Climate Change Social Change

The BBC’s Richard Black : Tired & Inaccurate ?

Why does the BBC always feel it has to give a definitive view on every single little thing that happens, even if they appear to need to resort to making stuff up ?
“Why did Copenhagen fail to deliver a climate deal?”

This article by Richard Black strings together what I think are some of the most ridiculous things I’ve read about the United Nations Climate Change talks at Copenhagen in December 2009. I think it’s quite a sorry, sordid recounting, with elements of dismissiveness. Hardly the kind of tone we need if we want to enthuse positive change, surely.

Richard Black sounds tired and cynical, and I think he could have done better if he had not written this piece at all, for all the good it does in helping people understand what did and did not happen at Copenhagen.

“1. KEY GOVERNMENTS DO NOT WANT A GLOBAL DEAL … The end of the meeting saw leaders of the US and the BASIC group of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) hammering out a last-minute deal in a back room as though the nine months of talks leading up to this summit, and the Bali Action Plan to which they had all committed two years previously, did not exist…”

As far as I understand the situation it is just not true to say the “KEY GOVERNMENTS DO NOT WANT A GLOBAL DEAL”. I view this as a very poor and inaccurate summary of the position of the key players. Richard Black is perhaps not including some very pertinent facts in his analysis.

There are some underlying issues, particularly as regards national sovereignty, international debt, and unresolved trade and market questions, which have been lying like basking, snap-happy sharks just beneath the surface of all the talks since Bali, or before. These issues haven’t been resolved yet, despite all the frantic diplomatic scurrying and hastily convened meetings of the last year.

Richard Black says “In Copenhagen, everyone talked; but no-one really listened”, which is again, to my mind, incorrect. What happened in Copenhagen was a lot of shouting by big Carbon-intensive players who want to get a deal through on a global Carbon Trading platform, resurrecting the near-dead Clean Development Mechanism which hasn’t been working; and setting up a world market in a virtual commodity (Carbon), which hasn’t been working in the one region it has been fully implemented – Europe. The Rest of the World has chipped in and resisted this global Carbon Offsetting proposal, and rightly so.

You haven’t got rich world countries lined up against poor world countries. With the push for Carbon Trading, you’ve got the world banks lined up against the Small Island States and the whole of Africa.

Carbon Trading is just one of a number of elements of the hypothetical Copenhagen Treaty, which still might get pushed through, but which the developing nations rightly resisted putting pen to paper on in Denmark.

Some countries and some blocs resist Carbon Trading, universalising the Clean Development Mechanism, “Reduced” Deforestation, and the funding for certain technologies like “Clean” Coal. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want a global deal. It actually means that they don’t want the kind of global deal that was being pushed down their gullet.

Although there is much, much more that I could say to unpick what Richard Black has scribbled, I’m going to pick on just one more thing that seems to me to be patronising, inaccurate and irritating and has no discernible positive effect : “8. CAMPAIGNERS GOT THEIR STRATEGIES WRONG”.

How in Earth’s name are campaigners, with limited funds and personnel supposed to gather all the peoples of all the cultures together round one single messaging refrain ? How are campaigners somehow responsible for the fact that a very bad deal was dismissed ? How is it that organisations like did wrong ? Why did 50,000 people at the parallel KlimaForum manage to get to a decision on what needs to be done, yet all the people at the official UN meeting could not ? Why were there so many well-resourced corporate lobbyists at Copenhagen and what could they possibly have gained from hobbling the campaigning messages ?

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