THE FORCES OF RUIN, OUT TO RUIN THE COPENHAGEN DEAL
Toward a Stalemate in Copenhagen; How Industry Pressures and National Agendas Dim Prospects for a Climate Treaty
Marianne Lavelle, November 4, 2009 (Center for Public Integrity)
[The only way to fully appreciate Marianne Lavelle’s fine investigative reporting on lobbying and climate change is to click thru to the Center for Public Integrity and take the time to digest the whole piece, but here are some highlights.]
"…Around the world the story is the much same. Wherever nations have taken the first modest steps to stave off a looming environmental calamity for future generations, they’ve triggered a backlash from powers rooted in the economy of the past. Opponents of climate action may have different methods as they pressure different capitals, but the message is consistent: Be afraid that a cherished way of life may be lost. Be afraid that a better standard of living will never be had…"
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"Those fears will be center stage as negotiators from 192 nations gather in Copenhagen this December to forge one of the most challenging multi-national agreements ever. The daunting task: to reduce the pollution that the scientific consensus says has imperiled the planet — emissions from the burning of oil, coal, and gas that have fueled all economic development since the Industrial Revolution…
"…It was in anticipation of Copenhagen that the leaders of the developed countries known as the Group of Eight (or G8) pledged at their July meeting in Italy to work to keep temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) over pre-industrial levels. Beyond that threshold lie grave dangers for civilization…The G8 agreed that emissions should be cut 80 percent or more below 1990 levels by 2050, in line with IPCC targets, but the world leaders declined to name any short-term goals…In fact, none of the emissions reduction targets for Copenhagen announced so far by wealthy countries meets the 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 that the IPCC said would be necessary to achieve stabilization…"
click thru for the interactive map
"This climate deadlock is nearly always framed as the clash between the national interests of wealthy countries that want to maintain their standard of living and the national interests of developing countries that need to lift millions out of poverty. But the arguments of the rich and poor nations actually have the same underpinning — that cheap fossil-fueled energy and other carbon-intensive activities like deforestation are keys to economic success. And all of those governments — no matter how far north or south — are feeling the pressure of the interests that have mobilized to keep this conviction alive…
"The principle that developing countries shouldn’t have binding treaty obligations is dearly held by businesses that have the ear of government in those nations…Those themes are echoed by representatives of the so-called BINGOs, the Business and Industry Non-Governmental Organizations, that attend the negotiating sessions all over the world and have been a permanent presence in the United Nations’ efforts on climate change for more than 20 years. These climate uber-lobbyists aren’t there to make a hard-sell pitch, but to get to know the key players who congregate around the treaty talks, to ease their way into more specific policy discussions back home, where the real decisions are made…"