Today is publication day for the new edition of The State of the World Atlas. It presents information about the world – economics, politics, conflict, health, environment and demography – in a variety of forms, primarily in maps and other visuals, also in text. If you will excuse me, I want to introduce it to you. Continue reading
It is sometimes difficult to give a vivid and convincing sense of the link between climate and the problems of insecurity. The linkage is indirect and can seem intangible. And there is a lack of hard evidence with which to demonstrate it because the problems are only now beginning. But then sometimes the link is brought out into the open in the most vivid and cogent form. Continue reading
This is a critical time on climate. Scientific conclusions that had seemed largely settled and backed by professional consensus are today challenged with increasing confidence. Three months after Copenhagen, the policy pathway is still hard to discern. Opinion polls show growing numbers of people think the globe is not warming, or not because of human action, or, variously, that not much can, need or should be done about it. Last week a House of Commons committee queried the state of climate science in the wake of the publication of emails to and from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit; this week a new UN review has been launched to assess the work of the Inter-govermental Panel on Climate Change.
Copenhagen is a city where people like to party. Coming into December, the city was all dressed up for a climate party with posters of green exhortation everywhere and different official and unofficial events laid on. But in the end as everybody knows, the climate conference was no party. Yet there is this terrible sense of hangover around. Political leaders, delegates, activists and journalists have reeled away from the site and the recriminations have started about who just behaved badly and who actually threw up.
Around the city there were also some particularly crude advertisements using sex to sell booze with the slogan, “Party now, Apologize later.” But that’s another way the conference was not like a party. No-one has apologised. Even though the city encouraged them. One set of posters that went up well before the conference showed world leaders in 2020 apologizing for having failed in Copenhagen in 2009: ageing Obamas, Merkels, Browns et al look down and acknowledge their fault. But there have been no apologies. Instead they have passed the blame.
Let’s try something different. Instead of blame and apology let’s take some time to discuss results, reasons and response. It’s a lengthy discussion that must start now because it’s already time to shake off that hangover. Continue reading
As thousands of negotiators, activists, diplomats, scientists, politicians and journalists start pouring into Copenhagen for the climate summit – formally said, the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – the question has been raised whether we should want them to succeed or fail. Which, of course, begs the next question: what is success at Copenhagen?
So is Copenhagen not the time to seal a new climate deal after all? Is it time for a re-think? My own view is that it’s best never to stop thinking, then you don’t have to make the effort to start up again. Continue reading
September’s UN Climate change summit convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appears not to have succeeded. It was a good try and could have worked if national leaders had stepped up to accept the challenge. But most of them haven’t. The regular conferencing to prepare the Copenhagen summit in December has resumed in Bangkok and the acrimony is at an unprecedented level. Continue reading
What just happened? – it might be a good question to ask about the UN climate summit convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last Tuesday. “Not a lot” is the most likely answer. Continue reading
To assist poor countries facing the double and connected problems of climate change and violent conflict, adaptation to climate change has to be combined with peacebuilding. For this to be possible, organisations – governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental alike – that work on development, the environment and peace issues have to move out of their boxes and make more than one leap of imagination and policy so the links are visible between both problems and solutions. It is not inevitable that the Obama administration will succeed in this. Help is needed! Continue reading