TH!NK post

CancĂșn Bottom-up: Shaping Global Climate Action

Published 30th October 2010 - 0 comments - 632 views -

Focus on Cancún

So how do we re-focus climate change action? Can Cancún play a positive part?

One of the issues raised in my previous post was: Do we sideline the struggle for a global agreement in favour of more achievable goals?

At Inside Story, Stephen Howes looks at three challenges resulting from the US Congress’ failure to pass climate legislation:

On the domestic front, in a more bottom-up world countries will have both more freedom and more responsibility to define the mitigation problem as suits them.

On the international front, a strategy is needed to deal with America’s intransigence on climate change. It isn’t easy to think of one. No country will probably have more impact on US action than China, but China will only act decisively if it is not acting alone.

Finally, in a bottom-up world it will be more difficult for each country to judge what others are doing, since countries will tend to pursue different policies and measure impacts with different metrics.
Climate change negotiations: unravelling or shifting gear?

(Professor Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre at the Crawford School of the Australian National, and a convenor of the Asia Climate Change Forum.)

Another person who argues for bottom-up solutions is Laura Carlsen, director of the Americas Program for the Center for International Policy in Mexico City. She sees two worlds colliding at Cancún:

The first is a world in denial where profits come before people and the planet, and the most threatening environmental crisis in history is viewed as a business opportunity. … The second is a world of small farmers, indigenous peoples, poor urban communities, and islanders that are suffering unprecedented droughts, water scarcity, and storms.

Laura believes that much of the real debate will take place outside the official talks:

Cancun provides an open forum to demand action from governments and advance citizen awareness and involvement.

Her hope is that the something will emerge from the conference despite its forgone conclusions:

… If the world that defends our current model of production and consumption prevails, the planet will edge ever closer to catastrophe. The second world offers hope of a new path. Its solutions are multiple and small-scale, and require political will more than massive resources or new technologies. This second world seeks a new balance in our lives between our environment, our food systems, and our jobs.
Worlds Collide at Cancun Climate Talks

When tcktcktck’s Kelly Rigg addressed the European Journalism Centre’s Climate Action Conference last week she focused on journalists. She believes that they have a key responsibility in shaping global solutions:

Thinking about this in the context of the US midterm elections, where climate skepticism has become a badge of honor for candidates supported by the tea party movement, I came to the conclusion that journalists should tear a page out of the book of the medical profession. Just like the first rule for physicians is to "do no harm" I suggested that conscientious journalists should adopt the same creed. This suggests that the role of journalists to educate, to get at the truth of the matter by digging deep into the best available facts, science, expertise, etc

She sees their role as critical to success:

My take-home point was this: in 10 or 20 years time, the journalists who recognized the new climate zeitgeist and found ways to communicate it are the ones who will be remembered. Non-stories such as the so-called Climategate will be minor footnotes in the history books of the future.
Journalists: Do No Harm

Kelly's speech on video:

Kelly Rigg - Executive Director, Global Campaign for Climate Action (tcktcktck)

A final word from Stephen Howes:

If Copenhagen collapsed under the weight of inflated expectations, Cancun cannot but surprise on the upside, given that expectations of what it might achieve are so low.

Category: Climate Politics, | Tags:


  • Remember my personal information

    Notify me of follow-up comments?

    --- Let's see if you are human ---

    What is the fourth word of this sentence? Add a questionmark to your answer. (7 character(s) required)