This is the first day of the Bali talks, where delegates from 180 countries will meet to pretty much discuss the future of humanity.
It's incredible to think that the lives of billions will depend on the foundations laid in Indonesia for consensus to be reached on a pact to follow the Kyoto protocol. I believe this is probably one of the most crucial moments in our History. If courage, compassion and discernment fail our leaders, then there will be difficult times ahead of us.
The agreements need to strongly bind countries to strict targets, equitable allocation of emissions and a realistic price for carbon. If any of these are watered down or left aside, we're in trouble.
But what if policies and governmental leadership are not enough to take us to a safe level of temperature rise? Can individuals step up and create the necessary change?
I would like to think we can, if only so that there's still the light of hope to guide us through.
If Climate Change has had one positive effect, it is that of exposing our interconnectedness. It has become apparent, more than ever, that whatever we do where we are almost immediately affects the lives of people on the other side of the planet. Our cravings for dirty energy, polluting meat and cheap goods cost the lives of many, the extinction of some and the absolution of none.
Connections that were never made before have become crystal clear. We now know that the palm oil in our food, soaps and fuel will cause the destruction of Southeast Asia's forests and the extinction of the Orang-utan. Most of us have learned that the Amazon is being chopped down so beef cattle can graze and soya can be produced. Then there are all the floods, typhoons and other weather catastrophes filling our papers with human tragedies at an increasing pace only compared to the increased pace of consumption of 4x4s, cheap flights and plasma TVs.
Now what if we can achieve both? Imagine those in power having the wisdom and the vision to create a strong legally-binding base upon which we can exercise all our human values like compassion and respect for life. Am I being too idealistic here? Perhaps.
Here's what I would love to see discussed and agreed on for a future pact:
- strong renewable energy targets;
- incentives for developing countries to stop rainforest destruction;
- equal allocation of emissions, so developed countries will have to use the money and technology they have, while poorer nations can continue to develop and improve life standards;
- a fair and strict carbon trading scheme and personal carbon quotas;
- a ban on new coal power stations that can't capture and store carbon;
- strategies for adaption and for supporting climate refugees.
So, while they talk, instead of waiting, let's act! About 45% of emissions in the UK come from individuals, rather than businesses. I'm sure we have all seen lots of lists of what we can do so I don't think it's necessary for me to mention them here. If you're still not sure what you can do or would like to calculate your carbon footprint:
This Saturday there will be Climate March in London. Make yourself heard!
And let's keep an eye on what goes on in Bali, as it's our future they're talking about.