Talk to almost anybody who went to the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, or waited outside the Bella Center for hours in sub-zero temperatures with no hope of admittance, or who cycled to Denmark from Middle England wanting to take part in the most important meeting the world has ever held, and they’ll tell you how despondent they are.
The United Nations Climate Change talks in Denmark in December 2009 were an “abject failure”, a “washout”, “pointless”, “undermined by corporate interests”, “derailed by China”, “overruled by the United States”, and so the list of complaints rolls on.
Some pronounce that now there’s no future for the United Nations – if they cannot even organise a beverage party in a brewery. Climate Change is the Number 1 United Nations stronghold issue – on this the United Nations is supposed to be the leader, the facilitator of solutions, the maker of deals, the driver of policy.
Other commentators denounce the wicked influence of the corporate bodies before, during, between and after the event : trying to tip the balance of discussion towards the preferred business choices : market-based instruments, even if they cannot be scaled up to the size of the Carbon Emissions problem.
Still other observers point wagging fingers at certain administrative players at Copenhagen, including the host country government, highlighting their failures to negotiate, organise, plan, prepare.
Some say that Obama flew in, destroyed the process, and flew out again. Others say that China dug its heels in and refused to budge. Some sardonic British Government people I have been hearing have said that the poorest countries don’t know how to negotiate; how they blocked every step of genuine progress. People that I know who were trying to work with the poorer, most at-risk country delegations said that they were railroaded, steamrollered, their voices silenced, their access to influence cut off.
I am one of the lucky, blessed ones. I was not disappointed or disillusioned by those two weeks in December – because I had no faith in Copenhagen to deliver on Climate Change from the outset. I came to that conclusion reading the draft of the agenda several months before the opening day of the talks.
All I could see in the text were “stupid white men” (ask Michael Moore) proposals; nothing concrete and proven, nothing fair and rights-based.
We all lost with Copenhagen. We have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down, keep calm and carry on, regardless.