Posnan, Poland 6 December 2008. The United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change could not have found a better place to convene the 14th session of the Conference of Parties with about 9000 participating delegates from 192 countries, non-governmental organizations, corporations and indigenous organizations. The country is making efforts to address environmental damage as a matter of policy, but the political leaders appear stymied by the demands of economy. In the beginning of winter, Poznan is clouding, in perpetual mist and wet grounds.
The Quinault Indian Nation, Arctic Athabaskan Council and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference have observer status at this important conference where decisions are being made about new standards for green house gas emissions and human adaptation to climate change. As I view the conference first hand, I am convinced that the whole approach to climate change decision-making is up-side-down.
The top-down approach that the Framework Conference presents prevents serious consideration of concrete proposals for preventing carbon dioxide emissions or mitigating the existing emissions. Market economics is the central theme of the conference on which virtually all issues depend in the present conference.
What is missed in the conference is that Market economics is the problem. The market driven system is the underlying cause of the over use of raw materials in the world and the transformation of natural carbon store houses (trees, coal, petroelum, grasslands, etc.) into free carbon dioxide gas. By destroying forests and over polluting the ocean, the market approach to economics has successfully minimized nature’s capacity to reabsorb the carbon released into the atmosphere by human actions. This was accomplished by the present system of economy in just 200 years since the beginning of the so called Industrial Revolution.
Clearly the conference now regards the only approach to reducing carbon emissions must be through economic incentives. But even this approach is failing. Ninety percent of Polands electricity is generated by coal, and 150,000 Poles are directly involved in coal extraction. The President of France has suggested that maybe a special concession can be made to Poland by delaying this country’s compliance with a 2050 eighty percent reduction in carbon emissions goal. India, China, Indonesia and numerous other countries want consessions too. The economy as it is presently configured is placed in higher priority than the necessity to prevent radical climate change.
An approach that must be introduced into this conference, and it is my hope as an observer here at the Poznan conference, that cultural approaches to carbon emissions mitigation and conservation measures will become a serious consideration. This means that a major effort must be made at the eco-system level to restore the natural environment and stop deforestation, ocean polution, and atmospheric polution at the metropolitan level. In other words, a concerted effort of cooperation between the indigenous peoples of the world who have 80% of the biological diversity in their “back yard” must be matched by a substantial reduction in industrial activity…replaced by a subsistence approach to living. That is not going backward in time, but rather it is a moving into the 21st century approach that leaves behind the 19th and 20th century pollution era. Absent this approach, the conference and the eventual treaty will be doomed to failure.
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