There was no deal in Copenhagen, don’t believe the hype, it was a total, chaotic failure. Every leader and delegation that was present knows that the world faces environmental catastrophe if they do not act now on climate change. The UN process was unable to find a way forward and the process failed to produce anything meaningful.
What happened in the closing hours of the climate talks is vital in understanding the imbalances of the world we are living in. On the 18th of December, the plenary hall podium was given to Obama, he selected 16 guests who would have the exclusive right to speak. The rest of the world’s countries had only the right to sit and listen. The following press conference announced to the world that the US-led climate deal was agreed upon, it was called the Copenhagen accord and would limit temperature rises to less than 2C. CNN announced a breakthrough and world headlines screamed “ meaningful agreement.”
But there had been no agreement in Copenhagen; it was far from a done deal. Ministers and delegations were still sitting around the tables arguing until the next morning. At the final plenary, the chair of the discussions Rasmussen introduced Obama’s Copenhagen Accord in glowing terms saying that it had been produced by a “representative group of leaders from all countries around the world.” He then attempted to limit responses to 60 minutes- it was at that point that Venezuela started banging on the desk demanding to be heard, followed quickly by Bolivia, Sudan, Cuba and Tuvalu- refusing the accept the so- called “deal.”
As the climate chaos website states “ This mess is largely down to the actions of some industrialised countries – the arrogance of a few powerful leaders who took over and twisted the negotiations to their particular needs is truly astounding.” As Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, stated last night, “If the climate were a bank, they would have bailed it out already.”
So where now?
Copenhagen was a bitter disappointment for many, it was heart breaking to see the despair in the faces of friends made over the two weeks in Copenhagen as the news came in about the lack of deal. For many from the Alliance of Small Island States, Maldives or Africa this COP was about the survival of their country and peoples in the face of climate change. It is clear that solutions exist to the climate crisis, many of the side events, workshops and presentations that took place during COP15 showed positive and real things that can be done here and now. The Centre for Alternative Technologies report Zero Carbon Britain is one such solution. The report outlines clearly how we can rapidly decarbonise the UK by 2030.
At the Klimaforuma a declaration entitled “System Change – Not Climate Change was produced, “What people and the planet need is a just and sustainable transition of our societies to a form that will ensure the rights of life and dignity of all people and deliver a more fertile planet and more fulfilling lives to present and future generations,” it states. The signatory organisations called on governments to take urgent climate action, most importantly the “complete abandonment of fossil fuels within the next 30 years, which must include specific milestones for every five-year period.”
They also demanded “an immediate cut in GHG (greenhouse gases) of industrialized countries of at least 40 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2020,” and “recognition, payment and compensation of climate debt for the over consumption of atmospheric space and adverse effects of climate change on all affected groups and people.”
Copenhagen was a failure but for the thousands of people who participated in civil society events at Copenhagen the work is just beginning. The coming together of hundreds of groups in Copenhagen gave the opportunity to build strong networks and alliances- it is time to re-group, plan strategies and put into action initiatives that move us towards a just and sustainable future.