February 19, 2009
In less than ten months all countries of the world will meet in Copenhagen to discuss and hopefully decide on the next steps in fighting climate change. Many problems have do be addressed and solved before that. The Danish presidency for COP15 is very busy on that. So are the EU and many other players. Time is short. The roadmap to Copenhagen is developing by the day.
In the midst of all the discussions and negotiations several positive initiatives are presented. A very recent and very important one was the Covenant of Mayors – signed in Brussels on February 10. By now 372 cities all over Europe have signed the Covenant and thereby committed them to reach the 20-20-20 climate goal by 2020. This is very important. And many more big cities will join the Covenant in the months to come. It is concrete action on the ground that counts. Not just political intentions and goodwill.
The debate and negotiations in the months to come have, of course, to be based on as many solid facts and options as possible. Not on loose feelings and beliefs. We are looking for very important solutions, which have to last for many years from 2012 and onwards. Solutions that will have the intended effects on our climate in the future.
These facts and options are available. The European Climate Foundation is one of the important sources of these facts. It has been created with the clear purpose of providing them – making them available.
At the same time we know that people in Europe are very interested in these issues. And not only interested: They are worried. They see often the dramatic consequences of the warmer climate. The latest case is the dramatic and deadly fires in Australia.
We know from several opinion polls that people have views on and attitudes to these problems. A new Eurobarometer will be published in April. And later a couple of huge deliberative polls will be available too.
But interest and worries are not enough. You have to make people act. Put demands to their politicians and other leaders. One of the first obvious possibilities will be to involve the candidates in the coming European elections in June. There will be up to 25.000 of them. How many of these candidates will make Climate Change a real issue? And make it an issue based on real facts and real options? We – the voters – have to force them to do it.
Not long ago I met the leaders of a major American Think Tank dealing with these issues ( and many others ). They made it absolutely clear that producing the real facts and options is crucial. And equally important is it to communicate these facts and options energetically to the public at large, using all available communication tools at disposal. They made it even more concrete: Use 50 % of your budget to produce the facts. And the other 50 % to communicate them !
Let’s all go and do it – also in Europe!
Niels Jørgen Thøgersen, Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Copenhagen Climate Change Conference