We've most probably passed the tipping point

In het nummer van november 2008 van Change Magazine geeft voormalig burgemeester van Londen Ken Livingstone zijn mening over het klimaatprobleem. Over hoe het onderschat wordt door politici en hoe hij aankijkt er iets aan te doen. Hierbij een korte preview.

Door Baud Schoenmaeckers

As mayor of London he dominated the front pages of the dailies. He paved his own road as ambassador, struggling against carbon dioxide and climate ignorance or denial. Ken Livingstone put the subject high on the London agenda. In 2007 he adopted the London Climate Change Action Plan and introduced the London Adaptation Strategy .

Ken Livingstone is not optimistic - I think climate change is going to be much worse than people anticipate. He is skeptical  - the real problem is that most politicians have no idea of the scale of the catastrophe bearing down on us. But Red Ken will not bow his head, will not rest, but instead will use his influence in fighting climate change. Livingstone will be a special guest at the Knowledge for Climate conference Towards a climate proof society November 27 in Rotterdam.

You were the climate mayor. How is your successor doing?

Livingstone: Boris Johnson published the London Adaptation Strategy.  Hes come to accept that climate change is a problem and that we are very much at risk of flooding and of massive overheating in the summer. All those adaptation measures that we are planning will go ahead. On the Climate Change Action plan, this is more problematic because this does involve the mayor using his influence to push people to reduce their carbon emissions. I think in his heart Boris Johnson isnt wholly persuaded that this is a real problem, that hes still a bit of a climate change denier although the Tory party wont have him say that now.

Obama gives hope

Livingstone is not optimistic but there is one good bit of news to balance his pessimism, he says. The Chinese government have really woken up and are now massively investing in renewable energy. I expect this year they have overtaken Germany as the principal investor in renewable energy. Last year China decommissioned over 500 coal fire power stations, the most polluting ones. And for the 1000 most polluting industries they set individual targets for reducing emissions. Weve got to start looking at these things here in Europe. Without China Id say weve got a real problem.

And the big, most optimistic news is that we will get President Obama. That means America has got the chance to take some leadership in terms of tackling global warming. The tragedy of the last eight years is that the passage of time will come to be seen as one of the great disasters in human history. That you had a president who is an idiot and didnt understand the signs. We lost eight years and thats going to translate into millions of lost lives down the road.

You said that we perhaps are already too far.

but I still believe that we must do everything on adaptation and mitigation. Period. I know that several environmentalists are skeptical about carbon capture and storage as being an excuse for not doing anything about the emissions. But we need to proceed as rapidly as possible with capture and storage because extracting carbon directly from the atmosphere will be one way of holding things somewhat in check if we go up four degrees increase. China is just near completion of its first carbon capture and storage coal-fired power station. Theres a real prospect that this might work.

But it is a very depressing story. As the world wakes up to the scale of the problem we face the huge impact it has on the politics of every country. Im certain that in four years time when we get to the next London mayor election, climate change will be a much bigger issue. It was barely mentioned at the last one, all my efforts to make the environmental issues part of the political debate were largely ignored. Therell be a lot more deaths between now and then. Thats the nature of it. As more and more people die from violent weather conditions, it will be more and more difficult for politicians to ignore the reality.

10 november 2008

U kunt het nummer van november 2008 nabestellen, met daarin het hele interview met Livingstone.

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Domein: Klimaatonderzoek