Copenhagen: Where to now?


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A pop and personal presentation on Copenhagen, where to now and what it means for the world and New Zealand. Delivered by Lau Saili in the Penthouse of New Zealand House, London to the Kea Sustainability Group on the evening of Tuesday 9 February 2010.

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  • Copenhagen = Green, Copenhagen = Hope
  • Copenhagen = Africa
  • Copenhagen = A Tangled Web
  • Copenhagen = Commercial Success (Coke’s water conservation and bio-plastics campaign)
  • Copenhagen = Joy = Very High Hopes and Expectations = All Things to All People (Pic = International Scouting Movement jumping for joy.) Openness and inclusiveness, the ability of business, environmental, social, indigenous, academic and other civil society groups to observe is a hallmark of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process (i.e.. the international climate change negotiations). In the instance of Copenhagen this was a double-edged sword. Protests were peaceful since protesters and government negotiators shared the same overall goal, protection and enhancement of the global environment. Yet it the openness/inclusiveness also helped lead to severe practical (logistical and time) problems that ultimately worked to compromise the ability of governments to negotiate a deal in a timely manner.
  • Other omens for the event were not so good. Storm clouds were gathering. (Despite popular belief, whilst wind represents 20% of Denmark's installed electricity capacity [i.e. size of ‘engine’] it only generates about 10% of its annual generation [i.e. the actual period the ‘engine’ is switched on and is running due to the intermittency wind vs. demand/use patterns of consumers], the rest is oil (about 60% and declining) and gas (about 30% and growing). For official energy stats visit the European Commission’s eurostat site:
  • 60K people. But peaceful since protesters and government negotiators shared the same overall goal, protection and enhancement of the global environment.
  • Every man and his dog were in Copenhagen. In this case a woman dressed in a dog suit = an emissary of a Vietnamese Grand Master against the consumption of dogs and meat in general = catchphrase “Love Me, Don’t Eat Me”.
  • Everyone in Copenhagen was an instant climate change expert (myself included). Everyone had their own presciption.
  • Everyone!
  • But people do compromise and people do dither until the last minute. This is what happened with the Copenhagen Accord and is what is likely to happen with trying to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol into a second period post 2012.
  • Everyone was at Copenhagen. Uncle Charley spun a few home truths. The elevation of deforestation and forest degradation, one of the successes of Copenhagen, is in large part down to his political leadership. Indeed, his political stature as a global environmental affairs statesman grows from strength to strength on the back of this.
  • The biggest little island in the world. The canary in the cage for climate change ( Closed down government negotiations on Friday 11 December 2009. Lead by climate change negotiating legend, Ian Fry, an Australian.
  • All eyes were on the US. But the excessive attention meant gaps in analysis of the other key players: China, India, Brazil and as it turned out South Africa. However, Kerry was making rounds among most of the movers and shakers and seemed to know them on a personal basis. This of course is what statesmanship and deal-making is all about. We should put more hope in the US with Kerry leading the charge for cap & trade or carbon tax (or whatever they call it in the edn!).
  • The Indian environment minister that publicly proclaimed a love of coal and was perpetually surrounded by an entourage of Indian media. The laidback but clever Brazilians, forest, biomass and hydro loving and determined to do everything (like India and China) in their own way (Brazil astutely registered 300+ business delegates as government delegates – enabling them access right through the conference – on the final days 8-10K business delegates were whittled down to 75).
  • Whether consciously or inadvertently China played Copenhagen to a tee.
  • Puts NZ’s problems in perspective.
  • Bentham’s “nonsense on stilts”. The law of nations is everyone for themselves.
  • Government negotiators were talking in tongues about process. With the knowledge that heads of state were arriving in the second week. This ‘wrote off’ the utility of the first week.
  • What a tangled web we weave. The issues are complex and do not lend themselves simple agreement.
  • But the Copenhagen Accord was a necessary ‘lovechild’. The question is now how to nature it and where to give it a home in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change two-track (Bali) process that has been in train for several years.
  • Greenpeace – clever marketing campaign everywhere! How much impact it had, we cannot be sure.
  • One wonders about the utility of Sarkozy, Merkel and Brown being on the billboard. The key leaders – China, India and South Africa – are conspicuously absent. (Brazil is fortunately represented).
  • WTO = World Trade Organisation
  • Copenhagen: Where to now?

    1. 21. The city of Copenhagen is a climate crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport ... In the end they produced a poor deal full of loopholes big enough to fly Air Force One through Kumi Naidoo Executive Director, Greenpeace [W]e need to be clear that it is a letter of intent and is not precise about what needs to be done in legal terms. So the challenge is now to turn what we have agreed politically in Copenhagen into something real , measurable and verifiable Yvo de Boer Secretary General, UNFCCC Secretariat
    2. 24. observations <ul><li>Copenhagen confirmed economic and political power has shifted East and South </li></ul><ul><li>Back to the future </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A more chaotic multipolar world </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Medium and smaller players empowered </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Every little counts </li></ul></ul>
    3. 25. observations <ul><li>Kyoto (1997) could be the high water mark for multilateralism </li></ul><ul><li>The Copenhagen Accord was a WTO ‘Green Room’ moment </li></ul><ul><li>Conditions now more fertile for bilateral and regional deal-making </li></ul>
    4. 26. observations <ul><li>Clues to the future of the climate change negotiations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Look at what happened in the WTO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The rise of the ‘Development Agenda’ (a la WTO Doha Round) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ QWERTY’ path dependency (‘developed vs. developing) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Climate change adaptation may trump mitigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the absence of political leadership; a much greater role for business </li></ul></ul>
    5. 27. advantage nz <ul><li>Geopolitically we’re in Asia </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The tyranny of distance is no longer a valid excuse </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Australia casts a long shadow </li></ul><ul><li>Moral and ‘neutrality’ power </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tuvalu at Copenhagen (NZ in the WTO) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being small, ‘green’, friendly and far-away is on our side </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NZ a safe pair of hands, an honest broker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But erosion of authority if no substance at home </li></ul></ul>
    6. 28. discussion <ul><li>NZ (conditionally) signed up to the Copenhagen Accord on 1 February 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>NZ targets = 10-20% below 1990 emissions levels by 2020 only if comprehensive global agreement reached (the same pre-Copenhagen pledge) </li></ul><ul><li>Tuvalu: see </li></ul>
    7. 29. beginners’ guides <ul><li>Climate Change Science </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Climate Change Skeptics Skeptics </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Climate Change Negotiations </li></ul><ul><li>Climate Mitigation/Adaptation Funding </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>