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Ethiopia, Copenhagen & reality

It’s my last working day in Ethiopia and I’ve just about got everything done that I need to do, so I went on-line and spent some time catching up on what’s happening in Copenhagen. I had never realised how far Denmark was from Ethiopia – a million miles? Light years?

Certainly all those very important (or self-important) people doing the negotiating are living on a different planet than we are here in the Horn of Africa. One headline says that the leaders are “working to save face.” And here was me thinking they were working to slow down the impact of climate change on people who can no more afford a flight to Copenhagen, than they can imagine what it feels like to have a full stomach. Then I turned to President Obama’s speech (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/18/obama-speech-copenhagen-climate-summit/print)

– he started:

Good morning. It’s an honor to for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the world. We come together here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. You would not be here unless you – like me – were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. That much we know.

I think it’s pretty disappointing and not very logical that security and economy come before the planet – I’d have thought the former were fairly irrelevant without the latter? And as far as I can see he only mentions people once, in the last line of his speech – so, no surprises there, I’ve never expected to have much in common with the US President, even the better ones, but you would think he’d have had a word to say about the millions of people who are suffering and dying as a result of global warming wouldn’t you?

When I leave Ethiopia early on Monday I’ll fly over villages where people are struggling against climate change every day; they know much more about the realities than any of the great world leaders gathered in Copenhagen – and if we don’t make our governments commit to meaningful change then many of those people will die long before their time – perhaps we should have future conferences on the frontline of climate change?

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