October 24, Climate Action Day was observed throughout the world. In Latin America, 52 organizations joined together with the objective of pressuring governments to sign a new climate change treaty. They called for an exigent, fair, and binding agreement based on the most recent scientific data that would be enforced rigorously enough to meet the target of an atmospheric CO2 level of 350 ppm (parts per million).
Millions of people in 180 countries participated in over five thousand events during “Campaign 350” to call for action in the fight against climate change. All kinds of events took place, from demonstrations in major cities to a wide variety of other actions around the world. Mountain climbers scaled the highest peaks to unfurl banners, underwater protests were organized in island countries threatened by the rise in sea levels, symbolic actions were carried out in churches, synagogues and mosques, professional cyclists rode together in support of climate change day, and hundreds of other groups organized community-based activities intended to raise people’s consciousness concerning the need for urgent action.
The 350 movement is the first worldwide popular campaign to pressure governments to sign a new international climate treaty in line with the latest scientific findings on climate change. It is curious to note that among the ten most contaminating countries one also finds the principal nuclear arms producers: United States, China, India and the United Kingdom. It is perhaps due to that coincidence that so many public figures and international leaders like the Dalai Lama, spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people, and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, as well as over 400 civil society, ecologist, religious, health, and sustainable development organizations have affiliated themselves with the movement.
Organizations like Third World Network and Greenpeace point out the role of multinational companies in the degradation of the environment, emphasizing that their activities count for over half of the greenhouse gases emitted by the industrial sectors that contribute most to global warming. These companies dominate commercialization, and often the extraction, of natural resources and therefore have a major impact on forests, soil, water resources and marine environments.
The multinationals, for example, dominate the mining industry and control close to one fifth of the world’s cultivated land, which they dedicate to export crops. Similarly, they represent the lion’s share of industrial output and national and international transport, high industrial and worker safety risk activities that generate pollution, toxic waste and often produce hazardous products. These companies extend systems of production that are irrational from an ecological point of view to southern continents, introducing dangerous pesticides, contaminating industries and leaving behind toxic waste.
The 350 movement takes its name from the number of parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) that the atmosphere can absorb without severely altering the climate. Nevertheless, some developed countries, especially in Europe, are calling for setting a 450 ppm limit, a level that The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts will provoke a chain reaction of irreversible effects upon the climate and endanger life on the planet. The greatest challenge is the current breakdown in treaty negotiations over emission reductions.
According to the IPCC, the current atmospheric CO2 levels of 387 ppm have been responsible for a 30% reduction of the Andean glaciers, the onset of a gradual conversion of eastern Amazon forests into savannas, a great loss of biodiversity and the extinction of many species in tropical zones, and shifts in rainfall patterns that could potentially threaten water supplies.
The panel seeks to construct a movement that will create a dialogue between all nations of the world over ways to solve the climate crisis and arrive at fair solutions that will involve common responsibilities while respecting the special situations of all nations.
Next December, the XV International Conference on Climate Change will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, attended by representatives of the nations signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United States, that withdrew from the group during the Bush administration. The meeting’s main objective is to achieve an agreement that would replace the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty dealing with greenhouse gas reductions, with a legally enforceable international agreement related to climate change that would enter into effect as of 2012.
The objective of the Kyoto Protocol, approved in 1997 but that did not go into effect until Russia became a signatory in November of 2004, was to reduce greenhouse gases by 5% by the year 2012 using 1990 levels as a benchmark. This was not possible due to the non-cooperation of principle polluter nations such as China and the United States.
Source: Noticias Aliadas (www.noticiasaliadas.org)
*(Translation provided by Jenni Lukac)*