Happy Thanksgiving: Possible Hope @ COP15 ?
Since the Barcelona talks, the past few weeks has been downwards spiral on the expectation of the Copenhagen negotiations, and the word “political binding agreement” is still finding itself a place, of what it really means, in the thick smoke screen that has been put up by people like Yvo De Boer, Ban Ki Moon and even the PM Lars. These are seen as efforts to lower expectations of the outcome of the COP15 negotiations. My guess is that much hope has been built on it and in order not to let this be a historic failure, such acts are necessary to ensure that people do not view the session in Denmark a be all, end all event.
On the other side of the bench, desperate measures can be seen taken up by civil society movements at the intersessions and several build up activities towards Copenhagen, to demand for a “fair”, “ambitious” and “binding” target.
The past week has been particularly bullish in terms of the environmental talks and expectations of the upcoming COP15, especially after the clear statements that were put up during the APEC summit in Singapore such as not committing specifics on the environment. It seems that world leaders are somehow oblivious to the fact that economic reforms are essentially tied up closely to our environmental circumstances, our very fundamental things like food, water, shelter and energy accessibility comes from our environment, one with rather limited resource. (APEC 2009 Leaders Declaration)
In the last 48 hours, unexpected political actions begin to unfold.
First, announcements came from the White House said President Barack Obama will attend the conference personally commit the U.S. to a goal of substantially cutting greenhouse gases. Looking at 17% of 2005 (which is equivalent to 5.5% of 1990).
Within the next 12 hours, President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting came to a fruitful “Green Partnership” to develop new and affordable renewable energy technologies and promote energy efficiencies. Both signing to a Memorandum of Understanding to increase cooperation on energy security, clean energy, and climate change.
Further 12 hours after the US-India declaration, China announced that Premier Wen Jiabao will take part in the Copenhagen meeting to show the country’s commitment to the global effort to reduce greenhouse emissions.
In the last couple of hours, the State Council of China came up with a clear commitment that they will cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by up to 45 percent by 2020 compared with levels in 2005. Said by the officials, “… a voluntary action taken by the Chinese government based on its own national conditions and is a major contribution to the global effort in tackling climate change.”
We’ve just witness three of the world’s largest emitters of carbon taking some level of measures to tangibly reduce its GHG emissions.
I am not banging a big time outcome of COP15, but at least with the things that are turning around now, it is with some faith that we see that the coming negotiations could set the foundations, by unlocking the final doors, towards a legally binding agreement down the non-so-distant road ahead. Should this be laid out well, it could be the light we need in this darkest hour.
This reminds me of a very old cartoon called “Transformers: The Movie”. Re-watching the final moment does help to remind us all that there is much hope, faith and aspiration we have for the future. We can do this, together.