Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/420/4912
Montreal conference - Little change on climate change
TONY BLAIR hailed the recent United Nations Montreal conference on climate change as a "vital next step in tackling climate." Green pressure group, Friends of the Earth said it was an "historic agreement".
In reality, little progress was made on the previously adopted and deeply flawed Kyoto protocol, which tried to limit the signatory countries' greenhouse gas (GG) emissions (the principle cause of global warming) up to 2012.
The Montreal agreement is seen as a breakthrough because the world's biggest polluter, the USA, (who earlier walked out of the conference) agreed to take part in 'non-binding talks on long-term measures to combat global warming' ie do nothing!
But the conference failed to take significant measures beyond the Kyoto protocol.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane levels in the atmosphere are the highest in 650,000 years because of industrial pollution, deforestation, mining, etc.
This is causing rapid climate change thereby increasing extreme weather events, floods, droughts, and species decline, including fish stocks.
The 1997 Kyoto agreement set targets of reducing GG emissions by a mere 5.2% from a 1990 benchmark, despite environmental scientists' demand for a 60% cut by 2012.
The agreement only covered countries accounting for 61% of global emissions. The world's biggest contributor to GG emissions the US, together with Australia, refused to sign up.
The US produces twice as much greenhouse gases as the second highest GG producer, China.
Also, the signatories didn't have to reduce emissions but could participate in a carbon-trading market with other countries whose emissions were below their targets.
However, Tony Blair made an electoral commitment to reduce emissions by 20% by 2012. But CO2 emissions by UK industry and transport have actually increased. And Blair, responding to lobbying by the Confederation of British Industry - they say investing in clean technologies is too expensive - has become lukewarm about Labour's commitment.
Clearly the capitalist class's interests will veto measures that will reduce profits from industrial production.
To gain a real grip on climate change will mean fighting to politically transform this profit system through socialist change.
In The Socialist 15 December 2005: