What if… Copenhagen fails?


posted by on English, Environment, International

Hey everybody,

today the news around the world with regard to climate change are driven by the statements of the Heads of State present at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum. So what is all the fuzz about? Well, let me use a quote:

US Deputy National Security Adviser Mike Froman said the leaders had reached the conclusion that „it was unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally-binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days“.

In other words, there ain’t gonna be a successor to the Kyoto Protocol this year and they are only about to set out another „plan“ to get things done by 2010. „So what“, some may say, thinking that we got up to 2012 (that’s when the Kyoto Protocol ends) to get a deal done. Well, true and false. Yes, we got that time but normally it takes at least 2 years to get these international treaties actually into reality. Thus we’re running out of time. A few weeks ago I asked Dr. Pachauri, Chair of the International Panel on Climate Change a question that just got very relevant: „What if… Copenhagen fails?“. Back then, he answered to me that he would still be optimistic that an agreement could be achieved in Copenhagen and that even if not, the time to get it done in time would be there in 2010. Well, I was very skeptic back when I posed the question and today’s events confirmed me in my skepticism 🙁 It’s not only that they don’t think that they gonna be able to come up with the needed agreement at Copenhagen, but another fact:

After a two-day Asia-Pacific summit, they vowed to work towards an „ambitious outcome“ in Copenhagen.

But the group dropped a target to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which was outlined in an earlier draft.

What strikes me is that they don’t even have the balls to commit themselves to these longterm targets. Bear in mind that even Obama stated that the target for 2050 for the developed countries (including the US) has to be 80% (sadly only based on „current levels“). Setting a longterm target is a rather easy task, but even that was not possible on the APEC Summit! THAT’s really scary, especially as we need short and midterm targets right now in order to get things on track.

Joe Romm over at ClimateProgress.org, the best climate blog I know, sees the developments not as pessimistic as I do and regards it more as a success that the leaders finally recognize the reality of their likely failure in Copenhagen. Moreover he states:

The new plan for Copenhagen makes the prospects for a successful international deal far more likely ñ€” and at the same time increases the chance for Senate passage of the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill that Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen Lieberman (I-CT) are negotiating with the White House.

Well, I kind of agree, that it might make it more likely, but my point is that what I don’t see so far is the political will that is necessary to achieve what is necessary: To decarbonise our economies! Kyoto was regarded as an historic turning point in international environmental agreements. But taking a look at the reality, its really disappointing. Most countries are far away from reaching the Kyoto targets (or only do so due to the recent economic recession) and real and progressive action is hardly visible. Bearing that in mind and the prospect that we’ve to go far beyond Kyoto, how should I not be that skeptic? In an interview done a few month ago with Prof. Ernst Ulrich von WeizsÀcker, Chair of the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, we talked about Kyoto, Copenhagen, the problems we face and possible solutions. These solutions are not easy to achieve and need a global effort to be accomplished successfully – and that’s where we need the political will.

Romm’s argument that the prospect to achieve a better outcome in 2010 is more likely is correct, but what is better if the basis sucks? It’s the american view that once they have a national legislation on climate change everything on the international scale will run more smoothly. But the figures discussed in the US are embarrassing and not at all sufficient for the challenges we face. Sure, we need the US on board and we need the US to guide. But I don’t see at all that a „better outcome“ will help us. Because depending on the basis, better than worse is still bad, and bad is no option! That’s my point.

The question we’ve to answer is whether we as a society (and by that I mean the global society) are willing and capable to cope with the challenge we’re facing. And if so, why our politicians have not seen the necessity and urgency to act on behalf of us in an adequate manner up to now?

I’m hoping. I’m doubting. I’m questioning.

I’m sad. I’m mad.

Why shouldn’t I?


Tags: , , , , , , ,

1 comment

Trackback e pingback

  1. Strothi erzÀhlt was ihn bewegt... // English // Hopenhagen
    [...] my very pessimistic post on what can be achieved in Copenhagen in a couple of weeks, today I would…