I attended a talk by a diplomat, James L. Hunt, last night. The title of his speech was Copenhagen, a Post Mortem. He was involved in the negotiations leading up to Copenhagen as a representative of the EU and of the Czech Republic. He discussed both acute and chronic conditions that led to the maiming of the Copenhagen Accord. He pointed to the global economic crisis as an example of an acute condition that crippled Copenhagen: leaders and negotiators were so preoccupied with the economic meltdown that their concerns about climate change were sidelined.
He also pointed out that elected governments with a short term focus (short term as compared to reversing climate change) and sharp national focus are singularly ill equipped to deal with any problem with a long term focus and a global reach. Dealing with climate change is viewed by the public as a burden and is certainly not a vote winner for any political party espousing it. The Liberal Party of Canada is well aware of Mr. Hunt's last point.......
He also discussed the fact that economists such as Lord Stern have judged that the costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of delaing with climate change now - and that win -win situations exist. (I have previousl mentioned that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can save corporations, cities, and indiviuals money .)
So - what to do?
Create political will: make it imperative for political parties to deal with climate change. Generate conditions that make it impossible for poiticians to ignore the consequences of climate change. Keep sending your elected representatives letters demanding a legally binding, science based international agreement on cliamte change. Alter your own behaviour: buy energy efficent vehicles (or take public transit) and appliances. Talk to your friends and encourage them to do the same.
And spend some time thinking about Mr Hunt's point that national governments are badly equipped to deal with long term problems with a global focus. Who might cope with these problems effectively? He also asked "Is the model of national eonomic competition the right model?" What is the answer to that?