Copenhagen – What’s It All Mean?

Most of us don’t have a gut feel for the importance of Copenhagen to climate change activists.  The past two weeks was their Holy Grail, Super Bowl and presidential election all wrapped into one, complete with celebrity interviews, even celebrities interviewing each other.  Greenpeace, 350.org, Focus the Nation, and hundreds of others journeyed for years toward Copenhagen like Moses to the Promised Land, and they’re bitterly disappointed that they still can’t see green pastures. Regardless, they have only one choice: keep walking.

You can sense the religious zeal in Bill McKibben’s scorching rebuke of Obama’s deal with China, India, and South Africa (South Africa?) to essentially do “climate policy lite.” Ironically, some of the young activists that McKibben has been inspiring and leading, told him “cool it, we’ll be OK.” Still, most everyone is disappointed, everyone except for sober policy analysts like Robert Stevins of Harvard, who provides a useful analysis of Copenhagen in Grist. Grist’s own David Roberts boils it down to: China fail, UN fail, Senate fail, Twitter win. We’d agree, except for the part about Twitter.  And of course, Tom Friedman, the master of elucidating the obvious ten years after the fact, makes the case that we need to focus on clean energy investment, not CO2 limits.  Thanks Tom.

The best summary we heard was on our bus commute this morning, from a local climate/energy analyst.  His entire 300-person firm paid little attention to Copenhagen.  They figure we’re headed toward a low carbon world eventually, and meanwhile their business in renewables and energy efficiency is booming – with or without Copenhagen.  So what does all this mean for the future of CO2 and climate? We’ll get to that next week, with a quick take on future climate scenarios.

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One response to “Copenhagen – What’s It All Mean?

  1. Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein gave an impassioned, angry press conference about the final Copenhagen deal on Friday night:

    http://www.postcarbon.org/video/51255-mckibben-first-take-on-climate

    McKibben: “This in many way is a liberal managing to pull off the thing that conservative forces in the US have dreamed about for 60 years. The slogan of the John Birch Society from its inception was ‘Get the US out of the UN.’ And, at least in terms of carbon, that’s what just happened.”

    Klein: “I have to say, I just hope people take the gloves off with Obama, because treating him with kid gloves is not working. If he had come to the table with deep emission cuts to1990 levels, which he could have done, he could have used the stimulus money to do it, he could have used the bank bailout money to do it. He could have directed the banks, when they had total control over the financial sector, to invest in a green economy. I mean, this man has blown so many historic opportunities. Who’s the last president who had complete control over the financial sector when he took office, had a blank check for a stimulus bill, and he didn’t use it to change the economy to a green economy. He could have come to the table with inspiring emission cuts, and we would be in a very very different mood today. He didn’t do it. It’s time to stop making excuses for him and get mad.”

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