Saturday, December 19, 2009

My take on COP15

COP15 in Copenhagen is now over, and the result was a watered-down, non-binding political commitment, which some countries might not even sign.

Two weeks of intense negotiations went before that, where Denmark's Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, sometimes seemed to be more of a hindrance than a host, often coming across as arrogant towards the developing countries in G77. In the end, it came down to long negotiations between US on the one side and China on the other, with countries like Brazil and India and the African Union participating, and big players like the EU and Russia watching from the sideline.

The commitment they ended up with, was a compromise between many different interests, and as such, leaves much to be desired. Indeed, seem from a purely climate-oriented point-of-view, the commitments are close to worthless, even if everyone kept to it.

Does this mean that Copenhagen was a failure? Yes and no.

Yes, because no binding agreement was reached, and the commitments are too little, too late.

No, because the negotiations from Copenhagen was never going to reach a satisfying conclusion. Instead they would just be the first of many steps (much like Kyoto was before Copenhagen).

Personally, I never expected anything much from COP15, though I would have hoped for a legally binding treaty.

The US is not prepared to do what is needed for real action, and countries like China and India cannot do what's necessary and at the same time continue their economic growth - at least not without economical aid from e.g. the EU and the US.

This doesn't mean, however, that COP15 was a waste of time.

What COP15 did, was create a baseline for future talks. Instead of having to start from scratch every time, the negotiators can now start from the concessions reached in Copenhagen and move towards a more ambitious agreement.

Also, while the US is far from willing to do enough to fight anthropogenic global warming, at least they were active participants in these negotiations (unlike during the Kyoto negotiations), which is an important first step.

All in all, Copenhagen should not be regarded as a disappointing end to a long process of climate negotiations, but instead just be considered the first, tiny, step towards a proper agreement. Even if the negotiations had led to a real agreement, this would still have been the case.

In the end, it's important to realize that each and all of us need to do something as well. We need to fight the fight for good science, and keep the hordes of ignorance and lies (yes, denialists, I mean you) from gaining the upper hand in the public debate (they never will in the science debate, as they have nothing to offer there). We need to put pressure on our politicians to enact laws and start initiatives that will help reduce CO2 and anthropogenic global warming. And finally, we need to do our own best to reduce our own carbon footprint - try to use public transportation if possible, reduce waste, etc.

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Blogger Chris M said...

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.

December 19, 2009 3:51 PM  

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