At the Climate Summit held in New York this week, things took place that are by now common at these conferences: the representatives expressed their concern and their will to act and, by the end of it all, reached the minimum number of agreements. And so a vital issue for the planet awaits further definition until next year’s meeting.
This year, nothing altered the course of the UN General Assembly, not even the many protests in support of the environment, which took place in the days prior to the summit in major cities around the world, some with hundreds of thousands of participants. For example, one protest took place in New York, in which 310,000 people called for real solutions. That collective conscience, which seems to be awakened in the face of nature’s deterioration through global warming, is not reflected in the action of states or international organizations.
Or, at least, it has not materialized. While everyone is aware of the environmental damage caused by humanity, and of how this has speeded up in line with a world of accelerating technological advances and an increased need to consume energy, the actions to prevent the global average temperature from rising by four degrees Celsius in this century did not materialize. It is almost as if climate change does not in fact signify the slow death of the planet.
If there is one thing that stands out from the meeting, attended by the heads of state and government of 120 countries, it is President Barack Obama’s recognition of the responsibility that the United States and China have as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. The American president spoke of a “growing and urgent threat,” and urged that an “ambitious” international agreement be reached that can be settled at the meeting due to take place in Paris in 2015, stating that his country and the Asian giant have a “special responsibility to lead” in decision making.
In order to turn this speech into reality, he should begin by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5 percent, and which the countries causing the most contamination have refused to sign, including the United States and China. The rest of the summit contained expressive speeches and calls for the less economically developed countries, which have the greatest environmental riches, for all to contribute to the environmental salvation of the Earth.
In the end, the commitment to recover 350 million hectares of the world’s degraded land was discussed, although it was not said how or what would be done. It was also decided to move $200 billion before the end of next year in order to invest in the fight against climate change. But only France was specific about the contribution of $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund, and the European Union guaranteed the donation of $3,800 in seven years in order to help the poorest countries in their fight against global warming.
During the rest of the conference, nothing was said about how resources will be managed. Therefore, the conclusion is the same as usual: that conferences on climate change will have few results whilst the commitment of nations is restricted to speeches.