Stephan Harrison https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/2008/all cached version 09/02/2019 02:57:15 en Stephan Harrison https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/stephan-harrison <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Stephan Harrison </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Stephan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Harrison </div> </div> </div> <p>Stephan Harrison is a geomorphologist, <a href="http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/staff/sharrison.html" target="_blank">specialising</a> in landscape responses to climate change, at Exeter University and Oxford University. He has worked in the mountains of central Asia, Patagonia, central Europe and northern Scandinavia on climate change issues.</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Stephan Harrison is a geomorphologist, &lt;a href=http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/staff/sharrison.html target=_blank&gt;specialising&lt;/a&gt; in landscape responses to climate change, at Exeter University and Oxford University. He has worked in the mountains of central Asia, Patagonia, central Europe and northern Scandinavia on climate change issues. </div> </div> </div> Anonymous author Stephan Harrison Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:13:21 +0000 Anonymous author and Stephan Harrison 51497 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Kazakhstan: glaciers and geopolitics https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-climate_change_debate/kazakhstan_2551.jsp <p>The consequences of climate change are making themselves felt in the public consciousness in dramatic ways. In Europe, the floods of 2002 and the heatwave of 2003 that killed at least 20,000 people are just two recent examples. But climate change has the potential to affect human society in subtler and less visible ways that can have the effect of destabilising economies and unsettling political relationships. This point is well illustrated by focusing on the evidence for recent climate change, and its likely future effects, in central Asia. </p> <p>One of the anticipated outcomes of global warming is the reduction of mountain ice cover and permafrost now underway in almost all mountain regions. In much of central Asia, glaciers and ice-rich permafrost serve as water towers by providing a continuous supply of fresh water to the lowlands and thereby allowing economic activity to take place. Their recession over the past few decades in response to global climate change is striking. </p> <p>This is well seen in the mountains of the northern Tian Shan range in Kazakhstan. <a href="http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/kz.html" target="_blank">Here</a> glacier retreat affects the nature of the natural hazards in the populated valleys and the lowland piedmont zone. More widely, it has potential geopolitical implications. </p><div class="full_image"><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/2551/images/maps.jpg" border="0" alt="" width="555" /><br /><span class="image_caption">Map of Kazakhstan and the Bolshaya and Malaya Almatiuka valleys</span></p></div>Mountain regions fringing the arid zones of central Asia are facing increasing demand for water resources and tourism-leisure activities. These pressures are particularly <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3077422.stm" target="_blank">acute in Kazakhstan</a>, which (outside Russia) is the largest and most economically developed of the former Soviet republics, with extensive and important mineral resources. <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The city and hinterland of Almaty, located in the highly-populated piedmont zone of the Zailiisky Alatau mountains in the northern <a href="http://encarta.msn.com/media_461552272_761566451_-1_1/Tian_Shan_Kazakhstan.html" target="_blank">Tian Shan</a> region of Kazakhstan, form the economic powerhouse of the country: 20% of the country&rsquo;s industrial production, 30% of its agricultural production and 17% of its population are located here. </p> <p>The area draws its <a href="http://www.undp.kz/library_of_publications/files/2496-26810.pdf" target="_blank">water supply</a> from two main sources. The first is from the trans-boundary Ili river which rises in the mountains of northwest China and flows westwards into southern Kazakhstan. The second, and only local and reliable supply of water for the city, comes from the glaciated Bolshaya and Malaya Almatinka drainage basins lying thirty kilometres south of Almaty. Like many glaciated mountain regions, these valleys are prone to experience severe flooding, avalanches and catastrophic <a href="http://www.aspkz.freenet.kz/project17.html" target="_blank">debris flows</a> that disrupt transport and utility infrastructure and endanger human activity. </p> <p>Environmental records from the region include detailed glacier monitoring from the late 19th century, a wide range of climate parameters collected since 1879 in the Malaya Almatinka valley, and the frequency and character of avalanche and rock glacier activity over the past forty years. This data set makes clear that climate change is having an impact in the region, something confirmed by an analysis of the meteorological data and the response of mountain glaciers. </p> <p>Mean annual air temperatures from 1936-98 show that there was a significant rise in air temperatures from the 1980s; these are now about 0.2&ndash;0.25 degrees Centigrade above the long-term trend. In the mountains, mean annual air temperatures from the Bolshaya Almatinskoye lake show a 0.8 degree rise over this period, slightly higher than the 0.6 degree rise in <a href="http://www-das.uwyo.edu/%7Egeerts/cwx/notes/chap15/global_temp.html" target="_blank">global mean surface temperatures</a> over the past century reported in the 2001 IPCC report. </p> <p><strong>Glaciers and climate change</strong></p> <p>In the mountains of the northern Tian Shan range, 416 <a href="http://nsidc.org/data/ggd501.html" target="_blank">glaciers</a> have been monitored over the last fifty years, and it is also clear that they are melting very rapidly, losing about 0.7% of their mass per year between 1955-2000. Over this time the glaciers reduced their total surface area from 272 to 201 square kilometres. The most studied of these is the Tuyuksu glacier, thirty kilometres south of Almaty. This small valley glacier is some five kilometres in length and 4 square kilometres in area. It has been monitored since the 1870s, making Tuyuksu&rsquo;s records one of the longest continuous glaciological data sets in the world and of considerable interest to glacial modellers and climatologists. </p><div class="full_image"><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/2551/images/iceberg_bw.jpg" border="0" alt="" width="555" /><br /><span class="image_caption">The Tuyuksu glacier</span></p></div><p>Mass balance data describes the balance between inputs to the glacier system (mainly in the form of snowfall and ice from avalanches) and outputs (mainly as a result of melting). Whether the mass balance of a glacier is positive or negative therefore defines its &ldquo;health&rdquo; and allows us to describe quantitatively whether the glacier is gaining or losing mass. </p> <p>The data for the <a href="http://archives.tcm.ie/breakingnews/2003/09/03/story112012.asp" target="_blank">Tuyuksu glacier</a> show that mass balance was mostly positive between the end of the 19th century to the first two decades of the 20th century. However, from the middle of the 20th century there was a shift to mostly negative mass balances. Whilst such trends are clearly of special interest to scientists, they also warn of profound changes which may affect the livelihoods of millions of people in central Asia. </p> <p><strong>Water politics</strong></p> <p>Around 75-80% of river runoff in the region is derived from glaciers and permafrost, and with glacier recession the water supply is threatened, and with it the farming economy. Water supply problems also have the potential to destabilise the political situation in the region since many of the rivers are trans-boundary; glaciers in one state feed rivers supplying water in another. </p> <p>For instance, China has produced plans to abstract water from the <a href="http://www.rfa.org/english/news/in_depth/2004/11/29/central_asia/" target="_blank">Ili river</a> to develop its industrial capacity in Xinjiang province. It is clear that China&rsquo;s plans to abstract up to 40% of the water from the Irtysh and Ili river basins will exacerbate water supply problems to <a href="http://www.grid.unep.ch/activities/sustainable/balkhash/index.php" target="_blank">Lake Balkash</a> and the Kapshagay reservoir, both of which supply Almaty. Sustainable water resource use cannot therefore be achieved without a high level of political agreement and the threat of conflicts over water supply remains. </p> <p>Moreover, glacier recession has created two further natural hazards. First, the retreat of glaciers has uncovered huge amounts of unconsolidated glacial debris now choking main and tributary valleys. During periods of heavy rain, these are remobilised and form destructive debris flows that travel rapidly down valley into the southern suburbs of Almaty. </p> <p>Second, and even more dangerously, recent glacier retreat has lead to the development of glacial lakes dammed by unstable moraines. These lakes drain catastrophically and the subsequent debris flows pose a significant natural hazard to the city. One of the most powerful recent debris flows to affect the northern valleys of the Tian Shan occurred in July 1973 in the Malaya Almatinka valley. This deposited 4 million cubic metres of debris into the large dam and storage reservoir above Almaty. </p> <p>Large sums of money need to be diverted to pay for engineering solutions to these hazards, representing a significant additional economic cost from climate change. </p> <p><strong>Too serious to ignore</strong></p> <p>The case of Kazakhstan reveals two things: how intimately related are climate, landscape, political and economic systems; and that assessing the risks from future climate change is about more than producing flood hazard maps or knowing where sea-level rises will affect coastlines. </p> <p>The evidence of climate change at a global scale from small remote glaciers such as those in southern Kazakhstan is invaluable as the records cannot have been contaminated by urban heat islands. Since the vast majority of glaciers in this region of central Asia are in recession, we can be confident that there is strong evidence for contemporary climate change in this region. </p> <p>More widely, climate change has the potential to <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/environment/articles/eav091203.shtml" target="_blank">disrupt</a> the context within which economic and political decision-making operate. Few non-scientists recognise the extreme rapidity with which climate can alter, and the non-linear and dynamic nature of the climate system. Politicians have consistently failed to listen to the warnings or take them seriously. This means that climate change is likely to have some very unpleasant surprises in store for us. </p> <p> </p><table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="550" bgcolor="#99cccc"><tbody><tr><td> <p> This article appears as part of <strong>openDemocracy</strong>&lsquo;s online debate on <a href="/climate_change/index.jsp">the politics of climate change</a>. The debate was developed in partnership with the British Council as part of their <a href="http://www.britishcouncil.org/science-climate-zcc.htm" target="_blank">ZeroCarbonCity</a> initiative &ndash; a two year global campaign to raise awareness and stimulate debate around the challenges of climate change.</p> </td></tr></tbody></table> Science Globalisation The politics of climate change Stephan Harrison Original Copyright Wed, 05 Sep 2007 23:00:00 +0000 Stephan Harrison 2551 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The G8 and climate change: a campaigners' scorecard https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-climate_change_debate/climate_reaction_2672.jsp <a name="top"></a> <p><div align=&#148;left&#148; <ul><li><b><a href="#four">Tom Burke </a></b></li> <li><b><a href="#five">Mayer Hillman </a> </b></li> <li><b><a href="#three">Camilla Toulmin & Saleemul Huq</a></b></li> <li><b><a href="#one">Stephan Harrison</a></b></li> <li><b><a href="#two">Aubrey Meyer</a></b></li></div> <a name="four"><b>Tom Burke</b></a>, Third Generation Environmentalism (<a href=http://www.e3g.org.uk/ target=_blank>E3G</a>)</p> <p><b>Beyond the text</b></p> <p>Labouring mightily to produce textual mice is an inevitable feature of the increasingly bizarre, and expensive, circus that the <a href=http://www.g7.utoronto.ca/what_is_g8.html target=_blank>G8</a> has become. Britain&#146;s Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was far-sighted and courageous in setting climate change as one of the principal goals for his presidency of it. There was always a risk of failure and the intervention of the <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2005/london_explosions/default.stm target=_blank>London bombers</a> prevented the nature of that failure from becoming more apparent.</p> <p>Blair&#146;s primary goal was to get the United States administration to accept the strength of scientific opinion that now calls with increasing urgency for <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4660163.stm target=_blank>action on climate change</a>. Many of those who have parsed the text of the <a href=http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page7881.asp target=_blank>communiqué</a> have already pointed out that President Bush went no further than he has gone before. Indeed, parts of the document repeat almost word for word some of his (rare) comments on the subject.</p> <p>Some have <a href=http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/press/pr20050709.html target=_blank>damned</a> the Gleneagles document because it contains no new targets and timetables; others have, in a fit of ill-informed enthusiasm, praised it as the most important text on climate change since the Kyoto Protocol. Neither are right. Like the priest he often resembles, Tony Blair&#146;s efforts have resulted in the proverbial curate&#146;s egg. </p> <p>The G8 is a political process, not a policy negotiation. It was never going to discuss, let alone agree on, new emissions targets and timetables. Those discussions, to be meaningful, must take place inside a properly constructed and legitimate multilateral forum. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b><b>openDemocracy&#146;s</b> debate on the <a href="/climate_change/index.jsp">politics of climate change</a> includes contributions from Timothy E Wirth, David King, Carol Turley, Andrew Simms, and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2572">William Shakespeare</a> </b></p> <p>Plus: Tom Burke & John Ashton, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2509">Climate change and global security</a>&#148;</p> </div><p>The point of the G8 is to release a political momentum that <a href=http://unfccc.int/2860.php target=_blank>accelerates the work</a> going on in the huge array of public, private, local, national and international bodies that must align their efforts if the world is to keep a stable climate. That is why the failure to get anything more than cosmetic acceptance from the Bush administration matters so much. Away from the headlines, the US will go on, as it has done for the past four and a half years, taking every conceivable opportunity to <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2547">deny, delay and derail</a> international action on climate change.</p> Tony Blair&#146;s efforts <a href=http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/page6333.asp target=_blank>over the past nine months</a> achieved much. Awareness of the importance and urgency of the issue has grown considerably among other country&#146;s political leaderships, in business and finance, the media and the wider public. The weight of scientific evidence on the <a href=http://www.millenniumassessment.org/en/index.aspx target=_blank>scale and imminence of the threat</a> is now much more widely accepted. There is an emerging programme of useful, albeit hardly energetic, cooperative international work on climate issues.</div></p> <p>But paradoxically, the G8&#146;s most useful outcome is the exact opposite of what the British prime minister intended. Gleneagles has shone a radiant <a href=http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/dn7644 target=_blank>light</a> on the US president&#146;s obdurate isolation on climate change. His position now commands diminishing support at home and none abroad. Nothing in George W Bush&#146;s past performance suggests that this will bother him one iota. </p> <p>This serves to clarify the task ahead. During Britain&#146;s <a href=http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-141757-16&type=News target=_blank>European Union presidency</a> until December 2005, Blair must focus beyond the text on what we can do with the rest of the world, especially China and India, to invest real money in climate stability.</p> <a href="#top">back to top</a> <p><b><a name="five">Mayer Hillman </a>, <a href=http://www.psi.org.uk/people/person.asp?person_id=30 target=_blank>Policy Studies Institute</a> </b></p> <p><b>A failure of imagination</b></p> <p>The G8 <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4664549.stm target=_blank>communiqué on climate change</a> at the end of the Gleneagles summit can be commended for reaching a long-awaited consensus: human beings are contributing to climate change, and must therefore reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Also welcome was its recognition of the United Nations as the international body that must take the lead on negotiations to lock world populations into a failsafe framework to ensure that raising material standards are not allowed seriously to diminish the future quality of life on this, hitherto ecologically-balanced, planet.<div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Mayer Hillman&#146;s latest book (with Tina Fawcett) is <em>How We Can Save The Planet</em> (<a href=http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_0141016922,00.html target=_blank>Penguin 2004</a>)</b></p></div><p>Yet the only realistic response to the communiqué can be one of dismay in seeing world leaders failing to deliver what its citizens have a right to expect of them. This failure is apparent in three respects. </p> <p>First, the communiqué acknowledges the need &#147;to act with resolve and urgency&#148; to reduce greenhouse gases. But the absolute commitment to achieve the science-based and measurable reductions which will spare the planet &#150; and especially people living in the <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/sci_tech/2000/climate_change/1024011.stm target=_blank>global south</a> &#150; from the ravages of climate change, is absent. </p> <p>Second, the communiqué calls for a wider dialogue, but does not challenge the fallacious assumption that necessary reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions can be achieved <em>without the need for significant behavioural changes</em>. Such changes are an essential complement to a climate-change programme &#150; a clean energy path for sustainable development, more efficient use of energy, and more investment in research and development technology.</p> <p>In this respect, one of the most revealing aspects of the summit week was the failure to make critical connections. The intense media and political concern with climate change was accompanied by the hullabaloo surrounding the <a href=http://www.london2012.org/en target=_blank>2012 Olympics</a> competition &#150; but the ecological, carbon-extravagant consequences of long-distance flights by tens of thousands of spectators and participants was ignored. Such collective amnesia about air travel is symptomatic of the failure of imagination among the G8, its leading politicians, and the current structures of global governance. </p></div></p><p>Third, the communiqué&#146;s call for partnership with the major emerging economies is reasonable. But that partnership can only have a realistic prospect of success if it forms part of a world solution &#150; namely, the <a href=http://www.gci.org.uk/ target=_blank>Global Commons Institute</a>&#146;s <em>Contraction & Convergence</em> framework, involving negotiations towards equal per capita emissions of greenhouse gases.</p> <p>For all its fine words, the G8 is stuck in a cross-fingered and ill-informed approach to climate change. It is time to end the myth that voluntary action based on better education, energy saving, and new technologies will achieve the dramatic greenhouse-gas reductions required. World leaders must take the lead. Only urgent action on their part, far more ambitious and visionary than reflected in the final Gleneagles communiqué, will prevent them handing over a dying planet to the next generation.</p> <a href="#top">back to top</a> <p><b><a name="three">Camilla Toulmin & Saleemul Huq</a>, <a href=http://www.iied.org/ target=_blank>International Institute of Environment and Development</a></b> </p> <p><b>Dazed and confused</b></p> <p>Many campaigners welcomed the G8&#146;s <a href=http://allafrica.com/stories/200507111137.html target=_blank>decision</a> on aid and debt relief to African states, but had no progress to celebrate on the climate change agenda. They might have preferred a statement revealing the split on the issue between the United States and everyone else. But traditionally, the G8 seeks a consensus in its final communiqué &#150; and this was achieved by (perhaps) exchanging US agreement on Africa for a bland conclusion on climate. </p> <p>Yet the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2513">Africa and climate change agendas</a> are deeply connected. Increased aid flows may bring relief for African government budgets needing cover for health, education, water supplies, and road-building, but such investments will be threatened by a failure to address the <a href=http://www.ceepa.co.za/Climate_Change/ target=_blank>threats to livelihood systems</a> in the continent.</p> <p>Africa is particularly <a href=http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=46445&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa target=_blank>vulnerable</a> to climate change, because of its location in the tropics, its reliance on rain-fed farming, its weak physical and institutional infrastructure, and its poverty. Its huge landmass means that increases in temperature in the heart of the continent may well be double those experienced at a global level. So even if global warming can be kept to 2 degrees Centigrade on average over the next century, this may still entail 4 degrees to inland Africa. </p> <p>Many NGOs have highlighted African poverty issues, but few have focused on Africa and climate change. The NGO Working Group on Development and Climate Change, consisting of eighteen leading international NGOs in the development and environmental arenas, has focused on the linkage between climate change and Africa&#146;s development. It produced a publication called <em><a href=http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/z_sys_publicationdetail.aspx?pid=208 target=_blank>Africa Up in Smoke?</a></em> which pointed out that all the progress on aid and debt relief would be of little use if the climate change problem was not also tackled at the same time. </p> <p>The group organised a event in Edinburgh on the eve of the G8 summit, GW8 (<a href=http://www.itdg.org/?id=gw8 target=_blank>Global Warming Eight</a>); there, eight individuals (farmers, NGO workers, priests) from vulnerable developing countries (Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Mozambique, Honduras, Columbia, Philippines and India) spoke eloquently about the ravages of climatic impacts they are facing in their respective countries.</p> <p>Two cheers, then, to the G8 for <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2005/g8_gleneagles/default.stm target=_blank>doubling aid to Africa</a>. But there is a curious dissonance between this help and more problematic areas like climate change and trade. The rich countries seem ready to pay out money in aid and debt relief because this is relatively easy; such programmes allow these countries to maintain an image of themselves as generous, responsible, forgiving. </p> <p>Much harder are the significant changes to lifestyles needed if there is to be progress on trade and climate change issues. Most western governments see the interests of their farmers, industries, and consumers as too important to negotiate away, and argue that technical fixes will get us through climate change, so we don&#146;t need to &#147;sacrifice&#148; growth.</p> <p>Both trade and climate change demand far-reaching changes in the west, whose recognise that its current patterns of living damage the planet&#146;s weather patterns and ecosystems. The rich countries are far from responsible, generous and wise when they continue to ignore the adverse impacts of their agricultural and export subsidies on southern livelihoods. </p> <p>The United Kingdom holds <a href=http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1056723959549 target=_blank>the European Union presidency</a> from July-December 2005. EU member-states share much in common in their understanding of climate change, and accept the evidence of world-class scientists and their academies. The <a href=http://www.ipcc.ch/calendar.htm target=_blank>Montreal</a> review conference in September will be a great opportunity to plan for the period after the first <a href=http://www.ec.gc.ca/climate/kyoto-e.html target=_blank>Kyoto Protocol</a> target date of 2012, and to discuss how poor countries can best adapt to climate change. Britain and the European Union can play a key leadership role at such events. </p> <p>In the United States too, there are signs of progress. Many cities, states, citizen groups, politicians and corporations are now acknowledging the need to move forward, leaving the Bush administration to its dogmas. Soon, with luck, Bush and his oil buddies will be history.</p> <p>My teenage kids read a music and fashion magazine called <a href=http://www.confused.co.uk/ target=_blank>Dazed and Confused</a> which focuses this month on climate change. Hip youngsters get the point and understand why this matters for them, as well they might. They will be living with the consequences of their elders&#146; timid shortsightedness in addressing climate change. Maybe we should send a copy of <em>Dazed and Confused</em> to the G8 leaders&#146; residences! </p> <a href="#top">back to top</a> <br /> <p><b><a href="#one">Stephan Harrison</a>, <a href=http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/staff/sharrison.html target=_blank>Oxford University</a></b></p> <p><b>Will big business save the day? </b></p> <p>In the context of accumulating scientific evidence of the effects, causes and implications of climate change, the <a href=http://www.g8.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1094235520309 target=_blank>G8 summit</a> on 6-8 July 2005 must be seen as a wasted opportunity. The politicians managed successfully to split the debate so that poverty in Africa and the threat of climate change were considered separately, despite the increasing recognition that the two are entwined. </p> <p>Similarly, the global <a href=http://www.live8live.com/ target=_blank>Live8</a> concerts at no time made the link between the two, even though research shows that climate change is leading to drought which has already devastated crops throughout large parts of the developing world. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b><b>openDemocracy&#146;s</b> two-month <a href="/climate_change/index.jsp">debate</a> on the politics of climate change &#150; presented to Tony Blair&#146;s residence on the eve of the G8 &#150; featured articles and essays from Ian McEwan, Bill McKibben, Benito Müller, Angela Saini, Chris Mooney, Camilla Toulmin, and many others</b></p> <p><b>A good overview is debate editor Caspar Henderson&#146;s &#147;cyberwalk&#148;, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2590">The politics of climate change: a debate guide</a>&#148;</b></p> </div><p>The latest studies combine the outputs of &#147;<a href=http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/modeling/gcms.html target=_blank>general circulation models</a>&#148; with an understanding of sand-dune activity. They show that deserts in southern Africa are likely to be much more active during the rest of the 21st century, leading to loss of agricultural land in already marginal regions.</p> <p>The G8 managed to <a href=http://edition.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/07/08/g8.climate.reut/ target=_blank>defer</a> real progress on the issue by embedding the solutions into putative future technological advances. Increasingly, however, the science is showing that the climate sensitivity of the atmosphere is perhaps higher than was originally thought, and that the reaction of terrestrial and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2558">oceanic</a> systems to climate change is likely to be non-linear, sudden and irreversible on societal timescales.</p> <p>Waiting for technological solutions to the problem, rather than restricting the emissions which are forcing the climate to new extremes, means that we will be increasingly committed to significant warming during this <a href=http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/catalog/book.htm?command=Search&db=main.txt&eqisbndata=0434008095 target=_blank>century</a>, and we don&#146;t know how ecological and climate systems will respond to this. </p> <p>Whilst politicians (and entertainers) have <a href=http://www.climatechange.com.au/ target=_blank>failed</a> to show a lead, real progress may come from an unlikely quarter. Big business and the <a href=http://www.abi.org.uk/Display/default.asp?Menu_ID=718&Menu_All=714,718,0&Child_ID=239 target=_blank>insurance industry</a> have recognised that climate change is likely to affect not just the physical environment in which companies operate, but also the social and political context within which decisions are made.</p> <p>There are clear signs that due diligence processes are going to have to <a href=http://iri.ldeo.columbia.edu/ target=_blank>take climate risks into account</a> and the corporate world is becoming aware of this. Once there is recognition that there are very significant commercial risks in neglecting climate change, and opportunities to help alleviate its <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-climate_change_debate/kazakhstan_2551.jsp target=_blank>effects</a>, it may be that business will force the politicians to act.</p> <p>The left has often complained that big business has more power than the nation-state; it would be ironic if big business were to save the day.</p> <a href="#top">back to top</a> <p><b><a name="two">Aubrey Meyer</a>, <a href=http://www.gci.org.uk/contact.html target=_blank>Global Commons Institute</a></b></p> <p><b>The United States wins (and contract & convergence too) </b></p> <p>The G8 acknowledged by consensus for the first time that there is a problem of <a href=http://www.exploratorium.edu/climate/primer/index.html target=_blank>human-induced climate change</a>. Not a great advance, as much effort was wasted on the staged poker-game of overcoming the &#147;tactical&#148; US <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2547">denial</a> of the problem.</p> <p>However, the United States administration finally won the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2462">argument</a> it has been making for many years: there is a global problem that requires a global solution, and the <a href=http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,15910888%5E12250,00.html target=_blank>Kyoto Protocol is outdated</a> because it excludes developing countries. </p> <p>Anticipating this, member companies of the World Economic Forum (<a href=http://www.weforum.org/pdf/g8_climatechange.pdf target=_blank>WEF</a>) wrote collectively to G8 governments before the meeting in Gleneagles. Their letter instructed governments to create the inclusive framework necessary to achieve safe and stable greenhouse-gas concentration in the global atmosphere, so they in turn could do their job. </p> <p>This is the point addressed by the contraction and convergence (<a href=http://www.schumacher.org.uk/schumacher_b5_climate_change.htm target=_blank>C&C</a>) model. To reconcile this with the suggested G8 &#147;action plan&#148; for global ecological recovery would require two things: that we <a href=http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=2503 target=_blank>solve the problem faster</a> than we create it, and introduce a C&C framework agreement to steer the solution through. On 12 July, the Royal Charter Institutions of the UK&#146;s building and engineering industry wrote to Tony Blair applauding the WEF leaders and presenting C&C as their framework of choice &#150; science-based, globally fair, and effective.</p> <p>The G8 member governments consider that the United Nations is the appropriate forum for negotiation, and have already returned the issue to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (<a href=http://unfccc.int/2860.php target=_blank>UNFCCC</a>). A remedy is at hand: the UNFCCC has already said that "achieving the objective of the climate treaty inevitably requires Contraction and Convergence." </p> <p>To put it another way, this means the <a href=http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=2502target=_blank>future</a> will by definition be a framework-based market rather than a market-based framework; as if God (as <a href=http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quotes_einstein.html target=_blank>Albert Einstein</a> said) does indeed play dice, but only having first designed them.</p> <a href="#top">back to top</a> <br /> <p> <table width=550 cellpadding=5 cellspacing=5 border=0 bgcolor=#99CCcc> <tr><td> <p> <strong><p>Further Links:</p> <p>Global Commons Institute (GCI)<br /> <a href="http://www.gci.org.uk/">http://www.gci.org.uk/</a></p> <p>International Institute for Environment and Development<br /> <a href="http://www.iied.org/">http://www.iied.org/</a></p> <p><strong>Third Generation Environmentalism<br /> <a href="http://www.e3g.org.uk/">http://www.e3g.org.uk/</a></strong></p> <p>Policy Studies Institute<br /> <a href="http://www.psi.org.uk/</strong>">http://www.psi.org.uk/</a></p></strong></p> <p>G8 UK Government website<br /> <a href="http://www.g8.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1094235520309">http://www.g8.gov.uk/</a></p> <p>The politics of climate change<br /> <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/climate_change/index.jsp">http://opendemocracy.net/climate_change/index.jsp</a></p> </td></tr> </table> </p><p> </p></div></p> Science Globalisation g8 summit 2005: power, protest, publicity The politics of climate change Aubrey Meyer Stephan Harrison Camilla Toulmin Saleemul Huq Mayer Hillman Tom Burke Original Copyright Tue, 12 Jul 2005 23:00:00 +0000 Aubrey Meyer, Camilla Toulmin, Mayer Hillman, Saleemul Huq, Stephan Harrison and Tom Burke 2672 at https://www.opendemocracy.net