Saturday, December 19, 2009

Copenhagen has failed

Today, December 19, 2009, an Anonymous Blogger Reported from Copenhagen that the UN had failed to address the most important crisis in human history.

This is what he wrote:

The UN has failed to address the most pressing human rights issue of our time, and perhaps the most important crisis in human history.

The Copenhagen conference, and the entire process that has been unfolding for the past two years, has utterly and completely failed. None of the work has resulted in an agreement of any kind, let alone a strong and fair one.

18 years of effort in international negotiations have amounted to virtually nothing. These processes have failed, and we have lost time we could not afford to lose.

Many have devoted their blood, sweat and tears for over a year trying to raise awareness and put pressure on leaders to reach a strong and fair deal. It hasn't worked, and we see a lot of anger and bitterness being expressed today.

At the last minute, a proposal put together by the US and a few other countries behind closed doors was submitted, with no emissions targets.

The UN delegates have now left and the conference has broken up without approval of this "deal".

The US and some of the other countries that produced this two page declaration did so outside of UN processes.

The document mentions only a "goal" of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. There were no emissions targets listed at all, no method for monitoring or enforcement, and no obligations, legal or otherwise, for participating countries. The US itself has made no new commitments to emissions targets beyond its prior inadequate proposal of reducing by 4 percent.

This document was then submitted to UN delegates and they were given just an hour to decide whether or not to approve. After much protest, delegates were allowed to speak, and a string of countries began to denounce and reject the document. After much deliberation, the conference broke up without any approval of this last minute proposal. They agreed only to "take note" of it

Perhaps this is better than the worst case outcome, however. It is probably better to have no deal, than an obviously weak and impotent one.

But is was not just what he wrote about Copenhagen that is startling, it is what he wrote afterward that was most enduring to me.

He said, "We are now at a crossroads."

He noted that the third world is likely going to experience the worst effects of climate changes, and indeed, many countries are already suffering.

He indicated that if the developing countries can remain united, they do have some power. They would be capable of forcing the issue.

This could even come in the form of various types of sanctions, boycotts and embargoes against us.

If Western countries refuse to reduce emissions, these developing nations can simply deny us the ability to “grow emissions” by denying us the resources that generate those emissions in the first place.

We already acknowledge that a substantial amount of oil and other important natural resources are located in the third world. A substantial amount of the oil in the world is not under our own soil. Beyond oil, there is coal, natural gas, uranium, and various rare metals sitting under the soils of much of the developing world.

Third world nations could decide to leave them in the ground, limit supplies, or sell them only to certain countries.

This would then force us to conserve. We would need to get by with only the fossil fuels we are producing ourselves, which would certainly force us to scale back and take a more serious interest in “alternative” energies.

It would compel us to change, although we might be dragged kicking and screaming into a sustainable way of life.

In the end, though, this would probabyly help the whole world, including those living in the West.

But it would be tough times for us.

Right now Canada may be producing more oil than we need, and without any global climate agreement we will probably be tempted to expand our exploitation of the tar sands. Could sanctions or boycotts be brought against us to discourage us from such action?

Will there be demands from the international community – and from within Canada as well -- that we abandon the tar sands completely? We certainly seem to have enough oil for ourselves without using the tar sands.

But we also have to remember that the oil in Canada it is unevenly distributed. In the East half of Canada we get our oil by buying it from elsewhere.

Also, many activists in the Western world will probably do everything that they can do to support the developing world. They will also agitate against any possible retaliation, especially if military invasion were being tabled as a possibility. After all, these are not our resources -- and it was the Government of Canada who behaved so badly at Copenhagen and we were the ones would would not compromise at Copenhagen.

An agreement at Copenhagen could have provided a pathway for developing nations to not use their own resources.

But now they must.

Can we continue to reply on these resources coming into Canada at reasonable prices now that Canada is seen as the villain? Will countries even want to continue selling us their inheritance and birthrights for mere pennies?

Are we prepared to fight them for these resources if we had to? Certainly the US military is already stretched to the breaking point in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US certainly cannot dominate the world if the world stands against them. Indeed, with limited supplies of resources, the US may even be forced to withdraw from the countries they are already in and start focusing their limited resources and funds on change at home.

Or will be simply have to make even deeper concessions later?

The issues are definitely challenging -- and divisive.

We certainly live in "interesting times".