Recently TckTckTck's Kelly Rigg explained to TreeHugger why she thinks, despite all the naysaying about the potential success of the fast-approaching UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, that a global climate deal is still the best route to address global warming.
How much value do you put on reaching an international post-Kyoto agreement?
I think the UN is an indispensable organization in global terms, but I think we need to judge in terms of substance and achievement. So far, it's been pretty limited. I don't think one could say in spite of 20 years next June since Rio and 17-18 years since climate change negotiations started that those negotiations have had much impact really, in terms of reducing carbon emissions, which is the only feasible measure. I think we have to keep them going, but I think we have to recognize that you'll need more substantial agreements alongside them that would be bilateral or regional.
I think we are already seeing a change in the pattern of leadership globally, in respect of climate change issues, as a result of what happened in Copenhagen and in Cancun in which some of the large developing countries assumed much more of a leadership position, even as compared to the industrial countries. I think Brazil, under Lula has made important developments. It's a country which has very unusually energy patterns, since about 80 per cent of its energy comes from non-fossil fuel sources. Latin America is a region that could have a leadership position, hopefully China will. I think the Chinese over the last 6-7 years have really woken up to the dangers of the glaciers melting, the threat of climate change which to me is so real and frightening in its outer edges in terms of risks.
The main joker in terms of international arena is the United States. I was hoping that there'd be important bilateral agreements between China and the US, which would lead to substantial programs of energy transformation. So far they've had talks but these haven't led to much. Lack of American leadership I find deeply disappointing. When I wrote the first edition of ["The Politics of Climate Change"], I had high hopes that President Obama would be an inspirational leader for climate change policy. Partly because I think they put the Health Care bill ahead of everything else, it served to polarize the country and now federal leadership is more or less stymied in the US.
Read more: The Ecologist