Thank You Denmark!!!

-by Matthew

Two rounds of applause concluded Denmark’s Minister for the Environment and Nordic Cooperation, Connie Hedegaard, at her high level speech today. Finally somebody said what we all were thinking, and more. Connie started off her speech with a question: “Does anybody here think that Climate Change is not a problem?” Silence followed. Then another question: “Does anybody think climate change is not happening?”

No, Connie, we all know that Climate Change is happening, and we all know that it is a problem and it is time that the countries present at this conference act like they know to. Thank you for using your few minutes effectively and finally addressing the real issues and the real problems present at this COP. You are right, there is urgency in this challenge and people need to come together and act. If we don’t act fast enough the consequences will be beyond our ability to manage. Nothing will get done in these negotiations unless countries start acting with urgency. The cost of action is much less than the cost of inaction.

Everybody needs to be part of this process. We do have the technology to tackle climate change; all that is lacking is political will. Connie made the point that political will should not only be present in these speeches but also at the negotiating table.

Connie’s speech was heartfelt and integrated personal drive that couldn’t be found in any other high level speech I have heard today. She vowed her personal commitment to mitigating climate change as well as the commitment by the Danish government. Stating that the goal of a carbon free economy is in the reach of human technology.
Connie ended her speech by offering Copenhagen for the 2009 COP/MOP5.

Thank you Denmark and thank you Connie; hopefully more countries will follow your lead and truly take a stand against climate change.

An Extreme Side Event

This is an incomplete post salvaged from the internet archive.

-by Matthew

Extreme weather events are becoming more and more frequent due to the current process of climate change. Hurricane Katrina devastated one of the world’s superpowers last year, leaving most of New Orleans underwater and killing thousands of The United States’ underprivileged population. This occurred in a developed country with access to proper emergency response services and medical care facilities. What happens in Africa, an entire continent of developing countries, many without proper healthcare or emergency response facilities, when an extreme weather event hits? What types of extreme events occur and where? And what steps can be taken to avoid loss of life in connection with climate? The Red Cross/ Red Crescent side event from yesterday attempted to answer these vital questions.

The European Union Pavilion tent was not even close to full for the presentation titled “Climate Change and Disaster Risk in Africa: changes in extreme weather events under Global Warming.” I found it shocking that so few delegates attended this presentation when Kenya, and most other countries in Africa, are so predisposed to these extreme climatic events. Perhaps the rain that plagued those commuting to the Pavilion dismayed the delegates from attending. Nonetheless, a huge percentage of Nairobi’s population is in a situation of tremendous susceptibility. A walk through Kibera, the world’s second largest slum and one of the most at risk places in East Africa to floods, houses thousands of Nairobi’s poor. If an extreme weather event such as a prolonged rain season (climate models have shown this to be imminent) hits Nairobi, most of the people residing in Kibera would become environmental refugees.

Eco and Ethics

The previous related post is missing – this has been salvaged from the internet archive.

-by Matthew

I thought I should write a quick follow up on my previous blog entry on ethics with updates on the Eco submission titled “Ethics- The Missing Dimension.”

Eco’s article on Ethics states that for the past decade political, scientific, and economic arguments have taken over the meetings, thus marginalizing ethics at these international meetings. This is the reason why negotiations are close to a stand still with much work being pushed indefinitely into the future. A paradigm shift towards considering ethics in these meetings is a necessary step in mitigating climate change. The Eco article summarizes ethics in a concise and accurate way stating how “ethics is a field of philosophical enquiry that examines concepts and their application about what is right and wrong, obligatory and non-obligatory, and when responsibility should be attached to human actions that cause harm*.” Ethical concern is obscured when economics and science are made first priority.

The article goes on to list different topics and the ethical issues that should be considered while being addressed.

I suggest reading the article; it could very well change the face of future negotiations.

*Eco, Nov. 06 issue NO8 Volume CXII

Solar in the Slums

This is an incomplete post salvaged from the internet archive.

-by Matthew

Today myself and few other fortunate Youth got to take a trip to one of Nairobi’s slums, Kibera. Kibera wasn’t exactly how I immagined a Kenyan slum to look like. It did have the rusty tin roofs, tiny shacks in disrepair, and dirt roads filled with potholes as one would expect to find in an area where the poor of the developing world reside but it also had something else. There seemed to be an energy present opposite of what I expected to find. There were food stands selling fresh fruit, shops, and plenty of smiling faces. There were also solar cells.