Gorbachev Presses World Leaders to Deliver on Climate
excuses and pretexts for inaction, including conversations about how we now
have more important issues to address, must be completely tossed aside. If you
won't solve this problem, you won’t be able to solve any of the rest."
The U.N. summit in Copenhagen
devoted to the issue of climate change is set to begin, but it's increasingly
obvious that the agenda in no longer purely ecological.
The global environmental crisis
encapsulates almost all of humanity's most pressing difficulties. From it stems
a direct link to security and an even more dangerous likelihood of additional domestic
and international conflict, flows of migration in the multimillions which are
already destabilizing politics and the economy, rising poverty and social
inequality, a water crisis, and shortages of energy resources and food supplies.
Therefore, all excuses and pretexts
for inaction, including conversations about how we now have more important issues
to address, must be completely tossed aside. If you won't solve this problem, you
won’t be able to solve any of the rest.
science and civil society - all must contribute to the rescue of our
planet. Each of the partners in this great cause has its own role and capabilities.
But the world today is such that the primary responsibility rests with
governments and their agencies.
Only a government can
establish firm standards and regulations, without which the battle against climate
change is unthinkable. Only a government can mobilize resources and the means
to promote and implement fundamentally new technologies. Only a government can provide
the necessary support to those most vulnerable to climate change.
gather in Copenhagen to lay the foundation for an important phase of the global
effort to combat climate change. It is up to them to decide what kind of
foundation this will be: strong and convincing or weak to the point of undermining
The latest scientific data on
climate change is extremely disturbing. This is the last call. But even more
alarming is the discrepancy between the warnings of science and the status of negotiations.
believe that the maximum allowable temperature increase is no more than 1-2
degrees. The leaders of all major countries at the summit in Akvilė support
And even under these conditions, the inevitable consequences are serious, such
as the disappearance of most coral reefs.
However, the compromises
adopted during the course of negotiations effectively open the way for a rise
in global temperatures of 4 degrees, which would have catastrophic consequences
for the ecosystem of our planet.
Why is this happening? There
are several reasons. It is due to the inertia of the current economic model, which
is based on the desire for super-profits and super-consumption; the incapacity
of politicians and business leaders to think of the future; and the fear that
measures to lower emissions would slow economic growth. These fears are
exploited in every possible way by those who don't want any kind of change.
But the global financial
crisis has shown that the economy is undermined not by caring about providing normal
living conditions for present and future generations, but by something else
entirely: the irresponsible race for super-profits at any cost, blind faith in
the “invisible hand of the market,” and failure to act on the part of the state.
A search for new forces and
incentives to drive economic development is required. The transition to a “low carbon
economy” with minimal emissions will be accompanied by the creation of qualitatively
different, cleaner modes of production, technology and employment.
But a low-carbon economy is
just one part of the new economic model we need today like the air we breathe.
Of course, we won’t replace a model that has existed for half a century overnight.
The transition to a new model
will require a change in values. The economy must be reoriented toward public
goods like a sustainable environment, human health in the broadest sense of the
term, education, culture, equality of opportunity and social cohesion,
including the absence of egregious gaps between wealth and poverty.
And it's not only in terms of
moral imperatives that society needs this. The cost-effectiveness of these “goods”
is enormous. But economists haven't yet learned to measure this. Here there is where
we need an intellectual breakthrough. Without that, building a new economic
model will be impossible.
A moral “refitting” of the
business community will be required. Today, as a rule, companies and their
leaders determine their position on ecological issues based on their short-term
or at best mid-term impact on businesses. Exceptions - socially and
ecologically responsible businesses - do exist, but they should be the rule. This
must occur under the impact of changes in the tax system and mechanisms of
subsidies and incentives.
At this critical juncture, the
role of civil society is changing and increasing: it will become a full
participant in the development and implementation of decisions that will shape
the environment and economy for decades to come.
Today, on the eve of
Copenhagen, our attention is especially drawn to the heads of state. Over 60 of
them will participate in this summit, which will be a real test of political
leadership. Recent weeks have shown how easy it is to miss an opportunity. In
the coming weeks and months, these government leaders must demonstrate their
capacity for true statesmanship.
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