6 Key Conclusions from March, 2009 Climate Change Congress

Sometimes, it is most helpful when the information about what we need to do about climate change is summarized as just plain clear conclusions or paths forward, not as rhetoric or ideology, or reams of facts that overwhelm or paralyze us.

Here are six clear messages for politicians, governments, academics, citizens, economic development champions, and others about what we need to consider in a world in which climate change has already taken effect.  These were the preliminary conclusions and messages from 2500 scientists and participants who were at the University of Copenhagen which hosted an international scientific congress on climate change under the heading “Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions”, 10-12 March 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

The main aim of the congress was to provide a synthesis of existing and emerging scientific knowledge necessary in order to make intelligent societal decisions concerning application of mitigation and adaptation strategies in response to climate change.  Their aim was to identify and synthesize the science, technology and policy advances that are required in order to ensure sustainability of global communities in the current and coming decades.

From my perspective, being stuck in an ideological debate (like our present Conservative government in Canada is wanting to do) is not acceptable.  The science of climate change is unrefutable.  Our political leaders (all of them at municipal, provincial and federal levels) need to start acting on the science and the collective will of Canadians to move forward with tangible responses.  The business community is already responding with innovations, new green technologies and a flow of capital into the new low carbon economy.

Climate change is not an ideological debate.  What is needed is for citizens and businesses to get on with the process of working together to implement acceptable solutions to mitigate, adapt to, or reduce our carbon emissions, and to find ways of intentionally creating a new low carbon economy.  As citizens, we need to lead governments who are in denial, or are deliberately separating economic realities from environmental contexts.  These two are intertwined.  One affects the other.  We need to focus on both.  We also need to intentionally provide better and more factual information for Canadians, using social networking to address the deficiencies of good quality media coverage that is deliberating seeding doubt about the science and effects of climate change.   See this royal flush of climate deniers, many of whom are politicians, paid advisers, or columnists.  Become familiar with their names and the misinformation that they are deliberately seeding.

What are  the six (6) preliminary messages from the recent congress?

The six preliminary messages are:

Key Message 1: Climatic Trends

Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised.For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability.  Read more…

Key Message 2: Social disruption

The research community is providing much more information to support discussions on “dangerous climate change”.  In particular, temperature rises above 2 degrees C will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with Read more…

Key Message 3: Long-Term Strategy

Rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid “dangerous climate change”.  Delay in initiating effective mitigation actions increases significantly the long-term social and economic costs of both adaptation and mitigation.  Read more…

Key Message 4 – Equity Dimensions

Climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world.  Read more…

Key Message 5: Inaction is Inexcusable

There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches  – economic, technological, behavioural, management –  to deal effectively with the climate change challenge.   Read more…

Key Message 6: Meeting the Challenge

To achieve the societal transformation required to meet the climate change challenge, we must overcome a number of significant constraints and seize critical opportunities.   These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; removing implicit and explicit subsidies; reducing the influence of vested interests that increase emissions and reduce resilience; enabling the shifts from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the private sector and civil society; and engaging society in the transition to norms and practices that foster sustainability.
Excerpted from the University of Copenhagen Climate Change Conference website, written by the Climate Secretariat at the University.  March 10 – 12, 2009.  The Congress received almost 1,600 scientific contributions from researchers from more than 70 countries.

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