The atmosphere has changed in Copenhagen

As the talks started at the beginning of this week I noticed the atmosphere had changed. Up until then I had felt the mood was too gloomy: then it felt too optimistic, with people assuming because some of the key countries have put numbers on the table, success had somehow become inevitable.

That feeling didn’t last long, when there was a leak of a text that appeared to cause uproar. Old hands, who are familiar with these processes, pointed out this was inevitable and there could well be more such leaks and more such outrage. There will certainly be more disagreement. And the dynamics are hard to predict as further texts and “non-papers” are issued and scrutinised.

What is needed is momentum. Europe today has the chance to inject that. In Brussels at the European Council Gordon Brown will be pushing for greater EU ambition on both emissions cuts and immediate finance, and also continue to argue for a global commitment to long term finance with Europe playing its part.

As ministers join me here in Copenhagen over the weekend we should make the most of any progress made in Brussels.

Having arrived in a city besieged by people and paper, I am already clear about one thing, Copenhagen is not just another international negotiation. It is a crucial moment of choice for all of us. I am determined that we will make the right choice.

Whether these talks succeed or fail, the world will be transformed by the middle of this century. Our choice is how. We can choose a future we want for ourselves and our children or we can let events choose a less positive future for us.

Our guest writer is Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

• For regular updates on progress at Copenhagen and to back the bid for an ambitious deal, sign up to Ed’s pledge

• And stay tuned for an exclusive Left Foot Forward poll on Sunday covering public attitudes and Copenhagen.

UPDATE 08.59

Left Foot Forward understands that the Prime Minister will say in his press conference with President Sarkozy this morning in Brussels:

“I believe Europe will today make an offer to push forward the Copenhagen talks. Europe will pay its share of a $10 billion fast track finance fund. Europe will also offer to pay its fair share of the $100 billion long-term finance required annually by 2020.”

20 Responses to “The atmosphere has changed in Copenhagen”

  1. Will Straw

    Ed Miliband writes exclusively for @leftfootfwd on his 1st morning in Copenhagen: "Atmosphere has changed" http://bit.ly/4GO2pD

  2. diana smith

    RT @leftfootfwd: Ed Miliband: Atmosphere has changed in Copenhagen http://bit.ly/4GO2pD

  3. David Wearing

    Although the G77 group of the world’s poorest nations was clearly angry about the leaked text, I don’t think anyone was actually surprised. It was only to be expected that the wealthy nations, for all their fine words, would try and stitch up a deal to minimise their contribution, maximise their control, and to push as much of the burden as possible onto the world’s poorest.

    The good thing about the text having leaked early is that it mobilises opposition amongst the poorer countries, and their supporters in the NGO/activist community, to fight back and get a proper deal together.

    This was always going to be about the wealthy nations against the poor. It usually is, as Doha shows. Better to have this clarified early on so those interested in stopping climate change can proceed on a realistic basis.

    I understand Labour is trying to shore up its core vote ahead of the election. It would be very sensible from that point of view for the government to take a progressive stance in Copenhagen, and certainly not to underestimate the ability of people to distinguish between fine words and intentions and proper action. Taxes on bank bonuses and labelling of Israeli settlement goods etc are all fine. But climate change is a different order of magnitude altogether. If Labour fell short of what is necessary in Copenhagen – and we all know what precise numbers we need to see – I doubt that progressive voters will ever forgive them.

  4. Rupert Read

    This post sounds nice, but where’s the meat? The real danger is that Copenhagen will either come up with nothing, or something worse than nothing:
    See http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/12/07/copenhagen-does-not-go-far-enough
    or http://www.leftfootforward.org/2009/12/rupert-reads-guardian-letter/
    What is actually needed is something along the lines that Tuvalu has proposed, and is now winning backing for:
    http://www.leftfootforward.org/2009/12/copenhagen-day-four-tuvalu-shows-the-way-as-g77china-group-starts-to-fracture/
    But Britain is at present among those standing directly in the way of this!
    OK, so here is how Ed Milliband could REALLY change the game at Copenhagen. Come back onto LFF, and break the news that Britain’s line is going to change radically: we are going to BACK the Tuvalu proposal.
    THAT would be news. THAT would be real progress. THAT would give us all hope that our future isn’t doomed.
    THAT would be courage…

  5. Politics Summary: Friday, December 11th | Left Foot Forward

    […] day in Copenhagen, ahead of the formal ministerial part of the negotiations, Ed Miliband writes exclusively for Left Foot Forward and outlines how the atmosphere has changed. Elsewhere at the summit, the […]

  6. Claire Spencer

    I think we’re all concerned about what can be achieved at Copenhagen – indeed, a little frightened at what could happen if it fails to achieve what is required. For my part, I just hope that the regulations surrounding cap and trade are meaningful. The prices should reflect the social cost, and big businesses should not be able to get away with freebies.

    But we can’t lose hope simply based on the enormity of the task – because then we will just lose. So good on Ed for keeping up that drive and optimism over what has been a trying and difficult period.

  7. Anon E Mouse

    David Wearing – Labour’s core vote isn’t listening, why would they?

    The working class in this country cares about jobs and their financial situation and really doesn’t give a s*&t about climate change.

    As far as we’re concerned it’s just an excuse to tax us to the hilt and to just have that unelected, dithering idiot, Gordon Brown, announce he’s going to give £1.5 billion of OUR money to some stupid fund is a disgraceful way to behave.

    Tell me when anyone asked the electorate if they agree with this type of spending? Most would support that money going on body armour for our troops that Climate Change.

    The Tories are even more stupid on this matter – they want to stop the third runway at Heathrow. What planet do the political classes in this country live on?

    Oh and progressive (whatever that means) voters are in a severe minority in this country. No one’s listening guys and with government ministers such as Ed Miliband in charge it’s easy to see why.

    Remind me again exactly what real job Ed Miliband has ever done?

  8. Shamik Das

    Check this out —> RT @wdjstraw: @EdMilibandMP writes exclusively for @leftfootfwd on his 1st morning in Copenhagen: http://bit.ly/4GO2pD

  9. Tim Nicholls

    Great short article by @EdMilibandMP on @Leftfootfwd about arriving in Copenhagen and the mood http://bit.ly/4GO2pD #cop15

  10. Chris

    So in the week that the Government announces another rise in National Insurance and £36bn cuts in public spending (still not nearly enough to get the deficit under control by the way), they are throwing £1.5bn in the direction of so-called “poorer countries”. Some serious prioritising needs to be done here! Yet more wastage of our money from this hopelessly discredited government.

  11. David Wearing

    Anon E Mouse – Labourism has historically been an alliance of progressive people from all classes – that’s the core vote.

    Now personally, I wouldn’t feel qualified to speak for the entire working class. You go ahead if you want to. At any rate, I know of no evidence that people at the lower end of the income scale care only about their own situation, and that empathy for others is the preserve of the middle class.

    Its immaterial anyway, because as time passes the effects of climate change will be felt not just by the developing countries, as is the case today, but increasingly in countries like ours as well.

  12. David Wearing

    Clare Spencer – I don’t lose hope on the basis of the enormity of the task. The task is entirely achievable. What mitigates against hope is the behaviour of the rich countries, who are offering nothing so far that would prevent catastrophic climate change according to the science. Indeed, according to the leaked text, they are trying to stitch up a deal that would guarentee catastrophic climate change.

    What makes me hopeful is the palpable refusal of the poorer nations to be shafted by the rich countries, plus the dedication, organisation and quality of the work being done by NGOs and activists. I’d rather put my faith in them than in the governments of the countries that caused climate change and that have done precious little so far to deal with it.

  13. Henry

    Actually, Anon, there was a poll in Politics Home this week that suggested that a small majority of people either thought the government was not doing enough on climate change or had got it about right. They didn’t break it down by class, but, as you’d expect, it was Tory voters who generally didn’t think anything needed to be done.

  14. Anon E Mouse

    David Wearing – I wouldn’t be so arrogant to assume I do speak for the whole working class in this country and likewise I don’t expect our (unelected – I voted for “Full Third Term Blair” – remember that one) Prime Minister to spend our money for the benefit of a minority opinion in the UK.

    By your answer of “not knowing of any evidence of people at the lower end of the income spectrum caring about their own situation” shows that you simply do not live in that world. A real example for you David:

    My friend (ex-Labour voter, 50 years old, council house, plumber, South Wales) been off work once for 6 weeks with a broken collarbone in his whole life. Now unemployed. He has paid taxes since he was 16 years old and now gets £64.00 JSA a week to live on. £64.00? He has lost over a stone in weight, had his van repossessed and worries about everything constantly.

    He’s a church goer and does his bit for charity but simply does not believe in your unproven psycho-babble mumbo jumbo. You hold a minority opinion.

    So tell me David Waring, what gives this temporary Prime Minister the right to spend our money that could help him and others like him? Without asking.

    Everyone keeps telling me the oil is going to run out. Why complain then? As the oil runs out less will be burned and less CO2 will be released into the atmosphere so it’s a win win all round.

    From your posts here let me guess: you are some “media consultant outreach pro-active coordinator” or do some other such grandiose type of job. Lucky you.

    Try living in the world the way it is David not the way you’d like it to be – try living on £64.00 a week – try walking a mile in my shoes and you may not feel the same.

  15. Anon E Mouse

    Henry – I don’t say nothing should be done – quite the reverse.

    The government is simply not doing the right things – it’s full of incorrectly educated and clearly stupid people, so one could argue why would it. But it should.

    As I have said earlier the Tories are even worse.

  16. David Wearing

    Anon E Mouse – perhaps it was the overexcitement, but you clearly didn’t read what I wrote.

    I didn’t say I know of no evidence “of people at the lower end of the income spectrum caring about their own situation”

    “I know of no evidence that people at the lower end of the income scale care ONLY about their own situation”

    Empathy for others is a fact of human nature. If you want to argue that working class people are purely self-interested, then that’s up to you. Its a view of humanity rooted firmly in the right-wing. But if its how you see people…

  17. Anon E Mouse

    David Waring – As excited as I was to read your reply, I never become overexcited about anything really – particularly this Climate Change nonsense.

    With the direction that the whole of Europe is now moving, a view of humanity rooted firmly in the right-wing I would argue is no bad thing – especially as 12 years of a Labour / Left wing government has left this country up to its neck in debt and thousands overseas murdered in illegal wars because Labour slavishly followed George Bush and I voted for them… I digress.

    You seem to have failed to answer any of the important points I made. I’ll try again.

    David, do you think, with the limited resources available to us due to this governments fiscal incompetence, that without asking us this they should be spending £billions of our money on this?

    Because of Britain’s dire situation “ideal world” is out of the window David.

    You can try your personal “But if its how you see people…” type attacks but the question remains whether governments should help their own people who are REALLY suffering here or waste money on this type of unproven rubbish.

  18. Liz

    Anon – I don’t think it an either/or option:
    “but the question remains whether governments should help their own people who are REALLY suffering here or waste money on this type of unproven rubbish”.
    We must do both – it’s just the how that is the key question.

  19. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Agreed but at the moment we need to be realistic about our situation as well and I simply do not trust the government anymore.

    Too many lies too often has destroyed my faith in the Labour Party I’m afraid.

    I know one can argue “It doesn’t matter who you vote for the government always gets in” but it really seems true at the moment.

    The other day Gordon Brown called Climate Change skeptics “Deniers” and “Flat Earthers”. Fine but what kind of idiot would potentially alienate half the electorate? Stupid man.

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