Monday, 14 December 2009


My Copenhagen blog has been quite positive and cheerful I think. I’ve spent a week in the company of many thousands of people who want to see an ambitious deal realised, and many thousands more – researchers, industry representatives, and environmentalists – who are confident that the answers exist to curb dangerous climate change and would like the politicians to put in place the instruments to realise them.

The lower tier negotiators I have talked to have been making progress on their various briefs, and consensus is being secured about huge chunks of text of a final agreement. I would be astonished if the prime ministers arriving this week didn’t leave proclaiming success.

But the question remains whether whatever agreement they make will be of real significance, and I don’t think it will be. There are too many governments that have self-interest in avoiding making the commitments that are needed. You only have to consider the weak outcome of last week’s European Council meeting to appreciate this, and yet the EU likes to think of itself as the leader of the pack.

They don’t get it. Governments are thinking short term and not about the scale of the problems that the world will face if the 90% concerns of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are realised. They seem to think that we’re dealing with some aspect of trade policy: important but not vital.

We need to scale up, put efforts to combat global warming in the same bracket as fighting a war on an immense scale, realise that if we make a commitment of this order then technological progress will be stimulated and industry will meet the challenges.

It could be exciting. It could create a better world. But it won’t happen yet.

1 comment:

McDuff said...


According to the ICCC, we're committed to 2 degrees of warming this century whatever we do now. If we peak CO2 by 2030, i.e. if every year after 2030 we see a net reduction in global CO2 emissions, we should expect 3 degrees.

According to the US DOE, world electricity consumption will rise from 16 Trillion GWH to 31 Trillion GWH by 2030. China and India will see vast growth in the numbers owning and driving cars and flying by plane.

This points to a vast engineering problem - even if all the best will in the world were there, we would struggle immensely to hit even a 3 degree target. More likely, we'd end up peaking around 2050, with a global temperature rise of over 4 degrees over the century.

However, as you say, and as people have demonstrated, the will is not there. Despite the protestations of Tuvalu, people in the west do not see it as their problem, even if we are the people who have collectively caused it.

Do you think we will get to the stage where we can bring CO2 emissions growth under control and start to decrease it this century? And, how much money do you think we should spend on adaptation to the changing climate?