Canadians Resisting Climate Change Despite Inaction at UN Talks
After the failure of UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Cancún and Durban over the last three years, it is difficult to be optimistic about the current round of talks in Doha, Qatar. The negotiations remain stalemated as parties reiterate their entrenched positions, or retreat backward as Canada did when it withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol which obliges developed countries to reduce their emissions.
The impasse continues despite evidence that climate change is already contributing to nearly 400,000 deaths a year. Sea levels are now rising 60% faster than had been predicted by the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, worsening storm surges and putting at risk populations such as the ten million people who live on low-lying Pacific Islands.
While delegates to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have agreed on little else, they have all said they want to limit global temperature increases to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But the relentless growth in greenhouse gas emissions, as illustrated in the chart on atmospheric CO2, is making the two degree goal unattainable. Instead the World Bank says we are headed towards a four degree average temperature increase by 2100. Other projections say we are on track for temperature increases as high as six degrees on average and up to 15 degrees in the Arctic. More ominously, the UN Environmental Programme now warns that melting permafrost could push climate change past a tipping point leading to runaway temperature increases endangering life on Earth.