22 April: Earth Day - Climate change is getting personal

The two-week climate conference in Copenhagen may have a lasting impact. The stress on our planet caused by nearly seven billion people will be better understood and managed.

For years we have associated climate change with polar bears on ice floes.  But the truth is that climate change is just as much about people -- our decisions, our homes, our lives.  The threat of climate change is a global problem that requires real international cooperation. The Copenhagen Conference was the first time in history that over 100 heads of states came together to discuss climate change.

What exactly happened at Copenhagen?

Here are some of the main results of the meeting.

  • All but five countries “took note” of the final climate proposal.  Countries that recognized the proposal have to register their plans to reduce emissions and combat climate change impacts already occurring. Even then, the final document is not binding; signing it is more an act of goodwill.  Hopefully, at the next climate conference in Mexico in December, countries will reconvene and try to lock the proposal down.
  • The United States, China and India all pledged to cut their carbon output by 2020. The U.S. promised a 17% reduction in emissions, whereas China committed to 45% and India set a 24% target for carbon intensity. What’s the difference? Carbon intensity measures the amount of energy used to produce one unit of economic growth, making it a comparable guideline for developing countries.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the United States will help raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to address developing countries’ climate change needs. The funds will focus on adaptation (to cope with the impact of global warming) and mitigation (to reduce emissions).


What are we doing?

The ILO made a “green commitment” in 2008. The ITC-ILO in Turin supports the ILO’s promotion of green jobs through its green jobs training programme.  More information can be found on the website at: http://greenjobs.itcilo.org/

A glossary is available on this website, and additional information can be found on the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) website (http://unfccc.int/2860.php)

We should all stop gambling with our future and deal with climate change.  We all need to be committed to Copenhagen and beyond.  We must keep the momentum going.   

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