Climate Rhetoric: A Selection

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One ritual faithfully observed at U.N. Climate change conferences is that representatives from each of 193 countries in attendance get to give a five minute speech about their country's concerns. Most of the speakers make sure that copies are available in the press room. So I went by this morning to pick up a more or less random sample to look over. I know that political speeches are not to everyone's taste so read them or not, but I thought I would share with H&R readers some highlights below:

We face a daunting choice. The nightmare of humanity becoming the species that dies out just as a parasite does that devours its host. Or the dream of a humanity that rises to the challenge of cooperation and solidarity to create a new deal with our planet.  -- George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece

Each and every one of us here will be judged….On how we as individual women and men gathered at this great conference have responded to the scientific reality of climate change.  And whether we have responded in conscience to the indisputable facts that science has put before us. And history will be a harsh judge of us all. – Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia

The inconvenient truth is that climate change is for "real" and happening much faster than we ever thought. Since the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, new science tells us that the impacts on planet earth, people and nature are far more severe than even the findings of that report.  – Maria Mutagamba, Water and Environment Minister of Uganda

Sierra Leone like most of the world is experiencing a change in its climate resulting in extreme weather events such as storms, floods and drought with adverse impacts on the socio-economic fabric of the country.  – Ogunlade Davidson, Energy and Water Resources Minister of Sierra Leone

It is within the context of occupation that Palestinians are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Our vulnerability stems not just from the very real impact of climate change on our environment, but from the constraints we face under occupation. – Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority

If we want to be responsible to our peoples and to humanity as a whole, the world's leaders must come to immediate and concrete agreements to reverse climate change. – Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico

The temperature in Nepal is increasing at a rate much higher than the global average….Global climate change is adversely affecting the fragile mountain ecosystem while endangering its great biodiversity.     --  Madhav Kumar Nepal, Prime Minister of Nepal

Belize is a country blessed with the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere…thousands of beautiful coral islands, and abundant mangrove, broadleaf and pine forests. Unfortunately, we are not able to list our natural riches merely to extol them. Rather, it is to lament their destruction;  to testify to the havoc that is being wrought on our environment and on our people by anthropogenic climate change. -- Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize

Without common action extreme temperatures will create a new generation of poor with climate change refugees driven from their homes by drought, climate change evacuees fleeing the threat of drowning, the climate change hungry desperate for food.  – Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Bangladesh's greenhouse gas contribution is negligible, but it is one of its worst victims. Climate change, and increased frequency, ferocity and erratic pattern of natural disasters are causing havoc in Bangladesh…It is estimated that a meter rise in sea level due to global warming would inundate 18% of our land mass, force 20 million climate refugees with 40 million more losing their livelihood by 2050.  – Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh

For beneath the tip of the well-intentioned rhetoric on climate change lies the iceberg of power and aspirations to global dominance. We are dealing with vested interests. We are dealing with dominant economies resting on a faulty, eco-unfriendly development paradigm, aspiring to misrule the world.         – Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe

Viet Nam is among the few countries most heavily affected by climate change, but it is not one of the big greenhouse gas emitters.  – Nguyen Tan Dzung, Prime Minister of Viet Nam

For us this is more than just another meeting. This is a matter of life and death. – Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldive Islands