No-Hopenhagen? COP-out? The UN FCCC-ed up?

It’s now just over a month since I got back from Copenhagen at what was the experience of a lifetime. The COP15, the event that was built up to be where world leaders decide whether to save us all, or sign a suicide pact. So, I’ve had some time for reflection.

Here are the main things I learnt from the mad house of the UNFCCC:

1. Every country is in it for themselves – they just have differing analyses of what that actually means. In the case of China, it appears they believed their economic growth to help them become a superpower in the future was more important than the climate which that will be based on. The US was similar in terms of the minor cuts they were willing to commit to. And countries like the Maldives realised that they needed a deal in Copenhagen to stop from drowning under rising seas. Capitalism is no small player in creating these differing world views, and as always the poor and vulnerable loose out, the rich and powerful who win, no matter how stupid they actually are. We need to keep pushing for a recognition that the collective good being put first will increase all our prosperity.

2. The UNFCCC process could work, and work well, if countries were not subject to the gross illogicalities I just described.

3. Carbon trading is worse than I thought. It could work well if it wasn’t subject to the political process – but that’s the case with most things! There are so many outs for rich but selfish countries like New Zealand to exploit (Clean Development Mechanism, REDD, and other such flexibility mechanisms) depending on the system (ie the one that the current NZ government supports) emissions could continue to sky rocket. No wonder Minister for Climate Change Issues Nick Smith is so keen on many of these things.

4. The solutions are out there, but it’s up to the people to lead. And they are. This is too big to give up on, so lets keep working towards climate justice, and keep coming up with ideas. We’re closer than we think, and there’s a massive global movement on what Desmund Tutu called “the winning side” – the side where we get to keep a stable climate, and make a more equitable world! It was fantastic to see so many thousands of young people and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Copenhagen supporting this winning effort.

5. There’s a lot of smart people out there, but there’s also some wackos… Climate change deniers can join the many other crazy conspiracy theorists and retire to their tight-knit communities of nonsense!

6. The Copenhagen Accord said and achieved very little. However, it is political will that is most important if we are to ever reach an agreement for a stable climate. Is there political will? More than we’ve ever seen. Is this enough? No.

7. But, with the Copenhagen Accord being the only thing to come out of Copenhagen, there seems to be even more uncertainty than there was before Copenhagen – and that was a huge amount. This uncertainty is bad for the climate, bad for us, and bad for business. Who knows what will happen this year?

8. The Green movement is needed now more than ever before.

To see some my most cherished pictures from Copenhagen see the original post on Zackarate Island.

3 thoughts on “No-Hopenhagen? COP-out? The UN FCCC-ed up?

  1. “Carbon trading is worse than I thought.”

    Did you get a sense of any plausible alternative, that might gain political buy-in and be less manipulable? Or strategies to reclaim initiative on cap and trade?

    I have seen talk of a direct tax, but haven’t sensed a consensus yet or read any hard-headed analysis of how it might be received and gamed by influential players. Would be interested to hear if any unity of thinking was developing in Copenhagen.

  2. Nice pix up on your blog, Zach.
    Although I don’t think I’d have coped with that snow!

    It was intersting following the action from here; within a couple of days, we saw european press denouncing the disconnect between numbers of registered conf attendees, & the size of the Bella Centre, and the multitude of shots of the huge queues rubbed it in. Especially for the NGO’s, it seemed that the conference was not going to be listening; and minority nations seemed to have very little chance, either.

    Good on you for getting the sail to the PM; and kudos to 350.org people & Greenpeace’s Sign-on campaigns as well, for the spotlight they put on the issues.

    Now I guess it’s the game of keeping the issues in the arena – you are the torch-bearers for that task, collectively, as the YG delegation will be our leaders of the future. You are much appreciated for your prescience in stepping up to this challenge, my friends.

  3. It seems we’re heading the way of carbon trading, if we ever get a global deal… The problem is carbon trading is easier to manipulate by special interests, but still works in theory.

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