Climate Action

On the Ground in Lima: A crucial day in the COP process

This is a busy and crucial day for the COP process. Helicopters are flying in with government leaders. Secretary Kerry arrives in the afternoon to speak before the COP plenary meeting. The new IPCC 5 summary report finally comes out today. Last minute discussions are taking place before commitments are made toward a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050.As a result of discussions over the past ten days, conclusions are being made regarding the character and contribution of various national delegations. Today  the U.S. delegation was awarded first place as the “Fossil of the day,” a special award for the most backward thinking delegations. This special designation is made because the U.S. and Japan have been collaborating to remove requirements for adaptation to climate change in the final COP document. Poland takes second place for its failure to see the end of coal as a major fuel and for continuing to propose coal fired energy in its future and ignoring the clean energy transition happening in neighboring states. Third place goes to Venezuela and its Minister of Foreign Affairs for claiming “the problem of climate change is not because of the production of petrol, but for the irrational use of it.” In contrast  “Ray of the Day” awards were extended to Germany for pledging $60 million to the adaptation Fund to help countries retool to address climate change; to Peru which pledged a surprise $6 million to the fund despite its own areas of poverty; and to Columbia which matched Perus contribution. Meanwhile conversation is buzzing over the new Catholic Bishops’call for an end to the fossil fuel era. The Bishops’statement  calls for a “deepening of the dialogue at COP-20 to ensure concrete decisions are taken in Paris next year,” highlighting the need for a clear roadmap to be adopted that describes how countries will meet predictable requirements in the years ahead. More generally, the Catholic bishops call on all Catholics and people of good will to engage on the road to Paris as a starting point for a new lfie in harmony with creation that respects what it calls the planet’s [biological] boundaries. In the year ahead it is expected that the Catholic Church and all religious groups will become more vocal advocates for climate justice. Secretary Kerry arrived just before 3 PM amidst a buzz of helicopters descending. He delivered an inspiring talk that galvanized the packed conference room. “The science is screaming at us,” he declared. It is rare that such an overwhelming degree of agreement emerges on anything, yet we have that on climate change. There is no real controversy. Besides if we examine the dissent, we find that it is bought and paid for by interests with a stake in preserving fossil fuel profits. No one country or group of countries can address this problem alone. It will require all of us working in concert. We are all responsible for the exhaust of carbon into the atmosphere. As a indicator of why we must all cooperate, over half of all fossil fuel emissions now emerge from developing nations. This will affect every nation and every person. This means every country and every person must assume leadership. We are all responsible. Damage to the planet is not inevitable. There is hope. The problem is not insurmountable. The solution is clear. We can still cut emissions. But we will need ambitious steps forward. We don’t have time to sit around. The net amount of carbon in the atmosphere is what matters. The question is, “Can we make the changes fast enough?” We have to work to make climate change the biggest issue. The US and China have now reached common conclusions about the challenge that we face. We now have to rise above the debates that have held us down. This is a challenge before us all. About Author: Fred Krueger is a former linguist and Russian intelligence analyst for the National Security Agency (NSA), political campaign manager, fishing guide, magazine editor and clergyman. He now serves as the executive coordinator for the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care in San Francisco.