WWF Director General, Jim Leape: ‘We could end up legally bound to a 4° world’
Reaching 1.8 billion people across 135 nations, Earth Hour 2011 was a clear indication of the world’s growing desire to seek solutions to the planet’s environmental challenges, the most pressing of course being the issue of climate change. But how are the people of the world being represented by their government officials at the COP17 climate talks currently taking place in Durban, South Africa? The Head of Earth Hour’s supporting partner, WWF Director General, Jim Leape, has issued a powerful statement on how government delegates should be approaching this urgent issue that affects the future of everyone on the planet.
“We’re not done here. This process is too important given its inclusion of the most vulnerable countries to let the actions of a few governments impede progress. The fact that we will ultimately need a fair, ambitious and binding agreement to tackle the threat of climate change has and will not change.
“Here in Durban, we need agreement around a package that includes the creation of the Green Climate Fund and a workplan to get some money into it. And we need to secure a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.
“What this process is not delivering is ambition on emissions reductions. In fact, there is not a single scenario on the table right now that allows us to avoid catastrophic climate change. And that is not the fault of the process. It is the fault of governments.
“Before we came to Durban, we were talking about a post-2012 climate change regime, and now because of the US and a few other countries, we’re talking about a post-2020 regime. But if we have no ambition on emission reductions and a timeline aimed at 2020 for implementation, we could end up legally bound to a 4 degree world. And that would be catastrophic.
“It is striking that as the US hinders progress here, it is acting against its own self- interest. Just this past year, 47 of the 50 United States were forced to declare a state of emergency in response to climate-related weather disasters. Fourteen of these disasters cost over a billion dollars each. “So while politicians continue to bicker around the edges of the negotiations, we will be looking for leaders to engage on the real issues here. We NGOs are here to address the urgent threat of climate change and ensure a future world where there is enough food, water and energy for all. Might be good to ask governments why they’re here.”
In a further video statement yesterday, Mr Leape has reiterated the calls made four years ago at COP13 in Bali, where UN climate delegates around the world urged the US to either step up or step aside. “We need the United States as the second largest emitter in the world and one of the highest per capita emitters in the world, to show the leadership we expect from them in other sectors and find a way to be part of mounting a global solution to climate change. “If they don’t then I think the countries of the world need to say to the US as they said in Bali, please lead or get out of the way.” For more about WWF’s expectations and other media resources, please visit www.panda.org/cop17