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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 26th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

An UPDATE – The September 26, 2009, Global Citizens Consultation on Climate Policy.

As we posted earlier, on basis of very limited information, the initiative that started in Denmark ended up involving 39 countries but a total of 46 meeting places as the United States had six events, Switzerland three according to their three main languages, Spain three, and India, Brazil two each.

The full list of participating partners can be found at:
 www.wwviews.org/node/11

It is interesting how the Maldives had a meeting organized by “Strength of Society – S.O.S.” that can be reached via sos.org@gmail.com, in Egypt the meeting was organized by Care International, and in Ethiopia and Malawi by the British Council – so we have a mix of local organizations and international NGOs. Basically it seems that the organizers did in most cases not come from the Country’s Government.

WWViews on Warming , c/o Teknologirådet, is The Danish Board of Technology
Antonigade 4
DK1106 Copenhagen K

Phone: +45 33320503    info at wwviews.org
Press contacts

– part of a European network of technology assessment that obviously must have strong contacts with the country’s government.

Our information comes from having eventually visited with the event organized by the Austrian member of the European network – the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Science (OEAW) –  www.oeaw@at/ita and having spoken with ITA Director Dr. Michael Nenwitch, the Vienna event organizer Dr. Ulricke Bechthold, and Project Management outreach person, Sabine Stemberger.

The ITA of the OEAW is an interdisciplinary research institute, something that we would call a think tank, that relates technical change with social issues in an effort to develop alternatives for political use with understanding for the technologies’ effects on society.
From them I learned that actually this was a 9 to 6 or as they say in Europe a 9:00 to 18:00 single day event, that because of its global scope becomes a 36 hour event, as while I was talking to them in Vienna, actually the Australian results were already known.

The idea was to invite chosen organizations in various parts of the world – chosen on basis of their interest and reliability. Those organizations were then supposed to invite a cross section of the population’s structure, chosen statistically according to age, gender, professional interest etc. to sit in a closed meeting around small tables – I think there were just 10 people to a table seated so they were a representative mix within the general representative mix of people in the room for sum total of 100 chosen representatives. Funny was how I at first did not understand that if I would be seated at a table, poor me could have upset this carefully organized apple cart.

The people were charged to participate in a series of four discussions – as said at their small round tables – they had then to answer questions for each separate topic of those four separate discussions, and in each discussion answers were tabulated like votes with final results given for the 100 participants in the room.

The first discussion deal with The Climate Change and its effects. After 45 minutes of discussion that followed a short introductory movie they had to vote on two questions.

In Essence -The Questions were: (A) Did you know how serious the issue of effects of global climate change is? and (B) How worried you are?

The answers were tabulated and presented at the end of the following discussion at the roundtables, while in between the discussions there was another activity. In between the first and second discussion the group was to hear just for 10 minutes from Austrian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Economy, Mr. Niki Berlakovich, who participated also last week at the Verbund meeting and is heavily involved in the biofuels issue. www.lebensministerium.at

Also addressing the group were Professor Helga Kromp-Kolb, Climate researcher at the Meteorology Istitute of the Vienna University, and the scientific adviser to climate and energy funds in Austria  www.boku.ac.at  Also Professor Georg Stingl, the head of the mathematics and natural sciences at the Academy of Sciences  www.oeaw.ac/ita.

Before the first discussion took place, the event was introduced by ITA Project Chair, Dr. Ulrike Bechthold, and by Dr. Wolfgang Gerlich.

The results of the voting following the above mentioned two questions for Discussion Round number one – they were –
for Question A: There was zero for full knowledge of the problems and for I do not want to answer. There was 38% for I knew a lot on the problems and 10% for I knew little – with 52% for I knew some of the issues.

for Question B: This about Worries. It was 36% for I worry a lot; 46% for medium; 14% for little; then still 4% – no way and 0 for – no answer.

The way I interpret the above is that further education work is needed so more people know the problems and worry about what goes on – but I surely would not want to see this become an excuse for a call to action now – the fact that politics are based on push from the people, the fact that people are not yet fully informed, may have a slow-down effect on the politicians. And this is dangerous for those that are in the know.

————–

Discussion round 2 dealt with the long range goals and urgency.

Discussion round 3 dealt with the issues of Green House Gas Emissions.

Discussion round 4 dealt with economy aspects, technologies, and adaptation.

Again, short videos were going to be used as introduction to each discussion. Eventually there was going to be a two hours debate about recommendations and the presentation of results – all of which I suggest to our readers to go to the original website in order to find out the results. As said, the meeting was not intended for outsiders or the press, and I fully understand the integrity of the procedures. Also, the intent of the recommendations is to influence the country’s delegation to Copenhagen – in this case the country is Austria and it is expected that the Minister of Environment, who just was here, will be the spokesperson in Copenhagen.

The meeting, though private, had nevertheless exposure to the press with a small Press Conference after the Minister’s visit with those selected for the discussion groups. As the Press Conference was not advertised on the WWView website, I missed it, though by chance arrived at its end and saw that there were good questions from the few journalists in the room. Having not heard the presentation, I did not ask in the open, but tried to ask the Minister what he thinks of the eventual G2 (US-China) answer to a  post-Copenhagen situation if no real moves are decided upon in Copenhagen? I know this was an unfair question, but I asked it anyway, and I believe there will be a chance to come back to it another day. The Minister is clearly in the EU mainstream on climate change.

Now, before I finish, let’s see what are the recommendations that already came in from the Far East:

AUSTRALIA – Commit confidently at COP15 – Act now to limit warming below 2°C through a legally binding global agreement. Develop new technology in an ethical and accountable process. The need for leadership, education in technological advances is paramount.

INDIA (Bangalore) – Co Clean and Green – Governments and Corporate must fund development of clean technology and renewable energy without patent and proprietary bases. Create actionable awareness at all levels for sustainability and a clean green planet.

BANGLADESH – An International Climate Court! The new climate deal should include establishment of an international climate court to control the states/countries responsible for causing negative climatic impacts. The court should also evolve a legal framework to try climate cases and bring the offenders to justice and provide opportunity for negatively affected countries to claim compensation.

CHINA – Bring the Issue Before The People. To enhance the citizen’s awareness of environmental protection by effective dissemination e.g. short film, public interest advertisement.

The above clearly shows what it is paramount is were you live, and citizen of what country you are. It would be nice if we had a true global citizenship, but as we do not have one yet, it is hard to come to an agreement, and our refuge is to talk among those who really count – something that may be as large as a new G-20 or who knows – as small as a G2.

on www.wwviews.org – the link for the results is –

 results.wwviews.org/new2/?cid=bla…

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