Montreal Climate Summit, the first United Nations climate conference since the Kyoto agreement came to legal force in Feb. 16, 2005 , is taking place against a backdrop of increasing concern about the speed of the changes to the global climate and its consequences.
Montreal Climate Summit which will be attended by delegates comprising Thousands of scientists, officials and environmentalists is expected to discuss how targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the next seven years will be met and they will also look at what measures will follow Kyoto Protocol, whose modest reduction commitments end in 2012.
Climate change is considered to be one of the most serious threats to sustainable development, with adverse impacts expected on the environment, human health, food security, economic activity, natural resources and physical infrastructure. Global climate varies naturally, but scientists agree that rising concentrations of anthropogenically-produced greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are leading to changes in the climate. (More in Susan.L. Smith)
Countries which signed and ratified it, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008-2012, with specific targets varying from country to country. Protocol commits developed countries and countries making the transition to a market economy to achieve emission reduction targets.
United States which, in 2001, withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol and has since refused to join other world leaders in making binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, is expected to resist against any binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases fell an average of 5.9 per cent below their 1990 levels. That is more than Kyoto's requirement for an average cut of 5.2 per cent. At first reading, figures indicate that the industrialized world has made considerable progress in fighting global warming. But that was largely due to the huge one-time greenhouse gas reduction occurred after the economic and industrial collapse of the former Communist countries. In countries like Spain and Canada which have ratified the protocol and agreed to the cuts, greenhouse gas emissions have actually gone by a whopping 41% and 24% respectively from those levels of 1990. (More related to this in Globe and Mail)
(Graph from David's Blog)Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas generated by man-made emissions, has risen from 280 parts per million (ppm) before the Industrial Revolution to 380 ppm today. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is expected to rise to more than 400 ppm (parts per million) in 10-15 years.
Likely Impacts (some as stated by Greenpeace):
If this phenomenon goes unchecked, the changes to the global climate and its consequences might become irreversible.
- Summer sea ice in the Arctic could be lost well before the end of the century according to some models. leaving polar bears, ice-dependent seals, walruses and certain sea-birds facing extinction.
- Glaciers in western China are expected to have largely disappeared by the year 2100.
- Melting glaciers and Polar ice caps can lead to rise in sea water levels, which can submerge low lying places like Bangladesh.
- The resources we have on earth is limited, we should be frugal in utilizing them and should not guzzle and exploit them.
- Greenpeace believes that global average temperature rise should be kept to below 2ºC (above pre-industrial levels).
- Fossil feuls are one of the major sources of pollution. Importance should be given to energy conservtion and feul efficiency. Using the resources we have wisely is the best solution to our climate crisis.
- Search for alternatives. The efficient use of energy from the wind, sun, water and earth can meet our needs without destroying ecosystems on which all life depends.
- Forests are the lungs of the Earth. Conserving the rain forest covers and protecting the forests from poaching and logging operations should be given importance.
- Free market based technology, strongly advocated by US can definitely help. But it needs a very mature market and industry and a lot of time to evolve.
- Incentives to reduce the carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases emission levels.
- Clean Development Mechanism, a system set up to enable richer countries to meet their targets through investing in developing nations.
- Moves such as Carbon Tax can force the market to act.
The decisions made in Montreal will be crucial, as some countries like US and Australia are still reluctant to accept any binding targets for cutting down the Carbon Dioxide emissions, fearing that it would affect the industrial and economical development. It would be foolish to expect everything to turn around at the end of the meet, hope the leaders will act sensible and come out with a framework to reduce the emission levels. Countries must sever the link between economic growth and increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.
My earlier post on e-Waste.
Check out the Factbox on Kyoto Protocol.
BBC has a series of reports on the Montreal Summit and the challenges to the Environemt. ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)