- David Adam, London
- The Age, March 20, 2009
PROTEST and direct action may be the only ways to tackle soaring carbon emissions, a leading climate scientist has warned.
James Hansen, a climate modeller with NASA, claimed corporate lobbying has undermined democratic attempts to curb carbon pollution.
"The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working," he said.
Speaking before joining a protest yesterday at the headquarters of power firm E.ON in Coventry, England, Mr Hansen said: "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.
"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."
Dr Hansen called for a world moratorium on new coal power stations. E.ON wants to build such a station at Kingsnorth in Kent, an application that Britain's Energy Minister Ed Miliband recently delayed.
"I think that peaceful actions that attempt to draw society's attention to the issue are not inappropriate," Dr Hansen said.
Officials will gather in Bonn this month to continue talks on a new global climate treaty, which campaigners want signed at a UN meeting in Copenhagen in December.
However, Dr Hansen warned that the treaty was "guaranteed to fail" to bring down emissions. "What's being talked about for Copenhagen is a strengthening of the 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," he said.
"They talk about goals which sound impressive, but when you see the actions are such that it will be impossible to reach those goals, I can understand the informed public getting frustrated."