Making Sense of Copenhagen

Saturday was our first day at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.  Jeanette Fitzsimons and I, along with staff member Rick Leckinger, are attending.  It is a remarkable event in itself, as well as being critical in substance.

Two quick things to clear up.

First, yes we expended carbon getting here, along with the other participants.  But we financially offset this out of our own pocket (I have paid about $1500 this year on flying offsets, and am happy to do this.  One day perhaps, we shall not need to do this, but until then I shall do so).  Also, the Danish Government is achieving the remarkable feat of ensuring that the conference is carbon neutral.  John Key and McCully will do well to meet that challenge for the 2011 World Cup.

Second, it is not, as some NZ Government ministers have said in Parliament recently, unpatriotic for opposition MPs to be here.  In addition to Jeanette and me, Labour’s Charles Chauvel is here.  We are here to understand the process, make a positive contribution to a successful outcome, and critique our own Government where we disagree with its views and policies.  This is what we do back home, inside the House and outside it.  It is called democracy – at the global level, not just the national.  It is unworthy of the any government member to impugn the patriotism of us three.  I shall call them on it in the House if they continue that ruse in 2010.

That said, let me say where I stand on ‘patriotism’.  I love New Zealand as much as any compatriot.  I love Earth equally.  Aotearoa is one component part of the planet and I do not believe we have sovereign rights to take advantage of the other 192 nation-states or the other 6, 750 million humans when we are at a critical state in facing the greatest global threat humanity has yet confronted.  So my national patriotism is subordinate to my patriotism to Earth.  Whereas Earth has historically been seen only as a geological entity in a cosmic context, today the global community is emerging as a political entity.  This requires fine and prudent judgement and we are each obliged as individuals to exercise that as best we can.  Such a judgement can no longer rest on a mindless pursuit of the competitive national interest that devastates the global commons.  Whenever I criticise the Government, it will derive from that philosophical world-view which may well differ from those of the Prime Minister and Ministers Smith and Groser, for all of whom I have considerable respect.

Back to the practicalities.  Saturday morning we registered and got our bearings, and met several delegates for the first time. In the afternoon, we participated in the extraordinary public rally that has probably been broadcast around the world.  A massive and good-humoured crowd – estimated between 60,000 to 100,000, wended its way from city centre to the conference site from 1.00 pm to 5.00pm.  Having confined my protests over the years to the Byzantine dangers of intellectual opposition within the establishment, I had not hit the streets frequently – in fact, not once.  So notwithstanding the Northern cold, this virgin demonstrator had an enjoyable first time, not least linking up with the NZ youth delegation who are bringing a breath of fresh air to multilateral diplomacy.  May their dreams of inter-generational justice be realised.

Back in the office, the sights are strange and wondrous.  Some 34,000 have applied to participate where the limit is 15,000.  This includes 110 national leaders.  John Key will be one, although inexplicably he has chosen not to list himself as the delegation leader, notwithstanding that scores of others have – including Australia, China, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Iran, Italy and Lebanon.  Why is our Prime Minister so half-hearted and keen to distance himself?  Is it because he lacks the vision and sense of reality to understand the magnitude of what is happening around us, or does he wish he wish to avoid any risk of being shown up?  Which is it – dimwittedness or cowardice?

The delegations are huge.  New Zealand’s (of which we are not a part) is 23 plus two from Tokelau.  Australia’s is 114.  Tiny Tuvalu, threatened with sea-level oblivion and making an extraordinary impact on this conference already, has 19.  The US has 194.  China, of course, has 233.  But they are all trumped by Brazil, which has 735.  People are taking the future of the planet seriously.

And that is just the officials.  In my last job before returning home in 2005, I worked for the UN University.  The UNU has 22 here.  Back in 1995, I studied on a fellowship in Dhaka with the Bangladesh Institute for Advanced Studies.  They do research and policy prescription on sustainability issues.  Their country is impoverished, at least materially, their population density is the highest of any nation-state with significant landmass, and they are threatened as much as any by climate change.  The Institute has sent 30 at cost.  And of course, there is Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.  FOE have 250 here.  Greenpeace has 118.  That includes 12 photographers, 2 musicians, a sound-and-light technician and a video librarian.  Just another day at the office.  Should they be here? Of course they should.  We’re talking about the future of the planet.  They have a right, and an abiding interest, and they aim to make a contribution. We thank them for their concern.

29 Comments Posted

  1. I see the UN as the very solution as soon as they have real global soverienty over corporate activity in emission trading then the perameters are clearly defined for everyone to work with.

    Because if it is left to just the market forces I can clearly see that the ETS schemes could be easily skewed and corrupted by the large corporations who’s only real agenda is the profit margin.

    Hence the need for a referee – – – and national sovereignty will have to give way on this issue.

    I have just expressed my disgust at the way the Pacific delegations were treated on Jeanette’s post. If you care to take a look.

  2. “..Apart from the Nazi like way of calling anybody who does not agree with you a ‘denier’..”

    you ‘deniers’ really play that hitler-card a

    and what are you if not ‘deniers’..?

    the history books could well come up with another name for you frogs happy to sit in an ever-heating pot..

    but for now..’deniers’ will do..?

    (what would you prefer..?..

    what neo-randite/ruggedly-individualistic moniker would you come up with..?


  3. frog,

    sorry for the double post. The edit function seems to be playing up for me. When trying to edit the post it comes up in gibberish.

  4. BJ,

    The money trial is not the science or the scientists, it is the upcoming conflict beween

    1.- the UN as the socialist one world government
    2.- goldman sach – Al Gore, etc
    3.- independent and sovereign peoples governments

    What we have lining up is the UN to be the controlling body that governs the physical carbon credits, collects the revenue and then redistributes that wealth according to UN resolutions. Including telling governments what to do in conjunction with the IMF.

    On the other side we have the Al Gores and other capitalist traders who want to broker deals between carbon sellers and buyers.

    And thirdly is the independent governments of the people who may want to bypass both the UN and capitalist middleman/woman and deal directly with one another.

    That is were the money trail is and the big fight for control and where I see the loss of sovereigntry for independent nations is going to come from if we allow either the UN or the corporates to dictate where and when we buy carbon credits.

    One issue never discussed is how the success of carbon trading in regards climate control is going to be measured.

    When can we stop? What is the KPI that is measured, who will do the measuring?

    Problem I have is once trading starts (and derivative and future markets develop, short selling becomes the norm, etc.) there will be no way that the cashflow generated by carbon credit trading will ever be allowed to stop.

    The UN I see is the biggest problem, but then I would rather the markets decided where and when carbon credits are traded (provided strict guidelines are adhered to).

    I really dont trust the UN even thought they speak in Copenhagen like they are already in control. They will disctate to independent sovereign states what and where the carbon credit cashflow can be spent.

    Nor do i trust the IPCC to be independent enough from the UN to be able to declare that carbon emmisions are under control and that climate change is stabalised (is that possible – climate stabalisation?).

  5. “We don’t play the ‘give each other demeaning names’ game do we ..”

    Apart from the Nazi like way of calling anybody who does not agree with you a ‘denier’

  6. We don’t play the ‘give each other demeaning names’ game do we ..
    but if we did, hasn’t ‘Poo Bleater’ got a certain something?

  7. I thought BluePeter’s take on AGW was daft enough, but Big Bro’s loopy contribution makes Blue look professorial!

  8. BP

    There is more money in following AGW? I am quite sure that this is incorrect in terms of the advocacy. Flatly.

    In terms of the science it is not true either. Hansen and Mann and Jones do not get big speaking fees… their paychecks are not dependent on AGW. Nor does any scientist’s paycheck that I am aware of.

    So what money trail you are following?

    I guarantee you that the climate would be getting studied no matter… Anthropogenic or not, it IS getting warmer, and these people ARE the scientists studying it. If it were getting cooler we’d still be studying it. WOULDN’T we?

    After all, some here have been assuring me that the next Ice Age is right around the corner because some data was deleted ( except the claims about deleted data were just another LIE from those manufacturers of lies at CEI ).


  9. the whole climate change con is seen by the left as a god send and a way of ushering in their long term goal of global wealth transfer.

    Sorry BB. You have the …seen by the left as a god send and a way of ushering in their long term goal of global wealth transfer …probably correct for some of the folks on the left.

    but the climate change con part is fatally wrong.

    The validity of the science is not affected by the motivations of some of the folks on the left. I suggest you examine how you would think about the science NOT associated with the politics.


  10. McTap

    I have looked at the motives and the various players. The only logical conclusion one can arrive at is that the whole climate change con is seen by the left as a god send and a way of ushering in their long term goal of global wealth transfer.

    They (the left) do not want debate, they have decided that the science is ‘settled’ despite an ever growing number of eminent scientists who say it is not and the growing pile of evidence re the leaked emails that confirm what many of us have thought for some time.

  11. The only charade is that one being maintained that maintains that climate change is a charade.

    Honestly, you are right that you are being lied to, but the scientists don’t stand to loose billions from a tech shift away from fossil fuels.

    If you are looking at this issue with open honesty, and sick of being spun, but overwhelmed by the complexity, looking at incentives and motives of various players could help.

  12. ‘Dimwittedness’ would be failing to grasp the complexity and depth of the problem and in addressing it, and “being seen to be going along with it”, while trying to address it fron a simplistic and linear BAU perspective, or voting for such politicians.

    It is indeed complex, which is why I hate being lied to about it.

    I’m sick of it.

    I’m sick of politicians. The whole lot of them. I’m sick of being spun. I’m sick of leaders who cannot lead by example. I’m sick of them saying one thing and doing another. I’m sick of ideologies. I’m sick of zealots. I’m sick of reading between the lines.

    I’m sick of it.

    I want HONESTY. I think most people do.

    Is it a good idea to use power generation that pollutes less? Almost certainly. Fantastic! I’m on board.

    But don’t make up some convoluted sham to hide and obfuscate. Lets deal with what can and should be done based on reason, pragamtism and risk assessment.

    Have you ever considered that this charade could achieve the exact opposite of the aim you desire?

  13. It seems BP, that you do not yet get the full picture. Understandable since it is a very complex and multifaceted one.

    Firstly we need to think beyond the here and now and judgements of what we can or can’t afford, if you confine yourself to this space you will surely fail to grasp the richness of the debate, let alone understand the different positions in it.

    For example, there is an intergenerational element, where BAU expects the next generation to pay not only for the present generations convalescece, but also for the damage this generation has done to the earth system.

    Following this is the historic responsibility for the problem. Weathly nations used vast amount of coal and oil, and cut down vast forests during their development, and now, as their economies continue to transform, and their carbon intensities decrease (incl. by outsourcing manufacturing) they have considerable opportunities, as well as money, to move to new and cleaner tech. However emerging economies such as China and Brazil are also moving into this space.

    ‘Dimwittedness’ would be failing to grasp the complexity and depth of the problem and in addressing it, and “being seen to be going along with it”, while trying to address it fron a simplistic and linear BAU perspective, or voting for such politicians.

  14. Thank you, Ken, for your description of what is happening in Copenhagen.
    Many of us are with you in spirit (… reading, listening to, and watching whatever we can find on the electronic media.)

    My heart goes out to the people of Tuvalu.

  15. Good on ya Ken — though I find it almost unimaginable that Saturday was your first ever street march!

    May it not be your last!

  16. The attempts at moral justification for being in Copenhagen are unnecessary and irrelevant. If the Green Party presence is insrumental in achieving an effective solution to global warming at Copenhagen, that is all the justification you need. If not, you may as well have gone to Bali for a fortnight, or, better still, have stayed home like the rest of us ordinary folk.

  17. Which is it – dimwittedness or cowardice?

    Doing the only thing that is sensible for New Zealand to do – be seen to go along with it.

    The rest of us know its an empty wealth transfer exercise, which is why most voted for John – and not for you Kennedy – as John is more realistic about what we can afford.

    Offsets – ha. Oh, that makes it alright then! Say Ten Hail Marys….

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