Crisis in Copenhagen

December 9, 2009
Tempers are rising in Copenhagen. Without preventative action they could rise several degrees by the end of the climate change summit, perhaps with disastrous consequences. The leaders of developing nations will be worst affected. And unsurprisingly the root of the problem comes from the developed world. The problem is arrogance, which can derail even the most significant diplomacy.

A mere two days into the climate talks, the so-called “Danish text” was leaked. This secret draft agreement places much more power in the hands of rich countries at the expense of poor ones. Under the proposal, the citizens of rich countries would be allowed to emit significantly more carbon than the citizens of poor countries (2.67 metric tons per person compared with 1.44 metric tons per person in 2050). It would effectively nullify the Kyoto Protocol and place new constraints on developing countries.

This document was created in an attempt to gain the support of the United States. But in the process it has infuriated developing countries and their representative body, the G77. It has gone against the principle of democracy that the United Nations is based upon. By being indifferent to the interests of most of the world’s people, it has done much to prevent further progress.

Compromise will be essential if the Copenhagen summit is to succeed. The “Danish text” is symptomatic of a pervasive strain of hubris that has consistently prevented meaningful action to address climate change. Even worse, the clandestine origins of the draft create further mistrust and antagonism. The East Anglia e-mail scandal should have shown the perils of scheming behind closed doors.

Here we are, attempting to confront a potentially grave threat to humanity, and we can’t even have an honest and open discussion. Petty interests and destructive notions of superiority interfere with the need to act in unity. Before we are able to solve the planet’s problems, we must solve our own. A small measure of mutual trust and empathy, even if highly conditional, must be established between the nations of the world if climate change and other global crises are to be addressed. For the sake of the world and its inhabitants, I hope this occurs before it’s too late.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback