Copenhagen Commentary #4

We are in a countdown to failure here in Copenhagen. The high minded speeches and calls for action continue, but behind the scenes there is a deepening sense that we’ll get worse than window dressing – a political statement which at its best guarantees a 3 degree warming of the planet, which is unacceptable. At worst, we’re all toast.

President Obama was spectacularly uninspiring. We need more than superb rhetoric. We need action. This whole process has been held captive by the US Congress – or the world’s fear of it. That’s a pity. It’s time to leave them behind and get on with a global deal.

If the Americans fail to tag along, globally taxing their goods at the border based on their carbon footprint would soon see action – if the world stood together. That is, after all, what they have been threatening themselves! No amount of military might could overcome the collective will of the world. The US dollar is already teetering on the verge of irrelevance, and fear of its collapse is about the only thing keeping many dollar rich countries in check – but for how long?

All this I say as a patriotic American. America has failed to lead so it should get out of the way. I fully appreciate the US’ misgiving about ratifying treaties that have international enforcement clauses. I wish New Zealand would think more about this when it signs so called free trade deals which give away its sovereingty. However, it is humanity that is at stake here, not just US hegemony. So the US needs to pull its head in and get out of the way of a legally binding climate treaty.

Meanwhile, the Danish hosts continue to insult China and the G77, dispalying an incredible ignorance of international diplomacy, or worse, a crass xenophobia. The Danes forgot to invite China to a ‘high level contact group meeting’ last night. Oops. The quiet but inexorable rise of Chinese hegemony is still being ignored by the west. Too bad. They have all the $US cash, all the manufacturing and a growing ability to project their power. We insult them at our peril.

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