Running Against The Tide To Copenhagen

2009 is a crucial year in the international effort to address climate change.The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The protocol hasn’t been quite a ‘success’ because of various reasons- largely political more than anything else. This takes us directly to the US, which is seen as the major player in addressing the climate crisis.Most countries have been looking to the US and its environmental agenda for quite some time. With the new administration there, and with its shift in politics and policies, the world is again hopeful to face the challenges lying ahead of us to save our dying planet. Remember, it wasn’t the case not so long ago when Bush used to ‘dictate’ and block (veto) any prolific environment related bills from being approved in the US Congress.


Obama has made it clear he will change America’s over-dependency on oil, and focus on clean energy. In this regard, companies like Ford and GM need to pull up their socks. But more than this, he takes advice from the environmental patron Al Gore who is right next to him as his party’s (Democratic) elder man. We can see Gore’s influence on Obama’s green agenda when Obama picked up Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu to serve as his energy secretary. In the recently approved ‘stimulus’ package by the US Congress, he included ‘green stimulus’ as well.


This development in the US, the increasing acceptance of climate crisis and the readiness to act on it- these three factors are making people around the world wonder what will happen this year when the UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Copenhagen, 7-18 December. Let us hope the convention doesn’t end up like the WTO Doha Round of negotiations.


If there will be a universal agreement (solution) – and I hope there will be- to handle and revert the climate crisis, it will have to meet the interests of many countries like the US, the EU countries, China, India and Australia. Unfortunately, we cannot be in doubt whether we will be able to come up with such a solution. Environmentalists around the world are adamant that we do not have any room for doubts anymore. We need a clear solution and that solution must be formatted in Copenhagen. There is a need for renewed level of political leadership and the rejection of a zero-sum approach to negotiations.


However, there lies the problem. The Recession -or maybe depression by the time it is December- will make the negotiators become hardcore conservatives at the time of negotiations, and that may stop them from discussing whatever ‘green’ ideas they may have had. The fear is, will the current economic crisis avert the Convention from coming up with a real hard-line solution to tackle the crisis? Only time will tell.


Personally, I would like to raise this question- ‘Should our present need overshadow the need the civilization calls for?’


The planet clock ticks…

Premjit Laikhuram

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