An end to blame-and-shame
Trying to assign blame for the shortcomings of the global negotiations is exactly the wrong approach. The process has for years now been focused on questions of shame and blame, and this is one of the major reasons that progress has been so slow. It is always easier to blame someone else for a problem rather than take the lead on providing solutions. As the Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson recently pointed out, negotiators are approaching the climate question with a 'win-lose' mentality, when in fact solving climate change is a question of either 'win-win' or 'lose-lose'. The priority has to be the common, long-term benefit, rather than the short-term costs.
A political agreement from COP 15 need not represent a major setback. While a binding treaty may be desirable, the lesson from the Kyoto regime is that it a treaty does not guarantee success. Commitment can come in many forms, and a political agreement based on specific, transparent national strategies coupled to meaningful efforts to collaborate in important areas like technology and trade can still send a meaningful signal.
It is time to take a more practical approach to the political process. Even if a new treaty is signed in 2010, the practical work of implementing policy and technology solutions will not take care of itself. The Copenhagen meeting can provide platform for this practical work, even if the details of every country's reduction and financial commitments are not fixed.
The world is moving in a new direction. The politicians at COP 15 may not be able to describe that journey in detail, but they can give a sense of the speed at which we are going to travel, and they can send a clear signal that there is no turning back.
Posted by: thomascanada | November 21, 2009 6:40 PM
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