Dave Munn and I spend the morning at Kilmaforum2009 which is also known as the people’s summit. The Kilmaforum is a parallel conference to the COP15 organized by a broad coalition of Danish and international environmental movements and civil society organizations. Although not part of the official COP, this event has drawn a wide and impressive array of highly influential individuals and organizations including Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Wangari Maathai, Mohamed Nasheed and Sister Jayanti. Today was the second day I’ve visited the Klimaforum and I am continually impressed at the number of UNFCCC official badges I’ve see tucked around people’s necks, and the frequency at which the color at the base of their tags is pink, indicating their status as an official delegate. The importance of this conference might be often overlooked, but the extent of it’s influence is something for all to think about.

The question of this morning’s discussion was will a Global Green New Deal save us? Two men from Attac German, presented some of the policy changes suggested under the Green New Deal economic stance. The presentation itself was interesting, but to both Dave and I, the responses from the audience gave this session depth. It re-sparked this dilemma that I’ve been struggling with for some time.  Which is better: quick, bold action that is potentially poorly designed and could cause severe consequences or taking a bit more time to develop a well thought out, intentionally designed effective system of change that can be tweaked to be most effective.

This dilemma is present throughout the negotiations; should we include a REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) program with loopholes that allow for leakage? should a Global Green Economy be created even if it is still based on the capitalist growth and debt imperative? Should the 17 of us have flown over here for two weeks even though it’s been proven that air travel is hugely destructive? Could we have made an equal if not more meaningful impact at home or in Carlisle? Should any country, any individual, agree to emissions targets that perpetuate social, environmental, economic or climate injustices? Climate change is an urgent problem, however can it claim any more urgency that the Afghanistan War, the lack of water in India, food scarcity in Africa, or the displacement of thousands of people in Bangladesh or the Southern Coast of the United States?

This morning on commenter referred to climate change as an acute problem. Other problems, specifically capitalism, are chronic problems. He asked how we could talk about capitalism when climate change is leaning over us like a falling redwood tree. How can we talk about changing fundamentals when a problem of this magnitude has been identified…why are we discussing other things? I understand this viewpoint; the science is pretty clear that unless we stabilize our green house gas emissions below 350 ppm, we will be facing massive, unpredictable changes in Earth systems. So in response to this argument, yes strong action is required from every point on this planet.We need to set bold emission reductions targets immediately.

However, if we choose to establish clean coal technology, drill for natural gas, build nuclear power plants, engage in “sustainable” mono crop plantation forestry, convert deserts into massive wind and solar farms and genetically modify our food stocks, what will the world look like in 50 years? Our green house gas emissions may have decreased, but probably not to the extent they need to, and we will have exploited much, much more of the Earth than we already have today. What are we willing to give up to perpetuate these systems that are not working? Viable soils, clean waters, health of millions of people, social justice… are we willing to give these up for cheap energy and greed?

I dunno. I don’t have an answer.

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