Wednesday, 23rd August 2017

Mitigate or flee?

Posted on 09. Jul, 2011 by Florent Baarsch in Mitigation, UNFCCC, displacement

How many centimeters of sea-level rise can Tuvalu take?

In the last night of Cancun, the parties to the UNFCCC decided to set up a couple of workshops in order to better appreciate the implementation of the Convention. One of them, under the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) track is focused on mitigation targets of the developed countries.

As defined in 1992, the objective of the UNFCCC is to find an agreement that could limit the dangerous impacts of climate change on Humankind. Limiting this risk consequently implies to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases responsible of this change. In the UNFCCC process, it is called “mitigation”.

Therefore, the workshop held this morning was focused on the mitigation efforts of the developed countries. Considering that I could not attend all the session, I only followed four presentations: Canada, the European Union (EU), Switzerland and the Alliance of the Small Island States (AOSIS).

Canada first explained that they are totally committed to limit the dangerous impacts of climate change, notably by investing 6 billions of dollars at the federal level in Carbon Capture and Storage and biofuels; two technologies that have not proved their environmental efficiency yet. And Canada recalled the delegates their commitment 17% by 2020, (but with 2005 as a reference year) less than their Kyoto commitment of 1997… In terms of efforts, they can – for sure – make it much better!
After, it was the European Union. They unfortunately look like the best scholars in a class of dunces. They could be better, more ambitious (notably by committing to 30% by 2020 instead of 20%) but at the moment, they are the leaders of these negotiations.
Then Switzerland talked. They have the same mitigation objective as the EU, -20% by 2020. In the talks, their position usually follows the European Union one. But instead of making the efforts at the national level by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels (for heating, transportation, industry and others) they have decided to off-set 80% of this reduction. In other words, their efforts will be extremely low and weak compared to what they could have done if they had decided to reduce their emissions only domestically. For a country that pretends being a leader, it is disappointing.

The last presenter was the Federated States of Micronesia on behalf of the Alliance Of the Small Island States. She presented many slides, but her first slide kept my attention. The presenter showed that during the last twenty years, the global emissions have steadily risen as the same rhythm as the sea level.

When we know that several island States of the Pacific, populations of deltas or coastal zones live in extremely low-lying areas, we are allowed to wonder if some developed countries, by their lack of seriousness and political will, are not playing with the number of persons who will have to flee in the next decades.

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