3.01 FUTURE NEWS: A timeline of climate
action and inaction
The changing narrative surrounding the anthropogenic warming of the Earth's climate has both helped and hindered meaningful action, policy implementation and decision making since the discovery of the phenomena of global heating.
Fridays For Future School Strike Protest, Piccadilly Circus, London, UK, (2019)
Although research into climate change has been ongoing since 1859, when John Tyndall's experiments on the absorption of heat radiation by water vapour and carbon dioxide lead him to speculate upon how fluctuations in atmospheric gases could be related to global heating, media coverage and cultural engagement with the issue only really began in earnest in the 1950’s.
In 1958 Charles David Keeling made the first measurement of atmospheric carbon dioxide at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and plotted it upon what would become known as the Keeling curve. The reading, 316 parts per million (ppm), was indicative of a sharp rise in atmospheric CO2 in the 20th century above the previous 800,000-year average of 280ppm. In the same year, Bell Labs released the educational film Meteora: The Unchained Goddess, in which the narrator's "Scientist" and "Writer" explained various meteorological phenomena to Meteora, the goddess of weather, before going on to speculate upon the catastrophic implications of anthropogenic climate change due to industrial activity.
Dr. Charles David Keeling's laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego, (1958).  
Dr. Charles David Keeling, at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego, (1958)
Meteora: The Unchained Goddess, The Bell System Science Series, Frank Capra, Frank Capra Productions, (1958)
In 1965, US president Lyndon B. Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee sent him a report entitled Restoring the Quality of Our Environment that included a section on atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change. Written by prominent climate scientists Roger Revelle, Wallace Broecker, Charles David Keeling, Harmon Craig and J. Smagorisnky, the report highlighted that carbon dioxide released by industrial activity was raising Earth's temperature and that this could lead to the melting of the Antarctic ice cap and a significant rise in sea level. The authors of the report even speculated that humanity might eventually have to consider geoengineering the climate to offset warming. Although Lyndon B. Johnson distributed the report to government agencies and officials, the public and to Congress, little more was done.
President Lyndon B Johnson, 1965
“This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through . . . a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”
President Lyndon B Johnson addresses congress in February, 1965
Initiated by Senator Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, who had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment of the United States, the first Earth Day took place across America on April 22, 1970. Capturing the energy of the anti-war movement and unifying environmental groups across the nation, the day’s events inspired 20 million Americans (which was at the time, 10% of the population) to take to streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts and environmental degradation. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare moment of bipartisan focus on the environment, enlisting support from both Republicans and Democrats, and by the end of 1970, the events had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to the implementation of policies including: The National Environmental Education Act, The Occupational Safety and Health Act, and The Clean Air Act.
US Senator Edmund Muskie, author of the 1970 Clean Air Act, addressing an estimated 40,000-60,000 people as keynote speaker for Earth Day in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. Wikimedia commons / PETER54321, (1970)
“There is no space command center, ready to give us precise instruction and alternate solutions for survival on our spaceship earth. We cannot survive an undeclared war on our future. We must lay down our weapons of self-destruction and pick up the tools of social and environmental reconstruction.”
U.S. Senator Edmund S. Muskie (Democrat of Maine) at the Philadelphia Earth Week Rally, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, April 22,1970 – 3:30 p.m. (1970)
In 1972 the The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was convened in Stockholm Sweden from the 5th to the 16th of June, with the intention of identifying environmental problems that required international cooperation to solve. As the UN's first major conference on international environmental issues, the conference marked a turning point in the development of international environmental policies. In his opening remarks the conference's host, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme openly criticised the industrialised world for its ecological and economic exploitation of the environment at the expense of developing countries, a sentiment that epitomised the tensions between developed and developing countries throughout the conference. When Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, addressed the conference, she made ground breaking links between environmental decline and poverty as well as further highlighting the gluttonous and disproportionate consumption of global resources by the nations of the Global North.
Smt. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, arriving at the United Nations Conference on Human Environment Stockholm 14th June,  UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata, (1972)
“It is an over-simplification to blame all the world’s problems on increasing population. Countries with but a small fraction of the world's population consume the bulk of the world’s production of minerals, fossil fuels and so on.”
Smt. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, Plenary Session of United Nations Conference on Human EnvironmentStockholm 14th June,  (1972)
In October 1973, the OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil crisis began when the members of the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo to target nations perceived as supporting Israel during the Yon Kippur War. The embargo caused the price of oil to go up by 300% causing the World's first "oil shock". Although the crisis led to increased exploitation of national fossil fuel reserves and the increased consumption of coal in the U.S, it also led to greater interest in renewable energy, nuclear power, and energy conservation. As a result, bipartisan policy implementation within the United States lead to the 55mph speed limit and mandatory fuel economy standards for new vehicles, both of which led to a significant decarbonisation of America’s economy.
Gasoline Shortage Sign from the 1973 fuel crisis, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian, USA, (1973)
Chevron pumpjack number 57, Coalinga Oil Field, Coalinga California, USA, (2019)
However, for a brief moment in the mid-seventies a small number of climate scientist warned of an imminent ice age, following two unusually harsh winters in North America in 1972 and 1973. Based upon what was then fledgling climate science, the theory was quickly disproven as cooling trends were understood to be taking place only in some northern regions. However, before the theory could be debunked it was widely published in the media and in TV programs such as In Search Of...The Coming Ice Age. As a result of this momentary focus on global cooling in the 1970's, the debunked theory has since been seized upon by climate contrarians as a way to discredit climate scientists who raise the alarm over increasing global temperatures and the way in which the warming of the world is reported. With moderate contrarians arguing that the reporting of climate change is alarmist and disproportional to the risk that warming poses, and those with stronger views often pointing to an international conspiracy, that they say is trying to suppress evidence of a consensus on global cooling that was reached in the 1970's.
Vehicles Stranded in the Snow in the Southbound Lanes of State Route 128, Needham, Massachusetts after the Blizzard of 1978, Photograph by Jim McDevitt of the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers, February 8, (1978).
In Search Of The Coming Ice Age, In Search of, Season 2, Episode 23, Alan Landsburg Productions, FremantleMedia, (1978)
“Climate experts believe the next ice age is on its way…within a lifetime…”
Leonard Nimoy, narrator of In Search Of The Coming Ice Age, In Search of..., Season 2, Episode 23, (1978)
On June 20th 1979, the Carter administration installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House that were designed to harvest the sun's energy to heat water for the first family and for the White House's laundry and cafeteria. The panels where emblematic of the Carter administration's response to the energy crises of the 1970's, which was to set a goal of deriving 20 percent of the U.S.'s energy needs from renewable sources by the turn of the century. However, the panels were ripped out less than 8 years later by the fossil fuel friendly Reagan Administration in 1986.
President Jimmy Carter during the dedication Ceremony of the White House's Solar Panels, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, (1979)
“A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”
President Jimmy Carter, White House Solar Panel Dedication Ceremony, (1979)
On April 3rd 1980, U.S Senator Paul Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democrat, alongside others including geophysicist and environmental scientist Gordon MacDonald, held the first congressional hearing on carbon-dioxide build up in the atmosphere. At the hearing, Sen. Tsongas, listed the U.S cities likely to be lost to sea level rise due to the forecasted melting of ice caps if CO2 emissions were not mitigated. The hearing was covered that evening by CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, who first explained the mechanism of global heating with help from diagrams, before showing highlights from the congressional hearing. However, in November of that year, Ronald Reagan was elected as president and throughout the two terms he would hold office, his administration adopted an extraordinarily aggressive policy of issuing leases for oil, gas, and coal development and attempted to roll back on the Clean Air and Water Acts and cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. During their time in offices Reagan's administration would also gut the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and eliminate the tax breaks established by the Carter administration for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technology, thereby recommitting the nation to its reliance on cost effective but polluting fossil fuels.
Sen. Paul E. Tsongas at a desk, University of Massachusetts Lowell Libraries Center for Lowell History, Paul E. Tsongas Congressional Collection, August 26, (1980)
Dr Gordon MacDonald illustrating a sea level rise of 2 meters on the steps of the Capitol Building Washington DC, People Magazine, 8th October (1979).
“The U.S. should take the initiative and develop,  through the United Nations, a way to coordinate every nation’s energy policies to address the problem.”
Gordon MacDonald testifying at the Senate hearing, April 3rd, (1980)
Walter Cronkite explains Global Warming, Global Warming, CBS News, April 3, (1980)
Ronal Regan Presidential Candidate, 25 October, (1980)
“Environmental extremists ...wouldn’t let you build a house unless it looked like a bird’s nest.”
Ronal Regan Presidential Candidate, 25 October, (1980)
On the 18th of August 1981, Roger W. Cohen, Manager of Strategic Planning and Programs at Exxon, sent a memo on the possible Emission Consequences of Fossil Fuel Consumption to Exxon scientists Werner Glass. In the memo Cohen acknowledged that global warming is likely to produce catastrophic impacts in the later parts of the 21st century for a substantial fraction of the Earth’s population. Despite having spent millions of dollars on ground-breaking research into global warming and knowing how fossil fuels were contributing to climate change, Exxon downplayed its own findings in public statements and went on to spend millions of dollars over the next 27 years to promote climate skepticism through misinformation campaigns. Taking its inspiration from Big Tobacco who cast doubt about the risks of addiction and cancer, Exxon orchestrated a campaign of doubt and deception to delay political and legislative action on climate change. This 1981 memo and other correspondence from the period are now considered significant proof of Exxon's early knowledge of its products contribution to climate change and therefore its failure to act.
Exxon Memo on Possible Emission Consequences of Fossil Fuel Consumption (1981)
Exxon gas station signs, Brian Katt, Wikimedia Commons, (2006)
Warming Warning, FremantleMedia Ltd/Thames Television, (1981)
“Since the time of the Industrial Revolution, Man has consumed huge and increasing amounts of fossil fuel to sustain the growth
of industrial societies... Meteorologists now believe that increased quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to significant warming of the planet within decades.”
Narrator, ITN, Thames Media, Warming Warning, (1981)
On October 19th 1987, global warming, alongside the Ozone Hole made the front cover of Time Magazine as 1987 became the warmest year on record and following the ratification of the Montreal Protocol on the 26th of August. Having been ratified, the Montreal Protocol came into force in 1989 with the intention of restricting the use of chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), that damage the Earth's ozone layer. Although the protocol was not drawn up with climate change in mind, it set the stage for later agreements and inadvertently led to greater greenhouse gas emissions than the Kyoto Protocol that followed it.
Time Magazine, The Heat Is On, October 19th, (1987)  
“Chemical wastes spewed into the air threatens the Earth’s climate.”
Time Magazine, 19 October, (1987)  
At an August 1985 meeting in Prague, Pawan Bhartia presented this satellite-based image that revealed for the first time the size and magnitude of the ozone hole. NASA
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established in late 1988, after a number of events had pushed global warming into the spotlight, the most significant of which being the testimony that James Hansen delivered at a U.S senate hearing on June 23rd 1988 chaired by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. With severe drought and heat waves affecting much of the United States that year, James Hansen reported in a sweltering senate, that he could declare “with 99% confidence” that a recent sharp rise in temperature was the result of human activity.
James Hansen, NASA Goddard Space Institute, giving testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, June 23, (1988)
“Our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to effect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves.”
James Hansen, NASA Goddard Space Institute, giving testimony to the
U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, June 23, (1988)
First session of the IPCC in 1988. Photo: IPCC, (1988)
On the 8th of November 1989, British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Global Environment about global warming, environmental degradation and the need for multilateral policies to tackle the environmental crisis. Thatcher understood the environment's political importance in a globalising world and was the first major politician to promote the use of international legislation to tackle global warming. However, her focus on the environment was short lived and many of the Neo-Liberal policies she implemented during her time as prime minister, such as turning the UK into an OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) country, were detrimental to both the climate and the environment.
Margaret Thatcher, Speech to United Nations General Assembly on the Global Environment, Wednesday, November 8, UN Photo/Saw Lwin, (1989)
“But as well as the science, we need to get the economics right. That means first we must have continued economic growth in order to generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment. But it must be growth which does not plunder the planet today and leave our children to deal with the consequences tomorrow.”
Margaret Thatcher, Speech to United Nations General Assembly on the global environment, Wednesday, November 8, (1989)
In 1991, Shell's film and video unit created the educational film "Climate of Concern". The film issued a stark warning that fossil fuels were contributing to catastrophic climate change that could cause extreme weather events, floods, famines, and to the displacement of large populations in climate vulnerable regions such as the Sahel. Although the film lauded the use of readily available large-scale solar and wind power generation projects to reduce emissions, Shell continued to invest billions of dollars into highly polluting tar sand operations, exploration in the Arctic for oil and into lobbying against climate policies and renewable energy targets.
Shell Film and Video Unit, “Climate Of Concern” (1991)
Shell Film and Video Unit, “Climate Of Concern” (1991)
Shell Film and Video Unit, “Climate Of Concern” (1991)
“Global warming is not yet certain, but many think that to wait for final proof would be irresponsible. Action now is seen as the only safe insurance.”
Narrator, Shell Film and Video Unit, “Climate Of Concern” (1991)
Shell Film and Video Unit, “Climate Of Concern” (1991)
From the 3rd to the 14th June 1992, The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Better known as the Rio Earth Summit, the conference laid the foundations for the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement as 154 states negotiated and subsequently agreed to establish the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Although President George H.W. Bush signed the UNFCCC agreement, in the run up to the summit Bush had framed the negotiating stance of the United States by declaring that “The American way of life is not up for negotiations. Period.” The dissonant message has since plagued international climate negotiations as the U.S. has continued to be the biggest opponent to meaningful change under the UNFCCC regime. As the UNFCCC was being drafted in 1991, the Alliance of Small Island Sates (AOSIS), a negotiating group made up of low lying island states such as Tuvalu and the Maldives, proposed the creation of an international insurance pool to compensate the most vulnerable small island and low-lying coastal developing countries for loss and damage arising from sea level rise. In the proposal, the amount to be contributed by each country to this pool would be determined by their relative contribution to total global carbon emissions and their share of global gross national product. However, the proposal was rejected by the developed nations at Rio, and when the UNFCCC was adopted in 1992 it contained no mention of loss and damage.
George H. W. Bush, 41st U.S. president, (1992)
“The American way of life is not up for negotiations. Period.”
George H. W. Bush, 41st U.S. president, Rio Earth Summit, 1992
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997, but owing to a complex ratification process it only entered into force on the 16th of February 2005. The Protocol committed industrialised countries such as the United Kingdom and economies in transition such as India to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets by urging the nations committed to the treaty to adopt policies and measures on emission reduction. As of 2020, nearly all of the world's nation states have now ratified the treaty, with the notable exception of the United States. Although U.S. president Bill Clinton had signed the agreement in 1997, after having negotiated to weaken aspects of the protocol, Republicans of the U.S. Senate subsequently refused to ratify the U.S.'s commitment to the treaty. Following which the Senate passed a resolution to decline the ratification of any emission reducing treaty that would do serious harm to the U.S economy.
Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations, (1998)
Signatories to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations, (1998)
In March 2001, the George W. Bush Administration announced that it would not implement the Kyoto Protocol and that the U.S. would be withdrawing its signature. President George W. Bush claimed that ratifying the treaty would create economic setbacks in the U.S. and that it did not put enough pressure to limit emissions from developing nations such as China and India, both of whom had accumulated less historic emissions than the U.S at the time.
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan (left) meeting with US president George W Bush (right), UN Photo/Sophia Paris, (2001)
“Our country, the United States is the world’s largest emitter of manmade greenhouse gases...We recognize the responsibility to reduce our emissions. We also recognize the other part of the story -- that the rest of the world emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gases. And many of those emissions come from developing countries.”
“Our country, the United States is the world’s largest emitter of manmade greenhouse gases. We account for almost 20 percent of the world’s man-made greenhouse emissions. We also account for about one-quarter of the world’s economic output. We recognize the responsibility to reduce our emissions. We also recognize the other part of the story -- that the rest of the world emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gases. And many of those emissions come from developing countries.”
George W. Bush speech on the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001
Time Magazine, Global Warming, April 23, (2001)
Although the Kyoto Protocol brought much attention to the issue of global warming at the time, media and cultural engagement with the topic was limited and tended to focus on the mechanism of warming rather than its humanitarian, economic or geo-political consequences. Often accompanied with imagery that naturalised the issue, media coverage did little to consider the disproportionate impact that nations from the Global South would experience in a warming world. Often placing global warming in the context of an away place such as the Arctic, where most viewers or readers would never venture, such media and culture did little to generate empathy for those who stand to be most impacted by a warmer world and did little to encourage an understanding of the impacts that climate change would have on environments and economies that were closer to home. Yet perhaps most disheartening, such mainstream media and cultural narratives did (and still do) little to link the Global North's historic responsibility for global warming to the disproportionate impacts that it will have on those who are least responsible for climate change.
National Geographic Magazine, Global Warming Bulletins from a warmer World, (2004)
When shortly after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans on the 29th August 2005, images of widespread destruction, people stranded on roof tops and the temporary evacuation centre set up at New Orlean's Superdome sports stadium, beamed across the world. As a result, some media organisations began asking questions about how far the scenes were a product of our own actions, with both the New York Times and the BBC quickly linking the tragedy to climate change. Yet perhaps most importantly the crisis increased the visibility of how minority and impoverished communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental and climatic catastrophes and how they face discrimination and violence during disasters. Discussion around Hurricane Katrina's media coverage also highlighted the role that the media itself played in times of crisis, due to the reporting of falsehoods having led to racial bias against African American survivors when false rumours of rape and violence in the Superdome and looting across the wider city were spread by the media. False reports which would lead to increased violence and stigma against African American survivors and to a modified disaster response by the U.S government as supplies and would-be rescuers were prevented from entering the city and survivors were violently prevented from evacuating by the Gretna police department.
Time Magazine, An American Tragedy, September 2, (2005)
New Orleans, (2019)
In 2006, Al Gore released the feature length documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Featuring footage from Hurricane Katrina, the film dominated the international box office and became one of the most successful documentaries of all time, which ultimately lead to Al Gore winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to promote action on climate change. However, the film inadvertently contributed to partisan polarisation in the U.S. by strongly associating the issue with the progressive side of politics. As a result, climate skepticism and climate denial have become part of a group of beliefs, along with anti-abortion, anti-vaccination, and anti-immigration, that are strong markers of Republican allegiance. With films like An Inconvenient Truth and media coverage of the climate crisis generally trending towards fear-based appeals that relate to the catastrophic impacts of warming  and spotlight the carbon footprints of individuals rather than that of corporations and governments, researchers in psychology have since began to highlight that end of the world type narratives about climate change risk inspiring further denial, fatalism, and political polarisation. However, regardless of what challenges we face when trying to communicate the climate crisis effectively, if we do not heed the grave warnings that climate scientists are issuing, the human race risks not acting quickly enough to advert levels of warming that would pose an existential threat to our species.
An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, Paramount Classics, DVD, (2006)
“Ultimately, this is really not a political issue so much as a moral issue. If we allow that to happen, it’d be deeply unethical.”
Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006
An Inconvenient Truth,Theatrical Trailer, Al Gore, Paramount Classics, 2006
Time Magazine, Be Worried, Be Very Worried, April, 3, (2006)
COP 13 took place in Bali in 2007. The objective of the conference was to agree upon a "road map", known as the Bali Action Plan, that would define the parameters and timelines for future negotiations up until to 2009, which was the generally agreed deadline for new emission reduction targets. The negotiations surrounding the roadmap were destined to be complicated and possibly led to collapse by the U.S., which was then under the George W Bush administration. However, a considerable effort was made by The European Union and other parties to draw the U.S. back into the fold. Yet in doing so the U.S demanded of the other parties the removal of several critical paragraphs from earlier drafts on the need to reduce emissions by half by 2050, as well as demanding changes to the agreements wording to reduce emphasis on legally binding commitments. Later, Paula Dobriansky, the head of the U.S. delegation, indicated that the U.S. would not agree to the text at all, arguing that developing countries had failed to take sufficient responsibility for their emission contributions, after which she was booed and jeered by the other delegates. As the conference progressed, criticism of the U.S. increased and eventually climaxed as Kevin Conrad, the representative of Papua New Guinea, poetically reflected on an earlier comment made by another US delegate, Jim Connoughton, that “the US was willing to lead”, when in-fact the U.S. was blatantly undermining all attempts to progress. In his statement, Conrad bluntly declared that if the U.S. was not willing to lead then it should get out of the way so that the developing nations could do so. After which Dobriansky sat, ashen-faced, through the sustained applause that followed. Then, Dobriansky indicated that she again wanted the floor: The U.S. would accept the agreement, she said. After which applause and cheers erupted from the delegates and the roadmap was agreed. Although watered down the agreement was the first formally negotiated UN text to mention loss and damage and in doing so, called for action and support to reduce climate change impacts on vulnerable developing countries.
COP 13, Bali, Saturday 15 December, UNFCCC Audio Visual Archive, (2007)
USA: On Mitigation and our discussion hear in Bali, we came with the hope that we could forge together towards a strong statement about our common global responsibility to address climate change and recognising that there are differences among our national circumstances and that emissions are global. I have to say that..err.. you know the formulation that has been put forward, we cannot accept because it does represent a significant change in the balance, that I think many of us have truly worked towards over the last week. We would like to find a way forward here. We are not prepared to accept though this formulation at this time but we are willing to work further to this text to find the right balance. This is an important issue, its one we must act together on.

Delegates: Boooooo...

COP President: Thank you, thank you United States. May I continue.


COP President: Thank you, May I now call upon Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea: Thank you Mr. President. We all came with high expectations. The world is watching us. We left a seat for every country. We asked for leadership. And there is an old saying, if your not willing to lead, then get out of the way. And I would ask the United States, we ask for your leadership, we seek your leadership, but if for some reason you’re not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please, get out of the way.

Delegates: Applause

COP President: Thank you……Thank you….Please Proceed. Thank you Papua New Guinea. Again I have exceeded the list, I do not see any others who want to speak. Cough. Excuse me. Oh, there is the United States who wishes to speak again.

USA: Mr Chairman thank you very much. I wanna say I’ve listened and we listened very closely to many of our colleges here, in fact during these two weeks I think we have had a very good opportunity to do so. I have especially listened to what has been said in this hall today and I and we are very heartened by the comments, the expression of firm commitments that have in fact been expressed by the developing countries, especially those major emerging economies which we have just heard from. We came here to Bali because we want to go forward as part of a..a new framework, we believe we have a shared vision, and we want a roadmap forward, we want a success here in Bali. And we want to be part of a road map and also to do our part, as part of that effort forward. Let me also indicate that as part of that, in terms of what we are committed to do, let me say and I want to share with all of you, that we are very committed to developing a long term global green house gas reduction goal, we are also committed to giving the views of others very serious consideration especially that of Japan, Canada and the European Union. To lead to a halving of global emissions by 2050 as well as those of our developing country partners as we enter this discussion. I would also like to say that, on mitigation in our discussions here we came forward with three very substantial new commitments. That is first, measurable, reportable and verifiable national appropriate mitigation commitments or actions. Secondly was the, including qualified emission, limitation and reduction objectives. And thirdly we also will consider these reductions in a way that assure…insures the comparability of efforts among them, taking into account differences in their national circumstances. I especially want to reassure my dear friend from south Africa, that I think we have come a long way here, and in fact in this the United States is very committed to this effort and just wants to really insure that we all will act together. So with that Mr Chairman, let me say to you that we will go forward and join consensus in this today.

Delegates: Applause

COP President: Honourable delegates, I feel a great sense that we are very close to the agreed outcome we are all seeking. Let us seize that opportunity. May I present you my wish for you to adopt this as amended assignment expressed.

Delegates: Applause

COP President: Thank you very much.
Transcript of COP 13, Bali, Saturday 15 December (2007)
Time Magazine, The Global Warming Survival Guide, April 9, (2007)
National Geographic, The Big Thaw, Ice on the Run, Seas on the Rise, June, (2007)
In the run up to COP 15, which took place in Copenhagen in Denmark in 2009, the president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed held an underwater cabinet meeting to highlight the existential threat that the Maldives would face if warming was not limited to 1.5°C. While underwater, Nasheed and his ministers signed a document to be presented at COP 15 calling on all nations to cut their carbon emissions. The aim of COP 15 was to establish a new agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was due to expire in 2012. However, the negotiations ended in near collapse as the U.S. president Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, brokered a political agreement outside of the formal UN process. The so-called Copenhagen Accord merely recognised the scientific case for keeping temperature rise to no more than 2°C without containing any commitment to emission reductions to achieve that goal. Strongly criticised by climate vulnerable countries such as the Maldives, which had been pushing for deeper emission cuts to limit warming to 1.5C in 2100 and not 2°C. The final agreement had seen all references to limiting warming to 1.5C removed at the last minute and the 2050 goal of reducing global CO2 emissions by 80% dropped. With the U.S. fighting to try and move away from the legal distinction between developed and developing countries that had structured the Kyoto Protocol in future agreements, the developing nations decried the move as an attempt by the U.S., then the world's second largest historic emitter to wriggle out of their responsibility for climate change. As a result, COP 15 was widely regarded as a setback. Later, in 2014 documents leaked by Edward Snowden would reveal that the U.S. spied on other countries during the Copenhagen Conference, further undermining trust in The U.S. and the UNFCCC process.

The government of the Maldives Underwater cabinet Meeting, Photo: Divers Association of Maldives /  Sindi, 17 October, (2009)
“If the Maldives cannot be saved today, we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world.”
President Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives,
The government of the Maldives Underwater cabinet Meeting, 17 October, (2009)
Todd Stern "Death Star", US climate negotiator, COP 15, Copenhagen, Saturday 12 December, (2009)
“We absolutely recognise our historic role in putting emissions in the atmosphere…that are there now. But the sense of guilt or culpability or reparations, I categorically reject that.”
Todd Stern "Death Star", US climate negotiator, COP 15, Copenhagen, Saturday 12 December, (2009)
Ian Fry, Negotiator for Tuvalu, COP 15, Copenhagen, Saturday 12 December, Think Progress /UNFCCC Audio Visual Archive, (2009)
“I woke this morning, and I was crying, and that’s not easy for a grown man to admit. The fate of my country rests in your hands.”
“The entire population of Tuvalu lives below two meters above sea level. The highest point above sea level in the entire nation of Tuvalu is only four meters.

Madam President, we are not naive to the circumstances and the political considerations that are before us. It appears that we are waiting for some senators in the US Congress to conclude before we can consider this issue properly. It is an irony of the modern world that the fate of the world is being determined by some senators in the U.S. Congress.

We note that President Obama recently went to Norway to pick up a Nobel Prize, rightly or wrongly. But we can suggest that for him to honor this Nobel Prize, he should address the greatest threat to humanity that we have before us, climate change, and the greatest threat to security, climate change. So I make a strong plea that we give proper consideration to a conclusion at this meeting that leads to two legally binding agreements.
Madame President, this is not just an issue of Tuvalu. Pacific island countries -- Kiribas, Marshall Islands, Maldives, Haiti, Bahamas, Grenada -- Sao Tome in West Africa and all the LDCs: Bhutan, Laos, Mali, Senegal, Timor-Leste -- and millions of other people around this world are affected enormously by climate change.
This is not just Tuvalu.

Over the last few days I’ve received calls from all over the world, offering faith and hope that we can come to a meaningful conclusion on this issue. Madame President, this is not a ego trip for me. I have refused to undertake media interviews, because I don’t think this is just an issue of an ego trip for me. I am just merely a humble and insignificant employee of the environment department of the government of Tuvalu. As a humble servant of the government of Tuvalu, I have to make a strong plea to you that we consider this matter properly. I don’t want to cause embarrassment to you or the government. But I want to have this issue to be considered properly.

I clearly want to have the leaders put before them an option for considering a legally binding treaty to sign on at this meeting. I make this a strong and impassioned plea. We’ve had our proposal on the table for six months. Six months, it’s not the last two days of this meeting. I woke this morning, and I was crying, and that’s not easy for a grown man to admit. The fate of my country rests in your hands.”
Ian Fry, Negotiator for Tuvalu, COP 15, Copenhagen, Saturday 12 December (2009)
Claudia Salerno, Negotiator for Venezuala, COP 15, Copenhagen, Saturday 12 December, UNFCCC Audio Visual Archive, (2009)
“This hand which is bleeding wants to speak and has as much right as these that you call the representative group of leaders.”
“Mr President, do you think a sovereign country should have to make it’s hand bleed in order to raise a right to speak because you simply don’t want to hear what is happening. This hand which is bleeding wants to speak and has as much right as these that you call the representative group of leaders.”
Claudia Salerno, Negotiator for Venezuela, COP 15, Copenhagen, Saturday 12 December (2009)
President Barak Obama, UNFCC COP 15, Copenhagen, Friday, December 18, (2009)
“This is not a perfect agreement, and no country would get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached, and who think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price. And there are those advanced nations who think that developing countries cannot absorb this assistance, or that the world’s fastest-growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden.”
President Barak Obama, UNFCC COP 15, Copenhagen, Friday, December 18, (2009)
Private Eye Magazine, Climate Change Decision Time, Decmber 11-24, (2009)
COP 19 took place in November 2013 in Warsaw Poland. The conference saw the creation of the The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM). Although the WIM was mandated to enhance knowledge and understanding of loss and damage and to strengthening dialogue among those affected while providing finance, technology and capacity-building to address loss and damage, it made no provisions for liability or compensation due to U.S. insistence. With the negotiations increasingly focused upon loss and damage by super Typhoon Haiyan that had ravaged the central Philippines on November 8th killing thousands of people. The Philippines’ negotiator, Naderev “Yeb” Sano went on hunger strike to demand that the conference made meaningful progress on loss and damage. Yeb Sano's protest climaxed in an emotional statement, as the negotiator deplored international leaders to act to stop the madness of climate change whilst lamenting over the unknown fate of his family members who had yet to be accounted for in the aftermath of the Typhoon. Yet, less than a month later across the Atlantic, then businessman and reality TV star, Donald Trump, would proclaim climate change a hoax on twitter.
Yeb Sano, COP19, Warsaw, Poland, UNFCCC Audio Visual Archive, (2013)
“In Doha, we asked “If not us then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?” It may have fell on deaf ears. But here in Warsaw, we may very well ask these same forthright questions. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here in Warsaw, where?”
What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness.We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw.”
Yeb Sano, COP19, Warsaw, Poland, 2013
Donald J. Trump Tweet, Twitter, (2013)
On February 26th 2015, Senior Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma, and chair of the Senate environment committee, brought a snowball to the Senate floor and tossed it to the chair of the senate as he spoke. Inferring that the snowball was proof that it was cold outside and therefore that climate change was not happening, the senator went on to claim that the snow ball contradicted the that fact that 2014 had been the warmest year on record. Having previously claimed on the senate floor in 2003 that global warming was “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”, and in regular receipt of donations from fossil fuel corporations such as British Petroleum (BP), the Senator’s statement did not come as a surprise to the other senators who were present. However, 2015 also saw the adoption of The Paris Agreement at COP 21 in November in Paris, France. As the first universal, legally binding global climate accord, The Paris Agreement intended to limit global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with 1.5 degrees being set as the aspirational goal following a hard fort campaign by the world's most climate vulnerable countries. However yet again the U.S. continued to seek an outcome that avoided internationally binding mitigation outcomes and worked to weaken commitments on adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, and capacity building.
Jim Inhofe senior United States Senator from Oklahoma, The Senate, February 26, (2015)
“I ask the chair: do you know what this is? It’s a snowball.”
Jim Inhofe senior United States Senator from Oklahoma, The Senate, February 26,  (2015)
The Paris Agreement, Untied Nations, UNFCCC, (2015)
Signatories to the The Paris Agreement, United Nations, (2015)
Paris Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second left); Christiana Figueres (left), Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Laurent Fabius (second right), Minister for Foreign Affairs of France and President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) and François Hollande (right), President of France celebrate after the historic adoption of Paris Agreement on climate change. Closing Ceremony of COP21, UN Photo / Mark Garten, December 12, (2015)

Signatories of the Paris Agreement, (2015)
On the 22nd April 2016, over 150 Nations signed the Paris Agreement, including America, for whom U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed it with his granddaughter on his knee. However, at the same time at home in the U.S., the conservative think tank and climate denial lobby the Heartland Institute was promoting and distributing a book entitled: Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming. Packaged as a Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report, the name that The Heartland institute had chosen for its climate change denial advocacy organisation, so that it may easily be confused with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the publication claimed to detail that there was no scientific consensus on several important scientific issues in the climate change debate and that most scientists do not support the claims of the IPCC. Not long after the Paris agreement came into force on the 4th of November 2016, the Heartland Institute mailed 300,000 copies of the second edition of it book to K-12 and college science teachers across America. The work of the Heartland Institute at the time was funded by corporations and individuals such as the Kock Bothers of Kock Industries, Exxon Mobil, The Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation and the Mercer Family Foundation. The latter of which were among the biggest backers of Trump’s 2016 campaign and the biggest donors to the Heartland Institute in the last decade. Later in the year at Cop 22 in Marrakesh, the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a partnership of countries that are highly vulnerable to climate change, issued the Marrakesh Communique, in which they pledge that their economies would become carbon neutral as soon as possible even though their contribution to climate change was infinitesimal.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry, with grand-daughter in tow, signs the Paris Agreement, UN Head quarters, New York, USA, April 22, 2016, UN Photo / Amanda Voisard
Why Scenitists Disagree About Global Warming, The NIPCC Report on Scientific Consensus, with a “Not Science” stamp from the Union of Concerned Scientists. (2016)
The Koch Brothers, Climate Deniers and funders of the Heartland Institute, (2016)
“We strive to limit to the maximum, the increase in warming below, if not well below, 1.5 degrees Celsius”
Excerpt from the Marrakech Communique, Issued by the Climate Vulnerable Forum at COP 22, Marrakech, 18th, November, (2016)
Trump's election in 2016 heralded the beginning of what would amount to close to 100 roll backs on environmental policy, the most significant of which was to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement on June the 1st 2017. Including such things as giving the go ahead to the construction of oil pipelines, the easing of offshore drilling safety rules, permitting oil and gas exploration and drilling in protected areas and the artic, and the relaxation of restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal power plants, the roll backs have made the world a warmer and dirtier place. Writing in the Guardian Online on July 6th, Naomi Klein hastened to explain why pro-corporate politicians like Trump wish to limit action on environmental, inequality and climate issues so that they may profit during the aftermath of a disaster or crisis, as states, nations and governments contract out recovery, security, health, defence, and in the future carbon recovery and geoengineering work, to organisations that they are affiliated with. Not only affecting U.S. politics, Trump’s election also gave rise to other populist leaders in nations such as Brazil and Australia. When on the February 9th 2017, the Federal Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal to Question Time in the Australian House of Representatives, which he used as a prop to back up an attack on the Australian Labour governments focus on renewable energy, Morrison set the climate sceptical tone of his two terms as Prime Minister that would begin a little over a year later.
President Trump leaving the Paris Climate Accord, June 1, 2017
“The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.
Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord, June 1, 2017
Abandoned car, Higham, Kent, (2018)
“I was seeing not just a crisis in the here and now, but getting a glimpse of the future –
a preview of where the road we are all on is headed, unless we somehow grab the wheel and swerve..”
Naomi Klein, How Power Profits From Disaster, July 06, 2017
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, Question Time in the Australian House of Representatives on February 9, (2017).
“This is coal! Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you. It’s coal.”
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison,Question Time in the Austrailian House of Representatives on February 9, (2017)
Swailing Dartmoor, Devon, UK, (2017)
Throughout 2019, the world saw an increasing number of students striking for climate action. With as many as 4 million people striking on the 20th September around the globe. The school strikes had started a little more than a year previously in August 2018 when Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg went on strike daily for several weeks outside the Swedish Riksdag (parliament), holding a sign that read "Skolstrejk för klimatet". The strikes, the youth-based activism of the Sunrise Movement and Greta Thunberg's speeches throughout 2018 and 2019, at COP 24, the World Economic Forum in Davos, and The European Parliament amongst others, brought much media attention to the issue of the intergenerational inequality of climate change. With the school strikes and protests by activist movment Extinction Rebellion climaxing in the run up to COP25 in Madrid, which was to be a crucial negotiating period for finalising the rulebook of the Paris Agreement, the protests entered the COP itself as it yet again failed to result in meaningful progress on Loss and Damage, which addresses the inequality of the climate crisis, and Carbon Markets, which are intended to make the price of polluting greater than reducing emissions. With the COP being tactically run into overtime by the developed nations, meaning that many representatives of the climate vulnerable nations had to leave whilst negotiations were ongoing, long suffering COP attendees from the Global South, such as Dr. Saleemul Huq, a veteran of all 25 COP's from The International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) which is based in Dhaka Bangladesh, have stated that the UN climate talks are no longer fit for purpose. Without meaning full progress under the UNFCCC framework, litigation would become the next arena in which vulnerable nations like Bangladesh would seek compensation for loss and damage caused by the climate crisis and the means to adapt to a warmer world. With 2019 seeing legal action filed against big emitters as in the case of the People of the State of New York v. Exxon Mobil Corp and the success of litigation such as in the case of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands who successfully ordered the Dutch government to act on climate change, litigation will likely play an increasingly important role in the pursuit of climate justice.
Fridays For Future School Strike Protest, Piccadilly Circus, London, UK, March, (2019)
Extinction Rebellion occupation camp, Marble Arch, London, UK, March, (2019)
Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, People of the State of New York v. Exxon Mobil Corp., New York State Supreme Court, (2019)
“We tried to be responsible.”
The testimony of former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson,
People of the State of New York v. Exxon Mobil Corp.,
New York State Supreme Court, (2019)
Meeting room, UNFCCC COP25, Madrid, Spain, December 09, (2019)
Microphone, UNFCCC COP25, Madrid, Spain, December 09, (2019)
Omuta Mikawa Carbon Capture Storage Plant, Scale Model, Japanese Pavilion, UNFCCC COP25, Madrid, Spain, (2019)
Trees absorbing CO2, Genofen, Devon, UK, (2019)
With apocalyptic imagery of the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season being beamed around world, 2020 began with a focus on the catastrophic implications of the climate crisis. Yet by the end of March much of the world was in lockdown as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. While not directly caused by the climate crisis, the zoonotic disease had transmitted to humans via the same extractive practices that had led to anthropogenic global warming. In this case deforestation and the of consumption bush meat had brought animals (likely bats and / or pangolins) and humans into contact that otherwise would have not met, leading to the virus's transmission to a human host. With the virus causing upwards of 1.3 million deaths and lockdowns leading to a global economic recession, which in turn has caused oil prices to dip below zero, the virus has since commanded the majority of media and political attention. Although, lockdown led to a reduction in emissions within the first half of the year to the levels needed to limit warming to 1.5 °C, total global carbon emissions have continued to rise to 414.93ppm, and the highest temperature ever recorded 54.4°C (yet to be confirmed) was measured in Death Valley on the 16th of August 2020. However, as we look forward to the future, the pandemic may be reflected upon as a portal, a term suggested by the Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, that will propelled us into action to stop the catastrophic warming of the earth's climate, the collapse of the Earth's ecosystems and the gross inequalities that are inherent to our current economic model.
A surgical mask used to protect the wearer from the SARS-COVID-19 Virus, London, UK, (2020)
Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
Arundhati Roy, The Financial Times, April, 3rd, (2020)
51°C at Death Valley National Park, California, USA, (2019)
Cracked rock at 51°C, Death Valley National Park, California, USA, (2019)
With the pandemic enhancing the visibility of the intrinsic inequality of our societies, the rise of global solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, the implementation of, and adherence to lockdowns, which have proven that collective actions can be followed by national populations, and the crashing of oil prices bellow zero which has subsequently seen investors move away from fossil fuels, leaders now face the choice of reverting to pre-pandemic carbon intensive economies or investing in technologies, industries, jobs, and practices that will make the future habitable for all. Having postponed COP 26 from 2020 to 2021, the pandemic may have inadvertently given activists, scientists, and policy makers longer to raise ambitions for emission reductions as decision makers are confronted with what could be considered a dress rehearsal for a challenging climatic future. With an inbound U.S. president that has pledged to make climate action a top priority by rolling out the Green New Deal, the negotiations, which will take place in Glasgow Scotland, could herald the start of a global regime on climate change that actually works to equitably secure a habitable future. However, for meaningful action to come to pass, enhanced support for Loss and Damage and stronger protection of the rights of indigenous and minority peoples and nature via restorative justice and the criminalisation of ecocide is essential. With the chance to stop catastrophic warming rapidly slipping out of our reach, humanity stands at a crossroads, with one direction leading to a future full of privatised technocratic fixes like geoengineering that is dominated by the "politics of the armed life boat" (Christian Parenti), a future that will continue to exclude the most vulnerable members of our society from a liveable existence, and the other direction leading to climate justice and indigenous cosmology-based futures that respect the limits of earth’s ecosystems. Which one will we choose?
India's Water War, Future News, (2019)
Shell Declares Bankruptcy, Future News, (2019)
Why did we do nothing, Future News, (2019)
Migrants Land in South Pole, Future News, (2100)
India's Water War, Future News, (2019)
Shell Declares Bankruptcy, Future News, (2019)
Why did we do nothing, Future News, (2019)
Migrants Land in South Pole, Future News, (2100)
3.01 FUTURE NEWS: A timeline of climate
action and inaction
The changing narrative surrounding the anthropogenic warming of the earth climate has both helped and hindered meaningful action, policy implementation and decision making since the discovery of that the earths climate was warming.