP21 but out of our lives. From financial giant BNP Paribas to fossil fuels company Engie, the same corporations that deny science and drive carbon pollution are now sponsoring, co-opting, and interfering with the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Paris according to ‘Fueling the Fire: The corporate sponsors bankrolling COP21’,  published by Corporate Accountability International. While it was no secret that the long list of corporate sponsors behind the talks raises numerous conflict-of-interest concerns, the report digs up new dirt on the dealings of four major backers: fossil fuel corporations Engie and Suez Environment, global banking giant BNP Paribas, and French utility Électricité de France (EDF).
"Together, these four corporate sponsors represent direct ownership of and/or investments in: more than 46 coal-fired power plants; exploration of oil sands in Canada, hydraulic fracturing in the UK, and the Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India; more than €30 billion invested in the French coal industry; and more than 200 megatons of CO2 equivalent emissions," a report summary states. What's more, the investigation finds, these companies have a history of "political interference in policy-making through a range of underhanded tactics; their vested interests in emissions-intensive industrial practices; their global integration with other corporations and industrial sectors that profit from climate-damaging investments; and their slick efforts to green-wash their profit motives and climate crimes through new public-relations practices of 'corporate social and environmental responsibility.'" For example, EDF, as part of BusinessEurope, works alongside oil giants like Shell to actively oppose policies that favor renewable energy. And Engie, which already owns 30 high-polluting coal power plants across the globe, is planning to sell some of its facilities rather than shut them down. Yet, despite their poor track records, these and other corporations have been invited to participate in the process as stakeholders and given access to multiple levels of decision making. "Inviting some of the world's biggest polluters to pay for the COP is akin to hiring a fox to guard a hen house," said Patti Lynn, executive director of Corporate Accountability International,

Despite the now common warning of "no safe limit" of the ever-increasing global temperature, the COP21 will be held with all of the attendant fanfare, media coverage and protests. Global leaders will appear as though they are doing something to address the single greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced, despite the most respected, prestigious scientific bodies in the world producing one report after another that shows us we are running out of time. COP21 is truly a sham. Whatever climate policy they do manage to pull together will be derailed.

Governments and corporations and agencies promising modest "changes" and "goals" 10, 20, 50 years from now....and we are accepting it. The ship is sinking fast and the captain is promising to start bailing out water with small cups at some unspecified time in the future. Procrastination and lies work so well. The French government’s decision to ban protests and marches during the Paris climate summit is disturbing yet forthcoming football matches would go on as scheduled with the French secretary of state for sport saying “Life must go on” which is exactly the motive of the environmentalist protest!

The people of the world must organise ourselves to take action and that action has to be the creation of a society where it is not corporation bank balances that count but peoples’ needs come first. If humanity is to survive the climate change that we have created, we must start caring about everyone! The blindly pro-business attitude of the supposed ‘solutions’ seeing all environmental policies as "a burden" that needs to be "minimised" spells doom. Doom for the planet. Doom for the life-sustaining eco-systems we all depend on. Doom for the people of the Earth. Doom for a possible future human society that could truly benefit all. Corrupted government and politicians no longer extol only profit for the few as virtue and wealth is worshipped as Mammon.

There's work to do – let’s establish socialism before it is too late

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