The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference — the Copenhagen Summit — was one year ago. Great things were expected. There was a sustained media build up, including a carefully timed and completely spurious attack on climate science. There was debate and activism. World leaders were in attendance and great things were expected. And then it all ended in pretty miserable failure. Whatever hope remained for a workable agreement on action to combat climate change was punted to the future, to this year, to Cancun.
On Monday the 2010 conference — the Cancun Summit — begins in Mexico. Did you know? Have you seen the media build up? Is there the same sense of urgency and hope that preceded Copenhagen? No. Cancun is flying almost below the radar:
Twelve months ago, world leaders were preparing to converge on Copenhagen to hopefully put the finishing touches to a global agreement on climate change. The whole thing fizzed.
Next Monday, negotiators head to Cancun in Mexico to try again. This time, expectations are much lower.
Parties have been meeting on and off all year, going over the same ground time and time again. Realistically, the best that can be expected at Cancun is for last year’s Copenhagen Accord to be brought into the official negotiating text and for progress in important areas, such as financing climate change work in third world countries
Expectations are “much lower”. “Realistically” all that can be expected is tweaking round with last year’s inadequate and ineffectual non-binding agreement. This is beyond pathetic.
There will be no global agreement at Cancun and there is unlikely to be one in December next year in South Africa. As the pressure goes on to reach an agreement, one can only hope that common sense prevails and New Zealand does not sign up to something, either global or bilateral, that damages our economy more than our competitors’.
And that is beyond stupid. Does it really need saying again? Without the environment there is no fucking economy. Not for us, not for anyone. Even on purely economic terms it makes much more sense to incur some costs now to reduce climate change, because the costs to the economy if we don’t are going to be overwhelming (see Stern Review). But look beyond economic terms, climate change is going to be a catastrophe.
Future historians, if any, will I think look back on Copenhagen as the moment that we failed. Seems like it’s going to be down hill from here. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that we lack the will to save ourselves.