The Grand Rehearsal for Copenhagen

2 November 2009

What a difference only three weeks has made. Delegates, before checking up on your homework assignments from Bangkok, let’s take a step back and look at the wider political picture.

Several governments previously not seen or heard from are frantically preparing for Copenhagen. Their heads of government and state want to make a strong statement when the big show premieres in 34 days … and counting. These leaders want to do the right thing for their people and the planet. They are asking the hard question: What has prevented negotiators from implementing the Bali consensus?

Two things are standing in the way of an equitable agreement that limits or prevents dangerous global warming: too much fear and not enough ambition.

First, there is unsubstantiated fear of a legally binding agreement. ECO has written before about the commitment-phobes wandering these hallways. Responsibility and trust are what´s needed here!

Without trust — and the transparency and accountability that underpin it — no real deal can be had.  But just as important, without those that have the greatest historical responsibility coming forward, Copenhagen will go down in history as the largest, most expensive party in the restaurant at the end of the universe.

Secondly, there is insufficient ambition, and here is what we mean: enough ambition to have a future … to enable people to enjoy the fruits of their labour without the constant fear of looming environmental disaster … the ambition to leave to the next generation a greener planet.

Transition to low carbon development must be brought about within the next decade. The foundations for this urgently needed shift must be contained in the Copenhagen agreement. And what do we mean by a fundamental shift?  Only good things: investment in green technology worldwide, drastic cuts in emissions, and support for sustainable development and adaptation that really works.  Real ambition leads to a real transition.

Moving forward this week, Parties need to produce the manageable strong negotiating text that somehow eluded them in Bangkok. The important questions can be answered.  ECO knows you can do it.

The temptation to declare success along the road to Copenhagen, no matter what the outcome, will of course be great. So, to help sort the high road from the other roads, this week ECO will highlight attempts to greenwash and continue to award Fossils to those Parties who have earned them.  Remember, however, proposals that banish fear and build ambition will be get praise just as swiftly and surely.

The negotiations this week offer delegates an opportunity to give strength to vulnerable communities and make our ecosystems stronger. Decisions and discussions to date have yet to fully embrace that opportunity. It’s time to pick up the pace from Bangkok, focus on the essential elements of a Copenhagen agreement, and prioritise the remaining time on negotiating those key points.

So for those who have misplaced the homework assignment from Bangkok: What do we want out of Barcelona? Progress, including but not limited to elements in the highlighted box.

The rising tide of local climate action is capturing the hearts and minds of people around the world. As we get to work in Barcelona, many of them are working just as hard to raise awareness and strengthen the resolve of their political leaders from Delhi to Washington, from Warsaw to Tokyo, and say, just do it in Copenhagen. Will you?

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