Climate Change Challenges Us to Choose between Life and Death

John Dillon

John Dillon

After a welcome break to celebrate God’s incarnation among us, I am revisiting the blog I wrote on the final day of the UN climate conference, Cancún Accord Mirrors Copenhagen Accord While Keeping Kyoto Protocol Alive.

Rereading the Cancún documents a month later, I find not only evidence to reinforce my initial analysis but also additional problems. For example, the text on technology transfer fails to deal with intellectual property rights. Strict enforcement of patents on green technologies owned by large corporations will inhibit their use in developing countries. Another problem is that utilities that capture carbon dioxide from their coal-fired power plants and store it underground can now earn credits under the Clean Development Mechanism. This means that corporations that invest in dubious Carbon Capture and Storage technologies can now be compensated financially for each tonne of CO2 sequestered.

Over Christmas I finished reading NASA scientist James Hansen’s book Storms of my Grandchildren: The Truth About Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. I am now more convinced then ever of the scientific evidence that our whole Earth community faces an unprecedented disaster unless we rapidly and deeply cut our greenhouse gas emissions. Hansen concludes that if we burn all remaining fossil fuels, including the tar sands, we face runaway, unstoppable warming endangering all life on Earth.

Eleven months remain before the next UN climate conference in Durban South Africa. The challenges we face are enormous. The newly appointed environment minister has already signalled that there will be no substantial changes in Canadian policies. Ottawa’s goal of reducing emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 would actually mean an increase in emissions of 2.5% above 1990 levels when industrial countries must reduce emissions to 40-50% below 1990 levels by 2020 to save our planet.

We must turn Canadian policy completely around. The path we are on now under the Copenhagen and Cancun Accords will lead to a 4 degree Celsius temperature increase and disaster for the whole Earth community. The choices we must make involve fundamental changes to our production and consumption patterns. The stark choices we face bring to mind God’s words in the book of Deuteronomy:

“I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life then, so that you and your descendants may live.” (Deut. 30:19)

Filed in: Ecological Justice, Spirited Reflections


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