Blog No. 68.
Now that we have achieved year end, let me thank you for having put up with my (what my wife calls, horribly convoluted writing style) and pass seasonal greetings to all.
We are closing the year with what could be seen as a wonderful Christmas present from all the statesmen, politicians and diplomats, who attended the climate change conference in Paris. As New Zealand Green Party’s, Kennedy Graham rightly commented, after the fiasco that was Copenhagen, Paris had to come to a consensual utterance, otherwise there would have been egg smeared over every government’s face. A diplomatic victory was bound to be declared – and so it duly was.
It was however no political victory for humanity, but only for the multiple national politicians, who managed to escape from the conference with no binding obligations placed upon them and no significant constraints on their ability to continue indulging their corporate masters. Click:Foreign Policy newsletter
It could just be, as quoted in the article, that John Kerry will be proved right “It won’t be governments that actually make the decision […] It will be the genius of the American spirit. It will be business unleashed.” His hopes of a technological relief may well be realised. Certainly, this will be where Bill Gates’ billionaires’ club will be placing its philanthropic bets. Click: High-tech cavalry Indeed, recent American investment newsletters have been proclaiming a technological breakthrough that will cause the cost of solar panels to drop and their efficiency to increase to a point where fossil fuels can no longer compete on price. Others proclaim that within ten years the cost of electric cars will have reduced to 50% below well below that of their petrol equivalent and that by 2030 the majority of vehicles on the roads will sun off electricity. (Needless to say, the New Zealand government is preparing to usher in this dramatic change by doing nothing.)
However, place not your faith in such silver bullets. Were fossil fuel extraction and combustion to cease completely, a little time might be bought. However, all the other climate changing activities of seven billion humans would still continue. The climate would continue to deteriorate, albeit at a reduced pace. Greenhouse gases would continue to be emitted on a vast scale.
Dramatic reductions in individual consumption patterns will be called for. Only the nurturing of the rain-forest and the natural environment in general will enable a claw-back of the climate-disrupting gases already lost to the atmosphere. This effort will cause massive social and economic disruption. Nature’s wounds will take decades to heal.
A piece of good news is that, at long last, Paris may have decisively demonstrated the untenability of the climate change deniers’ arguments and banished their hugely disruptive and damaging movement to the dustbin of history. Far more importantly, the great achievement of Paris has been to force the world’s political leadership to admit to their responsibility for slowing, stopping and reversing rapid climate change.
In front of the global community, they have talked the talk. Now that they have put their names on the dotted line, it will be up to the rest of society to ensure that they walk the walk. (Probably best done, by holding parts of their anatomy, other than their feet, to the fire!)
John Key’s proud boast that what he gave away at Paris would cost the average New Zealand family no more than $100 a year, should gain him no political kudos whatsoever. National and global economies and societies can no longer afford to continue on their way unchanged. Nor will they be able to. How rapidly the necessary changes can be put in place, will depend entirely on the volume and pitch of civic agitation. How smooth or disruptive, effective or in vain, those changes prove to be, will depend on our politicians’ ability to think ahead and achieve a sufficient consensus.
Over Christmas, I will be taking a couple of weeks off – as I am sure, most of you will be. Other than a few brief referral notes, my blogs should recommence sometime towards the end of January – probably a long one on the dismantling of Syria, or maybe I will want to write about dramatic happenings in the electric car industry.