Climate talks underline need for individual action

Logo for UN COP17 climate talks in DurbanWith rich countries dragging their heels at climate talks in South Africa, the importance of individual action is being highlighted.

Durban is hosting the COP17 annual climate summit, which are traditionally hobbled by the worst polluters’ unwillingness to compromise on their own emissions, while poorer countries suffer the worst effects of climate change.

“Developed countries as a whole are not taking climate change seriously as a global issue,” said the senior negotiator for African countries, Seyni Nafo of Mali.

Environmental groups in the US have written to secretary of state Hillary Clinton decrying the Obama administration’s lack of leadership on the issue. “America risks being viewed not as a global leader on climate change but as a major obstacle to progress,” the letter said.

Meanwhile UK environmental groups have joined forces to criticise the government – which prime minster David Cameron pledged would be “the greenest ever” – for showing a “stunning disregard” for the environment.

Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told the meeting in Durban that many of the impacts of climate change – including heatwaves, drought, coastal flooding, dwindling food supplies and species extinctions – “could be avoided, reduced or delayed” by curbing emissions.

But we don’t, and shouldn’t, have to wait for the politicians. The livestock sector is one of the most significant contributors to environmental degradation, so one way to make a real difference is to cut down on the amount of meat we eat.

Let’s show the politicians how it’s done.

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