COPENHAGEN: Throwing Tuvalu Under the Bus…and Under the Sea

With hundreds of countries at the negotiating table, finding a solution in Copenhagen that works for everyone is pretty hard to imagine. China wants growth and voluntary targets, India wants the West to take more responsibility, Nigeria wants compensation for lost oil revenues, while the US simply wants a pragmatic deal that keeps the economy rolling. Developing countries want help modernizing and payments for maintaining ecosystems. And Europe is focusing on keeping us below 450 PPM of CO2 and the the magic 2 degree Celsius figure.

So when a smaller country like Tuvalu walks out of the meetings in protest, what should be done? Tuvalu consists of a scattered group of low lying atolls. The highest elevation is only 15 ft above sea level, which gives Tuvalu the second-lowest maximum elevation of any country. For them, a rise of more than 1.5C  (rolling back to 350 PPM) is not negotiable at Copenhagen. Anything more, and they (like the Maldives) expect to be under water.

Both Tavalu and The Maldives are part of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of the smallest and most vulnerable countries at the conference. Their “1.5 C or nothing” position is supported by many of the developing nations, and even more NGOs, who have been rallying around the magic number “350″ for quite a while.  

The problem is that getting back down to 350 seems to be nearly impossible. As I wrote recently, what’s on the table from the major emitters isn’t even enough to keep us below the 450 target. 

For you data-geeks, a couple of simulation tools have been developed to show how far off the current proposals are and what it would take to get to the 350 number. One estimate is that it will also take at least an additional $10 Trillion dollars over the next 20 years, a price tag that just won’t cut it. Trying to negotiate this sort of behavioral and financial change is like putting the mice in council.

So what next? Without compromise, the bigger world players won’t sign on. With compromise, many of the Small Island States can’t sign on.

Is there such a thing as “acceptable losses” when it comes to a climate deal? Do we need to focus on triage and minimizing the damage, or refuse to compromise when it comes to climate refugees? I think we are being offered a Hobson’s Choice: a lot is at stake, and a deal needs to get done. These are certainly tough decisions to make – what do you think?

Photo copyright http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrlins/ / CC BY 2.0

39 comments

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Lisa B.
Lisa B6 years ago

It would also be nice if this was a forum for discussion, and not disrespectful insults

autla l.
Terra S6 years ago

It would be nice if people could come up with some sort of an agreement instead of being so one sided.

Private Citizen
Private Citizen6 years ago

More Polar bears then there where 40 years ago, yet we "have to save them" from what getting to many in numbers, I use to remain quiet and tolerant, but I liberalism is a cancer on the world that needs to be cured, take away your own freedoms first then at least the debate can begin.

Private Citizen
Private Citizen6 years ago

Oh yea and 15 years my heat bill has gone up almost every year, and this is after replacing a 30 year old furnace with a new efficient model. Typical liberals want to be generous and giving with other peoples money. Earth has been here for 4.5 billion years, we record the temperature for a fraction of second on the geologic scale and think we should punish the world for it. Thats like me saying it got colder here yesterday, so there must be an ice age. The earth goes through warming and cooling cycles, ice melts and reforms every year. Electric cars are worse for the environment then gas cars are, the waste of energy in the power transmission and storage is never accounted for by the greenies. I want the earth clean like most people, but I don't want to impose my will/religion on others. especially in the pocket book. I have no problem with people putting there money where there mouth is, and leading by example. You did recycle your car, and will be walking everywhere right? Can't ride a bike because an evil factory would have to make the metal for it. As for the world government, many of our leaders are openly talking about it now. This will actually be worse for the environment as well, because human rights, and the caring for the environment will go right out the window, as Tyranny takes over.

Leeann R.
Leeann C6 years ago

LOL no....... YOU are the ignorant one little hypocrite Jelica R.. You might want to do research on what you think you know & spout about on carbon footprint.....lol.