“There are very few moments in history when nations are summoned to common decisions that will reshape the lives of every man, woman and child on the planet for generations to come. When leaders have to consider not just what will deliver fairness in their generation, but fairness between the generations too.”
These were the opening words of a speech given by our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown today on the UK government’s vision for Copenhagen.
You can read the full text here- http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page19813
It was a pretty important day and a pretty important speech in outlining where we, the UK, stand in the negotiations. Generally it was actually a positive step in pushing forward the debate both within the EU and beyond, and the fact that they are using language like the above means maybe some of our calls are not falling on deaf ears.
But what exactly did Gordon Brown say? Obviously you can wade through the speech but if you don’t have the time or the inclination here is a quick summary. (watch out this is where we get a bit technical and lost in numbers!)
I’ll start with the good news- Finance!
$100bn a year by 2020 for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.
YES HE DID- he mentioned an actual amount of money! AND the amount is definitely in the right three figure magnitude!
10% cap on contribution of Climate Change finance from Overseas Development Assistance, and support for finance over and above the existing 0.7% commitment.
So money we give will be on top of our standing commitments to overseas development assistance not just renamed money from the same pot! He also linked action on climate change with our ability to meet the millennium development goals.
Backing for the Norwegian proposal and the Mexican proposal.
Maybe our calls to the treasury got through! However there was too strong a reliance on the carbon market as a source of finance. Though positively he did also note the need for public finance, especially on adaptation.
Developing countries need a stronger voice in finance governance.
Of course they do, but it’s good someone is coming out and saying it!
And now for the not so good news- Emission reductions!
No improvement on the EU position of stabilisation at 450ppm
So even if we meet this we still only have a 50% chance of not going above 2 degrees. This came along with the global figure of 50% reductions by 2050, which is what would be needed to achieve this.
Developed countries should reduce by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050
All this talk of cuts is good and the numbers are definitely heading in the right direction, but if we’re only working on a 50% chance then the question remains, are they good enough? He did tell us that the UK has cut emissions by more than 21% from 1990 levels, the EU -10% on 1990, this is a passable start but we need to up the pace.
SO what does this all really mean?
Well it is good that a developed country nation is stepping up and trying to lead on international finance. Now the challenge is on for other countries to rise up, meet, and even beat the figures Brown outlined. It is also good to see some support for the Norwegian proposal, however there is still too much reliance on carbon markets. The fact he clarified that the finance would be separate to our 0.7% ODA commitments was useful.
On targets he committed us to only what is already on the table, no more. As I have said over and over again, stabilisation at 450ppm only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 2 degrees warming. Would you get on a plane if there was only a 50% chance that it would arrive at its destination without crashing! We need stabilisation at 350ppm to safeguard our future!
“Copenhagen is twenty-three weeks away. When historians look back on this critical moment, let them say, not that we were the generation that failed our children; but that we had the courage, and the will, to succeed.”
These were the closing words of his speech. It was a speech designed to lead, to be courageous, but we know that to safeguard our future we need something even more ambitious than this!
So now is the time to write to Gordon Brown. Tell him that you took notice of his speech today and commend him for the leadership he has shown on finance.
But then also remind him that giving us a 50% chance of a future is not good enough!
A 50% chance may very well still make him part of a generation who failed us!
A generation who failed their children.
So we need to also ask him to be even more courageous when it comes to emissions reductions and stabilisation levels.
There are a couple of ways we can do this
1) Write him a letter (on actual paper!!!) and send it to number 10.
2) Take a video and post it on the government youtube site
Do let me know if you do either firstname.lastname@example.org I will be drafting my letter now and will post it as a comment on this blog for you when I have.
Let’s show Gordon Brown that we are watching, that we are informed and that we care!
Let’s give him the political will to safeguard our future!