Bonn Climate Talks - A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action, Please

Earth Day Network Intern - Christine Hoguet

Growing up in Germany you quickly learn the importance of recycling. To dispose of their trash, Germans need at least four different trash cans: one for regular garbage, one for recyclables, one for compostables, and one for paper and cardboard. Oh yes, did I mention that old glass containers, bottles, etc. need to be taken to designated collection places and sorted by color?

A country as environmentally minded as Germany (where in many places it is hard to escape the sight of the tall, white wind-power generating turbines) should have served as an inspiration for the UNFCCC’s Climate Change Conference ending in Bonn on June 17th after eleven days of negotiations. At least you would think.

Sadly, the talks have not gone very far. After much bickering over the agenda, followed by collective inaction, we still don’t know what will become of the Kyoto Protocol after its first commitment period expires in 2012. Also the chances of this December’s meeting in Durban, South Africa, which constitutes the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, providing any notable breakthroughs look bleak.

The biggest issue appears to be developed country commitment – or rather lack thereof. The U.S. never ratified Kyoto, and some big players from the developed world, notably Japan, Russia and Canada, have already said they were not going to commit to a second period. The developing countries, especially in Africa, generally are more supportive because the Kyoto Protocol contains certain mechanisms that provide development and adaptation funds for them.

Nevertheless, to make matters worse, the big developing countries, and now major polluters, that could really make a difference in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, namely China, Brazil, Indonesia and India, remain reluctant because they fear that any kind of commitment will hamper their economic development.

So what are we to do? Hope for the best? Well, yes, but there are other options as well. Even though the climate talks in Bonn and Durban are taking place at the government level, it is never too late to do something on the individual level. We here at Earth Day Network are working hard to promote environmental awareness on all levels and encourage action from everyone through our A Billion Acts of Green® campaign. So join the effort and show the world’s leaders how to truly make an impact in protecting our planet!