Terra Bloga on the Villains & Heroes of COP15

Thank you to all who participated in our first poll, I hope to be incorporating more online participation and bonuses features in the future.  There was not an abundance of leadership on climate change at COP15 but that which was present was powerful and inspiring. The purpose of the poll, in addition to having some fun with the news, was to hone in the critical focus on the under reported climate villains and support the endeavors of the many over looked climate leaders.  The results of our poll illustrate many of the trends and events of the conference as well as highlighting the path to a  future of climate change action. I believe that while COP15 did not produce a fair ambitious and binding (FAB) agreement that meets that targets required to reach 350ppm and avoid the worst of climate change,  there are many positive that have emerged from the process that are deserving of separate discussion from the many apparent negatives, so as to allow for a progressive momentum to be carried out of the conference.

The Villains

Least Ambitious

Russia 42%

Canada 37%

USA16%

China 5%

Most Self Serving

Canada 75%

Saudi Arabia 15%

Australia 10%

Biggest Obstructionist

Government of Canada 52%

USA 28%

Internet Hackers 16%

Australian Senate & Liberal Party 4%

The Evils of COP15

Its worth noting that Canada came pretty close to “owning the Podium” on the villains side of the contest and in reality that metaphor can be extended to the western industrialized countries or annex 1 countries, on a whole. They hindered the ability for a FAB agreement well before the conference began. Most of the important annex 1 countries to a FAB deal at COP15 (Canada, Russia, USA) were reluctant or even resistant to produce targets and when produced were massively inadequate to meet the science based targets required to spare places like Africa and small island states from climate destruction. Once at the democratic world forum of the UN these countries refused to consider the implications of, or alternatives to, their actions argued by the negotiators of the most  vulnerable and least capable  inside the conference and supported the exclusion of civil society from the process. The expulsion and silencing of civil society at COP15 was the most profound moment of the conference and was when it became apparent that the solutions which exist in communities around the world will not be the ones which the parties at the UN will seek to advance and empower. Democracy Now! captured on video the expulsion of Friends of the Earth from COP15  and the efforts by José Bové ,member of Europe Écologie and a famous anti globalization activist, to resist what in effect was the marginalization of the global south’s support network. Once the hundreds of civil society groups were removed from the process it was much easier for those unambitious countries to move the negotiations along  to their advantage through their greater structural capacities. Several times during the conference I had to take  a minute and grasp the fact that all this drama and exclusionary practices were happening at the UN, not at the WTO or the IMF which seemed a more likely venue in light of the massive protests and undemocratic processes. If I were to draw out what ‘evil’ the ‘villains’ of COP15 were able to produce, it would be that their undemocratic actions and resistance to collective action has begun to challenge the legitimacy of the UN and put pressure on its structural flaws. After this conference I have serious questions about the ability of the UN, due to the politics of some of its key members, to be the effective global forum required to combat climate change. If countries like Canada can get away with breaking international climate laws what does that say to the legitimacy of the organizations agreements. This is not to say that the UN is entirely flawed but rather that the structural inequities that were deliberately built into the organization need to be challenged for the solution that the world needs to climate change  to become a reality. A task for which Obama perhaps was given his preemptive Nobel prize for fostering global multilateralism, though he has yet to step up to the challenge.

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The Heroes

Most Collaborative (most effected standing up for their futures)

Association of Small Island States 44%

African Union 44%

Aspiring Carbon Neutral Countries 13%

Most Progressive(constant fight for climate justice)

Maldives 45%

Tuvalu 25%

Brazil 15%

Ecuador 15%

Best leadership(future path)

COP15 Activists 56%

Maldives 28%

Brazil 17%

The Virtues of COP15

Largely overshadowed by the inability of the conference to deliver the FAB deal that was expected by civil society and demanded by the global south , there were many clear signs of the progressive new politics of global environmentalism emerging. In my opinion the most indicative of our poll results is the tie between the Association of Small Island States and the African union for the award of most collaborative. These two groups showed such internal unity and international solidarity that without them I believe the conference would have produced a much worse deal at the expense of the developing world. I linked Bill Mcibbins article on Obama and Mohamed Nasheed in the poll and often during the conference I pondered how differently the conference may have been if President Nasheed had won the peace prize, for he is equally if not a more qualified candidate. He showed such leadership and commitment to progressing a new post carbon global politics that it inspired myself and many others to begin thinking about how we can follow the lead of President Nasheed and continue to advance our environmentalist ideals in spite of enormous adversity and a seemingly hopeless environment. The heroes of COP15 are those who have inspired us to belive that not only is a another world possible but another politics is possible. President Nasheed and the thousands of activist demonstrated over COP15 that climate change is not about ensuring that global average temperature stays bellow 2 degrees, at the lest inconvince to business, but it is about justice, both social and environmental. The global environmental movement which was previously diverse and fragmented,  has at Copenhagen devloped some coherency around the concept of climate justice as the core ideal of climate change politics. This is a very profound shift for it takes the issue of climate chnage and transforms an ecological crisis into an opportunity for creating a more just and sustainable world. This makes the solution to climate change a little bit more structural than driving a hybrid or installing solar panels. For us in the westren world it requires a deeper examination of ones responsibility to use the privilege that we have to allow for all on the plant to exist harmoniously and prospously with nature. Multilateralism in the 21st century will be shaped by the issue of climate change and at COP15 there were two forms of multilateralism being advanced. Obama presented the world with an approach that is engrained with the conventional exclusionary politics where those like President Nasheed sought to develop global consensus on divisive issues through demonstrated leadership and commitment to principles of human rights and justice. Thereby progressing the emerging form of multilateralism that is actually capable of solving the climate crisis.

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