Kyoto was a long time ago, Copenhagen was a failure, and the world is facing serious economic and social problems. With all these challenges, many of the world’s richest countries seem to have decided that climate change and the need to switch to alternative energy can take a back seat. According to The Guardian, despite critical talks happening at COP17, “most of the world’s leading economies now privately admit that no new global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest,” and this could have disastrous consequences for the environment.

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The climate change debate has raged for 20 years, and this current eight year delay has been described as the worst with negotiations between countries being “tortuous.” Despite scientific evidence, numerous studies and heated debate, countries have put off prompt action choosing to focus on other more “important issues.”

The current provisions of the Kyoto protocol, which is currently the only legally binding international agreement to limit emissions, will officially expire next year. However the UK, European Union, Japan and the United States (as well as other rich nations) have all decided to “put off” any future agreement. Of course, the developing countries who are most at risk from rising water levels are understandably furious.

The Alliance of Small Island States have described the proposed delay as “reckless and irresponsible” with the postponement of any agreement leading to potential catastrophic climate change. Time is indeed running out. Despite the worst recession for 80 years, last year saw global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels rise by more than 5 percent according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA and one of the world’s foremost authorities on climate economics, told the Guardian: “If we do not have an international agreement whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door to [holding temperatures below 2C] will be closed forever.”


via The Guardian

Images: The Prime Minister’s Office/ItzaFineDay