Monday, 7 December 2009

Climate in the spotlight

COP15 begins in Copenhagen today - so called as the fifteenth conference to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In the UK the beginning of the conference - which should turn the spotlight firmly to Climate Change - has been shadowed by an e-mail scandal... the focus of which (according to delighted climate sceptics) seems to be that some 'leaked' emails appear to suggest that the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia manipulated data; suggestions which they strenuously deny. The press and portions of society globally take any chance they come across to try and deny the actuality of Climate Change. This is despite the fact that reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that it is 90% probable that the activities of mankind are largely responsible for Climate Change.

Put this in perspective: 90% - that is around a 1 in 10 chance, it is better than your chances of winning a tenner on the Lotto (around 1 in 57).

So enough wondering if... time to focus on what to do now. That is what the conference in Copenhagen is all about. Twelve years ago a deal was forged in Kyoto - the now famous Kyoto Protocol. The problems with Kyoto are several - firstly the commitments signed up to did not come into force until 2005 (only five years ago); secondly many of the nations signing up to Kyoto did so as 'developing nations' and thus have no legal obligations; and thirdly (and most importantly) the Kyoto Protocol only sets out obligations until 2012 - which is only a couple of years away.

So the time for action is now - in June G8 Countries agreed that global temperature rises should be limited to 2 degrees centigrade since pre-industrial times. Many analyses predict that a 1.5 degree rise is already guaranteed (current levels are just under 1%). Drastic action is need and drastic action is need now. Carbon dioxide remain in the atmosphere for decades; so we cannot undo the damage that has already been done; but we can try our hardest not to do any more.

My eyes will be firmly on Copenhagen for the next couple of weeks - if you want to keep up with what is going on I strongly recommend the BBC's micro-site.

Other interesting sites are: