Posted by Emmanuel Smith
I spent most of the day at the Klimaforum 09 side event of the COP15 conference. Located at the DGI-byen near the Central Station, there were several hundred activists and NGO members who were also denied access to the Bella Center today as government officials continue to arrive and talks “progress”. The main talk of the day was hosted by the George Manbiot organization, entitled “Are you getting the deal you came for?” The four main questions addressed during this talk were:
1) What is the current state of the talks?
2) Do we want them to succeed or to fail?
3) What would a good climate agreement look like?
4) Assuming they fail, how do we get what we want next year?
The format was an open forum Q&A with several hundred people in the crowd. It was very democratic and respectable in nature as just about anyone who wanted to ask a question or make a comment was able to do so. As of the time of the forum, the current state of the talks seemed to be that not much had been agreed upon yet, although world leaders were still in discussions. Two documents are being focused on now, the Kyoto Protocol, which they are trying to renew, and the AWG-LCA (Long-term Cooperative Action). There is also the possibility that these two documents will be combined in some fashion. It seems the leaked “Danish text” will not be on the table at all at this time. So there is still hope of something to come out of those closed door sessions.
When addressing the second question, the discussion in the room was split. One point of view was that the talks should fail rather than it produce something terrible. One of the moderators, George Monbiot asked “is the agreement going to be so bad that it would be better not to have an agreement at all?” One audience member responded that “a non-binding agreement of intent might be better than a binding agreement that is not good enough.” Another point made was that we need a change in the model of production AND consumption to really make a difference. Simply getting off oil or coal or just lowering the amount of CO2 emissions won’t really be sufficient if people still mass-produce and mass consume.
However, why should the COP15 even take place if it won’t succeed in producing something? “Maybe emissions reduction is not a very strong tool, but if you lose this discussion, this ground totally, you may lose the main principles of the convention,” said another audience member. “The reason for the convention shouldn’t be ignored just because leaders can’t come up with a decent agreement so it would be even worse for the talks to fail completely.” It was refreshing to hear all the different points of view from people from all over the world in such a casual setting. Even though some people spoke more about ideals than about realistic actions that could be taken, there were some really good points and ideas offered. The answer will have to lie somewhere in the middle, but I think the problem is that no one wants to meet there, no one seems to want to give an inch. Too many interests are at stake and that is the problem right now.
Part II and video clips coming soon.