From the TUC

“Alarmist propaganda” from Bonn

10 Jun 2011, by in Environment

There’s a prevailing sense here at the UN Climate Change talks in Bonn that the warming planet is headed into unknown territory: like a polar bear adrift on a shrinking ice floe.

Renewing the Kyoto Protocol (aka KP2) is becoming the new Plan B. Developing countries are forming a solid bloc here to advance a second round of binding commitments on CO2 reductions. KP1 expires in December 2012. Some KP1 signatories – Japan, Russia, Canada – are refusing to play ball.

Canada is currently in the dock – the controversial tar sands are its fastest growing source of emissions. It’s the only nation to have downgraded its climate ambitions since Copenhagen. Canada’s new 2020 target is 9% higher than that pesky Kyoto commitment it made in 1990.

ITUC delegates from Sierra Leone, Max Conteh and Gladys Branche told last night’s public meeting about climate change impacts in their coastal country (pop. 7m) –  rising sea levels; shifting rain patterns that damage agricultural output. They’ve opposed biofuel projects that take up scarce good quality land. With limited resources, unions are working with NGOs to build climate awareness across civil society, including getting into the rural areas, and building bridges with a reluctant government. The message is simple: the stronger the union voice, the more likely governments in the South are to play a more powerful part in climate negotiations through the UN.

Along with the $100bn Green Climate Fund, KP2 seen as an essential part of the package deal that may emerge from Durban in December 2011. The EU is calling KP2 “very difficult”. It’s only possible if conditions are met: a deal on finance; and the powerful emerging economies like China and India agreeing to measurable and verifiable low carbon development. In the “I will if you will” politics that bedevil UN climate conferences, if they agree then maybe the US can do more, maybe Canada and Japan will get back into line.

Unions in the EU with members across the energy intensive industries like steel, cement, aluminium or glass know full well the risks of the EU going it alone: We load costly climate policies onto our industries and lose jobs, investment and emission controls to those who make less effort or none at all.

Meanwhile, I read that retired Cabinet secretary Lord Turnbull wants an end to “alarmist propaganda” on climate change. He attacks fellow civil servants for their failure to challenge the political consensus on global warming. Arise Sir Turnbull, there’s room for you on the ice floe.