21 November, 2007

Road to Copenhagen

Hopefully the weather won't be as stormy on Thursday when I head off on the 11 am HSS to Holyhead, en route to Brussels for a Climate Change conference on Friday.

I took this pic of Dublin Bay with Howth in the distance from beside the Martello Tower at Seapoint at the commemoration last Monday of the 200 year anniversary of the Prince of Wales and Rochdale shipwrecks in 1807. The weather was awful, and probably not that dissimilar to the storm that led to the building of construction of the breakwaters that now protect Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

Anyway, Friday's conference will be led by three great women: Gro Harlem Bruntland, Mary Robinson, and Margot Wallström (a fellow blogger). It's worth checking our their avatars on the website. For some reason you can get Mary and Margot to talk at the same time, but Gro seems to remain aloof from it all. On a more serious note you can register online and make changes in the Wiki of the communiqué. There doesn't seem to be much interest in making changes, but I I've increased the carbon emission reductions by the year 2050 up to 60-80% instead of the 50% that was previously listed, after all, that's what the European Commission has as a target. We'll see what happens to it on Friday.

The "Road to Copenhagen" refers to the cycle of conferences hosted by the IPCC leading from Bali this December to Poznan in 2008 and Copenhagen in 2009, and what's becoming increasing clear is the need to have clear plans for the post-Kyoto period. Their latest warning last week of the possibility of "abrupt and irreversible" impacts made for a scary read.

John Gormley's 40% improvements in the Building Regulations will hopefully kick in for all new planning applications from the middle of next year, but every other sector from agriculture to industry will have to play its part. The low-hanging fruit is easy, but the scale of the reductions needed requires significant changes in how we go about our lives, such as not flying, if there's a reasonable alternative.

I'll know on Saturday whether the low-carbon alternative was that reasonable this time round. If you see a tired, sea-sick and dishevelled TD crawling off the boat at five in the evening from a journey that began at seven o'clock that morning in the Brussels Eurostar terminal, I may be having second thoughts.


Anonymous said...

How did you survive your low-carbon journeys to and from Brussels? I lived there for a few years but never considered your intrepid approach to travel between there and Ireland.

Brussels has an excellent public transport system, by the way, which is fully integrated and moves people quickly and efficiently. I used to get from my home to work, about 9km away, in 30 minutes via a combination of a 5 minute walk, 10 minutes on a tram and a 15 minute metro ride. As we were preparing to leave the city in 2006 there were stories in the media that the government was considering making the city transport system free to all users. They reckoned that the cost of this would be more than offset by removing large numbers of vehicles from the streets and by eliminating the need for ticket machines and policing of fare-dodgers. Any prospect of this ever happening in Dublin?

Ciarán said...

Going from Dún Laoghaire to Brussels was fine - 11 hours, lots of time for reading and a delicious meal on the Eurostar.

Coming back? Don't mention the war! Leaves on the track up from London to Crewe made me miss a connection, and I had to spend 5 hours in Chester (a beautiful historic town by the way) before idling away 3 hours in Holyhead waiting for a 2.40 am boat back to Ireland on Sunday Morning.

All in all very much a 'back to the '80's feel' to the return journey!

Would I do it again? Of course I would!

Free transport in Dublin? I think if anything is completely free, it tends to be abused, but I'd certainly like to see greater subvention of the transport system, to attract people out of their cars, where possible.

Unknown said...

Excuse me, I am very sorry for my general carbon ignorance but, I am an American and in being such, my mind swims in a sea of garbage debates on irrelevant topics. I am accustomed to my attention being redirected by, not misinformation per say so much as suffocating ignorance presented as the "real questions" when considering complex issues and important action.

I feel so insulated from reality here in the land of the free. There was only brief mention of the Bali talks here in California and I only knew it was about climate change because I have a bad habit of reading things from foreign news outlets I feel I need to reach out to ask questions of foreigners. Non-american questions. Questions like...

While climate change is a compelling incentive to establish an international carbon monitoring and trade system, isn't global economic stability a greater motivator for policy makers?

Does the falling Dollar have a deeper role in the UN Bali summit on climate change (Kyoto2)?

Historically, economic dominance is tied to internally produced commodities like oil, grain, steel, cotton, slaves etc...

With that in mind, how would a contemporary economic player of dominance prepare for an international agreement on carbon emissions?
How would a nation prepare to enter a new market, a carbon economy above currencies, establishing a new assessment of cost of production and distribution of all earthly commodities, guiding and constraining the future modes of production?

Angle for the need for the development of a market based on mechanism design theory where trade always occurs, simultaneously a buyer and seller market. Or... Tank your own currency and make capital adjustments to be a big player/producer in the new game?

Sorry. Just had to ask an off topic wordy question. Iv’e been up late with a headache.