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Copenhagen: Requiem for a summit?

Posted by Geneviève Ferone on 22 December 2009

With the Copenhagen summit only a few weeks away, it seems everyone is either predicting a stalemate in international negotiations or listing all the reasons it is useless to hope for an agreement in principle on a global roadmap towards an economy based on new energy paradigms.

Indeed, it is already a given that promises to reduce greenhouse gases established by the Kyoto protocol will not be respected by the end of the first commitment period in 2012. Prospects are even more bleak as the latest assessments by the IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – demonstrate that these initial goals will be insufficient to restrain climate change within a “reasonable” limit.
Bringing players with such divergent interests to an agreement and ensuring they honour them seems illusory at best. The path of international diplomacy has indeed been paved with failures and compromises in all fields: developmental aid, agriculture, trade, human rights, fight against corruption. Why would global warming be any different? Why shouldn’t we simply allow technology to accomplish miracles and the invisible hand of the trade market to slowly go green?

This kind of thinking is intolerable and irresponsible. It is particularly dangerous to give up on our only arena and tool of international negotiation by holding up as pretexts our eternal rivalries and our incapacity to fairly share the planet’s resources. We have reached a point of no return. The very foundations of our societies are shaken. The fragile balance of our social, economic, and political organisations are threatened. We can no longer get by with lukewarm sentiments, with opportunistic haggling. We need to grow, we must learn to live and talk together differently.

We must invent a new economic model that is fairer, which fully integrates the environmental constraints for 7 billion human beings within the next 10 years. We are helpless and incapable of finding the determinants of this green growth for which we so ardently hope, as though it were a magical wish. Before we can enjoy the fruits of this new golden age, we must first start on a long and delicate transition period. If we look closer, this passage closely resembles the eye of a needle. We can either go through it or fail. This passage demands each and everyone of us to become thoroughly aware of climate and energy stakes. To get through the eye of the needle together means collectively choosing the right path. There is very little room for error and
We must cut away the extraneous and increase our adaptability.

Both these questions are at the very heart of the Copenhagen negotiations and all together we must find an answer as soon as possible. We cannot precipitously dismiss the rudiments of the only green alphabet at our disposal. Our future common language depends on it.

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