Can we stop our planet dying?

THE coming international meeting of heads of state in Denmark on climate change could just be another world-class talk shop if no binding agreements are reached.

THE coming international meeting of heads of state in Denmark on climate change could just be another world-class talk shop if no binding agreements are reached.

From Monday about 100 heads of government from rich and poor countries will converge on Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference that runs until December 18.

The aim is to devise strategies to reverse the effects of global warming, a phenomenon that scientists say is responsible for ever-changing weather patterns. The effects have also seen the shrinking of natural resources - such as rivers and vegetation drying up.

The fourth conference of such magnitude on the issue - since scientists have conceded is our solar system's only living planet was under siege, will also not escape the attention of environmental activists and civil society movements calling for governments to invest on natural resources to contain the effects of climate change,

A suggested solution has been to cut down on the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and switching to natural energy sources.

Coal is currently used as a major source in producing electricity in the highly industrialised nations most responsible for global warming.

Challenges these nations will square up to are how developing countries will abide by set targets while they have a huge responsibility to drive their countries out of poverty.

The only achievable way to do this is by creating jobs, which is mainly through industrialisation.

Another problem area is the attitude of some countries. Former US president George Bush refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

Bush repeatedly said US would not sign the treaty if it were not good for its economy. The US is one of the worst polluters on earth.

The Australian cabinet failed to pass legislation this week that would bind the country to the new treaty to be signed in Denmark

On a positive note China, a developing country that has emerged as a powerful economy, last week set itself a target to reduce its greenhouse gases by between 40 and 45percent by 2020.

The South African government has pledged support for the Copenhagen summit. Department of Environment spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: "South Africa is working towards a policy framework in which our emissions peak between 2020 and 2025, stabilise for a decade, before declining in absolute terms towards the middle of the century. To achieve this we will require extensive international financial and technology support."

But Caroline Ntaopane of the Sasolburg Air Quality Monitoring Committee is not so impressed.

"There has been talks for many years but nothing tangible has come out of it" she notes. "Copenhagen gives us a last chance, though, to come up with solutions in reducing carbon emissions.

"The problem is that there is a lack of political will from governments."

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