Copenhagen is a city where people like to party. Coming into December, the city was all dressed up for a climate party with posters of green exhortation everywhere and different official and unofficial events laid on. But in the end as everybody knows, the climate conference was no party. Yet there is this terrible sense of hangover around. Political leaders, delegates, activists and journalists have reeled away from the site and the recriminations have started about who just behaved badly and who actually threw up.
Around the city there were also some particularly crude advertisements using sex to sell booze with the slogan, “Party now, Apologize later.” But that’s another way the conference was not like a party. No-one has apologised. Even though the city encouraged them. One set of posters that went up well before the conference showed world leaders in 2020 apologizing for having failed in Copenhagen in 2009: ageing Obamas, Merkels, Browns et al look down and acknowledge their fault. But there have been no apologies. Instead they have passed the blame.
Let’s try something different. Instead of blame and apology let’s take some time to discuss results, reasons and response. It’s a lengthy discussion that must start now because it’s already time to shake off that hangover. Continue reading
Tobin or not to bin? Gordon Brown’s apparently sudden conversion to supporting a tax on financial transactions – initially proposed by James Tobin – has, if nothing else, put new energy into the related debates about the banking sector, paying off the costs of the economic crunch, and financing basic social needs. But will it fly? And should it? There are several strong reasons why but there is a negative side that we also need to attend to. Continue reading
September’s UN Climate change summit convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appears not to have succeeded. It was a good try and could have worked if national leaders had stepped up to accept the challenge. But most of them haven’t. The regular conferencing to prepare the Copenhagen summit in December has resumed in Bangkok and the acrimony is at an unprecedented level. Continue reading
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has stepped out in front of all the contending parties to state the UK’s position five months ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit in a speech today. Committing the UK to spend on helping poor countries adapt to the consequences of climate change on top of overseas development aid, Brown proposed “a working figure” for support for adaptation and mitigation from the world’s rich countries “of around $100 billion per annum by 2020.” Continue reading
On the eve of the UK budget statement, the International Monetary Fund today estimated the cost to the British government and taxpayer of bailing out British banks to be £200 billion. That’s not how much we’re under-writing, guaranteeing or spinning. It’s money that we will have to actually pay out. Except, no it’s not. There’s no point giving you the link to the IMF web-site so you can see the fancy graph because they’ve, er, well, anyway it’s not there anymore. They took it down. It was wrong. Oops. Continue reading
Were it not for the death of a demonstrator and injuries to police and public, it would be possible to treat the whole G-20 summit with the humour that its theatricality demands. For putting events on the streets of London to one side, this is indeed an occasion for powerful actors to strut their stuff. Continue reading
Barack Obama comes to London this week – the heads of 20 other governments do too because G-20 has suddenly grown into G-22 but of course it’s Obama who sets the pulse racing. Everybody knows his host, Gordon Brown, needs the G-20 to be an all-out success; anything less – mere solid achievement, for example – will be spun as failure by the UK government’s army of critics. But is Obama in a similar situation?