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Copenhagen – “It’s pretty insane”

Copenhagen – “It’s pretty insane”


Copenhagen – “It’s pretty insane”

Greetings from a cold and hectic Copenhagen. We are now entering the final days of the talks. Over the past week or so, hundreds of thousands of people have marched in locations around the world; among them youth, elders, celebrities, indigenous peoples, unions... standing together to call for global leaders to safeguard their future. Copenhagen itself saw the largest demonstration in Danish history. That’s the plus side. There has also been some really bad behaviour on the part of developed countries like New Zealand, which are simply refusing to budge for the global good.

If I was to give the summit a grading so far, I’d give it 4/10. But it is not over until the fat lady sings (or in this case, developed countries start showing some commitment to actually solving this crisis).

The current state of play is that the developing countries in general (the African block in particular) are getting pissed off with developed countries like New Zealand. Developed countries had promised to put targets on the table by March this year. They broke their promise. Now here we are, in Copenhagen, in December, and many are still refusing to negotiate targets; New Zealand has said specifically it will not “negotiate” them; rather it is just having “discussions” about them.

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What needs to happen now is for countries like New Zealand to step up and create some confidence in the process. They need to do what they were supposed to do ages ago: put a strong target on the table, as well as finance for developing countries.

We need a can do attitude from New Zealand, backed up by offer of 40% and finance. Only if developed countries make those commitments will developing countries be in a position to respond. And if they don’t…..well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when John Key arrives for the final talks. When he faces other leaders across the table, he will be met with a very difficult choice. New Zealand has so far tabled a highly conditional emissions reduction target of 10-20% by 2020, and Key has said very clearly that unless he gets everything he wants from the talks (huge concessions) then New Zealand won’t do anything at all.

It’s unlikely he’ll get all those concessions. So he’ll have an option. Either bow to pressure and confirm or increase New Zealand’s target, then come back home and tell polluters that “we’re really sorry, we tried to be generous to you but the rest of the world didn’t buy it.” OR, he sticks to his guns, commits to nothing, and returns home having to explain to New Zealanders why he was unwilling to help save the planet.

The simple fact more than 120 heads of state having committed to come here- most of them staying not for the usual one day but for three days – gives hope to those of us who frankly, feel pretty despondent at times. Someone from New Zealand asked me this morning “do you feel like crying some days?” to which I replied, “yes, it’s all pretty insane".


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