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Comment - Energy and Climate Change

The end of optimism by David Flint

The end of 2012 marks the point at which sensible commentators on climate change began to say openly that we WILL experience catastrophic climate change.

For 20 years we Greens have read the signs. We have cried the warnings. We have promoted cycling and recycling. We have made plans for zero carbon power systems and argued for climate justice. We have canvassed and campaigned.

We have hoped - against our own growing fears - that the world's leaders would recognize the urgency of the problem and take effective action.

And we have failed.

A recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers calculates that we will only keep the rise in global temperature below two degrees if we reduce carbon intensity (ie CO2 emissions per £1 million of GNP) by 5.1% pa for forty years. In the last decade the rate of reduction has averaged 0.8% and we have never come close to 5%. My own 2010 analysis of the politics showed that an effective successor to Kyoto could not come into effect until 2021 - about 6 years after the likely tipping point. The PwC report implies that we are on course for six degrees of warming - a change that would make much of the tropics uninhabitable, slash world food production and create many billions of refugees.

As Greens we claim to respect the science. This now tells us that we must either adopt RADICALLY new climate policies, geo-engineering for instance, or seek only to slow the climate transformation that is now inevitable.

First published in the EGP members newsletter, February 2013

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ