United Nations’ Climate Talk, the Conference of Parties (COP), has recently been diagnosed with chronic Procrastinator’s Syndrome. The illness exacerbates in environment, where there is higher presence of atmospheric GHGs concentration. Its symptoms include willingness to trade current actions with distant visions, fear of any SMART (specific, measureable, accountable, reasonable, and time-bound) plans and commitments, and discordance between one’s believe and behavior. Patients of chronic Procrastinator’s Syndrome often die of a combination of hyperpyrexia, hydrocephalus/hydropenia, and disorders of blood circulation.
COP18 comes and goes, as its predecessors have, leaving little achievement as how to curb the rising global emissions. The COPs have become somewhat of fading echoes of one another. The perpetrator vs. victim debate continues. Environmental protection is once again pitted against economic growth. A grand, but distance, vision yet again replaces current intervention—clear symptom of chronic procrastinator’s syndrome. Industrialized nations once again shy away from any substantial commitment, because according to them warming continues without China and India on board.
In 2012, COP suffered from unprecedented high fever or what is known medically as hyperpyrexia, according to Dr. NOAA and Dr. NCDC (visit Samenow’s article on Warmest period in U.S. records carries on). In July 2012, COP undergone “some of the hottest temperature occurred in the Plains … a full 4 degrees above average,” (Samenow, 2012).
(Source: The Washington Post, 2012)
COP has also shown strong symptoms of hydrocephalus/hydropenia and that is to say suffering from too much or too little water. Yunnan in southwest China, celebrated as the third national water-rich province, suffered from three consecutive years’ drought—2009 to 2011. Cracked lands and withered crops stretched across the province. (For a brief report on Yunnan’s drought, please visit my earlier post on Yunnan Drought Report ). While some suffer from lack of water, others float in flood.
(Source: Global Development, 2012)
Most recently Typhoon Bopha, “the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit island of Mindanao,” (The Atlantic, 2012) wiped through southern Philippines, and left 650 dead, near 800 missing, and over 400,000 displaced.
(Source: The Atlantic, 2012)
Super Storm Sandy wreaked havoc parts of the U.S. east coast after tearing through the Caribbean. Sandy killed reportedly 125 people in the U.S., and caused about $62 billion in damage and other losses (Las Vegas Sun, 2012).
(Source: Chicago Tribune, 2012)
As the atmospheric concentration of Greenhouse Gases hit record highs in 2011 (i.e., Carbon dioxide at 390.9 parts per million, Methane at 1813 parts per billion, and nitrous oxide at 324.2 parts per billion), COP’s Procrastinator’s Syndrome worsens.
COP18 in Doha hardly made any progress. Connie Hedgaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, lauded: “In Doha, we have crossed the bridge from the old climate regime to the new system. We are now on our way to the 2015 global deal,” (Europa, 2012).
We seem always “on our way to” a future deal. COP’s future deals are like chasing the end of a rainbow. The distance seems never to be scaled. We assure ourselves it’s there, but we can never really get there.
COP continues to suffer from severe chronic procrastinator’s syndrome. During COP18 in Doha, developed countries pledged to secure $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor countries cope with climate change, but no plan as what to do before then and how to fulfill the pledge.
Climatic negotiations have shifted from previous prevention-oriented talks to compensations for loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change. World Bank report suggests that “the world [is] on a trajectory for a global mean warming of well over 3 degree Celsius,” (The Washington Post, 2012).
(Source: The Washington Post, 2012)
Is COP nearing its end? What are the key issues to focus? 1. Ambition: how much emissions to reduce in order to meet the 2-degree target (e.g., to address the gap between pledged emissions reduction & 2-degree-required reduction); 2. Means to materialize the climate ambition (e.g., Finance: Renewal of the Fast Start Finance, Plans for The New Green Climate Fund; Mechanism: Promotion of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Transparency and Accountability for Emissions Accounting, and adoption of effective emissions mitigation measures); 3. Collective Action (e.g., Plans for the Kyoto Protocol Second Commitment Period, Path to the 2015 Agreement and beyond), 4. Equity (e.g., poor countries are supported and not punished for the developed countries’ historical emissions), and 5. Adaptation (e.g., concrete measures to adapt to the new climatic norms).
While a global framework and legally binding agreement is the key to achieve meaningful emissions reduction within a “hopefully” reasonable timetable. However, we are indisputably running out of time. Consequently, it is vital to draw comprehensive long-term plans, but at the same time not lose sight of the valuable immediate actions (i.e., carbon club, sector-specific reduction target, national and regional efforts/strategies, etc.).
Addressing the loss and damage associate with negative impact from global climate change is a must, but it should by no means be a reason for delayed intervention or substitution for immediate action, because lives lost can never be fully compensated. The very attempt to use monetary means to recompense human lives lost is offensive not only to families affected, but also to all the institutions (like hospitals), and social movements (i.e., fighting against global hunger, capital punishment, and death), whose very existences are conceived upon and sustained by the value of human lives.
As the Philippine Climate Change Commissioner, Naderev M. Sano, appealed to his fellow negotiators in Doha, the outcome of COPs is not and should never be about what political masters want. It is about the survival of humanity.
As COPs continue to suffer from Procrastinator’s Syndrome, it is not only COPs’ life on the line, but that of the fishermen lost at sea in the Philippines, the farmers whose livelihoods parched with lingering drought in southwest China, residents whose homes lost to the wrath of increasing wildfires in the U.S., and Islanders whose worlds disappearing due to the rising sea level.
It is time to cure COP’s Procrastinator’s Syndrome, and curb global emissions now.
12/10/12 Tupgon T.