After the severe disappointment of the Copenhagen Summit, when a watered-down wet blanket of a deal was signed, recriminations have flown far and fast with both China and the US being signalled out for blame.
Depending on who you talk to, either country is the villain behind the Summit’s failure.
“Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone’s fault”, wrote Naomi Klein, “There’s plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn’t use it.”
Of course she is talking about the US. She was backed by environmental groups such as Greenpeace and development groups such as Christian Aid, that put the blame on Obama.
Others disagreed saying it was China’s fault. Writing in The Guardian, the British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband blamed China for the Summit’s failure: “We did not get an agreement on 50% reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80% reductions by developed countries. Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries.”
Others backed up this view. British journalist Mark Lynas, who had been advising the Maldives, also writing in The Guardian newspaper, said that “The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful “deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame.”
The truth is that both were to blame, with even the EU admitting that it was “obvious” that both China and the United States “did not want more than we achieved in Copenhagen.”
So what now? Is there any chance of a new deal? UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has said he wants a legally binding treaty reached this year.
But at the moment, any deal seems a long, long way off, with many politicians – not to mention the public – suffering from “climate fatigue.”
For any post-Copenhagen deal to succeed, Obama must finally stand up and be counted. Fine words will not be enough. As the Washington Post noted over the Christmas break: “it is clear that enacting legislation to cap the U.S. carbon dioxide output and allow polluters to trade emission permits is essential to delivering on the pledges that Obama made to other world leaders”.
Obama’s problem is that already leading Senators are talking about a compromise that could mean any deal becomes as watered down and meaningless as the one signed in Copenhagen”.
For all of us concerned about climate change, the need to unite together to force meaningful action is now as important and urgent as ever, probably more so than before Copenhagen started.
We need to hold the politicians to account, but also the corporate lobbyists who came away from Copenhagen pleased with the outcome. Take one of the nominees for December’s Angry Mermaid Award – the International Air Transport Association, that has expressed “relief” that its calls for self-regulation through its own body – the International Civil Aviation Organisation “gained such wide-spread acceptance.”
The aviation industry will not be the only industry lobbyists pleased with Copenhagen. So too will the oil and coal lobby. A weak and watered down deal that is essentially toothless is exactly what they wanted.
They will now be pushing for further inaction in 2010.
We must not let that happen.