There are always two ways to tell a story. Read the BBC this morning and you would believe that the Climate talks in Nairobi reached agreement. The headline on the BBC’s website is that “Nairobi climate talks end in deal”. According to the BBC, “the UN climate talks in Nairobi have ended with agreement reached on all outstanding matters”. David Miliband, the UK Environment Secretary was said to be “upbeat” about the outcome.
It is only later in the piece that we learn that “There is no deal on another round of mandatory cuts in emissions to follow the Kyoto Protocol, and no firm timetable for negotiating cuts”.
The Independent puts on a slightly different spin by saying there was “no major breakthrough” at the talks. “The political institutions and their speed are out of sync with the scientific needs of the issue,” he said. “There was real progress on important issues in Nairobi but the gap between the science and the politics remains large, with industrialised and developing countries divided by priorities and divided among themselves.”
Miliband had warned that politics was now lagging dangerously behind the science on global warming and feared that negotiations on a new deal might drag on so long that there would be a “gap” in 2012 when the Kyoto protocol’s first stage runs out. “If we have a gap in 2012, we would have a very serious problem. The whole system would be in tatters,” he said.
The BBC did eventually give a voice to the NGOs who were deeply frustrated at the outcome: “”It’s very clear from the Stern Review, from the latest scientific information, from the impacts we’re already seeing in places like Kenya, that we need very rapid cuts in carbon emissions, and we need the negotiations to start next year and finish at the latest in 2008,” said Andrew Pendleton, climate analyst with the charity Christian Aid.
“Ministers are simply not reflecting the urgency which is being felt in the real world,” said Catherine Pearce, international climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth UK. “We are still not seeing the bold leadership which is needed here.”
It looks, sadly, that bold leadership on climate will come too late.
But at least next year’s meeting is in Bali where world leaders can sun themselves between sessions.