The UN has been trying since 1992 to get the 196 countries of the world to recognise the extreme dangers of global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. At that time there were 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere and as the science was quite clear that if CO2 levels continued to rise we would be facing an extremely dangerous rate of climate change. There were high expectations that the world’s nations would recognise the problem and sign up to a solution.
What was not recognised was the political and big business influence from the main oil and coal producing countries that did not sign and the number of smaller nations that just ignored the agreement.
We are now in a situation 22 years later where the CO2 levels are at 400 parts per million, which the world last had 3.5 million years ago. We are committed to a minimum of 20 metres of sea level rise and a temperature increase of at least 2⁰C at current CO2 levels. If we keep going with ‘business as usual’ we will have a 5⁰C temperature rise. The current CO2 emissions level is around 35 billion tons a year, this is increasing the CO2 levels at about two ppm a year.
Time and repeatedly failed negotiations have shown that there are four main oil and coal producing nations who are committed to their industries, and committed to disrupting the efforts of the rest of the world to reach an agreement.
We will call these the CRUA countries; Canada, Russia, the USA and Australia. To put it into context the CRUA countries have per capita CO2 emissions of around 20 tons per year, Europe and China are at about 8 tons and India is at 2 tons. There are other players, such as Saudi and Ireland, but these much smaller countries have less influence.
To hold a UN meeting with the aim of reaching an agreement on how to limit the output of CO2 is doomed to failure while the CRUA countries are involved. Each wants to protect its industries and the lifestyle it supports. The science is clear, the only way to prevent CO2 levels from increasing is to stop burning fossil fuels in the quantities we currently do.
I believe the solution is to leave the CRUA countries out of negotiations and the rest of the world can reach an agreement on how to reduce CO2 output. Europe, which is an economic block of 700 million people, have already committed to change and two very large countries, India and China are making big strides to change their energy sources, so we have nearly half of the world’s population already in agreement.
Even though President Obama has signed a commendable agreement with China, the rest of the USA government, Congress and the Senate, are committed to a fossil fuel economy. As are most of industry, the state governors and the American media. China was already changing to renewable energy to clean its atmosphere and reduce imports while the USA, apart from Obama and his supporters, has yet to show any enthusiasm.
Deliberately excluding the CRUA countries would send a strong message that this is a serious matter and those countries roles as major polluters is recognised by the rest of the planet. Slowly but surely, we will stop buying coal and oil from the CRUA countries, and the problem will begin to be resolved.
We will still have to deal with major global problems such as mass population movement and wars but we will at least be trying.