So if Copenhagen doesn’t produce a global warming treaty next month, which now seems likely, what about setting up a global environmental body? The environmental ministers for Italy and Kenya float this idea in a Guardian op-ed. They note that Chancellor Merkel of Germany and President Sarkozy of France are lobbying to have the idea taken up at Copenhagen:
“In a letter to the UN secretary general [Merkel and Sarkozy] emphasised that we must overhaul environmental governance and use Copenhagen climate talks in December to progress the creation of a world environmental organisation.”
In their op-ed, the two environmental ministers argue:
“History has proven that strong international institutions are the precondition for building any successful international cooperation. The global financial crisis and the collaboration through the G20 and the International Monetary Fund are recent examples.”
Anyone familiar with the bad environmental press Canada has been receiving of late will be surprised to learn that the country has agreed to preserve vast tracts of its Boreal Forest from development, which will helpfully soak up huge amounts of carbon. The action, as the Guardian notes:
“is somewhat of an anomaly for Canada, whose government has been accused of sabotaging the global climate change talks by its development of the Alberta tar sands and its refusal to make deep cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions.”
Three days of hearings on climate legislation in the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works committee concluded on Thursday. The big story to emerge, according to Politico, is a key moderate Democrat’s “serious reservations” about the bill. Recalcitrant Republicans, meanwhile, heard about the national security implications of climate change from retired military brass and former Republican Sen. John Warner, who is a close ally of the military. He cautioned:
“We are talking about energy insecurity, water and food shortages, and climate-driven social instability. We ignore these threats at the peril of our national security and at great risk to those in uniform.”
Committee Republicans, for their part, seem more interested in winning additional time to study the bill’s cap-and-trade program.
The African Union takes up the issue of “climate refugees” in a new treaty that addresses the plight of displaced people. According to IRIN, a U.N. news service:
“the inclusion of displacement by natural disasters was informed by the global debate on the need to develop a framework for the rights of ‘climate refugees’ – people uprooted from their homes and crossing international borders – because the changing climate threatened their survival.”
Such episodes of displacement seem somewhat inevitable, judging by the predictions made by Professor Sir Gordon Conway, the outgoing chief scientist at the UK’s Department for International Development As the Guardian reports, Conway asserts that Africa
“is already warming faster than the global average and that people living there can expect more intense droughts, floods and storm surges.”
In the meantime, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been forging ahead this week, trying to get the European Union to sign off on actual dollar amounts to aid adaptation in countries such as Africa that will be hardest hit. The latest word out of Brussels, after the conclusion of a two-day EU summit, is that some type of financing agreement has been struck.
On a lighter note, have you ever given much thought to the carbon footprint of your pet? Oh, you had to figure somebody would eventually get around to that one. Well, there’s a slew of studies and a new book that reveals some inconvenient truths about fido’s puppy chow, all of which is covered in this New Scientist article. By the way, even your child’s goldfish has “an ecological fin-print equal to two cellphones.”