Climate talks always follow the same, drearily predictable path:
- The talks are prefaced by months of building excitement from the Greens and climate headbangers;
- The UN and the WMO issue urgent warnings about the extreme [insert any weather phenomenon here] and the consequent need for action;
- The media is jammed full of Hottest Year Evah™ headlines;
- Ban ki-Moon and Christiana Figueres start spouting the usual ‘last chance to save the planet’ BS;
- The parties arrive at their luxury hotels, having emitted thousands of tonnes of CO2 getting there;
- Once the initial excitement has died down, the partying has finished and everyone has epic hangovers, the same tired old differences between rich and poor countries emerge;
- Nothing happens until a day before the scheduled end;
- Suddenly, there will be frantic negotiation into the early hours to ‘rescue the talks’;
- Barack Obama, climate messiah, will fly in at the last minute – his mere presence an almost certain guarantee of success;
- A hastily cobbled-together ‘agreement’ (which will have no binding effect, and which will kick any hard decisions further down the road) will be announced in order to save face;
- The media and the Greens will publicly hail this sham agreement as a successful outcome, whilst secretly acknowledging that it is yet another embarrassing failure;
- Everyone disappears back home (belching thousands more tonnes of CO2), and the whole thing is forgotten until the next ‘last chance’ comes around.
Lima appears to be following the script pretty closely:
International climate talks in Lima, Peru, are entering their final week, with few hints of whether a newfound optimism that marked the start of negotiations will translate into an agreement that would rein in climate change.
Convened by the United Nations, the talks aim to craft the framework for an international accord to curtail heat-trapping emissions and adapt to changes already occurring on the planet. The final agreement is due to be signed in Paris next December.
Despite more than 20 years of discussions about what nations must do to contend with climate change, the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are higher than ever, as negotiations have continued to snag on the contradictory priorities of different countries.
The latest round in the discussions began last week with fresh momentum, in large part thanks to steps the U.S. took last month, including a major deal with China to curb emissions and a $US3 billion ($3.6 billion) commitment to help developing nations fight climate change.
Yet over the days since the Lima conference began Dec. 1, clashes have flared between developed and developing countries over issues such as whether emissions cuts should be mandatory and how much money rich countries should provide to help poor nations cope with damage from climate change.
Many conflicts stem from countries hewing to familiar hard-line bargaining positions. The question remains whether the brinkmanship will give way to an agreement by the end of the week on key issues, the most pressing of which is ground rules on emission-reduction pledges that countries are to make early next year.
“It’s disappointing that countries can’t rise above these petty differences, but it’s not surprising,” Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said from Lima. “Everything always comes down to the wire. (Cabinet-level) ministers have the chance to rise above this when they arrive this week because this is their chance to create their legacy on climate change.”
The window is closing fast for countries to cut greenhouse gases enough to avert the greatest global temperature increases and natural disasters associated with them, climate scientists and organisations such as the World Bank warn. The current round of talks would shape efforts to address climate change after 2020. A 2009 agreement reached in Copenhagen delivered voluntary commitments from some nations, including the United States, to take steps before 2020. (source)
All on track for yet another failure masquerading as success, then.