The 11-day Copenhagen Summit has ended, and just about everyone isn’t happy. It seems the only people who made out like bandits was the Danish hospitality industry. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and President Barack Obama have enthusiastically hailed the Copenhagen Treaty (through gritted teeth and knotted colons) with Ban declaring,
“It may not be everything we hoped for, but this decision of the Conference of Parties is an essential beginning. Many will say it lacks ambition. Nonetheless, you have achieved much.”
Using our universal Diplomacy To English translator: “we didn’t accomplish anything, it was tortuous, we all wanted to kill each other, so let’s just declare victory and go home.”
What exactly was the Copenhagen Summit supposed to accomplish, other than introducing the delegates to the source of that delectable and flaky pastry bearing Denmark’s name?
1. To further expand or replace entirely the much-defamed Kyoto Protocol, a treaty which was supposed to regulate emissions by the developed nations.
2. Regulating emissions with exact figures for specific countries.
3. Verifying whether the emission cuts were being adhered to with independent monitoring.
4. Providing money to poorer countries to help them deal with the effects of climate change.
Was any of this achieved? Not quite. The United States did not want to increase their carbon emission cuts, the European Union and other developed (richer) nations didn’t offer enough funds that would have given the agreements teeth, the developing countries didn’t want to sign on the dotted line which bound them to specific emissions cuts, and China refused to allow outside monitors. So ultimately, what the Copenhagen Summit has to show for is the Copenhagen Accords, which is essentially a non-binding agreement for everyone (in principle) to address Climate Change. It isn’t legally binding, there’s no consensus on how emission cuts can be verified, and there’s no environmental protections for rain forests.
But – we do have some priceless hyperbole to report: Governor Sarah Palin tweeted philosophically:
"Copenhgen=arrogance of man 2think we can change nature's ways. MUST b good stewards of God's earth,but arrogant & naive 2say man overpwers nature Earth saw clmate chnge 4 ions;will cont 2 c chnges. R duty 2responsbly devlop resorces 4humankind/not pollute & destroy; but cant alter naturl chng"
(It’s eons, Governor. Not ions.) Moving past Sarah’s semi-literate, asinine analysis of human-influenced climatology –
Lumumba Stanislaus Dia-Ping, Chairman of the Group of 77 (a bloc of poor nations),“It is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It’s a solution based on values that funneled six million people in Europe into furnaces.”
This man is clearly outraged that the richer nations aren’t paying more to clean up the world’s environmental mess, but did he have to pull out the Holocaust card? Very unclassy, Mr. Lumumba.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK: “The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport.”
He might have a point. Hundreds of delegates descended on Copenhagen, burned petrol, used up resources, and left behind tons of cigarette butts, plastic bottles and coffee grounds. You’d think the least they could have done was to sign an international law protecting…something environmental.
Unnamed European Commission spokesman: “It was the only deal available in Copenhagen.”
Now, is this guy talking about a climate agreement to ensure Planet Earth doesn’t lurch into a Greenhouse hell, or is he talking about engaging an escort service? I couldn’t tell. But what is clear is that the Copenhagen Summit failed miserably to define achievable action on Climate Change. And if that’s the case, then “Copenhagen ‘09” may well be synonymous one day with “Munich ’38.” We’re not quite at the Defcon-1 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome stage yet, but it’s interesting to note that the only substantial thing which Copenhagen produced was another carbon footprint. Is this a harbinger of future exercises to thwart Global Warming? Is every conference going to queasily remind us of Neville Chamberlain waving a toothless agreement while declaring unmitigated success?
With all the hyperbole flying around, it’s only forgivable that I eagerly await Sarah Palin’s next tweet on Climate Change. Because it’s just as relevant as Copenhagen turned out to be.