From Copenhagen to Cochabamba: Walking We Ask Questions, 2.0?

by Tadzio Mueller, May 2010

The Run-Up

Copenhagen, Denmark, December 2009. The climate summit’s failure manages to underwhelm even the already low expectations of the emerging global climate justice movement. Once it becomes obvious that none of the major emitters, neither the US nor the EU, Japan or Australia, has committed to the necessary dramatic emissions reductions, the so-called “Copenhagen Accord” is being negotiated outside the official processes under the leadership of the United States. (And why should the major emitters reduce their emissions? In a fossil-fuel based capitalist economy, reducing emissions implies a politically unpalatable reduction of economic growth.) The Accord claims it wants to limit global warming to 2° Celsius, but in pursuit of this ambitious goal it proposes only voluntary emissions reductions, without any mechanisms for enforcing these commitments, or for penalising those countries that fail to meet their commitments.

It is the resistance of governments from Venezuela, Sudan and Bolivia that ultimately stops the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) from officially adopting the Accord. Instead, the text it is merely “taken note of” – as is the quality of the catering at the summit. The worst-case scenario feared by many in the movements and in critical NGOs, that a bad deal might be greenwashed, thus does not come to pass. Only the politically colour-blind could see the Accord as being genuinely green. The supposedly “last, best chance to save the planet” thus passes, after a two-week summit during which the prospect of the disappearance of entire island states under water and the evacuation of their populations had become a new normality that people accepted without flinching.

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