Thursday, September 19, 2019

Climate Change: Ostracising the coal-burners

The UN climate summit is happening in new York next week, and unlike previous years, coal-burners and denier-states are not being invited to speak:

Leading economies such as Japan and Australia will not be invited to speak at next week’s crunch UN climate change summit, as their continued support for coal clashes with the demands of the organisation’s secretary-general as he sounds the alarm on climate change.

Coal has emerged as a key issue ahead of Monday’s meeting in New York, where 63 countries are expected to speak, according to a draft schedule seen by the Financial Times.

In letters and conversations with heads of state, António Guterres, UN secretary-general, has demanded that countries attending the summit stop building new coal power stations, reduce fossil fuel subsidies, and commit to net zero emissions by 2050 — demands that have not gone down well in all quarters.

Countries which won't make such commitments, like Japan, or outright denier-states like Australia, the USA, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, are being excluded. Which is a good move. If we want to build a global platform for action, the first step is to sideline the coal-burners and deniers, to stop them from wrecking things. The next step is to link environmental performance to trade and other relationships, and move from ostracising them at climate conferences to ostracising them generally. Because when CO2 concentrations are this high and rising, these states are literally trying to end life on earth, making them hostis humani generis, the common enemy of all humanity. And they need to be treated as such.