Climate Change: There is No Plan B, Because There is No Planet B
Last Sunday, September 21st, more than 600,000 people through nearly 2,800 events in 166 countries took to the streets to promote actions to stop the effects of climate change. The “People’s Climate March” aimed to get the attention of governments and demand they take decisive and drastic action on climate issues, making it the largest march to combat climate change in history. Without looking further afield, more than 400,000 people marched just in New York, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon himself, as well as former United States Vice President Al Gore. It is precisely in this city where the United Nations General Assembly is meeting this week, during which Ban Ki-moon convened a “Climate Summit” on September 23rd. The purpose of the Climate Summit was to call on global leaders to make statements concerning climate change to advance on achieving a new global climate agreement in 2015, which would replace the Kyoto Protocol, which became obsolete in 2012.
Representing our country, President Bachelet attended the climate event along with Environment Minister Pablo Badenier, President of the Chamber of Deputies Committee on Environment Daniel Melo, and Andriana Muñoz, President of the Senate Committee for Water Resources. Also accompanying the delegation was Senate President Isabel Allende, who is also a member of the Senate Environment Committee, along with other members of the presidential delegation. In her speech the President outlined the issues that Chile, as a country vulnerable to climate change, will work to address. However, there were no major surprises or announcements; much of what was said has already been in the works for a long time, while other statements were prior campaign promises or deal with proposing legislation that will be subject to what is typically a long and slow process of Congressional approval in Chile. Notably absent was the issue of glaciers. In sum, there were no new announcements in the speech, which overall was much less ambitious than the urgency demonstrated by Ban Ki-moon in his comments to the international community.
It is well known that there is a consensus between civil society, scientists, and certain climate negotiators that the challenge internationally is to not exceed a 2°C in temperatures by 2100. For the sake of comparison, if we consider the health effects generated when our body temperature increases by two degrees, we can envision a planet with an increase of similar magnitude. This should make us reflect on the urgency with which we have to take action and allocate resources for the implementation of effective and binding public policies at the national and international level.