12.10.2009 - by Plug In America
Coping with Climate Change in Copenhagen

Photo courtesy of Mark Pellegrin Are they really? Coping with climate change in Copenhagen? I’m not convinced that attempting to assuage greenhouse-gas guilt with carbon offsets is an effective way to stop parboiling the planet.

The term “carbon offsets” does roll off the tongue in a proactively positive way. What’s not to like? Signing on to carbon reductions and offsets might go a long ways towards convincing UN climate summit attendees that they are accomplishing the goal of substantial greenhouse gas reductions.

Carbon offsets do represent an emerging industry, after all. According to Environmental Leader Energy and Environmental News for Business, EU carbon prices rose 3 % on December 3 just days before the grand opening of the Copenhagen summit. Speculators are diving headfirst into carbon markets. Reuters reports that “banks have been buying more carbon futures.” It appears that the banking, corporate and investment world smells economic opportunity.

Brazil sees less opportunity and more potential economic hazard The country has no intention of allowing Amazon forest harvesting restrictions. And so it goes.

Copenhagen attendees don’t seem overly concerned about carbon-sparing transportation choices either as they arrived without a trace of irony at the summit in high-end limos and stylish gas guzzlers on opening day.

I don’t mean to be a nay-saying, eco-spoil sport here. Some good is absolutely bound to flow from Copenhagen. There are plenty of reasons for the world’s leaders to gather in Hans Christian Andersen‘s “Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen” at this rather shaky moment in humanity’s history. It’s clear that the time for agreeing on creative and real methods to cut carbon emissions is dangerously overdue. Climate change represents something big; something really dark and something that can no longer be shoved into the “this-won’t-affect-us-for-50 years-if-ever category” although the global warming deniers among us continue to rigidly adhere to that line of “reasoning.”

According to Japan Times, we are already bumping into “biophysical limits” that will rival the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Perhaps some of the best minds and the best climate experts in the world can, through Copenhagen cooperation and creativity, come up with some working solutions. But real obstacles, stubbornness, lack of imagination and lots of greed still stand in the way.

I can’t help but wonder: In the vast army of stylish sedans and luxury fleets that floated up to the Copenhagen curb — was there an electric vehicle or maybe even a handful of plug-in electric vehicles among them? Vehicles that could have been powered by the sun or the wind or the waves?

Are you really looking for some solutions, Mr. Summit Delegate? Then please step to the curb and imagine that those luxury sedans pulling so regally into view — imagine those same gas guzzlers without a carbon spewing tailpipe.

Now we’re talking about some serious carbon offsets in the real world; a world that just might have a few polar bears (and people) left in 30 years.

Posted by Linda Nicholes

Photo courtesy of Mark Pellegrin under Photocreative Commons

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