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.