In seven weeks, the UN-sponsored Copenhagen Conference on climate change will be happening. The conference, however, is the final stage of a multi-sessional attempt to draw up a new agreement on climate change and as such is proving difficult. Will anything substantial come out of Copenhagen?
As I write this there are articles buzzing around the internet rumouring that Barack Obama will not come to Copenhagen, that he is instead hammering out a bilateral deal that circumvents the UN. If this becomes the case, then we will be back in the same position we’ve been in for years. The “failure” of the Kyoto Protocol has been blamed by some on the unwillingness of all parties to come to the table, although this also relates to deeper environmental economics issues. The way ahead, at least in my mind, and only option strikes me as cooperation at a truly global level, including major players like the US, China, and Brazil.
One of the Copenhagen pre-sessionals has been happening in the last few days. 17 countries of the Major Economies Forum have gathered to discuss, among other things, climate change. The discussions and deals that occur in the coming days and weeks will shape the final communique that comes out of Copenhagen and therefore this makes these fora as important, if not more important, as the final meetup in December. Gordon Brown, who has taken a strong stance on this, stated at the Forum:
“In every era there are only one or two moments when nations come together and reach agreements that make history, because they change the course of history. Copenhagen must be such a time. There are now fewer than 50 days to set the course of the next 50 years and more.”
On Saturday, people all over the world will be gathering for an international day of climate action. Go to http://www.350.org for details on what’s happening in your area. I urge you strongly to take part and/or circulate the message and encourage others to take part. While the inevitable demonstrations in December will be important, as world leaders, in every corner of the globe from the smallest to the largest states, consider their positions for this summit we must demonstrate our need for action and cooperation now.
The US Special Envoy for Climate Change has already stated that it is possible for there to be no agreement reached in Copenhagen. To miss this opportunity would be blindingly stupid. All parties need to stay at the table, rather than seeming to wander away for bilateral deals, to nut this thing out and reach a truly international agreement including China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the US (some of those a little less keen at this point).
They’re taking action in Niue, the rock of Polynesia with a population of 1400 – can you find the time to join with them on Saturday wherever you are?