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I have been following developments at the United Nations Climate Change Conference now underway in Copenhagen with concern if not dismay.

While there have been encouraging developments, particularly the commitment by the European Union, the proposal from the United States and China, by far the world’s largest per capita contributors to the global greenhouse gas build-up, has been nothing short of apathetic.

By contrast, the EU has made a legally binding commitment to cut its emissions by 20 per cent over the same period, and would increase the cut to 30 per cent if other countries committed to “comparable action”.

China, which is now the biggest global emitter of greenhouse gases has promised carbon intensity, cuts of 40-45 per cent. Which actually only amounts to about a disappointing four per cent each year!

It’s clear that a lot still needs to be done at the talks; but I’m sure that meaningful progress will only be achieved with increased resolve by all negotiators and, especially, better management from the US and China.

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4 Comments »

Comment by Dan
2009-12-14 10:31:26

You’re right to be dismayed, Chris. China is as greedy as the US. Both countries are effectively capitalist in their economies — it’s just that China is totalitarian politically. Expect no mercy from either. They only look at money in the present and very short-term future and care not at all for the earth, its people, or its creatures.

 
Comment by Joel Halfwassen Subscribed to comments via email
2009-12-15 00:46:16

I agree with both Chris and Dan. I’m a hard core Capitalist, but the ‘brown cloud’ that hovers about my city every now and then just kills me. I’m all for curbing those emissions. Bring on the cap and trade! There has been a lot of talk about the developing countries, especially small ones. Just out of curiosity…what kind of things are Dominica and Dominicas doing to be part of the global solution? I’m not asking this in a flippant way. Just looking to see how the movement expresses itself in a tiny island nation.

Joel

Comment by Chris
2009-12-15 04:46:26

One of the things Dominicans are doing to be apart of the global solution, is by coming together as nation to flight against anything that can have avast effect on Dominica’s Natural environment.

A perfect example was the recent proposal by the ruling Labour Party Government to build an Oil Refinery in Dominica. Knowing the effects an Oil Refinery can have on environment, Dominicans rallied together against the idea of Oil Refinery in Dominica – until the government had no just but to cancel the project altogether.

Another way Dominica is helping in curbing emissions is by slowly moving towards a greener economy. By regulating the electricity generating and distribution sub-sector, creating new systems that make use of renewable energy sources such as geothermal, wind, solar and water.

Just some of the ways Dominica is playing its part in curb emissions.

-Chris

Comment by pete
2009-12-15 10:54:14

Good points Chris. Just a bit of history here, as Dominica’s involvement in reducing emissions has been decades old; and the country has been a leader in the movement.

If I may add, Dominica has had a significant thrust in reducing fossil fuel emmisions since the 1951 when hydro power was first introduced. That reached its peak in 1991 when the hydro power contribution was 70% of total electrical power generated on island when the last hydro plant was commisioned. Though the percentage of hydro power (as a function of total generation) has dropped, initiatives are afoot in exploring other non-fossil forms. Also, currently, the second oldest hydro plant is being refurbished to improve efficiency and increase the hydro contribution. Incidentally the 1951 plant was still workable (though on standby mode) not long ago. Though the island’s total output has been small, no other Caribbean country has had that percentage of electrical power produced from non-fossil sources.

Although not directly related to emissions, the conservation movement has been strong in Dominica for a very long time. Over 30 years ago (when hardly anyone in the Caribbean was talking conservation), the island had foresight to declare one of the earliest forest reserves, dedicating a major sections of the island as protected areas. Of course we know that this not only helps the envrironment in scrubbing itself; it also takes out a portion of the land that could potentially have been used for other non-environmentally friendly purposes. One of these national parks was recognized by the UN as a World Heritage Site (the Caribbean’s first actually). Most of the island is still forest land.

I suppose one could also argue, given its size (relative to the other smaller islands with much larger populations), our carbon footprint (say per sq mile) from human consumption has not been as significant as it could be. But some of that has been by default, given the island’s stage in development.

 
 
 
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