With an issue as serious as the survival of entire nations, you would think all governments would be able to negotiate the matter seriously and in good faith. However, as last night’s teeth-rattling exercise in negotiations dentistry showed, even agreeing a technical report about potential 1.5° C scenarios is not immune.
During the SBSTA evening session, Saudi Arabia managed to plow through every possible diversion, suggesting for instance that vulnerable countries just use Google if they want more knowledge about the scientific findings relating to their survival, or that it is beyond the capacity of the Secretariat to produce a summary of recent scientific studies. Finally they hit on procedural issues as a last resort. Keep in mind that early in the week Saudi Arabia agreed to having the report, as long as references to spillover effects were included (as is now in the proposed scope). Instead of the random chaos of Copenhagen, things are reverting back to previous form, and this makes a nonsense of important matters.
Deep feeling was expressed about potential impacts on developing countries that export rice, cocoa, tomatoes, coal, oil, manufactured goods, etc. Instead, many of those countries wish there was room for serious concern about the climate impacts to which they are most vulnerable and the increasing speed at which they are experiencing them. Recent science has sounded the alarm: the 2° path might not be enough to guarantee the survival of small island states and dynamic coastlines.
Google is all well and good, but every policy maker ought to know that ‘search’ is one thing and ‘assessment’ quite another.