Monday, December 14, 2009

COP15: Walk-outs, Protests, Madness

copdemo2 Well, we can’t say the Climate Change Conference has been dull. On Friday we noted that Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, the negotiator for the G77, a group of 134 mostly developing countries, walked out of the conference. Since then, a good many of his members followed suit:

African countries have refused to continue negotiations unless talks on a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol agreement are prioritized ahead of broader discussions involving non-Kyoto parties, such as China and the United States.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Yvo de Boer said an open-ended informal consultation was being convened by the Danish presidency for ministers and officials to resolve key issues.

We’ll skip chatter of the conference collapsing unless it actually does collapse – it’s what you hear every time anyone gets dramatic at one of these things. Instead, let’s see what the African group wants:

The cracks have appeared because one negotiating bloc wants to extend the Kyoto Protocol, which includes legally-binding targets, while other countries want to merge the protocol into a new, single accord.

The Africans (and, more broadly, the developing nations represented by Di-Aping) are the first group; the developed nations are the latter.

What the developing nations fear is that their ability to develop will be severely curtailed because the weight of carbon reduction goals will fall upon them. Beyond this, and not much stated, there are echoes of colonialism in the behavior of the developed countries that’s bound to rankle.

Some poorer nations have taken the position that because the industrialized world is responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere — in effect exhausting the environment’s capacity to cope with carbon — rich nations must pay “damages” or “reparations”. These payments presumably would be used by emerging economies to cope with the climate changes that already are devastating some of them, and to increase their standards of living while minimizing their emissions.

“Reparations” – for past harm – has a certain grim ring to it in this context.

On the other side of the equation, the U.S. and other countries found Kyoto problematic and presumably still do:

The United States withdrew from Kyoto over concerns that it would harm the U.S. economy and that China, India and other major greenhouse gas emitters were not required to take action.

So there are reasonable grievances – or negotiable points – on both ends of the spectrum

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Lo, there shall be no conference collapse:

Poor countries ended a boycott of U.N. climate talks Monday after getting assurances that rich nations were not conspiring to soften their commitments to cutting greenhouse gases, European officials said.

Well, ok, but we do wonder whether a conspiracy would really need to be at the root of such an effort. There does seem a genuine difference in goals here. But in any event:

Jake Schmidt of the Natural Resources Defense Fund said "this is all part of the negotiating dynamic, especially as you get closer to the end game."

So there you go.

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If you’re keeping up with protests, Saturday was a big day:

An estimated 100,000 people took to the streets of Copenhagen on Saturday and marched from Christiansborg Slotsplads to Bella Center – a distance of six kilometers – demanding climate justice. In one of the strongest messages ever sent to world leaders to be serious and make a ‘real deal’ in the negotiations going on at United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15), people from different countries marched in the cold winter weather of Copenhagen.

“One of the strongest messages ever.” Well, you work with what you’ve got and it never hurts to add emphasis to what you believe. But this is an instance where the protestors and protestees seem to be substantially on the same page. Check out the pictures on this page for some exceptionally tasteful color-coded protesting. Maybe it’s a European thing – we expect more scruff over here.

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In one of those heavily “researched,” thinly sourced diatribes brought out by fringe political figure Lyndon LaRouche and his mob, this popped out in a screed against COP15:

Apart from all sorts of profiteers, who see the C02 emissions trade as a new opportunity for ripping off the population, it is essentially the policy of the British Empire, or, more precisely, of Prince Philip, who has repeatedly said publicly that he wants to be reincarnated as a virus, so as to more effectively contribute to population reduction.

That Prince Philip makes Lex Luthor look quite the piker in the evil scheme department.

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We realize that the nuclear notes have been a little thin at COP15. We may take a break and bring you some interesting nuclear doings.

That banner! Those balloons! And all in red, too. This is an awfully tidy protest. So –so – Danish modern.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reparations means to restore to the state prior to the claimed damages. So take back all the vaccines, all the irrigation, all the communications technology. Is that what they really want? Or better yet, restore the climate back to the last Ice Age. What? You mean that wasn't man-made either?