Following are developments from today’s events at the COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen:
- Speaking at the summit today, Prince Charles noted the gathering is taking place at an “historic moment,” and concluded, “Just as mankind had the power to push the world to the brink so, too, do we have the power to bring it back into balance. You have been called to positions of responsibility at this critical time. The eyes of the world are upon you and it is no understatement to say that, with your signatures, you can write our future … One final thought … As our planet’s life-support system begins to fail and our very survival as a species is brought into question, remember that our children and grandchildren will ask not what our generation said, but what it did. Let us give an answer, then, of which we can be proud.”
- Delegates today indicated they had made progress on efforts to protect forests and reduce deforestation; however, activists are criticising the draft for not including legally binding measures to also protect indigenous people who live in tropical forest regions.
- Climate blog “It’s Getting Hot in Here” is reporting on alleged backroom dealing involving France, the US and Ethiopia aimed at limited global temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees C — a level projected to lead to 3 to 4 degrees C warming in Africa.
- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke in Copenhagen today and said that entrepreneurs, scientists and “ordinary folks” — rather than governments — will lead the way in addressing climate change.
- South Korea is the first developing nation to pledge to make an absolute, rather than relative, cut in its carbon dioxide emissions; it’s proposing to reduce emissions by 4 per cent by 2020, relative to 2005 levels.
- Commenting on today’s activities, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said, “It’s been a better day than yesterday. The process the Danes got under way yesterday has led to positive atmospherics. We’ve narrowed down the differences before leaders arrive … But this remains a tough task, it’s very complex, and there’s a small amount of time left … We’re not here for the lowest common denominator, we’re working for high ambition.”
- Noting that people in small island nations and parts of Africa are already suffering from the effects of climate change, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai urged leaders not to approve any agreement that isn’t inclusive or transparently negotiated.
- Pope Benedict XVI today said wealthy nations need to be ready to live “more sober lifestyles” to address the moral crises created by climate change’s impact on food security, desertification and development.
- The European Environment Agency, European Space Agency and UN Environment Programme today released its new “Environmental Atlas of Europe,” a series of short films that uses satellite images to depict environmental changes and also shows how people are responding to these changes. The changes affect everything from ship ice roads in the Baltic Sea and river systems in Albania to plankton blooms off the Irish coast and the reduction of agricultural land in south-east Georgia.
- 350.org is reporting that its “350” ties are being “snapped up like crazy” by delegates, including the minister from Sierra Leone, at COP15.
- By the end of the 21st century, warmer growing seasons and milder winters could increase the population and geographic range of the corn earworm, an insect that preys on corn, tomatoes and other cash crops in the US, researchers at Stanford University have found. Their models also indicate that global warming could reduce the current US wine grape region by 81 per cent by the end of the century, primarily because of a projected sharp increase in the frequency of extremely hot days where the temperature reaches 30 Celsius or above.
- Climate geoengineering could help maintain the Greenland ice sheet by reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface, which in turn would cool the climate despite rising CO2 levels, scientists at the University of Bristol say. “Climate geoengineering could be an emergency response if dangerous melting of the Greenland ice sheet begins, or other climate emergencies occur, but it is no substitute for reductions in the emission of CO2,” said Pete Irvine, lead author of the study.
- New figures from the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration indicate that, under current policies, the US would still be dependent upon fossil fuels for 78 per cent of its energy needs by 2035. Assuming no changes in existing policies, the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions would also rise from 5,814 million metric tonness in 2008 to 6,320 million metric tonnes in 2035.