Cancun, Mexico - Today at the United Nations COP-16 climate change summit, we listened to many leaders and important ministers from many countries who are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. All emphasized the urgency to take action sooner rather than later since delays only make the challenges greater. Leaders from countries at most risk to climate change such as small island states or countries with low lying costal areas, spoke passionately about the continued existence of their nations if the world does not act strongly enough and soon enough.
The President of Georgia stated that the time to debate whether to take action is over; it is time to debate on how action is taken. The Kyoto Protocol is viewed as the best hope of ensuring progress despite its many flaws.
Many nations are taking unilateral action. Georgia is establishing an investment friendly environment for the green economy. 80% of new electrical energy will be renewable, even though Georgia currently produces a lot of fossil fuels. Georgia has made strong forest management commitments, and has begun undertaking the conversion of public vehicles to bi-electric.
The President of Ecuador talked about how many of the world’s poorest countries are the custodians of large amounts of sequestered carbon, mainly in the form of forests. Harvesting could dramatically help their economies, but opportunities to enhance sequestration could be of even greater benefit. Ecuador has forests that could provide income for many people and the government. It has large areas suitable for reforestation. It also has untapped oil reserves. Compensation for net avoided emissions and new carbon sinks are urgent, in Ecuador’s opinion. Ecuador’s constitution recognizes the rights of nature.
“We are accountable to nature, our children and millions of climate refugees,” said the President of Ecuador. He also spoke about intellectual property rights, and about how privatizing knowledge was wrong.
The Prime Minister of Samoa talked about how climate change does not need an agreement to cause destruction and we need to be motivated by both science and our conscious to act. Samoa has committed to be carbon neutral by 2020.
The Kingdom of Bhutan has committed to reduce deforestation to zero in five years and to reforest millions of hectares.
Norway has committed large sums of money to reduce emissions. They want carbon pricing as an incentive to reduce emissions and provide funds for climate change. The Prime Minister of Norway stated that deforestation is the cause of half of all global emissions of CO2, and as a result, Norway has pledged $4 billion to reduce deforestation.
Two leaders stated that very little of the $30 billion pledged in the Copenhagen Accord have been delivered. What is needed for success is a legally binding agreement like the Kyoto Protocol and it must be continued.
Canada’s position on all of the above is not completely clear.