17 December 2009

At the Copen... Copen-Cabana....

Yeah, I know, you didn't think I could do worse than "Copen-Puffs", but I did.

I contributed a column to Business Lexington this week where I labeled COP15 the "You First Summit." Basically everyone is willing to talk tough and demand action but no one will lift a finger unless someone else does it first. There's still one more day to see if the brinksmanship will end and people will get serious, and you could argue that's what it takes in global negotiations.

Here's the sad part - I actually wrote the column before the conference began. Call me cynical, but call me right. Tim Hurst was kind enough to pick up my "coverage" of the summit over at Ecopolitology, and there have been a few more updates since then - mostly sad. Of course, if you're an optimist that means that President Obama is about to swoop in at the last minute and save the world.

A couple of items worth noting from COP15:

Samoa waits patiently for countries with money to do something. The Samoan Ambassador to the UN showed up and basically told the rest of the world while they're posturing, his country is sinking into the ocean. Not good.

Developing countries walk out, then walk back in. "Negotiations" were halted for a few hours while the G77 decides to show the world they're serious by not picking up a ball and not going home.

The COP15 President resigns suddenly
- but really, this was planned, we just forgot to tell everyone. Now the Danish Prime Minister is the "President" of COP15 but Connie Hedegaard is basically still doing everything she was doing. Apparently with all these presidents flying in the Danish leader needed more clout, but...

No one is listening to the prime minister of whats-is-stan or someplace. Reuters reports that 120-ish heads of state are in Copenhagen and all want to address the assembly, but the assembly is busy in negotiations. So the leader of an entire country talks to a half-empty room while some low-level bureaucrat whispers into his earpiece, "I'm sorry Mr. Prime Minister but you've gone over your allotted five minutes."

Secretary Clinton pulls $100 billion out of thin air. In what could be argued as a shift in position, the US apparently is ready to participate in a $100 billion/year (i.e., the low end of what's necessary for poor countries to address climate change) global fund to help Samoa and other countries, though where this money will come from and how it will be spent is not known.

Nobody's happy and everyone's waiting for someone else to blink. It's someone else's fault. Essentially everyone is trying to goad everyone else into making the first major concession. Not sure how that happens.

But there's a bright side too. One of the people who's actually working at the summit says it's a big deal, mostly because everyone is talking about climate change and a number of big countries have made tentative commitments - this wouldn't have happened in the absence of the summit.

There's no doubt that people will declare victory once this thing is done. But I'll be talking with three of my green-blogging pals to get the straight skinny...

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