In 2012 the Kyoto Protocol to prevent climate changes and global warming runs out. To keep the process on the line there is an urgent need for a new climate protocol. At the conference in Copenhagen 2009 the parties of the UNFCCC met for the last time on a government level before the climate agreement needs to be renewed.
The year began with high hopes for the Copenhagen Conference and that the new Congress and Administration would enact global warming legislation and sign up the U.S. to a new global warming treaty. It ended with that legislation stalled in the US Senate and with the Copenhagen conference concluding with an agreement so weak that it represents a step backward for the U.N. treaty process.
The pathetic outcomes of the Bali and Copenhagen Conference underscore the urgency of making progress on reducing GHG emissions if we hope to achieve the overarching goal of holding the average increase in global temperatures below 2°C.
While the limited results of Copenhagen Conference may have postponed reaching a comprehensive binding agreement, progress on reducing emissions is not only urgent but quite feasible on many fronts, and particularly for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, forest conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
George Dvorsky cites 5 reasons why the Copenhagen Climate Conference failed:
1. Nation-states are far too self-serving: Countries don’t like to be told what to do, and when push comes to shove it’s far too easy for them to hide behind the sovereignty shield. Instead of acting proactively and with leadership, many nations (particularly those in the developed world) are ‘aligning’ themselves with what other countries are doing. No more and no less. And seeing as no one is doing anything….well, there you have it. Compounding this problem is the realization by some countries that they aren’t going to be too negatively impacted by climate change—a disturbing reminder that nation-states are unwilling to deal with threats that are not considered local.
2. Democracies are too ill-equipped and irresolute to deal with pending crises: A reader of mine recently complained that the people of the world were not being consulted on what they feel should be done about climate change. Well, this would only work if the ‘people of the world’ were universally educated about the intricacies of the issues (including scientific, economic, cultural and political considerations) and disarmed of their petty selfishness and local biases. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon, and consulting the Joe the Plumbers of the world on something as multi-faceted and complex as climate change is probably not a good idea. Moreover, like the politicking politicians who supposedly represent them, the masses have shown a tremendous unwillingness to deal with a problem that has yet to show any real tangible negative effects.
3. Isolationist and avaricious China: One thing that the Copenhagen failure revealed is that China’s isolationism is alive and well—even as they emerge as a global superpower. They’re going to go about this whole global warming thing on their own terms, whatever that’s supposed to mean. This unilateral approach is particularly disturbing considering that they’re the largest manufacturing state in the world and house a massive population that will soon start to demand first-world standards of living. And exacerbating all this is the communist Chinese system itself with all its corruption and lack of accountability and due process.
4. The powerful corporatist megastructure: As the onset of last year’s economic crisis so beautifully illustrated, capitalism, if left to its own devices, will eat itself. This is because corporations don’t act rationally or in a way that would indicate foresight or a desire for long-term self-preservation. Moreover, corporations will never voluntarily deal with a seemingly ethereal and controversial problem, especially one that requires a dramatic reduction of profits.
5. Weak consensus on the reason for global warming: Global warming denalists are no longer the problem. What’s of great concern now is the growing legitimacy of anthropogenic climate change denialists—those individuals who believe that global warming is a natural phenomenon. This is a particularly pernicious idea because it absolves humanity from the problem. Adherents of this view contend that human civilization is not responsible for the changes to the Earth’s climate and that as a consequence we don’t need to fix anything—we can keep on spewing carbon into the atmosphere with reckless abandon. This idea is particularly appealing to politicians who use it as a convenient escape hatch.
GeorgeDvorsky. Jan 8, 2010. 5 Reasons Why The Copenhagen Climate Conference Failed http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/dvorsky20100110/