The climate conference which is the last highest decision making meeting to be held before a new deal is forged, starts today in Poznan, Poland. However, the hopes are not high, because of the widened gap between developed and developing countries on how to draft the new text.
Since the begining of the 1990s, there have been myriad of efforts put on the way forward to a sustainable development of the world as a whole. Three framework agreements and several additional protocols including the Kyoto Protocol have been introduced to international community and put into effect. The climate change efforts have been particularly attached high importance. In fact, one statesman said that “global warming is too important to be left out to just environmentalists.”
Nevertheless, this plight do not still seem to concern statesmen substantially. The Kyoto Protocol has failed in every sense of the word. Most of the developed countries have yet to fulfil their emmission targets. Developing countries and underdeveloped countries do not significantly benefit from any “flexible” mechanism that should underpin efforts of poor countries. Furthermore, even though it has been 11 years, the regime envisioned under the protocol is still a subject of controversy. Several members including developed ones assert that broad part of the Protocol is infact inequitable. Last August in Ghana which hosted one of the submeetings of the Protocol, the negotiations was escalated when Japan mentioned the high GDP per capita of Singapore and why they should also contribute to the reduced GHG* targets. It is evident that the new agreement is not an easy task to perform.
The attitude of the international community does not help either. So far the NGO’s and other environmental activists lack of designing a shocking campaign to wake massess up. The Inconvenient Truth was a good start however it did not have the impetus to initiate a chain reaction. The result of this inadequate civil movement is a gradual decrease in people’s awareness with respect to climate change. Decision-makers and ordinary citizens have lost in daily politics.
And there is the recent economic turbulence in financial markets. Politicians dealing with challenging economic woes nor have the time to cope with environmental issues neither desire to. It seems the global warming is not treated as it deserves in political agendas. It is not encouraging for economic agents to undertake new burdens arose from reducing GHGs.
In such atmosphere, hopes should be kept to a minimum. Nonetheless, this does not mean a failure of the process. The conference in Poznan and the subsequent meetings in 2009 are very crucial. First of all, election of the Barack Obama is a welcoming news, since he is expected to have a more constructive approach than the Bush administration. Even if he would not sign the Kyoto Protocol, he could and should encourage others to gather around a new and promising deal in the new year. Secondly, the economic crisis could be turned into opportunity. Desirable or not, because of the recession, GHG emissions would be reduced from decreasing economic activity. This would be a good debut for a possible “Kopenhagen Protocol.” Last but not least, several initiatives to revitalize the awareness on global warming are on the way. The young actress, Hayden Panettiere who became famous with the TV series Heroes, agreed to be one of the faces in a new climate campaign by the Friends of the Earth, an ENGO. The details of the campaign,on the other hand, are still vague.
Developing countries, clearly do not have financial or political clout to fight the climate change by themselves. A global struggle could only be viable with developed countries’ solid will to tackle this issue while guiding the others that have not sufficient financial and human resources to contribute. And to do that, first they have to honour their “historical obligations.”
* Greenhouse Gases.