COP 16

by Paul Donahue

COP 16 is the short name for the U.N. Climate Change Conference now taking place in Cancún. For those of you who are not aware that delegates are in the middle of a two week long negotiating session in Cancún, you have a reasonable excuse. The Cancún talks were not mentioned a single time all last week on the evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS and NBC. At last year’s climate conference in Copenhagen, the media room was buzzing with thousands of reporters. However, today climate change seems to be a forgotten story.

What are the highlights so far of these very important talks? There aren’t any. Expectations for any real results are low. Once again, the leaders of the world are abdicating their duty to deal responsibly with the issue of climate change. Just 20 heads of state from developing countries are expected to come to Cancún and no G20 country is expected to send a leader. Once again, the countries guilty of emitting the most carbon dioxide, like the U.S., are doing everything in their power to block any real progress on limiting CO2 emissions. Once again, what has been billed by reputable scientists the world over as the biggest challenge facing humanity is being ignored by those in the best position to do something about it. Once again, the health of the planet’s life support systems is being sacrificed on the altar of corporate profits. Nothing ever changes.

Well, at least that’s true in politics and commerce. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the atmosphere, in which CO2 levels continue rising at about two parts per million per year, leading to an earth that gets hotter and hotter and hotter.

Pacifica, CA

06 December 2010