March 19, 2009

Climate Reform: Hansen Warns Democratic Process Not Working

NASA scientist and leading climate expert, James Hansen, said on Wednesday that more drastic measures may be needed in order to change the course of climate change policy.

"The first action that people should take is to use the democratic process. What is frustrating people, me included, is that democratic action affects elections but what we get then from political leaders is greenwash," said Hansen as he headed to a protest against power firm E.ON in Coventry.

"The democratic process is supposed to be one person one vote, but it turns out that money is talking louder than the votes. So, I'm not surprised that people are getting frustrated. I think that peaceful demonstration is not out of order, because we're running out of time."

Meanwhile, climate experts and global leaders continue to table discussions on the new global climate treaty in the months leading up to the UN meeting in Copenhagen in December.

"What's being talked about for Copenhagen is a strengthening of Kyoto [protocol] approach, a cap and trade with offsets and escape hatches which will be guaranteed to fail in terms of getting the required rapid reduction in emissions," said Hansen.

"They talk about goals which sound impressive, but when you see the actions are such that it will be impossible to reach those goals, then I can understand the informed public getting frustrated."

"It's not clear what their intentions are yet," he said in reference to the new administration of President Barack Obama. "but if they are going to support cap and trade then unfortunately I think that will be another case of greenwash. It's going to take stronger action than that."

In an interview with the UK's Observer in January, Hansen warned that Barack Obama has only four years to save the world.

"We cannot now afford to put off change any longer," said Hansen.

"We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead."

Hansen is the head of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies and a WWF conservation award winner who has addressed climate change reforms since 1988.


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