The Challenges Facing COP 20

At 10 o’clock on December 1st 2014, Manuel Plugar-Vidal, the Peruvian Minister of State for the Environment and President of COP 20 – the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – opened COP20.. The Minister is a lawyer with 27 years experience working in the field of environmental law and policy, so he knows the reality of climate change and consequence of not taking it seriously.
In his opening speech, he challenged the participants to make ambitious pledges to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also challenged rich countries to make more money available to assist poor nations which will be adversely affected by the consequence of climate change. New non-fossil fuel technologies are also essential so that the poor can improved their standard of living without opting for a fossil fuel avenue in their quest for development. He said that he would do everything in his power as the President of COP 20 to facilitate agreement among the parties. He highlighted how climate change affects young people, women and indigenous people. Therefore he hoped that the dialogue and compromises which will be trashed out here in Lima will lead to concrete action to address climate change.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal spoke well about the need human beings to change from a business-as=usual approach to the way we use fossil fuel and the imperative to moving rapidly to using clean energy. Unfortunately, my Columban colleagues here in Peru point out that his fine words on the environment are not always reflected in environmental policy in Peru. This perception is shared by others. In a second editorial in the International New York Times, (29-30, November, page 10) the author point out that “ in September (2014) four indigenous activists who stood up to unscrupulous loggers in a remote region of Peru’s rainforest were slain.” The editorial went on to state that while Peru has “made commendable pledges to reduce deforestation…it must do more to protect some of its most vulnerable citizens by helping them to acquire land titles and regulating the logging industry more tightly.”
On December 4th 2014, ECO the publication of Climate Action Network (CAN) published an article stating that “Peruvian civil society organisations and grassroots movements are seizing the hosting of COP20 by Peru to join efforts in elevating environmental issues on the government’s agenda, particularly as part of the country’s development policies.”
While the Presidency of the COP20 should have been an opportunity for the Peruvian government to show leadership in environmental issues, its recent national policies show that the environment has become less and less of a priority. For example, in July this year the government approved the so-called Ley 30230 (also known as ‘Ley Paquetazo’), which reduces the importance of environmental standards with the aim to attract investment in the extractive industries.
The promotion of extractive industries has already led to cases such as that of Maxima Chaupe, a female farmer. She was sued by Yanacocha – one of the biggest gold mining companies – for living on the land where Yanacocha was planning its Conga extraction project. Maxima and her family were not only ordered to leave the land, they were also asked to pay Yanacocha a compensation fine of about US$2,000.
Minister Pulgar-Vidal was followed by Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She said that in addressing climate change in an effective way, the international community would need to demonstrate the insights and tenacity of the people who drew the Nazca lines in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. She reminded the participants that 2014 is on track to be the hottest year in recent history. This fact alone calls for faster action and more ambitious goals. She urged those present to make history in Lima by seeking to build bridges among the participating countries which will lead to concrete commitments and actions.
The final speaker was Rajendra K. Pachauri who has served as the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2002. He referred to the findings of the Synthesis Report of the 3 Working Groups on the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC which was published in September 2014.
This is the work of 803 scientists. Their findings are very challenging. The document confirms that human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. The warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen. Rajendra Pachauri stressed that remaining below the 2 degree Celsius target will require that greenhouse gas emissions decline by 40 to 70% by 2050, relative to 2010 levels, and drop to zero or negative by the end of the century.
Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. The period from 1983 to 2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years in the northern hemisphere where such assessment is possible. This document calls for massive concerted global action if we are to avoid the worst excesses of climate change.

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One Comment

  1. Kevin Walters says:

    I lit the gas, for the kettle to boil
    The fridge is on, so that my food won’t spoil
    I took the car, I burnt some oil
    The washers on so my clothes wont soil
    I don’t want to work or toil
    I vacuum every day to keep the dust at bay
    The heating is on as I hum along
    The means for change are there
    But it is so hard to leave the teli,
    From my comfortable chair
    A Wind Turbine near my home?
    Comfort and easy, but not near my home please
    All the lights are on, as Lemmings we scurry along.
    We all appear (To a varying degree) to be trapped in our fallen human nature, the task to prevent global warming appears impossible. We feel powerless in our attempts (If we have any) to bring about change. The leaders of the world play lip service to the general populous appease us with platitudes nominal programs of enterprise endeavouring to convince us that things are starting to change in reality they have their own agendas and appease their own Circle of influence, knowing full well that only a radicle change of heart by the leaders of mankind can bring about any significant change.
    The lack of integrity and humility by the elite within the church, in dealing with the cover-up of the child abuse scandal has to call into question the integrity of those who SERVE in high office as their actions have diminished the authority of the Church before all of mankind, many hold them in contempt for their hypocrisy, Cynicism has taken hold within the Church many have abandoned the Faith and many of those who remain are disillusioned and have become lethargic. Inspiration is needed but where is it to come from, on the world stage, for our Bishops it is still hail fellow well met all is hunky dory, they are shameless.
    Our church is stale, nominal programs of enterprise, will not bring about the changes needed. The thought of Jesus Christ needs to be permutated within the hearts of mankind that fulfil all his yearnings, including that of global warming, we need fresh hope, in that his life death and victory has brought all mankind to a higher and completely new stage.
    Sadly the leadership of our church is held together by a Circle of worldly power, many in this this circle may think that they are serving God, but God can only be served (Worshiped) in spirit (Within the heart) and Truth and is acted out INDIVIDUALLY.
    All circles of worldly power rely on secrecy, this gives an advantage based on deception and serve the Evil One, he cannot be beaten at his own game, the early Christians used signs and gesture, but these can be duplicated, then we have duplicity and confusion at play, friend or foe you know longer know.
    I believe that our church could lead mankind into a new dawn, but revolutionary heroism will be needed by our Shepherds, many good men hemmed in well.
    “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all”
    Jesus Christ gave his disciples these instructions to ensure that those who lead, give full account to those they serve, if they do not, the dignity and sacrificial image of the Shepherd is lost and in effect before mankind he “The Shepherd” becomes a lackey and his actions becomes complicit with those he serves. All true lovers of Christ are held together by serving the Truth within their hearts (as defined by Jesus Christ) and are manifest by each individual in bearing witness to the Truth, this ensures Unity of Purpose. The gates of hell cannot overcome them, as the Deceiver and those who follow him cannot participate openly with his lovers as the Light of Truth will expose their actions. This action can be demonstrated in serving the Truth, as shown by Former Bishop Moriarty’s resignation, we can look to him as an example; we see a man of integrity a person to be honoured and respected a true leader, serving the Truth, a man to be trusted, see.
    As our church is priest lead, only you The Shepherds have the authority to call to account those who serve you and us. The laity needs to see those who serve giving a full (Honest) account to those they serve. We need to see our Shepherds holding the bright lamp of Truth high giving hope to all of mankind in seeing the Truth of the gospels actually working.
    Hope spring’s eternal or so the saying goes’
    Doe’s the church present a weed?
    When it should present a rose
    A light set on a hill
    All men shall know and see
    God’s Holy Will
    No word need be spoken all mankind shall see
    God’s lovers as they bend their knee
    Justice and Love reflected from above
    The missionary shall call
    We would have this for one and all
    A crystal (Rome) on a hill
    Manifesting our Fathers Holy Will.
    With tongue and flame give us unity again.
    In Christ

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