Building a Tower of Climate Fighting Power

This article by Montana Burgess first appeared in the 16 May 2012 edition of ECO, published at the UNFCCC climate change talks in Bonn.

Like the Secretariat, our LCA chair and many other delegates in the Maritim, ECO also has experience with the trials and tribulations of construction projects. But not to worry. Yesterday, AOSIS and the LDCs presented a new blueprint for a sturdy and livable structure that can be a functional home for all of us, with a minimal carbon footprint and protection from the increasingly uncertain elements.

To build a good foundation, AOSIS has designed some strong pillars to replace or reinforce the flimsy developed country pledges. For instance, the EU, which has been mixing only 20% cement with sand for its concrete, can strengthen its climate edifice by rising to 30% concrete or even more. This is required to meet the building codes anyway, so why skimp and risk collapse?

New Zealand should raise its level to at least 20%. And in Australia, government papers, forced by NGOs to be made public, show that the conditions for its 15% target have already been met.

Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will need to dig deeper foundations in the second commitment period to prevent vast amounts of hot air.

Canada, which has been out of compliance with building codes for some time, has decided to build tar sand castles and has given up on any construction that will last more than a few years.

Moving from the foundation to the ground floor, AOSIS, troubled by the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan ¨C fleeing the building and planning to build their own shanties ¨C warns they must use comparable construction standards, and prepare for the visit of the building inspector. As long as they remain in the Convention, they must demonstrate that their efforts are comparable to those of Kyoto buildings, and will achieve results consistent with the best available science.

Adequate housing for all requires scaled up contributions to the building fund, which is why the LDCs are unhappy with the lack of reliable and predictable finance. Conventionland’s wealthier residents, who have already built comfortable homes with high carbon footprints, have thus far refused to give a clear timetable towards meeting the US$100 billion commitment by 2020. They only seem to be offering play money and junk bonds to add up to the $100 billion.

With a strong foundation laid, the LDC architects have proposed that a mighty Durban Tower can be built in a few years on the same institutional structure as the current, modest Bali Tower. The venerable old Kyoto Tower will be dwarfed by the combined ambition of these two new structures, which will have ample space for mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building. The new towers will be in full compliance will all codes. Regular visits by monitoring, reporting and verifying teams, checking up on finance and mitigation actions, will be welcome events.

The initial sketches from Durban are about to become detailed blueprints, full of shovel-ready projects that will be built for the occupants well in advance of the construction schedule.

The LDCs, like all of us, have placed their futures in the hands of a new Project Manager who we trust will not be satisfied with the current low level of ambition. All the settlers in Conventionland must spare no effort in ensuring the post-2020 Durban Tower reaches new heights, with clear milestones for each coming year.

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