Holyrood 350 — H35O

4 Action Points For Holyrood To Avert Climate Chaos

Good news on targets from Scotland (not so good from elsewhere)

June 28th, 2009 · No Comments

On June 24th 2009 Scot­land made his­to­ry by estab­lish­ing the most ambi­tious cli­mate change tar­gets of any indus­tri­alised coun­try: Aim­ing to cut emis­sions on 1990 lev­els by 80% by 2050, and by 42% by 2020. Scot­land is able to place its cards on the table in this way because it is not (yet) ful­ly inde­pen­dent and so is not part of the Copen­hagen nego­ti­a­tions (where the UK gov­ern­ment acts for it) and so it does not feel the need to keep its nego­ti­at­ing cards (its tar­gets) close to its chest. Scot­land has used its posi­tion to kick-start the Glob­al race out of car­bon in terms of tar­get set­ting. It now needs to kick-start that race in real­i­ty by estab­lish­ing the means to rapid­ly achieve those cuts, and to deep­en those cuts to close on 100% with­in 20 years in line with the most recent sci­ence (see www.climatesafety.org). How we can achieve that is though a com­bi­na­tion of car­bon rationing (see e.g. www.capandshare.org), estab­lish­ing 100% renew­able ener­gy (see www.zerocarbonbritain.org), estab­lish­ing a relo­calised econ­o­my (see e.g. www.transitiontowns.org) and estab­lish­ing a green new deal that is not seek­ing green growth but seekng to estab­lish secure and suf­fi­cient liveli­hoods in line with eco­log­i­cal real­i­ty and social need. Targets do noth­ing by them­selves, but at least they give us the grounds to push for action that can enable those tar­gets to be met.


The bad news is that Glob­al tar­get-set­ting by so-called ‘devel­oped’ coun­tries (in the run up to the Copen­hagen nego­ti­a­tions that are sup­posed to deter­mine glob­al action on cli­mate change) is so weak as to guar­an­tee dan­ger­ous cli­mate change. That’s not a rea­son to give up, it’s a rea­son to push hard on tar­gets, and push even hard­er with set­ting an exam­ple in terms of ACTION now at a local, nation­al and glob­al lev­el. These are the years of our lives that mat­ter in terms of stop­ping eco­log­i­cal melt­down. That sounds like such hype, If only it was.


Com­ing out of watch­ing the ‘Age of Stu­pid’ last Sun­day, Saul (12) — who had only just man­aged to per­suade me it was ok his com­ing to see a film that shows the extinc­tion we are fast head­ing for if we don’t act now — said some­thing like “There’s no bet­ter time to be alive, no more impor­tant time to be alive than now, we’re the ones who can make the dif­fer­ence”. That wasn’t the reac­tion I expect­ed. If a 12 year old can take up the chal­lenge, there’s hope the rest of us can too.


How­ev­er, the bad news from else­where is that rich coun­tries con­tin­ue to ignore their respon­si­bil­i­ties and offer tar­gets which would mean weak cuts in green­house gas emis­sions, so weak that sci­en­tists have con­clud­ed they would be vir­tu­al­ly cer­tain to guar­an­tee dan­ger­ous cli­mate change.


The IPCC 2007 assess­ment was that indus­tri­al­ized coun­tries need to be mak­ing cuts in emis­sions of at least 40% by 2020, but here’s the cli­mate-wreck­ing, uni­lat­er­al tar­gets for 2020 such coun­tries are propos­ing:

·         Aus­tralia – not clear (con­di­tion­al tar­get of 25% but they are using a base year of 2000)

·         Cana­da – 2.7%

·         EU – 20%-30% — half of which could be off­sets

·         Nor­way – 30% — a third of which could be off­sets

·         Japan – 8% — no off­sets

·         New Zealand – “we’ll tell you lat­er”

·         Rus­sia – “lat­er…”

·         Unit­ed States – 0–4% (exact num­ber is unclear) — main­ly off­sets

See: http://coinet.org.uk/discussion/climate_radio/bw_u  


That IPCC 2007 report has in fact been over­tak­en by sci­ence show­ing cli­mate change is accel­er­at­ing far faster than it imag­ined, and so even the 42% cut pro­posed by Scot­land is now con­sid­ered to great­ly under­es­ti­mate the cuts need­ed. Mean­while, the Head UK nego­tia­tor at Bonn, Jan Thomp­son, says that try­ing to estab­lish cuts of 40% by 2020 is so unre­al­is­tic as to be “laugh­able”



So, back to the good news!


In Scot­land the 2020 tar­get for green­house gas emis­sions cuts has been estab­lished at 42%, the Scot­tish Cli­mate Change Bill also includes a recog­ni­tion of car­bon con­sumed in Scot­land rather than sim­ply cre­at­ed here, and the inclu­sion of mar­itime and avi­a­tion emis­sions which do not apply to West­min­ster tar­gets (. Scot­land has used its unique posi­tion to put pres­sure on the rest of the UK, Europe and the world to estab­lish tar­gets that are far more n line with real­i­ty. It is up to all of us to make sure such tar­gets are estab­lished, strength­ened and met. We can do it.


For the first time in years, I feel as though humans can wake up, that we have enough time (just) if we all focus our ener­gies not just on recog­nis­ing cli­mate change but recog­nis­ing the cause of cli­mate change and act­ing to defuse it: the cause being an eco­nom­ic sys­tem that not only has in-built obso­les­cence, but has an in-built neces­si­ty to ignore the eco­log­i­cal and social con­se­quences of pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion in order for a com­pa­ny to stay alive in the mar­ket place. Clear­ly we need Gov­ern­ments to not only set tar­gets, but also to reori­en­tate and relo­calise our economies so that they serve the needs of human and al oth­er beings, rather than help­less­ly destroy the grounds of our exis­tence.


That said, Scot­land is look­ing beau­ti­ful tonight.


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