Monday, December 24, 2012

The Dream of a Global Deal is Over

Top German climate change scientists and advocates think it's pointless to continue the United Nation's annual climate change summits.

Several leading experts at internationally renowned institutes in Germany are demanding an end to the climate summit charade. It is time to begin confronting the reality of a warmer future rather than meekly insisting that global warming can be slowed without taking action to make that happen, they say.

The period characterized by "the UN's clever management of expectations" is coming to an end, says Oliver Geden, a climate expert with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. "The expectation that the worsening problem would put pressure on the international community to find a solution has not been borne out -- and isn't likely to be."

"The dream of a global deal is over," agrees Frank Uek├Âtter, an environmental historian at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. "An elimination (of the summit regime) would create space for new momentum."

...Silke Beck, a climate expert at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, blasts the summits for being little more than "symbolism" and says that the issue of global warming is "several sizes too big" for the UN process as it is now pursued. Hans von Storch from the Institute for Coastal Research at the Helmholtz Center adds that the process has transformed researchers into little more than "ushers in the political theater."

But what can be done? The answer given by many is a surprising one. The goal of limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius has become much too central, they say, because it guarantees that the focus of the public debate remains almost exclusively on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Yet after two decades of failed negotiations, the 2 degree goal has likely already become unattainable. It's time to broaden the focus, they say.

The 2013 UN climate summit is to be hosted by Poland, Europe's "coal-aholic" and a country at war with efforts to salvage the world climate.

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