As we all know, the scientific consensus on Anthropogenic Climate Change tells us that we urgently need to curb our greenhouse gas emissions, and in the 17 years since the Kyoto Protocol was established, this is what most of the world’s nation states have been attempting. This post is designed to look at how we’ve been doing in light of the imminent G20 meeting to be held in London on the 1st of April and the forthcoming UN climate meetings to be held at Copenhagen later this year.
Thanks to http://simondonner.blogspot.com for much of these graphs. Click on them to see them in detail.
For more detailed statistics on the subject have a look at http://unfccc.int/files/essential_background/background_publications_htmlpdf/application/pdf/ghg_booklet_06.pdf
What these figures show us is that despite all the hype, the greenwash and the rhetoric from politicians and buisness leaders about the green capitalism, the reality is far removed. These figures do not include emissions from international flights and shipping, whose inclusion would decimate the visible cuts in other areas made by nations such as the UK. The per capita figure is important as this shows the average impact of the average inhabitant of a nation, total figures can be skewed by factors such as migration; if a large number of new citizens move to an area then it would be fair to expect some rise in emissions due to the new population size.
Particularly worrying for us Brits ought to be the detailed yearly breakdown of emission trends on page 17 of the UN document. Of the total emissions reduction of 14.3% of 1990 levels, 60% of the total reduction occurred between 1992 and 1995. By contrast 2000-2004 (the most recent data on the UN paper) contained a mere 7% of the reduction in emissions. If we were to factor in increased international air and shipping travel over this period we would most likely be looking at a net emissions increase over the first hlaf decade of the 21st century.
The data also confirms that the large observed reductions in Eastern European emission have more to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s than any 21st century with countries such as the Ukraine looking at roughly a 10% per annum decline in emission from 1991-1998 before levelling off and remaining near constant in subsequent years.
If humans are to make the kind of cuts that climatologists have been urging as absolutely necessary, in the order of 80-90% of all ghg emissions within a few decades, then urgent political action is needed. The visit of the G20 to London on April 1st provides citizens gravely concerned with the parallax gap between the currently observed green rhetoric espoused by politicians and businessmen alike and their business as usual environmentally destructive behaviour.
I’d love to say I’ll see you in the streets but I’m not up to going marching anywhere at the moment because of my health… But I will keep trying to find somewhere I can sit down and volunteer for the day doing something useful to support people out on the various anti-capitalist, anti-corporate alternative globalisation events.