Do you know the feeling when you read minutes or an account of a meeting and wonder if the person who wrote it was actually at the same event as you? Subjective perceptions are often very different, and that is even more the case when it comes to international negotiations about climate change. I remember when the last head of the UNFCCC Yvo de Boer resigned in the wake of the Copenhagen climate talks fiasco, I wrote a commentary entitled “No job for an optimist”. Maybe I should have turned it around to “optimism essential” – or at least keeping a positive attitude and repeatedly sending out positive signals no matter how frustrating the process is.
DateMay 30, 2012 | 1:28 pm
Four weeks away from the Rio Summit, the impression I’ve been getting here at Green Week in Brussels has not been one of great optimism on the part of the EU experts involved in the preparations. The EU says it’s going for ambitious targets, but has no reason to assume that others are going to follow suit. EU Director General for environment Karl Falkenberg say’s next week’s meeting in New York for the last round of pre-Rio negotiations will be an “uphill challenge”. The Danish Environment Minister Ida Auken (Denmark currently has EU Presidency) wants to have a global goal on water. We need to take all 3 aspects of sustainability into account, says Auken. The social, environmental and economic impacts. Yes, yes, yes!. Let’s see what will actually come out of Rio.
DateMay 24, 2012 | 7:16 am
Earth – Closed for shortage of water?
I’m in Brussels at the moment for the EU’s annual environment policy conference, the Green Week. Every Drop Counts: Water is the focus this year, in keeping with 2012 as International Water Year and in the run-up to the earth summit in Rio in June. Once again the message is that water is involved in or affected by just about all our human activities. So protecting our water supplies has to be a part of policies on agriculture, energy or urbanisation. And it has to be tackled globally. And as consumers of products that have a huge water footprint, we consumers have a role to play. Everybody is calling for a networked approach, looking at the nexus of water, energy, food security. This is a recurrent theme at environment gatherings I’ve attended over the past year. Is this thinking finding its way into policy and practice, I wonder?
A growing population and rapid climate change are putting our water supplies under huge pressure. One speaker said that as early as 2030 the world’s demand for freshwater will exceed supply by around 40% and 50% of the world’s population will live in regions with water shortages. Shocking? More later between sessions.
And if you’re interested in the organisation whose water shortage poster at the stand is on the photo, you’ll find it at formatoverde Their business is education for sustainability. The link is to the English website.
DateMay 23, 2012 | 6:56 am
The talks going on in Bonn right now are an “intersessional climate session”, i.e. talks between the talks… aimed at making progress on the issues to be decided at the next round of climate changes talks “proper” which will be held in Doha in Qatar at the end of the year. I would not have the patience these negotiators need, with the talks crawling along at what would seem to your average person to be a snail’s pace, considering the speed with which climate change is actively affecting our planet. It’s not easy to get countries to commit to emissions reductions, rainforest protection, financing for developing countries etc. But while the different working groups meet, filling the conference rooms of a large Bonn hotel and the nearby German Federal Environment Ministry, different organisations take the chance to publicise their work and new practical initiatives to work against global warming, in the corridors and foyers and in numerous “side-events”, which for me as a journalist are one of the most interesting things to follow at these gatherings.
DateMay 21, 2012 | 10:13 am
Climate agreement… under construction
Building work is continuing, to convert a building to host the expanding UN climate secretariat (UNFCCC) close to our Deutsche Welle offices here in Bonn. It strikes me as symbolic of what’s happening a few blocks away at the latest round of international climate talks. There, construction work to create a new international climate agreement continues to make slow progress. The meeting, which will continue until the end of next week, is the first since the Durban Climate Change Conference at the end of last year. The head of the UNFCCC Christina Figueres stressed at the start that there is still a gap between the agreed goal of a maximum 2 degrees C. rise in temperature (which an increasing number of experts are saying is not enough anyway) and the current global efforts. It’s hard to be optimistic. The negotiators have their work cut out for them.
I’ll be going round to the talks shortly to catch up on what’s been happening. Your ice blogger was on holiday for a couple of weeks, so apologies for the lack of updates. More on what’s happening at the Bonn climate meeting soon. Meanwhile, you might like to listen to this week’s edition of Living Planet, where there is a report I produced about the urgent necessity for adaptation to climate change. There are also some related stories on the website:
DateMay 18, 2012 | 10:04 am