Saturday, December 19, 2009

Copenhagen Fail (and what we have to look forward to in the new year)

We've got one more update from the "Legal Adviser to an International Environmental Organization" who has given us a few updates this week so far. The news is not good, but there are some bright spots as well.  We also have a few links for you about Copenhagen for those of you who have been following that issue. 


From the Guardian: their main climate page.
A basic break down on what's been agreed on and what has not is here.
Naomi Klein says "Better to have no deal at Copenhagen than one that spells catastrophe."


Beyond Copenhagen ("A collective action against climate change from India")
Indian Youth Climate Network actions: on the ground in Delhi and on line.  
You can look at the top of yesterday's post for a little more background on Copenhagen and related issues.


And now one more update from our inside source at the talks, Mr. Legal Adviser.
*****
Despite the press conferences, the talks have effectively collapsed. After a day of reading leaked political statement drafts that amounted to nothing more than blueprints for a greenwash public relations campaign, it is now clear that the final “deal” can only be viewed as a clear failure. Of course I wished for a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement to come out of Copenhagen. But for some time it has become increasingly clear that the political will to produce such an agreement is simply not here.

As I have written in previous emails, there is enough blame to go around to cover nearly everyone. Fossil fuel industries and their political operatives are at the top of the list. That includes much of the Republican Party and a fair number of Democrats. President Obama picked the wrong strategy. Exactly a year ago, I wrote a paper about aggressively employing the Clean Air Act framed in the language of public trust doctrine to force Congress to produce a good climate bill fast. Instead, Obama has let Congress lead and we have been led to failure.

The leaders of Canada, Australia, Russia and China deserve plenty of blame. The EU deserves blame for holding back. As do those of us in countries where we have failed to persuade our governments to take stronger action; we deserve blame too.

I am too tired to go into the minutia of the final dealing. But if you read any account that simply explains why and how these talks broke down you can be sure that it is not accurate. The number and nature of the issues in play are incredibly complex. After all, we need to change the energy infrastructure of the planet in less than a generation for altruistic reasons and against the forces of greed and power. Not an easy task.

Let me just say this as a way of wrapping up for now. The importance of civil society in this process is almost too great to describe. The level of expertise and commitment, tirelessness and passion for this issue is deeply, deeply inspiring. Perhaps one of the worst outcomes of the process here in Copenhagen was the precedent of almost completely excluding civil society from the conference for the last two days. We have ways of maintaining our intelligence gathering, lobbying and media work remotely, but it is not like being present in the center of action. The U.N. should be ashamed for overreacting to a two people shouting and a couple of sit-ins by excluding 98% of civil society from the key moment of the conference. Collective punishment. Perhaps the collapse is a form of karmic retribution.

But finally, I want to point out the tremendous way in which the Copenhagen conference has been an amazing success. This conference has forced leaders from around the world to put some climate cards on the table. Assurances have been given, plans made. We need to hold our governments to those plans now and push them to go much, much further. We are losing a year, but we can use it to the Earth’s “advantage.” Political and popular momentum on this issue are building. The morning after Climategate is coming. Next year could well be the warmest ever. The next climate disaster, unfortunately, is probably right around the corner.

Perhaps the deal we can get in 2010 will be far better than any deal we could have gotten now. Let’s try.

2 comments:

  1. Copenhagen has failed. The UN has failed to address the most important crisis in human history. This is now the time for sanctions, boycotts and embargoes. A new alliance is needed. An alliance of hope and peace and justice must be built to oppose the axis of pollution, extinction and self destruction.

    http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2009/12/beyond-copenhagen.html

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  2. Hey Canada Guy, thanks for stopping by. I'll come visit your place just now!
    HB

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