Sunday, December 20, 2009

another let down?

Like millions of others over the past 24 hours, I’ve been trying to come to terms with what precisely has been agreed at the end of the Copenhagen climate change conference. A couple of weeks earlier, I’d put together a power point for an Assembly at school and had written this on one of the screen-shots: “But, sadly and frighteningly, despite such very positive signs, there is still a chance that the conference will simply come up with political fudges and platitudes… and that no significant binding agreements will be forthcoming”. There WAS a climate change “deal”, of sorts, hammered out, but it fell far short of what campaigners had been striving for over recent months and years. Somewhat predictably perhaps, there seems to have an inability for the international community to break the climate deadlock because of incompatible national interests. The outcome has been variously described as “desperately disappointing” and a “disaster”. The recriminations have already started. It seems that many are blaming China for the lack of “deep cuts in carbon emissions”.
Reaction to the summit has been wide-ranging. These are just some of the comments from today’s “Observer”: “This marks a turning point in human nature” (Colin Blakemore, expert of human behaviour); “Obama is handcuffed by the political mess at home” (Jessy Tolkan, US activist); “Failure at such a grand level means we have to act locally” (Julian Hunt, scientist); “This was a huge step on from our work in Kyoto” (John Prescott, negotiator); “This fiasco will further alienate an angry public” (Benny Peiser, sceptic); and “China ended up a useful scapegoat” (Ailun Yang, campaigner).
So, we’re left with countries agreeing to register their planned emissions cuts by the end of January; the UN climate body’s meeting in Bonn (in May 2010) will tackle the issue of emissions; and then, hopefully, a major meeting will be convened in Mexico in December 2010 to “seal a legal treaty”.
Depressingly, it seems like deja-vu to me.

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