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.
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