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Executive Talk

UNWTO responds to eTN's article on Copenhagen climate change conference

Geoffrey Lipman  Dec 24, 2009

I know that David Beirman would have expected my response having been kind enough to quote me - so here goes.

The glass is half full not half empty. There are four missing pieces from his, as usual, excellent analysis.

FIRST, no mention of the time frame of 40 years to stabilize the Earth’s temperature. The sea rise doesn't hit today - and that isn't meant to be callous it's factual. We have to start now and we have to keep ratcheting up our actions without any slackening off. But we should be realistic about the real demands. 40 years ago there was no Internet, no global TV, no mobile phones, no Europe, no friendly China or Russia, and even International Tourism was in its infancy. And as Toffler noted the pace of change is accelerating. Innovation in cleaner fossil fuel, renewable, bio-fuel etc offer great hope during such a period looking forward. And large sums of money, incentives and sadly the easy way out - taxes will change the intensity of research and adoption.

SECOND, the key polluters did reach an understanding albeit an accord not an agreement and that is a global first and it included the leading developed and emerging states, as well as providing the starting point for the massive finance framework that the poorest demanded for adaptation. Yes it isn't binding but who can hold a state to meet those obligations anyhow ... look at the existing 1 percent of GDP poverty commitments!

THIRD, it's cloud cuckoo land to expect the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Mexico or Bonn to address the issues industry by industry - it will be tough enough to take the Copenhagen pieces to the next levels - particularly around the targets, aspirations and verification issues. And aviation will be very much an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) responsibility.

FOURTH, the industry is making improvements but they are for the most part only the first steps in the essential measures needed to make the changes in carbon reduction to live up to what governments will require in the Copenhagen Register (again note by 2020). But David rightly notes that with commitment (not hype) we can easily do it (by 2020 and 2050) if we get serious now - hence the Live The Deal initiative.

To read David Beirman's article, go to

UNWTO responds to eTN's article on Copenhagen climate change conference

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