Sunday, 20 December 2009

Copenhagen talks end in disastrous failure

Well world leaders have come and gone, played hardball with each other (as world leaders are wont to do), and completely failed to agree an international treaty designed to stop climate change and guarantee the future of life as we know it.

Hey ho. Failure was predictable enough after all. No-one really thought the likes of Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Manmohan Singh and Wen Jia-boa could put self-interest to one side to guarantee the future of the species. It was a bit like a game of poker between cowboys in which they all cheat, suspect each other of cheating, and all end up dead in a simultaneous shoot-out. Never has it been more obvious that we need politicians with policies for the next 100 years - not just the next 100 days.

So, a binding deal to cut global carbon emissions proved impossible to agree - and instead we've got the rather pathetic Copenhagen Accord.

It doesn't contain any binding targets for emissions reduction, and although it contains the hope that global temperature rises won't top 2 deg Centigrade it contains no mechanism, or even suggestion, for how that might happen, or who might be responsible making sure it does.

It's as though the world has signed up to a deal to promote lots of motherhood and apple-pie without mentioning either breeding or baking.

And even the Copenhagen Accord wasn't 'adopted' - it was merely 'noted', after objections from China, India and Africa.

The Accord spells the end of the Kyoto Protocol - the  mechanism for cutting emissions agreed in 1997. Kyoto was deeply flawed, but was, as has been oft-repeated, 'the only game in town'. Well now there's no game at all.

And yet Ed Miliband, so upset at the idea that African nations were comparing the talks' failure to a deal that would lead the widespread slaughter of their people that he reportedly rushed from his hotel bedroom to save the talks (!), has bizarrely hailed the agreement as a good news story.

According to The Observer, Miliband said the Accord "was definitely worth saving".

The deal "is a document that it substantive ways will make the lives of people around this planet better".

What nonsense. It won't make life better for the millions living in the floodplains of Bangladesh. Or the people of Tuvalu. Or the millions dependent on glaciers for drinking water in Africa, China, India and South America. It won't make life better for the 60,000 Brighton and Hove householders told their homes will be overcome by storm surge floods in the next few years. And it won't make life much better for my five-year-old son, who might be best off learning, as his Grandpa has advised, how to use a gun to make sure he's one of life's winners when society goes tits up.

The sooner we get rid of Miliband, Brown and their ilk - and replace them with politicians who are more committed to the survival of the species than of business as usual - the better.

As Sussex grinds to a halt in the face of a little climate chaos, perhaps the future is as well predicted by this snowman in Queen's Park as any other story: Endangered Species, reads the label. I guess the Sussex snowman has got a little less time than the rest of us, but I guess (s)he's talking for all of us.

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