This should be the most important global gathering in history: the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — COP 21. But, barring surprises, COPOUT 21 is closer to it.
Scientists’ repeated urgings to cap carbon emissions are not even on the table. Proposed action is nowhere near enough, even if implemented. National commitments are voluntary, subject to waffling and political opposition at home.
Last night, amid the blaze of Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysees, I watched a funky little wind turbine crank out a few kilowatts. In a small rink, some people rode bikes rigged to generate a dribble of clean energy.
Then, walking home, I stopped for an eight-car motorcade, with wailing motorcycle outriders, bringing the Korean delegation from the airport in a cloud of exhaust fumes.
For the big picture, too complex to summarize, here are some keywords: Kyoto Protocol, Copenhagen COP 15, Al Gore, George W. Bush, China, India, just about any other country, corporate greed, stupidity, bullshit.
The heart of it is simple: If we do not stop spewing carbon into the air, nothing else matters. Unless those who will suffer – all of us – push governments to real action, the planet we leave behind will be uninhabitable.