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Fossil Fools

If politicians in Europe, and indeed the world, felt the need to clarify their complete and utter disregard for our environment and atmosphere then they should consider the past month a success. Almost 20 years ago to the day since world leaders met in Rio for the first E

arth Summit, and made baseless, hollow promises to do something about climate change, the roller-coaster is heading towards the inferno faster than ever. What ever small gains have been made are being fast undone as conversation turns to growing our way out of recession by any means possible.

Going undetected in the corporate media, interim talks were held in Bonn in the past few weeks to thrash out details ahead of the next UN Climate Summit in Doha this November. Many of those involved left disappointed at the slow pace of progress and were concerned that the tentative steps made in Durban are being unpicked. No matter the result, politicians across the world are acting as though they couldn't care less.

In 2008 Friends of the Earth boasted how it had helped orchestrate the Climate Change Act, a bill committing the UK government to cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. As the first piece of legislation to legally bind a state to such drastic reductions it appeared to be a major breakthrough. Unfortunately for Friends of the Earth, they overlooked one fatal flaw – legislation doesn't mean jack, and history shows governments simply amend and re-legislate to overcome such hurdles. The Con-Dem coalition is no different.

At the beginning of May the government published it's draft energy bill, which no doubt made the fossil fuel industry salivate. Firstly, the bill sets a limit of 450 grams of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour of electricity – effectively giving the green-light to gas as modern gas stations burn under 400 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. Secondly, even though burning coal far surpasses even this modest limit, the industry has been handed a massive loop-hole. Under the bill, any new coal plant forming part of the carbon capture and storage (CCS) programme will be exempt from emissions standards. There is not even a passing mention that a single gram of CO2 actually needs to be captured from the plant in question.

In keeping with the government's track record on employing scientists to advise on policy and then completely ignoring it – the case of David Nutt and drugs comes to mind – a 2010 report demonstrating how Britain can cut CO2 emissions by 60% in 20 years has been consigned to the dustbin of history (or perhaps they would have recycled it). Another example of the huge amount of waste perpetuated by the centralised state. The reports authors also stated that we should be producing around 50 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of energy to truly help the planet.

The European Union went one better, buckling to intense lobbying from the fossil fuel industry and rebranding gas as a 'green, low-carbon source of power'. This now means a large slice of the €80bn ear-marked for the research and development of renewables can be diverted to subsiding the development of gas power provision. Coincidently, the news came as the International Energy Agency warned that support for unconventional gas sources such as shale could end government support for renewables.

In Brazil, which will host the Rio+20 climate summit in June, president Dilma Rousseff is mulling over a new Forest Code. If enacted this legislation would undo years of hard work protecting the Amazon rainforest, opening up 190 million acres of new frontier to loggers and agriculture. Putting 70% of the Brazil's river basin's at risk, and further destroying the lung that provides the earth with one fifth of our oxygen, is obviously a hard decision to make. Perhaps the 500 activists, NGO campaigners and politicians flying to Brazil for the talks can help Rousseff, even if they cannot see the irony in catching a plane to discuss how to save the planet.

So, it seems the fate of the planet is in the hands of a bunch of incompetent fools. Let's hope they can make amends at the next UN climate summit in Qatar, a country built on oil that burns shit-loads of energy to keep a vast nexus of hotels, golf courses and leisure complexes cool and well watered in the middle of the Arabian desert. Such an obvious choice for a meeting to discuss how we need to cut down on fossil fuel use and over-consumption.

Stories about similar subjects...

Anti-nuclear protests in Japan as plants fired up again

Indigenous communities in Peru face violent repression for protests against oil and mine devastation.

Anti-Fracking Protesters on Trial in Preston

Activists began a project of land reclamation in Runnymeade

Green economy? Fat chance at the Rio+20 Summit

Climate Siren - a previously unheard of organisation connected to the Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC), stage one of the oddest actions SchNEWS has heard of for a while:a pro-monarchist anti-climate change lock-on

Frack Off campaigners successfully disrupted fracking operations early morning on Monday (18th June) in Derbyshire, when a group of protesters locked on to the gates of Cuadrilla's drilling contractor, PR Marriot.

Anti- Third Runway Land Occupation in Court

Twitter: @SchNEWS