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About the Author

Benno Hansen
Patent Assistant (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Focusing on our bright green future, environmental sustainability, global partnership and climate change.

MSc degree in horticulture from Copenhagen University, thesis on Hidden Markov Modelling of protein sequences - which is the same algorithm that lies at the core of Google. Winner of TH!NK2, Y!HAA

Have written for magazines at an advertising bureau, supported university students in their IT-tasks, helped maintain the university hardware, software and websites, vacuum cleaned bodies of escaped laboratory test frogs, been a mail man with the Danish Postal Service and counted the number of passengers for the Danish Railways.

My goal is to publish a best selling science fiction novel and/or get elected for parliament with an intellectual party. But I spend a lot more time betting on football matches (and winning), attending FC Copenhagen home games which I hold a season ticket for, reading lots of science fiction and popularized science, skating and eating organic meals with my beautiful, eco-friendly biomedicine ethicist girlfriend.

Oh yeah... every now and then I also blog ;-)

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The Copenhagen Accord succeeded… in dividing the world

Published 21st April 2010 - 1 comments - 4013 views -

Keeping track of the climate change negotiations from the wreckage in Copenhagen, through strife and healing, to hopes of a more positive future with serious approaches to solving both climate change and development goals. Here is an instant update on all of it for you...

The Copenhagen Accord

Remember the deal struck in Denmark, December 2009? You know, the non-binding, unambitious paper composed by 25 rich country world leaders outside UN protocol? The one that the US and Denmark sometimes blames on China, while at other times praises as progress.

"Inside the Bella Center at Cop15" by denmarkdotdkIt is disputed what the actual impact of the Copenhagen Accord will be. While signed by about 110 countries only few support it and some even angrily boycott it. It promises about half the mitigation aid thought necessary. At best it would limit global warming to 3 or 4 degrees Celsius temperature rise because the developed countries pledged emissions reductions by only 13-17% by 2020 from 1990 levels. In Copenhagen the bar was already lowered to seek a deal limiting emissions to levels leading to 50% risk or less of 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise requiring an emissions cut of at least 40%.

What certainly was a result of the Copenhagen Accord and the process in which it was created was global division (bad for MDG #8). In the words of a Congolese diplomat:

We saw the sidelining of the multilateral process, the emergence of a secret text put together by a selected few that later became known as the Copenhagen accord and the blatant attempt to discard the Kyoto protocol. These mistakes fundamentally broke the trust that is very necessary for any partnership that aspires to be successful and enduring to work.”

Official healing in Bonn

From the 9th to the 11th of April 2010 diplomats descended on the former capital of West Germany, Bonn. The broken pieces from Copenhagen were picked up and a lot of talk on UN procedure was done to get the climate negotiations going again. UNFCCC was reaffirmed as the venue of climate talks, developing nations sought assurance against future Copenhagen-like fiascoes and pointed out loopholes in the Copenhagen Accord."bonn munster" by Sacred Destinations

All in the atmosphere of the obvious divisions. The EU and the US wants to base future negotiations on the Copenhagen Accord while everyone else wants it scrapped as soon as possible.

Finally – like in Copenhagen – a confidential document was leaked. Top priority of the Obama administration apparently is to reinforce “the perception that the US is constructively engaged in UN negotiations” (my bold added, see the whole text at The Guardian).

(Sources: The Bonn talks were a healing process – but stormy meetings lie ahead, At Bonn, Picking Up The Pieces Of The Climate Talks, Confidential document reveals Obama's hardline US climate talk strategy.)

Black deals in the World Bank

What good is another multi-billion dollar World Bank loan for South Africa? Particularly, a loan meant to finance the construction of one of the world's biggest coal power plants ever!? How is that supposed to aid the country into the low-carbon future? Or, as discussed by Tomas Moe Skjølsvold in Making an omelet without breaking eggs? is sustainable development really an impossibility?

"People across the street" by Metal ChrisThe loan was given. COP + MDG + neoliberalism = ? quotes Danish politicians explaining why they – in the name of Denmark – voted for the loan. In short, to the government of COP15 nothing is more important than economic growth and cheap resources. Give the Africans coal powered electricity and they will be able to pay for the resulting climate change.

Other Western countries – including the US, UK and the Netherlands – abstained from voting. Perhaps due to citizen pressure. If you assume the Danish ministers could get in trouble for this, think of the fact that the foreign minister recently went on holiday instead of attending a meeting with her Canadian, Russian and US colleagues (yup, Hillary Clinton).

Is this voting disparity sign of another division or did Denmark just do some of the dirty work? Either way the coal will burn. And one thing the US and Denmark agree on is cutting development aid to countries not signing the Copenhagen Accord.

(Sources include Eskom loan a contradiction for World Bank, Obama administration will 'hold South Africa to account for Eskom plant CO2'.)

Division: Washington vs. Cochabamba

Still not convinced the Copenhagen Accord divided the world on climate change? Then fathom this: on the 18th and 19th of April ministers of the richest countries met at the “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate” in Washington while from the 19th to the 22nd of April “the people” meet in Bolivia.

Adela of TH!NK2 logged back in to update us on the meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia: Cochabamba Summit Offers New Approach to Combating Climate Change. While I haven't seen it on my TV it is rather visible in “social media”. For example, you can follow a Twitter-list of of people attending. Some 15,000 developing nations politicians, world wide activists as well as a bunch of celebrities are there. And the socialist president is fired up:

Either capitalism dies, or it will be Mother Earth.”
- Evo Morales"Cochabamba street carnival" by Sarah and Ian

Morales and his Ecuadorean colleagues accuse the US of blackmailing. And let this sink in: The UN envoy was booed!

Meanwhile in Washington talks have been held by much less attention. According to regular press some progress was made on pledges to fund mitigation (aka climate debt pay-back). What is a bit funny is sometimes the attendants are referred to as the “top emitters”, at other times as the “top economies”.

Oh, and there is a third group called “BASIC” too. And Japan held a meeting with China to align their far East strategies. Sigh!

Bottom line: the US and EU wants to build on the Copenhagen Accord while Bolivia wants to use pre-industrial times as a baseline. Could they be any further from each other?

(Sources include Cochabamba summit: Chavez accuses US of blackmail vs ALBA countries, Evo Morales' message to grassroots climate talks – planet or death, U.S. seeks climate ideas after Copenhagen fell short, Major economies focus on finance at climate meeting)

Climate or Development... just get this straight, please

Allow me to finish with a few pleas.

  • Protect our forests. And plant some more. That will stop climate change and much of the extinctions (MDG #7, target 2). Why is this so hard to understand? In fact, I'd like more holistic approaches in general. We have a big problem, not a lot of small problems.

  • Separate politics and science. Like I was hoping the COP15 buzz could kick-off buy leaving irrationality at the door I was hoping we would progress from it by ceasing to mix science and politics (think “Climategate”). Apparently not – or perhaps Evo Morales could moderate his rhetoric just a bit?

  • Stop being idiots. On the internet as well as in elected offices. I hoped idiocy had peaked during the COP15 buzz. If it did it certainly hasn't stopped.
    Evidence A: Republican Chris Smith expressed concern in the US senate – in the words of The Guardian summary linked to above – “that climate change was a ruse to force African women to use birth control and have abortions”. Seriously. How does a person capable of publicly voicing such conspiracy theories get elected for anything?
    Evidence B: at a Yahoo! message board, the user Yehi asks: “Is it feasible that a company such as Monsanto might be behinhind the AGW scam? What I mean is that they could try to convince everyone that there was a drought, and then try to sell their 'roundup ready drought resistant' terminator seeds to the world.” Hmmm. While no doubt companies such as Monsanto are into a couple of shady deals this one seems just a bit far fetched. She continues, same paragraph: “Another thing is that there's a lot of Levamisole contaminated cocaine on the streets at the moment.” I have no idea how those two issues are connected. Is this “Levamisole” a Monsanto product? You know what, “Yehi”, just quit the cocaine, OK. Then rethink your climate change worries. And if you're really just a nick of Republican Chris Smith, please reconsider your political mandate too.


  • Frank on 25th April 2010:

    Interesting article. What were the implications of the Copenhagen Accord? What was it about? “Either capitalism dies, or it will be Mother Earth.” We offer working capital loans to small businesses and believe in capitalism, but we also support the environment.

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