Countdown to Copenhagen

Date: 23rd February 2009

In December 2009 in Copenhagen, the UN Climate Change Conference will be held to attempt to reach agreement on how to handle climate change.

In an unprecedented move, scientists are to hold an emergency summit in Copenhagen in March in a deliberate attempt to influence policy.

They will warn the world's politicians they are being too timid in their response to global warming.

In Australia, the election of Labor at the end of 2007 seemed like a breakthrough; climate change was one of the three big points of difference between Labor and the conservatives.

However, due to extraordinary efforts by the vested interests of the fossil fuel lobby throughout 2008, Prime Minister Rudd, with his 5% target and huge concessions to our worst polluters, now says that his task is to "balance" the claims of industry and the sceptics against those of the scientists and environmentalists.

He is saying, in effect, that the scientists are political actors and the facts of climate science are up for negotiation. Unlike the scientists who are beginning to understand that human-induced climate change has disturbed a sleeping giant, Mr Rudd apparently believes, long with many other politicians, that he can legislate to tame it.

The scientists' climate summit will publish an update to the 2007 Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A number of studies published since the 2007 report show that carbon emissions are rising faster than expected and existing greenhouse gas targets may not be enough to prevent catastrophic temperature rise.

The IPCC has warned that temperatures could soar by up to 6C by 2100 if current rates of carbon pollution continue, and that nations should prepare for an average rise of 4C. Mainstream environment groups have invested a great deal of time and effort in working on the inside of the parliamentary process in an attempt to influence government.

In truth, they were crushed by the fossil fuel industry's Greenhouse Mafia who could get an hour of quality time with a Minister while environment groups were lucky to get 15 minutes with a staffer.

The government is meant to protect the interests of the people, but it has instead protected the interests of the big polluters, under the illusion that it is protecting the economy.

2009 is the "make or break" year in which Australian citizens have their last chance to influence the government.

If the government's actions do not reflect a much greater sense of urgency in Copenhagen than they are currently showing, scientists are telling us there is no chance of averting runaway climate change.

Much of this information comes from a Speech at the Climate Action Summit on 31st January 2009 by Dr Clive Hamilton, author of Scorcher: The dirty politics of climate change.

So what can we do to step up the pressure?

•    Phone your local MP registering your objections to the government's position, to build local community pressure on him/her. You can use the information from our campaign material (more of which will follow in subsequent emails) or from any other source. It's not necessary to speak to the politician, simply ask for your name and comments to be recorded. It can be just a sentence or two. You don't have to justify your opinion or offer solutions.
•    Phone relevant ministers and your state senators with a similar message.
•    Enlist more of your friends to join us in the Citizens Climate Campaign, for information updates and email lobbying. Why not forward this email to friends.
•    Get active in your local community by joining a Climate Action Group. Many of these groups attended the Climate Summit in Canberra recently and are stepping up their campaigns in 2009.

The fires in Victoria on 7th February were not "1 in 1000 years" or even "1 in 100 years" events, as our political leaders keep repeating.
They were the face of climate change. They were the result of the new conditions that climate change has caused: higher temperature, giving us hotter days, combined with lower rainfall, giving us a dryer landscape... Saturdays' events showed us the terrifying face of climate change. The heat was devastating even without the fire…The Prime Minister weeps on television at the tragedy of Saturday's events. He looks around uncomprehending, unable to find meaning. But there is meaning.

This is climate change. This is what the scientists told us would happen.

All the climatic events of the past 10 years have lead inexorably to this. And this is just the beginning that will truly, if unaddressed, overwhelm us.

Visit the COP15 website to read more.

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