Monday, 7 December 2009

Consumer climate blog – every day during COP15

CI Head of Delegation at COP15, Rasmus Kjeldahl, blogs on the first morning of the negotiations in Copenhagen.

The world’s consumers are represented at COP15 by Consumers International (CI). Our aim is to get consumer issues on the agenda and to position consumers as the third front (next to governments and businesses) in the fight against climate change.

Our message is that consumers are ready to take on a responsibility and to contribute – but we need help to perform the task. This help can be provided by governments and businesses.

My role during COP15 is to lead the CI delegation’s participation in COP15. In my daily blog I will report on life at COP15 – pleasures and disappointments – frankly and honestly.

As the negotiations kick off, it worth remembering how crucial consumer action is to the issue – both in terms of influence and impact. It is hard to imagine a solution to the world’s climate problems without consumers being central - a large part of the green house gas (GHG) emissions are the result of activities linked to consumption. Most initiatives to reduce GHG pollution will affect our everyday lives as consumers. In large parts of the world global warming will have a severe impact on the possibilities of consumption when flooding, drought, storms or changed ocean currents and temperature zones cause rapid changes in the resource base. As always those who are already most vulnerable will be hit the hardest. Without access to clean drinking water, food and shelter their livelihoods are threatened.

It is therefore very surprising that the climate negotiations and the surrounding debate have not yet involved the consumer voice to an essential extent: the climate issue has mainly been a matter for governments, scientists and environmental protection organisations. Consumer organisations may be partly responsible for this, as we have so far left the debate to the environmental NGOs.
The chances of implementing the results of the Copenhagen negotiations - both practically and politically - will depend on whether the consequences are accepted by the public at large. This acceptance requires ownership and a sense that the requirements are fair – globally between countries, and nationally as regards the burdens imposed on various groups.

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