Climate concerns

First published in Letters

IF THIS letter seems to have little immediate local meaning, it certainly will in the long run for our children and grandchildren.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) published its 2011 World Energy Outlook last November (www.iea. org/weo/).

This publication has particular credibility because the IEA was set up by the 28 richest Western countries which form the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation.

It is, so to speak, from the horse’s mouth.

The executive summary contains two statements which are likely to be of deep concern to most adults.

The first refers to the current policies of world governments with regard to limiting average global temperatures to 2C – ie the average temperature increase which governments agreed at Kyoto to stay below.

The report states that with these current policies "we are ... on track for a temperature increase of six degrees Centigrade or more".

And that with policies already agreed but still to be implemented by governments, "the world is on a trajectory that results in a level of emissions consistent with a long-term average temperature increase of more than 3.5 degrees Centigrade".

The second is the reference that "Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permissible by 2035" (ie the emissions which may keep the temperature increase to 2C), "are already ‘locked-in’ by our existing capital stock (power plants, buildings, factories etc)".

The term ‘locked-in’ means that the plant, once built, continues to emit CO2 throughout its lifetime.

The report goes on to state that if stringent action is not taken before 2017, the new plant then in place will be such that its ‘locked-in’ CO2 emissions will have the world on a trajectory to surpass the 2C.

The seriousness and urgency of these scenarios for our descendants can hardly be overestimated. What can we do?

The following thoughts occur to this grandfather.

First, stop and be present to our children and grandchildren. See their trust.

Then study the executive summary, especially the paragraphs following the heading on page two that "the door to 2C is closing".

Then break the silence. Why haven’t you heard about this from our media and politicians?

Why is this report completely absent from the Secretary of State for Defra’s February outline of the Government’s plans for the Rio+20 Conference this Summer? Yes, break the silence and talk. Talk with our families, neighbours, friends, congregations, clubs, political parties – with anyone who wants a secure life for their descendants. And isn’t that everyone?

Face our individual helplessness and despair if that is what’s there, knowing that these can be transformed when they are shared.

There are still four months to shift the Government on Rio+20.

Phil Kingston Via e-mail

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