World Combined Sources

All eyes are on London this week for the G20 summit. Will it come up with a plan to save the world economy? It won’t, say UN climate negotiators in Germany — where this week’s real business is happening — unless there is a plan in place to save the planet first.

“The financial crisis is the result of our living beyond our financial means. The climate crisis is a result of our living beyond our planet’s needs,” said the UN’s chief climate negotiator, Yvo de Boer, en route to Bonn.

The London Summit includes climate change in its discussions of the financial crisis. However, it is not expected to produce more than a statement of environmental intent, perhaps including a promise to create “green jobs” as part of a package of measures to stimulate the global economy.

But meaningful promises on climate would happen in Bonn if anywhere, said civil servants negotiating the London text.

The 10-day UN climate meeting that began in Bonn on March 30 is the latest round of negotiations intended to reach a global agreement replacing the Kyoto protocol, to be concluded in Copenhagen in December.

On March 30, the Bonn meeting heard President Obama’s chief climate negotiator Todd Stern declare the U.S.’s re-engagement with climate diplomacy: “We do not doubt the science, we do not doubt the urgency, and we do not doubt the enormity of the challenge before us. The facts on the ground are outstripping the worst case scenarios. The costs of inaction — or inadequate actions — are unacceptable.”

Environmentalists in Bonn said that governments of industrial countries should “show their cards” in the coming days by declaring what cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases they were prepared to make. But the indications were that few governments were yet ready to do that.

At the same time, senior legislators from the G20, chaired by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), launched an International Commission on Capitol Hill to help the major economies create the political conditions for a global deal on climate change at the Copenhagen meeting.

This will be the first time since Obama’s inauguration that legislators from countries including Brazil and China will meet the U.S. legislators who will be drafting a climate change bill.

The Global Legislators Organization (GLOBE) has established the International Commission on Climate Change and Energy Security to bolster the formal negotiations and to provide G20 heads of government with an informal political track to test the latest thinking and address the hard political trade-offs that will be needed if there is any hope of reaching an ambitious post-2012 agreement later this year.

Climate change is happening faster and will bring bigger changes than recently thought. The Washington Post reported that “the pace of global warming is likely to be much faster than recent predictions, because industrial greenhouse gas emissions have increased more quickly than expected and higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems, scientists said.”

Many argue that the economic crisis is wrapped up with the environmental and climate crisis with the carbon-based energy system at its root. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes, “ While I’m convinced that our current financial crisis is the product of both The Market and Mother Nature hitting the wall at once — telling us we need to grow in more sustainable ways — some might ask this: We know when the market hits a wall. It shows up in red numbers on the Dow. But Mother Nature doesn’t have a Dow. What makes you think she’s hitting a wall, too? And even if she is: Who cares? When my 401(k) is collapsing, it’s hard to worry about my sea level rising.”

Friedman urges a restructuring of the economy based on conservation and renewable energy saying it “would pay long-term dividends, because they would foster massive U.S. innovation in new clean technologies that would stimulate the real Dow and much lower emissions that would stimulate the Climate Dow.”

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