What can we learn from Copenhagen?

There was a collective sense of disappointment at the outcome of the Copenhagen summit, there was no resolution and the parties seem further apart. We can take a number of lessons that we can use to reach a veritable settlement with regards to all the complex issues.

There was a collective sense of disappointment at the outcome of the Copenhagen summit, there was no resolution and the parties seem further apart. We can take a number of lessons that we can use to reach a veritable settlement with regards to all the complex issues.

Firstly it is the time-frame; this should be an on going negotiation between the developing world and the developed world. Diplomats love big conferences because they give a sense of theatre to an issue.

The deadline of having to agree some declaration to sign means we often end up with weak and unenforceable declarations.There should be negotiations that are ongoing throughout the year.

We have also seen that there can never be global solution to something which is manifesting itself differently in different geographic and topographical locations. I have been discussing these issues with friends across the world; we all have different phenomena changing our environment.

My Australian friend has seen the drying of the Murray-Darling River, I have seen much less rain this year in Mutara.

We need local solutions for these problems; local people cannot wait for a Consensus in a far away city. My family farm in Umutara has seen only 5 days of rain this season, the onion crop is ruined and things are not looking good for now. The solution is to get some kind of way to collect and store water, but this costs money.

During the negotiations the developed nations painted the African nations as money hungry. The main sticking point was the fund of $10 billion a year to help fight climate change.

That was going to be of no consequence, not even $100b would help up so $10b divided among 4 billion people is nothing.

We need a firm commitment, not money. We need more research into the causes and effects of climate change. For the foreseeable future we will be battle climate change but we have to do so on a local level.

This will mean prioritizing; we might be faced with the choice of saving the Murray-Darling River or my beloved Mutara. The more powerful nation might win in the competition for resources to save local environments.

Our high population density will exacerbate the effects beyond their normal severity. That is our first challenge, to arrest our high population growth because that is having more instant effects than climate change.

We also have to start treasuring our environment; we must not wait for aid to protect our future.

The economic costs of pollution are now visible and inefficient energy sources are more costly. It is just the transition between dirty power and green power that is expensive.

We need to directly tax carbon per unit produced, that way the hidden environmental cost is quantified and reconciled. Lastly, a consensus is a continual sense of agreement, it is something we should continually have a dialogue about. Consensus is in dialogue not in a final agreement.

Rama Isibo is a social commentator

ramaisibo@hotmail.com

 

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