Monday, 4 October 2010


Europe’s climate action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, has been dealt a poor hand.

She has the thankless task of leading the EU’s efforts to secure an international agreement on measures to fight global warming, and to encourage our own Member States to sign up to initiatives that will demonstrate Europe’s continuing leadership on the issue while meeting other goals, such as strengthening energy sufficiency and reducing our use of scarce resources.

But despite the scientific evidence of climate change having been wholly vindicated, continuing scepticism about the need for action prevails and saps political will, both here and elsewhere. The world needs the USA – the largest per capita emitter of CO2 – to sign up to far-reaching reforms, but there is not the slightest indication that they are likely to do so in the near future.

If the largest emitters of global warming gases will not make a commitment to reduce them it is hard for Europe’s politicians to argue that the EU, releasing just 13% of the total, must incur the costs of action alone.

COP16, the next conference of the parties (governments) who have signed the UN’s framework convention on climate change, meets in a few weeks’ time in Cancun, Mexico. After the disappointment of Copenhagen the expectations are low. Hedegaard set out to the European Parliament’s environment committee on Monday (4 October) a very limited set of criteria by which to measure its ‘success’.

“Cancun MUST keep the momentum,” she told MEPs. “If Cancun does not deliver substantial progress it is difficult to see where such progress will be made.”

Gamblers may recognise the need to play even a bad hand with confidence.

1 comment:

marcushaddon said...

It seems to me that Hegegaard has a tough job. Trying not only to convince Europe that leading by example is the best way forward, regardless of the devastatingly knee chattering prospect of the world’s ecological future; But knowing that one of the only ways forward is to first get the USA on board.
It is a shame that ‘political will’ is faulting when looking at the challenge ahead, I suppose it is understandable to look and the mountain and wonder how it is to be climbed. But unfortunately it is an argument that I hear frequently, ‘there’s no point unless they join in’. However, we know that just because ‘they’ aren’t doing it, it does not make it right for us not to do it also. We must lead by example, and let that example be the message to the USA.
Political praxis is the balance Hegegaard will have to make in Cancun and hope that her poker face is good enough to pull off this bluff.