Copenhagen Climate Change Conference: Week 1 Round-Up

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With only a short working week left to hammer out a deal, one has to wonder just what are we going to get.

The mood at the opening of the United Nations Climate Change Conference last Monday was said to be optimistic and positive.

How quickly it changed.

It only took a day or two before China and the United States, the two largest polluters in the world accounting for over 40% of emissions were in a “war of word” exchanging barbs and questioning each others commitment to the sincerity of their positions.

Drafts started to appear, indicating back room deals and alliances of various developed and developing countries were starting to form. Negoiaters walking out of talks.

This past weekend saw nearly 1200 activists detained as they marched to voice their concern over the lack of progress.

But progress has been made.

Late Friday, word came out a draft that could form “the core” of a document to replace the Kyoto Protocol that will expire in 2012, was released.

It is far from perfect, but it is a start and one that should not be dismissed. There is a lot of expectations from this summit, and with only a week left before over 110 heads of state or their representatives converge on Friday to vote, it is time to put the petty politics of last week on the shelf and get down to business.

AFP reports that a select group of environment ministers from 48 countries met over the weekend to review a draft deal.

“The core discussions have already started” a spokesman told AFP, adding that “we still have a daunting task in front of us over the next few days”.

Indeed. Would you want to be charged with the responsibility of saving the planet?

In the end, there will be an agreement. Will it be perfect? No. Will it be enough? Probably not, and that depends on who you ask. Most importantly it will be a start. It will be an acknowledgment of governments from around the world commitment to curbing what has been done. But it won’t enough, to sit back and let our elected officials implement this deal.

It is incumbent on all of us to advance this agreement by continuing to put power on our respective governments to both adhere to the terms and to fulfill the commitments they have made.

If we don’t, if we let the deal slip to the back burner, then that is our opportunity lost.

  • Mark Spowart

    A writer and photographer, Spowart has publication credits in Canada, United States, Europe and Norway with such publications as The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Sun Media, Canwest News, and Canada News Wire.

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