First published on the Oxfam blog here.


It is the year 2060, I am 72, and I hate to say I told you so.

London is underwater, like Bangkok, Cairo and Shanghai. Venice too, but that was a given, and whole countries, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

World population is said to have peaked, at 9 billion, coinciding with the 4C temperature increase that has drowned whole swathes of continents and scorched others.

Just as in the century preceding it, 2060 has produced winners and losers.

People are starving.

2010

In 2010, I attended the Independent Live climate change debate ahead of the United Nations meeting in Cancun.

Sponsored by Shell and Channel 4, the fate of any progress on international legislation was unhelpfully sealed by our Chair in his opening riposte.

“It is accepted that no agreements will be made in Cancun,” Mike McCarthy, Independent environment editor said.

Political will

I spoke to him afterwards, and he said a point reiterated in the inewspaper, launched only a month earlier: “The Chinese made it crystal clear at Copenhagen that they were absolutely unwilling to be legally bound with regard to emissions.”

He added: “As for the US, Mr Obama’s pledge to cut emissions by 17 per cent last year was predicated on the US Congress agreeing.

“Since the triumph of the Republicans in the mid-term elections, that agreement and the legislation that would result are dead in the water.”

I pressed him, asking if the matter was so urgent, life and death, couldn’t we, the UK, the West make the first move, leave the Chinese behind for now if we had to?

No?

During the debate, they spoke of the technology being ready, but for the political will.

Public will

An impassioned member of the audience stood and said: “the public will is there, we are ready, we need your direction.”

And so we left it, all in agreement, but without dynamic leaders, with little conviction.

MARGJIN, a coalition of charities staged the picture of David Cameron and Barack Obama with the world in their hands in Liverpool.

If only these men had convinced others of the urgency.

Written will

For a fantastic comment on how the left of the media feels about Cancun, check out Johann Hari of the Independent, buried inside the newspaper like much of the coverage of the most destructive issue facing our generation.

Is it irresponsible to leave the decisions down to government, to passively report, when so many lives are at risk?

Young people in Canada are frightened.

Liverpool Oxfam society is hosting an event called ‘1.4 Billion Reasons’ on Monday from 7-9pm in the University Lecture Rooms Building about all the people already living in extreme poverty.

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