To be or not to be (binding)

6 November 2009

So let us make sure we understand this correctly: the African Group, AOSIS, the G77, the EU, the UN and even the Umbrella Group want a legally binding instrument.

So where’s the problem?

It’s true the acoustics are bad in the FIRA conference center, but ECO is quite sure it heard everybody saying that they want a legally binding instrument to be adopted in Copenhagen.  And yet, most of them are saying it can’t be done because “there isn’t enough time.”

Whatever happened to “where there’s a will, there a way”?

It is true that the delay in the US Senate provides the perfect excuse for those who say they want a deal but are really only stalling for more time. But more time do to what exactly? More time to allow emissions in both Annex I and  non-Annex I to grow even higher; more time to continue building inefficient cars and buildings; more coal plants; more deforestation.
So many climate disruptive activities, so little time (or is it too much time) . . . one has to admit this “time factor” has gotten us all confused.

Some delegates have even expressed disappointment at the lack of ambition by a certain chair who, not so long ago, was proudly displaying a “Mind the Gap” t-shirt.

Could it be, then, that Parties are having a hard time figuring out what it is they want to be legally binding.  In the course of the past few days, we’ve heard everyhing from a “politically binding agreement” (now there an oxymoron if we’re ever heard one), a “legally binding treaty,” and a “legally binding approach” to a “comprehensive universal agreement” (a real favourite) which would include, as ECO heard in one corridor conversation, future human colonies to be established on the Moon and Mars.

But in the interest of time (back again to haunt us), we should use what precious time e have left to do what is needed for the atmosphere, to sustain our respective national interests and, not least, to protect those who are and will be suffering the most from climate impacts.

In a recent response to a particularly short-sighted editorial in the Canadian Globe and Mail entitled “Targets set without a plan, and costs that are perilous”, the British High Commissioner to Canada, Anthony Cary, replied that “We can’t talk to the atmosphere.”  Need we say more?

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