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Coping with Copenhagen

Posted by Molly Walsh on February 24, 2010 at 09:52 AM

inside-the-bella-centre-with-cop-in-full-swingCopenhagen was personally very disappointing for me. I did not expect there to be a final legally binding treaty agreed there but I had hoped for better things. I had hoped that perhaps movement would be made on sticky issues in the negotiating texts and that by the time things came to a close there would be maybe three or four areas that still needed to be worked through in 2010. What actually hap pended was that a parallel process developed, the process of drawing together the Copenhagen Accord. This sapped attention and focus from the real texts that have been being negotiated since the UN meeting in Bali two years ago.

The Bella Centre was a strange soulless place. I had moments of complete desperation at some points in my two weeks. I would look at the the conference characters milling around the coffee areas and feel that the whole thing was very surreal. A negotiation not to destroy the world? People were networking, joking chatting and doing business all around me. Ostensibly the reason for this conference was that the actions of millions of people on one side of the globe are threatening the lives of millions of people on the other side. I felt like running up to someone and grabbing them by the lapels of their expensive suit and screaming "This is very serious and very urgent! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!???" But no, that would have been deemed crazy.

I did finally make it home from Brussels and enjoyed a cold Christmas at home trying not to worry about the UN process too much. When I returned to work, I noticed that lots of people seemed unsure what to do next. Some activists felt very disheartened by the process. The UN themselves seemed unsure how to continue. The EU were reeling from having been sidelined as a major player. As one journalist put it, the EU had prepared a bed for China and the US hoping to share it with them but was not invited to join them. In my opinion if the EU want to be seen as a major player on the international stage again then they should stop rolling over and taking it when the US trys to screw them with something like the Copenhagen Accord. I realised that people who had a lot invested in Copenhagen were finding it hard to cope. I was particularly struck by Minister Gormley's last video blog form Copenhagen. A tired looking Gormley says that he is very disappointed by the half-baked outcome. He says though, that he has been disheartened before. Like John I'm keeping on keeping on.

We can not allow our negotiators and politicians to fail us again. They have a second chance in Mexico. Negotiators and the UN secretariat have been scratching their heads for while unsure quite what to do next. There was another confusing setback when Evo De Boer resigned to go and work for KPMG. Things however are slowly getting back on track now. An date for intesessional negotiations has been set for April in Bonn.

The best contribution that our small country can make to ensuring a successful binding agreement in Mexico is to get our own house in order. At 17 tonnes per capita we are not exactly a world leader on climate change, but all that might just be about to change. Thanks to campaigning by Friends of the Earth activists John Gormley has agreed to this Government passing a climate law this year. A climate law is like the architecture to move the country to a low carbon economy. It builds trust with other countries that we will actually keep our promises on reduction targets and generally boosts our credibility as a country serious about climate change. Email John Gormley now and tell him not to be disheartened by Copenhagen (or anything else) there is lots that he can do as minister here.

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