The Marx Brothers’ cabin
Today has been a reminder of a memorable scene from the Marx Brothers‘ film. Their small cabin begins to fill with people and, surprisingly, not only do they all fit, but even they are able to perform their roles in the midst of total chaos. Likewise, the Bella Center has filled up with many protagonists, all of whom have been able to play their roles amidst the confusion.
Unfortunately, the surprise of the morning was the speech by President Barack Obama. Totally deceiving. Portraying himself as offended, he seemed arrogant in his attitude towards all the other Heads of State, and therefore towards all the citizens of the world. In the end he placed all responsibility on China for denying an international emissions control. Furthermore, he considers the ridiculous proposal for the reduction of gas emissions in the United States (4% from here to 2020) as sufficient; and he also supported the set up of a fund of 200 billion by 2020 without specifying the US contribution to it. Meanwhile, it is well known that by these objectives it is impossible to control the rising average temperature under 2º C, the most promising level for controlling climate change.
Obama’s speech marked the most pessimistic moment of the conference.
This evening there were great efforts at negotiating. Heads of State met until the late hours and into the early morning. In the words of Brazilian president Lula, it was an embarrassing show of bartering and tradeoffs. He even considers this the worst political meeting he has attended since his days as a combative union leader. In light of all the possible catastrophic threats that the future faces, the tightfisted negotiations for even the smallest gains are a bad sign. This was Lula’s message before Obama took the stage. After Obama spoke, even the smallest amount of hope began to fade.
This afternoon there have been some willful attempts to make up for lost ground. The Heads of State want to take at least something positive back to their countries. Disgracefully, the priority does not seem to be climate change. Rather, they want to protect their images and not to go home as failures.
It is very likely that tonight, after all the various special interest meetings, there may be some sort of an agreement. In any case, it will be an agreement with a little impact, one not based on justice and one that is not legally binding, which was the main goal.
This afternoon in the Klimaforum, an event parallel to the Conference which has organized numerous activities over the past two weeks, and which has had a huge participation of youth from many different countries, the activities continued – although bitterly. I think they had greater expectations, much more than their leaders, and their response has impressed me. They continue to look to the future. Copenhagen is history. Tonight they had their well-deserved farewell party. They accomplished what they came to do. Perhaps Obama should have visited them.