Historic climate deal in Copenhagen: dream or reality?

June 18, 2009

French President Nicolas Sarkozy declares “nuclear is dead”; Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is taken to hospital suffering from “confetti inhalation” and “hug-related injuries” after they agree to a historic U.N. deal to curb greenhouse gases in Copenhagen.

At least that’s part of the wishful thinking behind a spoof December 19, 2009 edition of the International Herald Tribune (left) showing a beaming German Chancellor Angela Merkel flanked by Sarkozy (left) and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso above the headline “heads of state agree historic climate-saving deal”.

Among other headlines in the 8-page edition sponsored by environmental group Greenpeace: “Markets soar on news of Copenhagen climate deal”, “Exxon finally comes clean” (by abandoning oil and shifting to renewable energies), “Atmosphere named world heritage site”, “India turns its back on the carbon economy”, “Amazon forest a big winner in Denmark”.

The newspaper imagines that that the deal was successful after the European Union agreed at a summit (starting today in the real world) to contribute $50 billion a year to help developing nations combat climate change, matched by a pledge by U.S. President Barack Obama in December to give $60 billion.

Of course the signs so far are that the real life headlines will be less enthusiastic at the end of the December U.N. conference about a new deal to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol: promises for cuts in greenhouse gases by rich nations are well short of the paper’s imaginary curbs to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times. And neither the European Union nor the United States are talking about so much cash.

The Kyoto Protocol fell well short of green groups’ expectations — to the right is a copy of the (real) Japan Times the day after the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 — below the main headline “Conference adopts Kyoto Protocol” is another article “Kyoto Convention’s success open to debate”.

So what will the real headlines read on December 19?  (Assuming the delegates finish the conference by then?)

Please give us your suggestions…


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It mostly depends on the climate change bill currently going through the US Congress as well as the results and decisions taken during the European Council happening today and tomorrow. China is very likely to have a softer position in Copenhagen than in Bali and Poznan. Will it be the same for India? Let’s hope so! A bilateral dialogue – and a global trust – between developed and developing countries is in any case essential if we want to move things forward and help the Copenhagen process to progress and agree on a new treaty.

Posted by Estelle Rouhaud | Report as abusive

We need hope to live, and Greenpeace give it to us. In Copenhagen politicians will have an opportunity for us to trust them. If they do not reach a real good deal it will have two consequences: first, they lose all credibility, second, and much more serious, they will be writing the death sentence to life on Earth as we know it. I believe, and I’m working for, that we will ear good news after Copenhagen. Our Home deserve it.

Posted by Luís | Report as abusive

Nations have to unite in order to deal with climate changes and engage into serious mutual commitments.Otherwise next generations will pay our debt by living in a world of spreading diseases, floods and food scarcity.What are world leaders waiting for?

Posted by Marcus Vinicius Pinto Schtruk | Report as abusive

“We need hope to live …” -LuisV.B. Price wrote: “The first task is to remove all obstacles to hope. Hope does not require optimism, it requires imagination.”I believe cannot place all of our hopes in Copenhagen — our hope builds upon “imagination” at home.Imagine … distributed renewables: geothermal heat pumps, solar PV electricity, solar thermal hot water, and solar thermal heating and cooling on every “available” rooftop — residential and commercial.Not to disparage COP15, but whatever level of “good” comes out of Copenhagen in December will be “icing on the cake” — essential but supported by a solid grassroots foundation. Collectively, we are that foundation.”What are world leaders waiting for?” -MarcusThey are waiting for us to show them we are serious, in actions as well as words.We need to take control of our destinies with local actions in our homes and in our communities.Learn more about CityFIRST — it is a tidal wave that is sweeping the U.S. … why not the globe?!Google ‘CityFIRST’ or ‘BerkeleyFIRST’ or ‘AB 811 Levine’

Posted by Doug350 | Report as abusive

December headline: “Copenhagen delegates define and champion climate and energy justice.”Two hundred world leaders agree: “the misguided effort to release the long-buried climate-chaos agent–fossil carbon–has enslaved our spirits, broken our backs, and battered our bodies. Finally, we are choosing to abandon this dead end and to embrace a smarter, safer, more secure, and sustainable future. A future in which external *benefits*–chief among these, the fundamental human value of solidarity–are internalized along with external *costs*. The choice belongs to the people–the citizens of the world. We have been asked to lead, follow, or get the h%$# out of the way. Finally, our choice is indeed to lead.”

Posted by Paulina | Report as abusive

Obama pledged 60 Billion a year?Gee I thought we were in the middle of an economic crisis with record debt levels projected?Do we have money for this?Paying for this by going into debt will cause it to cost 40% more in the long run. America is bankrupt, we can’t afford to spend money on every little thing.

Posted by Evan | Report as abusive

hey Evan: 60B is 5-10% of our annual Pentagon budget. gee. let’s start saving money where we’re wasting it.

Posted by ken | Report as abusive

the headlines will read “copenhagen, more hot air rising” with a subtitle “as the earth continues to cool”.look at the science folks. for the past decade the earth has cooled. since the mid-1950’s when co2 began to spike we’ve had the threat of a mini ice-age, the threat of global warming and now,once again, a cooling off period beginning. and carbon dioxide still is increasing. what are you missing here folks? the sad thing is that so many have followed the church of al gore and the new world order as professed by maurice strong ( kyoto and it’s successor the ipcc ). it not only is unfounded but costly. i sincerely hope that those of you that refuse to look at the science and instead blindly accept the trash that you’re being fed have substantial wealth in reserve. ’cause you’re going to need it to pay for all of those carbon offsets, inefficient wind farms, corn-based ethanol programs, etc etc. hey, just saying: dig deep and dig often because your standard of living is gonna change dramatically. the sad thing is that our children and grandchildren will be left to pay and wonder just how stupid we actually were.

Posted by 07boxster2 | Report as abusive

If the a CO2 reduction deal is merely a dream, then at some point in time our children or grand children will live a nightmare.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive