Environment Forum

Are the Copenhagen climate talks failing?

COP15picIn the last few days it has seemed like the only thing everyone can agree on in Copenhagen is that time is running out.

The heads of state start arriving today and descend in full force on Thursday.

Negotiators say they don’t want their leaders arguing over the placement of a comma or a set of brackets, and so everything needs to be tied up by Friday morning.

That leaves just over two days, and more than 190 countries gathered in the conference hall can’t even settle on a draft text to argue over.

The parties seem to have divided into three factions – although officially it is rich vs poor, as developing countries say they are united.

In reality, developed countries responsible for most emissions currently in the atmosphere are facing down the major developing countries expected to produce the majority of emissions in coming decades.

from Mario Di Simine:

Stunts, pins and pamphlets: Getting the word out at COP15

aliens2When you're one of thousands of people trying to get a message out at once, you need an edge.

In Copenhagen during the COP15 conference a plethora of nongovernmental organizations, environmental groups, country delegations and even businesses have gone to sometimes unusual lengths to get their word out, and hopefully into the newspapers, or onto the Web and television.

The more adventurous -- and humorous -- the better your chance of catching a journalist's eye.  Some have had members dressed up as aliens, holding up placards reading "Take me to your 2015 peak year".  The aliens, brought to us by the environmental action group Avaaz,  have been a presence at the Bella Center for pretty much the whole conference to date.

Cap and trade not the solution, climate scientist says

Fighting climate change is a huge investment opportunity but not through emissions trading and investors should instead put their money into renewables which will power the economy in the future, says a leading environmental scientist and cap and trade expert.

As yesterday’s walkout by African nations showed, getting anyone to agree on anything at the U.N. Climate Conference is easier said than done. The use of markets to address pollution is no different. Supporters of cap and trade — the system which allows companies or groups who meet their emissions targets to sell their remaining carbon credits — are out in force, but so are the groups who say the scheme prevents less responsible companies from breaking their bad habits.

Scientist Payal Parekh, from International Rivers, has come to Copenhagen to lobby on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to highlight the failures of the cap and trade system. She said: “We are working here to ensure that we get ambitious reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases so that we can make a smooth and efficient transition to a clean and green economy. This means that we really need to set up a system that rewards innovators as opposed to allowing dirty industries to continue polluting.

Sleeping next to activists in Copenhagen

There’s no concierge, no bellboy nor even a check-in counter. There’s no lobby, nor mini-bar and not even any heating. But despite the lack of amenities there was still something special about sleeping alongside 2,000 other climate change activists in an empty warehouse in an industrial section of northwest Copenhagen last night. 

It’s cold, loud and dusty. But the price is unbeatable and so is the atmosphere. CLIMATE-COPENHAGEN/You could say they were all happy campers.

There’s no charge but donations are welcome. There’s even breakfast available, a delicious porridge concoction.  And even free wireless, which is helping me get this post written.  Last night I managed to find a fairly empty corner on the cold cement floor of this drafty warehouse shortly before midnight but by the time I woke up at 7 a.m. there were hundreds more activists in sleeping bags crowded around me. They had been streaming in through the night.

Forget polar bears, who will save the prostitutes?

Among the many messages sent out by politicians during the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, “Be sustainable — don’t buy sex” has to be one of the least expected. This was the advice circulated by Ritt Bjeregaard, the city’s mayor and a former EU Environment Commissioner, sent via postcard to all the hotels in the city to tell them to stamp down on conference-goers looking to patronise prostitutes on their premises.

Prostitution is legal in Denmark (though brothels and pimping are not), and sex workers had been expecting to do a roaring trade during the two-week conference.

Mayor Bjeregaard’s note sparked an angry response from the Sex Workers Interest Group, which pointed out that its members are not breaking the law and promised free sex to any attendees who produced one of the postcards along with their conference accreditation.

from The Great Debate:

For real results on climate, look beyond Copenhagen

-- Aron Cramer is the president and CEO of BSR, a global business network and consultancy focused on sustainability. He is also coauthor of the forthcoming book Sustainable Excellence (Rodale 2010). The views expressed are his own.  --

(Updated on December 17th to correct figure in McKinsey study in paragraph 7.)

As world leaders seem uncertain about whether a binding treaty is even possible at Copenhagen, it’s important to remember what was already clear: Twelve days in Copenhagen were never going to solve climate change anyway.

No doubt, these negotiations, now extending into 2010, are crucial. The sooner we can seal a global deal to reduce emissions, the sooner we can avoid catastrophic climate change. But as important as the treaty negotiations in Copenhagen’s Bella Centre are, even a successful outcome will be for naught if boardroom decisions and factory processes aren’t reoriented toward a low-carbon future.

from Tales from the Trail:

Boycott Copenhagen, Palin urges Obama

USA/

 If Sarah Palin had her way, President Barack Obama would be staying away from this month's global climate change talks in Copenhagen and "sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices."

The summit will hear from scientists like those from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, where recently revealed e-mails showed information that raised questions about climate change was suppressed, writes Palin.

"Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference. The president should boycott Copenhagen," she wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

from Mario Di Simine:

Fossil of the Day Award: And the winner is…

carsThe UN Conference on Climate Change is a weighty gathering of serious folks looking for a way to cut carbon emissions. It's also a great place to bring some much-needed humor and along the way hammer a few perceived laggers in the fight against global warming.

Enter the Fossil of the Day Awards, a tongue-in-cheek dishonor first presented in 1999 and given to the countries with the worst performances at the previous day's talks during UN climate conferences.

Three awards, compiled by CAN (Climate Action Network), a coalition of more than 450 NGOs, are presented each day with the country scoring the most points over the course of the conference winning the grand prize.

from Mario Di Simine:

Is there a climate conference going on?

Walking through the Copenhagen airport, it's pretty much impossible to miss the signs that illustrate the city's focus is squarely on the climate. Those signs, literally, are everywhere, with advertisements adorning the walls on the walk from the flight ramp through to baggage claim and off into the arrivals area.

Big companies from Siemens to Shell are making sure you know they care.

siemens pic

shell

Those are nice, but to really get a message across the big conglomerates may want to contact the ad guy for Greenpeace and its NGO alliance. The environment group has plastered the airport walls with a campaign "to mobilize civil society and to galvanize public opinion" to help bring about a new climate deal. The ad series features unflattering photos of world leaders like Germany's Angela Merkel (pictured in the ad below), President Obama,  and others beside this quote: "We could have stopped catastrophic climate change" followed by the subtext "We did ... nothing". Whether you agree with the group and the alliance of NGOs participating in the ad, you gotta admit it's pretty striking.

merkel

There was another ad from Accenture that caught my eye as I strolled toward the baggage claim area, although it had nothing to do with the climate conference.  I just like irony:

from The Great Debate UK:

John Reid on climate change and global security

johnreid- John Reid MP, formerly UK Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Defence, is the Chairman of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College, London. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Barack Obama’s announcement that there will be no all-encompassing protocol agreed at Copenhagen underlines that climate change is perhaps the most complex issue facing the world today.  In part, this is because it involves long-term thinking and modeling which our existing political, financial and economic institutions and governance frameworks are ill-designed and configured to grapple with and resolve.

With uncertainty building over what, if anything, the Copenhagen Summit can still achieve, now is therefore the time to remind ourselves about some of the larger stakes in play next month at what has been billed by some as the most important environmental summit in world history.

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