Obama’s going to Copenhagen but will he live up to his own words?

My post on 1 Minute to Save the World

The White House announced last night that President Obama will be going to the UNFCCC conference in Copenhagen. This is good news as it means there is more chance (if only a little) that something constructive will emerge from the train-wreck that is COP15 – and that’s before it’s even started!

Well Obama, this is your chance to live up to your own words, evidenced here by Mike Erskine in his shortlisted film Our Time, “Yes we can repair this world”. We need leadership and it must come from the West. We need drastic cuts in emissions, not quick-fix solutions. We need you to keep your word Obama, repair this world.

Sometimes I think Bill Hicks really was a prophet. (It’s Bill Hicks so expect explicit language).

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Campaigners Call to Kick Canada to the Curb over ‘Criminal’ Climate Catastrophe

Now THAT’s how you alliterate!

The Guardian has published an article stating a claim by “..prominant campaigners, politicians and scientists…” calling for Canada to be suspended from the Commonwealth over it’s climate change policies. Now it is often thought that the worst countries in the world for greenhouse gas emissions are places like China, India the US etc. Big industrialised or industrialising nations. This is largely true, however if you look at the per capita emissions from somewhere like China it is extremely low, around 4 tons per person per year, whereas the UK is around 9 tons per person per year or the US is around 18. Canada is currently around 16 tons per person per year but has a population around half that of the UK.

Why is this? Well in Canada they have a resource called Tar Sands. This is a very dirty and contaminated form of oil, for each barrel of synthetic crude oil produced from tar sands 80kg of greenhouse gasses are emitted and 3 barrels of water are needed to wash the contaminates out. It is estimated there are some 174 billion barrels of oil in the ground in Athabasca ( the largest region of Canadian tar sands), approximately 15% of total global oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia.

This uber-dirty oil has become more and more profitable int he last decade as the price for regular crude has risen. Canada, and in particular the premiere of Alberta (the state where most tar sands exists) Ed Stelmach, has sought to promote the expansion in tar sands extraction. Helping him on his way is the UK taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland who have invested huge amounts of money in companies seeking to expand tar sands extraction.

If extraction of tar sands continues we won’t just cross the 2ºC threshhold, we will a blur as we zoom passed it and look longingly back at it from a future of extreme weather, global economic collapse, billions of climate refugees, heavily armed and controlled borders, increased conflict, evaporation of human rights – a humanitarian disaster on an unimaginable scale.