Friday, December 3, 2010



Two weeks before Cancun COP16, rain started pouring into the Capital City Colombo in Sri Lanka crippling life activities and destroying roads, walls, houses, vehicles, etc. To start with, the parliament went under water and the MP’s had to be rescued by the armed forces. The flood waters came rushing through the road to my house and the neighbours’ parapet wall collapsed onto mine. Few miles away my friends home went under water and he called me and said “so this is what climate change is going to be like and we now need to adjust to the new conditions”. Many in the city had similar and sadder stories and all ended with new hardships and extra expenses. All of us down here are already preparing for the now frequent climate disasters; adaptation is already costing us!

Equity, mitigation and adaptation
Speaking to me on Cancun responsibilities, former Vice Chair of IPCC-AR4 Prof. Mohan Munasinghe demanded that political will to raise the resources to accelerate adaptation is demonstrated during the current round of climate negotiations. He said; "Even if progress on mitigation is slow, there is no excuse to delay more rapid progress on agreements to reduce climate change vulnerability and promote adaptation among the poorest and hardest hit groups in all countries. We know what needs to be done. We have the frameworks like Sustainomics, tools, policies and practical examples to start this process immediately, but sadly, the political will is lacking. Adaptation can be accelerated dramatically using funding amounting to just a small fraction of the USD 5 trillion that was raised so quickly to halt the recent financial meltdown. Equity and ethical principles should be used when negotiators consider how the burdens of both climate change impacts/adaptation and mitigation are distributed. The most effective way of addressing climate change is to integrate both adaptation and mitigation measures into sustainable development strategy. Civil society and business need to be more pro-active in pushing governments to take action now."

UN climate change negotiations are failing
International climate change negotiations are failing because they are not based on such foundations that offer equity, wellbeing and happiness of all. These negotiations at the United Nations are designed as a process of bargaining led by short sighted political leadership and their representatives. It is a bargaining place for the managers of the prevailing erroneous global governance and economic system. UN negotiations are not places where the countries congregate with mutual trust or confidence. Each of them tries to bargain for their own best share, rather than for the betterment of the planet. Therefore, these negotiations can hardly provide hope of a radical change in the approach or attitude towards creating a different system for a better world. If the international climate negotiations continue to fail in reaching an implementable agreement very soon, we would be allowing our global leadership to design for us an ultimate destiny to perish.

The frequency of natural disasters
We are already experiencing natural disasters at a regular frequency across the world like no other time in human history. Seeing highly developed cities in USA and Europe getting submerged in flood waters, regular landslides in China, and earth quakes in Pakistan, tsunami’s in the sea close to Indonesia is driving fear in the minds of millions. If we are to believe the fourth assessment report of the IPCC and the warnings by the climate scientists, then we may well get ready for a life on earth filled with catastrophic natural calamities. While such dangerous climate change can still be evaded, there is simply no faith, trust and confidence in the current global leadership in making commitments required to face that challenge. Even if promises are made by them, there is no assurance that they will actually meet the commitments made.

The next generation
So we do fear our fate on earth. The worst part of this fear is not really for me or my generation, but to understand that my daughter and her generation will suffer a destiny of uncertainty and destitution. My daughter is only eleven years old. In 2050 she will be over fifty years and would have gone through all the changes in the climate as predicted by scientists of our times. Worst is that she might have to face the consequences of the mistakes made by our generation. By that time my daughter would be having her own children and perhaps grand children as well, and she would be living in a state of constant worry for her family. Her worries will be much greater than mine; and that worries me no end. I am just one father of several billion who worries about the future of their children. Can leaders in Cancun show more compassion towards our children and their futures? Can that compassion become the fuel necessary to ignite the political will that we desperately seek?

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