Australia, January 2013.
This month in Australia, 250 scientists from around the planet met in Hobart to contribute to the next major report from United Nations’ chief climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Recent heatwaves and raging bushfires in the south of the country have been a stark reminder of Australia’s particular vulnerability to extreme weather events. The Intergovernmental Panel’s chairman Rajendra Pachauri, who was in Hobart for the meeting, said there is no doubt the severe heat in Australia was an example of the kind of extreme weather events we can expect much more of in the face of a global warming trend. (sbs.com.au)
Shortly after the scientists left Hobart, storms further north brought destructive winds, tornados, rough seas, storm surge and torrential rain, followed by flooding and with flood level peak records being broken for many river basins and towns, much worse than the disaster in Queensland in 2011. Thousands of people are being displaced, and hundreds are requiring rooftop emergency rescues from rapidly rising floodwaters.
Now, “asking whether climate change ’caused’ these storms and floods in Queensland is the wrong question,” wrote Indy Media in Sydney. Climatologist Kevin Trenbeth outlines that all weather events now have a component of climate change in them: “Climate change is now a part of our weather system contributing to all extreme weather events.”
“All of the world’s major national science academies have endorsed the view that human activity has played a dominant role in global warming. A recent review of almost 14,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on the subject over the past two decades found that 99.8 per cent supported that position. So the scientific consensus is overwhelming. And yet our climate change scientists find themselves burdened with the additional task of defending their work against unwarranted and ill-informed criticism, diverting them from the urgent task at hand – finding solutions to the immense challenges presented by a warming planet,” wrote the Australian professor Fred Hilmer, chair of the Group of Eight research intensive universities. (abc.net.au)
To me, the bottom line is that Australia along with the rest of the world is facing an ever-more urgent threat of global warming, including the impact on the Great Barrier Reef as sea temperatures rise and the future geographic spread of diseases. 2012 was one of the world’s hottest years on record.
I could be wrong… but as far as I have seen and heard so far (only having been in Australia one single week), the general attitude here appears to be that Australians need to “work on developing technological solutions for a warming world”, adapting, rather than actually actually work on reducing or stopping the warming caused by carbon emissions.
I am worried and frustrated, and embarrassed in front of my children, over that fact that we, the human beings, are not doing enough to actually reduce those carbon-emissions.
My new year’s resolution is that I will have to stop just talking and writing about this frustration and actually begin to do something about it – as an individual – and see how far I can take it.
The thing is that I know that I am not all alone about thinking in this direction. And to take advantage of that, to get some inspiration, ideas, knowledge and hopefully also enter some sort of a global network of like-minded souls in order to kick-off my new life as a ‘Carbon Conscious Citizen’, I am heading for a conference in India which intends, as the organiser writes, to set in motion “a new trend for resource efficient and low carbon development.”
The conference is called Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, and has been organised annually in over a decade by Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and his Delhi-based organisation TERI, The Energy and Resources Institute.
Over the past twelve years this summit has grown into being an international platform for exchange of knowledge on all nuances of sustainable development and today is one of the most leading forums on issues of global sustainability. Until date, a total of 33 heads of state and ministers from over 43 countries have registered their presence there.
Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, DSDS 2013, which begins on Thursday this week and is opened by the Indian prime minister, is headlining: “The global challenge of resource efficient growth and development”.
On Friday, I have the privilege to moderate a plenary session about “Employment and Growth Benefits of a Green Economy” (at 3:00–4.15 p.m. on Friday 1 February 2013), where I intend to do my utmost to create an inspiring discussion and a useful exchange of experiences and insight among seven knowledgeable speakers.
In one hour, we will be discussing, (and I quote from the programme text here:) “the significant evidence of the complementarity of growth potential of green economic policies. Countries which have experience in this area can provide significant knowledge and information on the employment and growth benefits of a green economy.”
• Mr Martin Hiller, Director General, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), Austria
• Ms Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative, India
• Mr Dirk Fransaer, Managing Director, VITO, Belgium
• Mr Heherson T. Alvarez, Commissioner, Climate Change Commission, Office of the President, Philippines
• Dr Bindu N. Lohani, Vice President, Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Asian Development Bank, Philippines
• His Excellency Mr Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Former President, United Nations General Assembly, USA
• Dr Richard L. Sandor, Chairman & CEO, Environmental Financial Products LLC, USA
Agenda: dsds.teriin.org/2013/pdf/DSDS2013_agenda.pdf (PDF document)
Here is a link to the webcast of the entire 75 minutes session: 24framesdigital.com/teri/webcast/dsds2013/employment.html
If and when I am able to get online in Delhi, you will hear more from me — and us — as we gather in search of answers when it comes to finding sustainable solutions for the future.
If you’d like to support me on this cause, contribute below with your personal comment / advice to me.