23 December 2009

Copenhagen was a disaster

Copenhagen was a catastrophic fiasco. Here’s why:

  • The US refused to accept responsibility for its historic emissions which amount to more than 25% of all the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
  • The host nation Denmark tried to bounce developing nations into dropping the Kyoto Protocol, under which the developed countries still have emissions reductions commitments
  • Denmark was also caught trying to pull together a secret deal struck with only a few rich countries
  • The EU failed to lead from the front by offering to increase its emissions reduction target (from 20% to 30%) and is still only offering about half of what scientists say we need by 2020 (a 40% reduction on pre-industrial levels)
  • A leaked UN analysis showed that developing countries were offering higher emissions cuts than developed countries
  • The money offered to developing countries was woefully inadequate and turned out to be mostly already promised funds or loans
  • The rich countries were quick to blame China for the impasse but unwilling to take adequate responsibility for the mess that they have caused
  • Barack Obama flew in to universal acclaim but offered nothing new to break the logjam and flew out before the end saying a successful deal had been reached when it hadn’t and still hasn’t
The so-called “Copenhagen Accord” negotiated by the US, China, India, South Africa and Brazil is a fudged, inadequate, non-binding deal, which the UN Conference on Climate Change did not agree and which has weakened the structures of international decision-making. It speaks of the need to keep global warming below 2ºC but does nothing to achieve that goal. Indeed the cuts currently on the table take us past 3ºC and into runaway climate change territory. The “Copenhagen Accord” is a voluntary agreement that nobody need observe. It is a stitch-up by those who created the problem. It is a bad deal that is worse than no
The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and his Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, worked tirelessly to achieve something at Copenhagen, but about the only thing they managed was to get the UN conference to note the flawed “Copenhagen Accord", a document which has almost certainly made it harder to reach a lasting and meaningful international agreement on combating climate change.
The only useful thing which seems to have emerged from the wreckage was that in the final
analysis no government in the world denied the existence of manmade climate change nor the importance of trying to combat it.