Copenhagen: Recovering from the hangover

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

Climate agreement in Copenhagen? Prospects dimming rapidly

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

Climate change and the complex complications of the Copenhagen COP

The Copenhagen climate conference in December is crucial for the future well being of the vast majority of humanity alive today and the billions yet to be born.  Its prospects are not good, however, and it is beset by multi-layered complexities. There needs to be much more political energy going into it now in order to achieve anything that can be politely called success in three months time.  Continue reading

Enormous costs of adaptation to climate change

However good the agreement that may be reached at Copenhagen in December is on reducing carbon emissions, the world is going to have to adapt to the consequences of climate change that are already feeding through the natural system. A new study will discomfort a lot of people by showing strong grounds to think the costs of adaptation will be several times higher than previously estimated. Continue reading

IMF’s July economic projections: so many uncertainties remain

The International Monetary Fund’s July World Economic Outlook report portrays the world economy shrinking in 2009 by 1.4% and growing though not strongly at 2.5% in 2010. This both reflects and buttresses a widely held view that at global level and in some countries and regions, the end of the worst of the recession is occurring or is in sight but that recovery will not be strong or quick enough to take this year’s overall economic results into the realm of growth. Moreover, some of the sharp variations in IMF projections from one quarter to the next, on which I commented in my 24 April post, have flattened out and there seems greater to be greater consistency, confidence and certainty than before. But underneath, a plethora of uncertainties remain. Continue reading

Climate, conflict, peacebuilding and adaptation: a need for leaps and links

To assist poor countries facing the double and connected problems of climate change and violent conflict, adaptation to climate change has to be combined with peacebuilding. For this to be possible, organisations – governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental alike – that work on development, the environment and peace issues have to move out of their boxes and make more than one leap of imagination and policy so the links are visible between both problems and solutions. It is not inevitable that the Obama administration will succeed in this. Help is needed! Continue reading

Obama in power (6):policies clarifying, pattern still hazy

By the time Obama was inaugurated, he had promised so much, there was a risk that he could only disappoint. Let’s not get too carried away in these tough times, but there is some much needed good news: perfect his administration is not, but the first signs in foreign policy are far from negative. This extended post surveys the key issues. Continue reading

G-20 outcomes and winners

Thursday’s G-20 summit communique was followed by an immediate hailstorm of judgements. The term “new world order” has been used more than once, which in principle is not out of order when the leaders of countries responsible for 90 per cent of world output are gathered together, and you know there is some kind of success when major world leaders queue up to claim the credit. Continue reading