Six months on and commentators continue to pick the last morsels of analysis off the carcass of the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. The UK’s Guardian, for instance, has had a couple of goes at this piece, which pins the blame on the Danes and their cursed text.
Per Meilstrup, a Danish journalist, has written a whole book on COP 15 – largely the source of the Guardian piece – and reveals the ‘real’ Danish text on his blog.
Mistakes were clearly made – by the Danes and the UNFCCC’s secretariat – but the key question that the climate coroners need to ask is arguably this one: Had Lars Lokke Rasmussen not botched the high-level diplomacy, would Copenhagen have concluded with a more substantive outcome? The answer is almost certainly still no.
Why? The reasons are fundamentally to do with politics at the national level, which is where the politics mostly are. China and the US had already made announcements before Copenhagen and because of their respective domestic decision making processes, neither were in a position to increase their offers. So the conventional logic of diplomacy – that governments always arrive at summits with something extra tucked in their back pockets – did not hold. Continue reading
US and Australian shelves are suddenly straining under the weight of planned climate change policies. In the space of a few days, American Democrats appear to have put climate and energy legislation on hold in favour of a Senate bill on immigration and Rudd’s government down under has unequivocally placed its proposed cap and trade scheme in political storage.
Behind both of these decisions is a complex set of national, political circumstances. In the case of the US it’s clear that Democrats have spotted electoral gain in forcing the Republicans’ hand on immigration and also significant risk in not doing so. As a result, climate and energy may have to wait; the political cost being the probable loss of the support of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
The case of Australia is perhaps more complex still but also all about the politics. Continue reading
India has often been seen as an awkward customer in international processes. While this is indubitably true in the climate negotiations, it is not merely because of negotiating style. Rather, it is down to India’s complex national interests, which are no less pressing and from a political perspective arguably more knife-edge critical than those faced by the US.
There is no other country quite like India. As the World Bank’s country overview shows, while poverty rates have been reduced in the past two decades, more than one quarter of the rural and urban population remain poor in absolute terms. Continue reading
Deng Xiaoping (pictured) famously advocated a pragmatic approach to progress. ‘Cross the river by feeling the stones‘ he said. Is this cautious view of change in any way compatible with the measures needed to decarbonise economies?
We ask this because there is quite clearly a significant gap between the positions of the US and China in relation to the Copenhagen Accord. There’s a fair amount of debate concerning the semantics of the language of association or support. Continue reading
For six weeks, Political Climate has been finding its feet in the blogosphere. Much of what we’ve written hitherto has been aimed at making our views clear on some of the most important issues in the climate change debate. Thus we’ve covered growth, innovation, the underlying politics of climate change and geo-politics.
It’s hard to reflect on the shortcomings of conventional environmental wisdom without sounding negative, but this blog’s main aim is to contribute towards a renewal in thinking about climate change. Indeed, it is our desire to see the negative language and imagery of climate change replaced by a resolutely optimistic debate.
The ‘About‘ link above will take you to a longer explanation of our aims. We are also developing a Political Climate manifesto and a set of proposals for work in areas in which thinking needs to be developed, such as innovation policy and finance. In the meantime, we’ve been working on the appearance of the site and we owe its new smoothness to Lawrence. If you like what you see, we urge you to sign up to receive notification of new posts using the box at the top of the column on the right-hand-side of the page.