ecostory 6/2007
Question time at the Climate and Diplomacy Conference at the HEI of Geneva
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January 18 and 19, 2007, the Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies (HEI) hosted a public international conference on Climate Change Diplomacy, under the title

"The Evolving Climate Change Regime"

During question time we made the following statement.

Today my grandson celebrates his first birthday. I've bought him a bottle of wine, which he should drink as soon as possible before the times of environmental desaster arrive. Actually I've bought 7 more bottles of wine, one for each of the panel members, if he or she can prove anything wrong with what I'm going to say next.

We are generally deluding ourselves and aggravating the situation because
  1. The Kyoto Protocol's aims are far to little and far too late.
  2. The mechanisms agreed upon in the protocol don't work and they can't work. On the contrary, these mechanisms increase greenhouse gas emissions. So-called Clean Development Mechanisms (Joint Implementation, Carbon Trade and Carbon Credits) only reduce emissions as compared to business as usual. The net effect is an increase in emissions, i.e. the opposite of what is claimed.
  3. Carbon capture and sequestration are technologies which are very questionable and most probably not effective on a large scale.
  4. Carbon neutrality does not exist and offset payments provide a good conscience only, whereas in reality they lead to continued and increased emissions.
  5. Money and technology can not repair and recreate lost resources and a changed climate.
  6. Climate change is unstoppable and mitigation is wishful thinking.
  7. Emissions calculations per country are useless because the earth has one atmosphere and the emissions for our luxuries are produced in our name in developing countries. A correct approximation of emissions responsibilities would be the GNP per capita. Calculated in that way the Swiss would be seen as one of the major emitters of greenhouse gases.
  8. We demonstrate hope and belief and optimism rather than the much-neede hard realism that examines the issues scientifically. We repress and deny the knowlegde and the stark facts, possibly because they are too scary or they simply don't fit within our traditional thought patterns. We find solace a in a host of illusionary solutions and ineffective activism.
This list is not exhaustive.

Worst of all is the belief that we can and must continue to have economic expansion, i.e. economic growth. People in the industry and in politics, who should know better, reply to critique of growth with philosophy and evasive non-answers.
One of the distinguished panel members replied my growth criticism with "I believe in sustainable growth."

Frankly, as long as our opinion leaders demonstrate beliefs rather than science as the basis for decisions, I think we are lost. May the last one switch the light off.

Helmut Lubbers ... 28.1.2007
  • deceptive rethoric (BBC)
  • birthday
  • sustainability
  • time-growth scenarios
  • stop growth letters
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