Sunday, December 20, 2009

We Must Hope

The Independent on Sunday featured a searing and scorching indictment of Copenhagen in a Joss Garman article that began with a statement that said it all: a “historic failure that will live in infamy”.

And he wrote: “The most progressive US president in a generation comes to the most important international meeting since the Second World War and delivers a speech so devoid of substance that he might as well have made it on speaker-phone from a beach in Hawaii. His aides argue in private that he had no choice, such is the opposition on Capitol Hill to any action that could challenge the dominance of fossil fuels in American life. And so the nation that put a man on the Moon can't summon the collective will to protect men and women back here on Earth from the consequences of an economic model and lifestyle choice that has taken on the mantle of a religion.

Then a Chinese premier who is in the process of converting his Communist nation to that new faith (high-carbon consumer capitalism) takes such umbrage at Barack Obama's speech that he refuses to meet – sulking in his hotel room, as if this were a teenager's house party instead of a final effort to stave off the breakdown of our biosphere.

Late in the evening, the two men meet and cobble together a collection of paragraphs that they call a "deal", although in reality it has all the meaning and authority of a bus ticket, not that it stops them signing it with great solemnity”.

Garman did not mince words about the infamy of their actions. As he barked: “This ‘deal’ is beyond bad. It contains no legally binding targets and no indication of when or how they will come about. There is not even a declaration that the world will aim to keep global temperature rises below C. Instead, leaders merely recognize the science behind that vital threshold, as if that were enough to prevent us crossing it.

The only part of this deal that anyone sane came close to welcoming was the $100 billion global climate fund, but it's now apparent that even this is largely made up of existing budgets, with no indication of how new money will be raised and distributed so that poorer countries can go green and adapt to climate change.

I know our politicians feel they have to smile and claim success; they feel that's the only way to keep this train on the tracks. But we've passed that point – we need to go back to first principles now. We have to admit to ourselves the scale of the problem and recognise that at its core this carbon crisis is, in fact, a political crisis.

Until politicians recognize that, they're kidding themselves, and, more than that, they're kidding us too”.

But to give this whole issue some kind of balanced perspective – after all, we live in this imperfect world where real-life is a masquerade, let me also reproduce excerpts from another article “Our Lost Chance”, also in The Independent on Sunday: “It certainly seems pitiful that a deal that has been two years in the making, and 12 days in face-to-face negotiation should have fallen so far short of the hopes invested in it.

What was achieved in Denmark was no more than the old standby of diplomacy: agreement in principle. That principle is important, of course. For the first time, all the nations of the world accept that climate change is a problem and that they must do something about it”.

And knowing how these international agreements work does help to assuage some of the bitterness many people might have felt about Copenhagen. “First, countries sign up in principle, then they work out the details of what should be done, by whom and who should pay. And the Copenhagen accord contains more than mere expressions of concern and good intentions – although not much more. It sets a C rise in average global temperature above the pre-Industrial-Revolution level as a target limit (although on the basis of this deal it is too late already). And it puts a figure of $100 billion a year on the cash transfer to poorer countries to help mitigate a problem of the rich countries' making. But, frankly, nobody needed to go to Copenhagen for that deal to be struck”.

To me, I believe it’s time civil society take up arms to do what politicians cannot and/or will not. Otherwise, many countries are doomed. We must hope...


Arsenal closed the gap on their rivals at the top of the EPL table after a 3-0 win against Hull City in a feisty encounter.

Denilson contributed the first goal when he curled in a sublime 25-yard free-kick (45+4). Then in the second half, Eduardo finished off a slick move (59) to double the Gunners' advantage, and Abou Diaby lashed in the third after playing a one-two with Andrey Arshavin (80). The Gunners were lucky to win this match – they sure looked heavy-footed and lethargic.

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