Citizen Action Monitor

“The U.N. process . . . it’s getting nowhere . . .” Bill McKibben

No 93 Posted by fw, December 8, 2010

Bill McKibben

Quotable quotes from Chairman Bill on the U.N. climate change process uttered in sheer exasperation during a Democracy Now video interview on December 7, 2010, Bill McKibben says Climate Talks So Weakened by US Major Polluters that Walkout Could Be Good News for Planet.

“It’s just like a family reunion aboard the Titanic”

“Cancún, I mean, it’s like watching—I mean, this process, this U.N. process, has been going on forever, and it’s getting nowhere, and it’s not going to get anywhere substantive, until we have some power from the outside to push it. . . . [A] friend of mine said . . . ‘It’s just like a family reunion aboard the Titanic, you know?’ And that’s sort of what it feels like.”

“[It’s] clear that . . .the U.S. was both bullying and buying countries into endorsing their do-little policies”

“Some of the new [WikiLeaks] data coming out today makes it clear that everyone’s suspicion that the U.S. was both bullying and buying countries into endorsing their do-little position on climate were even sort of worse than we had realized. You know, the sums that people were tossing around and the demands that they were making of small nations, in particular, to endorse their stand were pretty—were pretty gross, not because it comes as any great surprise that we toss our power around—that’s what we do—but because on this issue, above all else, you know, in the end, making some political agreement enforcing our particular set of interests is such a bad idea, because it’s physics and chemistry that are actually driving the tune.

“We’re going to need . . . to build a movement big enough to really exert some power”

“And we can, you know, win every fight because we’re powerful and wealthy and whatever, and we’re still going to lose the war just as badly as everybody else. So, I think it kind of undermines the bankruptcy of a lot of this COP process and the fact that we’re going to need, in civil society, to build a movement big enough to really exert some power. I don’t know whether we can do that. We haven’t done it yet. The oil industry and their friends in the U.S. government are, you know, winning most of the battles. But we’re going to keep trying. And this gives us kind of new impetus to do it.”

“America has poisoned this process time and time again, and we really need to start standing up to that.”

“The first people who threatened to kind of walk away from the talks were the Americans last week. ‘Unless everybody else signs up for targets, we’re going to walk out.’ OK? In certain ways, that would be the best thing that could happen. This is what for 15 years, now the dynamic of these talks, has been. The U.S. comes and says, ‘Weaken the agreement, so we can get Congress to go along and do something about it.’ Everybody weakens the agreement, first in Kyoto and then in Copenhagen. And then Congress doesn’t agree anyway. You know, you sort of—they sort of—it’s like a flirtation that never goes anywhere. And it’s wrecked the whole process, time after time after time.”

“And now the U.S. is doing it again. This time they’re saying, “You don’t get any climate aid, unless we weaken the agreement and do what we want,” and, you know, so on and so forth. Well, look, I’d say, if you’re really counting, if you’re a poor nation counting on some climate aid from the U.S., man, ask for a receipt, because I’m not convinced the new Senate and House is going to come across with anything anyway. Four U.S. senators on Thursday said—sent a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, saying, ‘Don’t give them any money at all for anything. This global warming is a hoax, and we don’t want American money wasted on those nasty poor countries,’ you know? America has poisoned this process time and time again, and we really need to start standing up to that.”

“It’s as if they’re saying ‘We’re going to stick our fingers in our ears, and the problem will go away.’

In response the the House Republican’s threat to get rid of the Climate Change Commission, McKibben says:

“It’s as if they’re saying . . . ‘We’re going to stick our fingers in our ears, and the problem will go away. We’ll never have another hearing on it, so therefore it won’t be happening.’ I’m afraid that’s about as unlikely a proposition—I mean, more power to them if you could make global warming disappear by simply not talking about it. It would be a hell of a good strategy. But my guess is that physics and chemistry will be remarkably unimpressed by this position, you know? I mean, Congress—the sort of delusions of grandeur within the Beltway are enormous. They think because they can change the tax code, they can change the laws of nature. But that’s not possible.”

Echoes of Martin Luther King: “I don’t know if it’ll get there . . .”

“Three years ago, our best scientists at NASA said any amount of carbon in the atmosphere greater than 350 parts per million is not compatible with the planet on which civilization developed or to which life on earth is adapted. OK? The trouble is, because we’ve burned so much coal and gas and oil already, the atmosphere here in Cancún and every place else in the world is 390 parts per million CO2. That’s why the Arctic is melting. It’s why Russia is on fire. It’s why Pakistan is drowning. It’s why we’ve got to work way faster than we thought we did even a few years ago. And so, at 350.org, we’ve rallied people. You know, we held, this fall, this global work party with 7,400 events in 188 countries . . . . And we’re beginning to build this movement. It’s not anywhere near big enough yet. I don’t know if it’ll get there. But we’re trying as hard as we can.”

Asked if he saw the fossil fuel industry in Cancún —

You see their [the fossil fuel industry’s] fingerprints on every single thing that happens. When, you know, Saudi Arabia stands up to say something, when the U.S. stands up to say something, it’s on limitations—you know, they’re limitations imposed by the fossil fuel industry. That’s who’s speaking. That’s where the power lies.

Thanks, Bill, for all that you do.

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2010 by in climate change, leadership, political action and tagged , , .
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