Just before the summer shutdown, the last key decisions were taken to establish the EU’s new External Action Service – the European Parliament on 8 July and the Council of the EU on the 20th. As the EAS starts to become real, what can and should we expect from it? Continue reading
This is a critical time on climate. Scientific conclusions that had seemed largely settled and backed by professional consensus are today challenged with increasing confidence. Three months after Copenhagen, the policy pathway is still hard to discern. Opinion polls show growing numbers of people think the globe is not warming, or not because of human action, or, variously, that not much can, need or should be done about it. Last week a House of Commons committee queried the state of climate science in the wake of the publication of emails to and from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit; this week a new UN review has been launched to assess the work of the Inter-govermental Panel on Climate Change.
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
As thousands of negotiators, activists, diplomats, scientists, politicians and journalists start pouring into Copenhagen for the climate summit – formally said, the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – the question has been raised whether we should want them to succeed or fail. Which, of course, begs the next question: what is success at Copenhagen?
So is Copenhagen not the time to seal a new climate deal after all? Is it time for a re-think? My own view is that it’s best never to stop thinking, then you don’t have to make the effort to start up again. Continue reading
No more need for long posts. Between us, al-Jazeera and I have boiled down the whole climate-conflict-peace-adaptation issue, on which I have been writing at length, to a three minute news report. Well, not quite the whole but some of the core elements. Watch on.
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
The problem about the climate change issue – one problem among many – is that political leaders and ordinary citizens alike, as well as institutions large and small in all walks of life, have to act on it before we know everything there is to be known about it. So a lot of the argument comes down to risk. One of the key risks is increased insecurity and violent conflict. As we trace this risk, how should it shape the response we want on climate change from governments and ourselves? Continue reading
What just happened? – it might be a good question to ask about the UN climate summit convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last Tuesday. “Not a lot” is the most likely answer. Continue reading
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
Two of the big issues the world faces today are how to recover from the economic crunch and how to reverse global warming and deal with climate change. On Wednesday 15 July the UK government addressed both with a major policy statement reshaping its energy policy to reduce carbon emissions. It signals a bold effort to green the economy and create several hundred thousand new jobs. The biggest risk it faces is getting politically entangled – and in this regard, the media reaction was a worry.