Tomorrow is the last day of COP15. While it is possible that a draft may emerge, it does not look likely at this point. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. As Algerian envoy, Kamel Djemouai told Bloomberg, “No deal is better than to have a bad deal, particularly for Africa…. To get to a bad deal with our heads of state here is quite difficult for anybody to accept here.”
What would be a bad deal? Bloomberg reported that developed nations “may agree by tomorrow to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about half what UN scientists said are needed to keep the planet from overheating.” According to Bloomberg, that view is shared by representatives of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Merrill Lynch & Co., and the European Commission.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that by 2020, developed nations need to cut GHG emissions 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels to “stand a chance” of keeping the global temperature within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of the pre-industrial era.
“Whatever we are going to achieve here, I would think that there’s something better,” European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said. “Already, science is telling us that climate change is accelerating and the impacts are more ominous than previously thought.”
One thing holding up a real deal is that fact that the U.S. is not “being able to move past the 17 percent based on 2005,” as Abyd Karmali, the London-based global head of carbon emissions for BofA Merrill Lynch, said. He added, “…everyone is going to have to scale back in the short term.”
What does that mean for the long term? A New York Times op-ed piece last week stated that “nobody should expect a planet-saving agreement” from COP15. “Copenhagen is all about attitude and aspirations,” the editorial said. “Next year will be about the results.”
The fight for a real climate deal is “fought from just below,” a report by the British non-profit Compass points out. The report titled Beyond Copenhagen: Darkest Before the Dawn believes that action on climate change will only come about as a result of pressure from below, in other words, the masses.
The most critical thing environmental activists and groups can do after Copenhagen is “educate the public in the nature and scale of the climate problem,” as the Compass report says. In addition, the report urges activists and groups to “promote the alternative vision for a world willing and able to live within available clean energy resources, and redistribute resources both domestically and with the developing world.
Perhaps when it comes to the very real possibility that COP15 may be a virtual failure, Time magazine said it best:
The failure of the summit may be a blessing in disguise, because when it comes to dealing with climate change, the last thing we need right now is yet another empty agreement and yet more moral posturing.
The Time article also said that the focus needs to shift from “trying to make fossil fuels more expensive” to “making alternative energy cheaper.” Fully implementing the Kyoto Protocol has an estimated price tag of $180 billion a year. The article claims that for “just a little more than half that amount, we could fund a fifty-fold increase in spending on R&D for the kind of game-changing technological breakthroughs” we desperately need. In short, we need a new industrial revolution.