Political will at home is key to climate change talks

With less than one month to go until the return of the UNFCCC Climate negotiations, many are beginning to ask the question: Will the UN climate talks help save the planet or is it time to look elsewhere? Guppi Bola looks ahead to the Cancun conference.

Guppi Bola, who writes regularly on climate issues and helped establish the UK Youth Climate Coalition last year, looks forward to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC) in Cancun later this month

With less than one month to go until the return of the UNFCCC Climate negotiations, many are beginning to ask the question: Will the UN climate talks help save the planet or is it time to look elsewhere?

As the title of Oxfam’s pre-Cancun debate suggests – the fruitless Copenhagen conference left the international environmental community in despair of the UN process. Indeed, climate change may be the greatest threat to mankind, but it has better proven to be the greatest challenge to international political cooperation.

Since the publication of the Copenhagen Accord last December, the only story worth covering has been the continued souring relationship between the world economic heavy-weights; the United States and China.

Reports from the latest meeting in Tianjin were marred by the squabbling over administrative detail and grammatical error. To further set the tone for next month’s talks, a recent statement by the Mexican Foreign Minister attempted to dampen any hopes pinned to a Cancun climate deal.

So what can we anticipate from COP16 if the past three years of post-Kyoto deal breaking has seen more stalemate than success? Can we reasonably expect emerging economies to put environmental protection above economic growth in the hope of untying the deadlock?

What about Todd Stern’s assertions that a lack of US climate legislation will not hinder the international process, how do we ignore the ever growing climate-denying Tea Party Movement who are almost certain to win victory in both the House and the Senate in today’s mid-term elections?

Despite this rather gloomy set of realities, Michael Jacobs, visiting fellow at the Grantham Institute, explored the potential a refocus on Cancun could have on the outcomes of the negotiations. An international framework, he stated, is an essential space for governments to return to when they are ready to set about a legally binding agreement; yet countries will only be encouraged to commit to this if it compliments their national legislation.

A major flaw at the beginning of these negotiations was the NGO’s fixation with emission reductions. What was needed, and what is still needed, is an emphasis on low carbon technology investment which will incentivise and lower the cost of mitigation by nature of its development.

Tom Burke of E3G followed this up by stating that we are now in a situation where we have both the economical and technological capacity to deal with a transition – leaving political will as the key ingredient in making this happen. One of the greatest drivers for political will, added Paul Foote of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), is the electorate’s interest in the issue. It is doubtless that the UK has struggled to maintain public enthusiasm on climate change over the past year.

Matthew Lockwood from IPPR highlighted how climate change came 12th out of list of 14 top issues in a survey of voters during this summer’s General elections, but also made the assurance that support amongst the UK population was not as badly damaged by the rise in climate scepticism as had first been though

The good news internationally is that since renewable energy investment overtook fossil fuel investment earlier last year, there has been a surge in low-carbon technology across the globe; China recently became the most attractive location for renewable investment; Brazil’s elections saw a breakthrough for the environmental agenda; and India looks to lead the way in green economic development.

Returning to the negotiations – if Cancun is unsuccessful at forging a global agreement, this should not be seen as a failure of the UN process, but a failure of the underlying factors that prevent countries from being ready to engage with the process.

There needs to be a balanced and coherent effort placed on domestic legislation world-wide, supported by bilateral agreements and trusted international diplomacy. And to increase trust in the negotiations, it may be worth developing new organisations such as the International Court for the Environment to deal with the complexities of these relationships.

Whatever happens at Cancun, we are sure to be dealing with more successful forums for action on climate change come South Africa’s COP17 in December 2012.

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19 Responses to “Political will at home is key to climate change talks”

  1. Paul Seery

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks: http://bit.ly/bkzmAz says @guppikb ahead of the Cancun summit

  2. Rob Bailey

    Good piece from @guppikb on @OxfamGB's #climate change event last night (via @leftfootfwd). http://bit.ly/bkzmAz Nice job @TracyCarty!

  3. Guppi Bola

    My brief report on last night's @oxfamgb #cancun event up on @leftfootfwd now http://bit.ly/bkzmAz

  4. Joss Garman

    RT @guppikb: My brief report on last night's @oxfamgb #cancun event up on @leftfootfwd now http://bit.ly/bkzmAz

  5. Guppi Bola

    RT @CycloRob: Good piece from @guppikb on @OxfamGB's #climate change event last night (via @leftfootfwd). http://bit.ly/bkzmAz Nice job …

  6. Darren Shirley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks: http://bit.ly/bkzmAz says @guppikb ahead of the Cancun summit

  7. Guy Shrubsole

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks http://bit.ly/a8Rvvq

  8. Richard Casson

    RT @leftfootfwd – Political will at home is key to climate change talks: http://bit.ly/bkzmAz says @guppikb ahead of the Cancun summit

  9. Adam

    “how do we ignore the ever growing climate-denying Tea Party Movement who are almost certain to win victory in both the House and the Senate in today’s mid-term elections?”

    Er, no they’re not.

  10. Casper ter Kuile

    I don’t see a breakthrough at the UN happening until the interests of the US and China are alligned in moving the talks forward.

    What we can see is some valuable steps forward in designing an equitable process and the financing needed for adaptation.

  11. Plymouth City UNISON

    RT @guyshrubsole: RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks http://bit.ly/a8Rvvq

  12. James Chan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks http://bit.ly/a8Rvvq by @guppikb

  13. Fay Tuncay

    I attended the Battle of Ideas event on Sunday at the Royal College of Art in London, “Can we trust the evidence? The IPCC – a case study“. The answer is unequivocally NO! [BTW Fora TV – The world is not thinking, was there so a video will follow] It was interesting to note that there were about a dozen empty seats – certainly not your usual ‘wall to wall greens’, indicating perhaps that the IPCC and global warming, has gone off the boil and is not such a hot ticket any more.
    In a sense, from the ‘greens’ perspective, this event was very much an opportunity for the them to publicly re-group, to wash their dirty linen, to acknowledge and confess the past sins of the IPCC and to say: “Okay the IPCC is guilty of overt cheating and made mistakes, but essentially the science is sound and we just want to put all of that ‘Climategate’ affair behind us and move on“.

    Essentially, this was the purpose of Fred Pearce (New Scientist), who argued this case, [and is obviously attempting to maintain his credibility and readership], and I must admit I do find him an able journalist, who sadly just hasn’t yet cottoned on to the fact that he has become a cheerleader for high-risk speculative capitalism i.e. carbon trading.

    He is still under the delusion that this debate is about the science, the climate and the environment, which of course we know it is not – it’s about carbon taxes, sucking the wealth out of Britain; it’s about creating a new carbon/climate change banking system [more taxpayers money going into the pockets of the bankers]; essentially this debate is about power, greed, and the conflict, within capitalism between, as I mentioned high-risk speculative capitalism (creating a fictious market for Co2) v investment capitalism (markets for industry and goods). The global warming/climate change/global climate disruption alarm movement will gradually wither on the vine as will the global temperatures, because – if any of you care to look at the data – the trend is just not there. We can expect 20-30 years of cooling.

    As a side note Professor David Harvey (the Marxist) recently gave a talk and touched on this topic – of the crisis of capitalism and the creation of fictious markets to soak up the massive increase in surplus value. And one cannot help but conclude that the creation of the global warming alarm movement has been the ideal vehicle for this. He also mentioned the in coming paradigm shift, the debunking of the ‘peek oil’ myth. So it might be worth “Left Foot Forward”, standing back from the wall of “climate change” propaganda and analysing the capitalist agenda and questioning whether the left has been co-opted by high-risk speculative capitalism, in the interest of preserving our few remaining democratic rights and freedoms, to say nothing of saving our poorest citizens from the imposition of pointless, but devastating regressive carbon taxes, which will have no impact on the climate whatsoever.

    I have a BSc Archaeology and Environment my politics are liberal.

  14. Guppi Bola

    @Adam – you’re right, they only took control of the house. Won’t make the an assumption next time but it’s clear that the role the Tea Party Movement are currently playing in the politics of US climate legislation cannot be ignored and that was the point I was trying to put across

  15. Jake Leeper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks http://bit.ly/a8Rvvq

  16. Neva Frecheville

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks http://bit.ly/a8Rvvq

  17. Neva Frecheville

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks http://bit.ly/a8Rvvq

  18. Neva Frecheville

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks http://bit.ly/a8Rvvq #COP16 #UKYCC

  19. cop16news

    RT @leftfootfwd: Political will at home is key to climate change talks http://bit.ly/a8Rvvq #COP16 #UKYCC: RT @l… http://bit.ly/bRdtY3

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