What will happen if/when Copenhagen fails?

It seems more and more likely that the Copenhagen Summit will fall well short of what many people had hoped for. Some hope that the arrivals of some key players like  President Obama and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might still help bring about a positive outcome, but it is hard to see it happening.

If the Copenhagen outcome does fall short, a crucial factor in what happens next will be how the general public react.  If the public responds to the failures of Copenhagen by strongly demanding real action to be taken, it will maintain the momentum for change which could otherwise be put at risk.

The climate change deniers will continue on as before, grasping at irrelevant straws like the so-called ‘climategate’ emails.  It seems that in Australia, as well as the USA, more and more of the climate change deniers are adopting a position based on their political faith, rather than apolitical science.  This could have a big impact on the prospects of getting meaningful laws through the US Congress – if they have such trouble agreeing on something as clearly needed as health reform, the chance of meaningful climate change laws would seem to be very remote. 

The situation is not that dire in Australia.  There are certainly some loud proponents of the view that climate change is some sort of left-wing hoax aimed at destroying capitalism – including some holding key positions with the main Opposition Liberal-National Party coalition – , as well as a few ideological fellow travellers on the far right cheerleading this view. They are getting more and more vociferous, but they are still very much in a minority.

But next year will see an election campaign, and the Liberals will be compelled by the vast majority of public opinion to at least adopt the pretence of having policies to reduce greenhouse emissions.  Whether they will be seen as credible is a big if, but an election year is as good a time as any to test that.

Still, at least the deniers are consistent, despite some of the weird conspiracy theories.  A more important issue is how strong the Labor government’s position will be.  In some ways it is more inconsistent to profess to believe the general scientific consensus about the threat of rapid climate change, while proposing strategies which fall short of what the science says is needed to avert the threat. 

But this is the approach the Labor government has been taking, both in their emissions trading legislation, which failed to pass the Senate, and in the position they have been taking at Copenhagen. While the Liberals have traditionally been the major opponents of the Labor Party, this election will also see the Green Party campaigning strongly on this issue, which is very a heartland issue for them.  The Greens approach to date has closely followed both the environmental science, and the orthodox economists view on how best to reduce emissions.  The capacity of the Greens, who have far fewer resources than the two major parties, to get a strong message to the public which challenges the position of the government, will have an influence not just on the election outcome, but more importantly on the adequacy of climate change policy in Australia.

If the increasing boisterousness of poorer nations which has become apparent at Copenhagen continues on after the summit, it may also have an impact.  Poorer countries are generally the ones most at risk from climate change.  If Pacific Island nations remain less willing to be silenced, it is possible this could have an impact on the debate in Australia.

(cross-posted at Asian Correspondent)

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24 Comments

  1. I don’t know about conspiracy theories until they are named as such,who is participating in them,and why the elucidation of a series of back channel relationships,not commonly thought through,because ,in fact, they maybe difficult to think through,get converted into the laziest expressions of the” University Educated” at every twist and tur, that, suggests their expertise is either very limited, for whatever reason,including the undeniable one of not investigating thoroughly enough.On the matter of this Conference,PrisonPlanet.com pointed out a relationship with Shell Oil,whereas the FOE org. ,from Nigeria ,on another site devoted to watching every twist and turn of Shell,and its schemeing and Greenwash.I could look up my bookmarks on that ,to get the site name,but, they are thorough,thorough enough to accept FOE,Friends of the Earth Africa were on the ball. So,if someone had some proof Shell is part of the cost reduction to the UNO would anti-nuke Ex-Senator Bartlett be likely to understand!? If the main adviser to Obama the Man,was a radical Greenie who once thought the Earth needed more CO2 in a book he wrote,what would you make of him now!? Sorry.Andrew! From Rense.com Icke.com etc.I smell a whole series of Dirty Rats,that abuse and , seemingly can hide that smell as psuedo-scientific literature creating advocates.Monckton has an interview with a Greenpeace Activist,him holding the microphone.The character assassination of him because of his history doesn’t hold any water for me.You could find that one easy enough.What conspiracy is Monckton pointing out,by who he refers to in that video interview, when assessing the Greenpeace member!?

  2. Andrews Says: What will happen when Copenhagen Fails.

    We’ll all save money and live healthy, wealthy and a hellava lot wiser.

    Just think what it would have cost us if it had been a success.

    Tony

  3. when the Copenhagen Summit fails the powers who would be will find something elce to scare the planet into accepting the will of one world govt.
    they are not genuine if they were they would not be talking about money

  4. Who is delusional? Some people still want to believe the threat of climate change isn’t real – even after the leaders of just about every country on Earth, including all of the most economically and politically powerful, all spend time going to a conference about climate change and unanimously acknowledge the reality of the threat.

    So the leaders of every developed country on Earth are delusional? Or are they all meant to be in on the conspiracy?

  5. AB you have some colourful on-line fans by the looks of it!

    One thing I have been wondering is if the pro-environment lobby is too focused on fixed figures (like wanting 1.5% total warming rather than 2%) rather than looking at _who_ backs an agreement. My thinking is that an agreement that looks disappointing on paper but has all the global powers on board may be better than a more stringent target that lacks full support. But you have much better exposure to all the arguments and projections – what do you think?

  6. I want to take a bit longer looking at all the outcomes before coming to conclusions on some of those things Daniel. One could say that, for all the shortcomings, having the USA even half inside the tent, and China at least standing in the doorway deciding when to come in, is an advance on what was there before, which was a Kyoto without the USA or China (at least in terms of emission targets).

    And one good thing about having an accord with weak targets, rather than a legally binding agreement with weak targets, is that at least it gives room to strengthen things more before the legally binding agreement is put in place.

    It needs some more thinking about what the best strategies might be to get our federal government to lift its game – particularly with the change in the dynamic in the Senate – as well as ways to boost the commitments of other developed countries (USA being the hardest – and I don’t envy Obama having to try to get anything passed by that Congress)

    (and I’m not sure if “fans” is the best description, but anyway)

  7. Andrew! How many country leaders,as you call them,have pertinent degrees in Science to carry on like Rudd from Queensland did,on matters of deals about money and compensation,for events that may not be necessarily the result of Carbon Dioxide emissions?And since when,from say a country like the U.S.A.the country th at is sending in more troops to Afghanistan can it be said that that leader has really explained why his views on Afghanistan are more palatable,and have to be accepted,than say your own!?And if that has moral resonance,why is it you then believe,because there is no proof from the outcome,that they showed leadership at all,if every country was totally convinced of the need for the Copenhagen Conference.

  8. What I find incongruous is that this talk of lowering emissions comes just after the second auction of Iraqi “giant” oil fields, an event that seemed to slip under the radar of localpress/media, a bit like reliable reporting on privatisations or Afghanistan, say ( in Adelaide we got day after day about Pandas, and barmaids love lives, instead ).
    The fields are due for development or renovation and likely to put vast amounts of oil onto the market, so am wondering how it could be said that all will be well, particularly by the USA,, when Iraqi oil seems to have been so central to and provisioned for, as to US policy long term?”

  9. I agree with Tony and Red Crab.

    For anyone to think they could outdo Mother Nature/God is simply laughable.

    When I see journos talking about reducing the temperature of the globe by 2 or 3 degrees, it really makes me want to laugh, to think that anyone could be so arrogant as to think they can understand and control every last little nuance of the earth’s atmosphere and conditions both atop and below terra firma.

    My belief is that we will have a Global Communist Government forced upon us by our creditors. Once world debt reaches even more gargantuan proportions than now, our superannuation nest egg, businesses and lands will be seized by the corporate world and we will hung out to dry.

  10. Paul Walter

    Paul Walter says: What I find incongruous is that this talk of lowering emissions comes just after the second auction of Iraqi “giant” oil fields, an event that seemed to slip under the radar of localpress/media, a bit like reliable reporting on privatisations or Afghanistan,

    I really feel for the Iraqi’s, if Shell is buying up their nation’s only real assets.
    Privatisation and global control (Royal Dutch Shell) will leave the iraq with no real assets and at the beck and call of these monsters.

    The Iraqi people will have to fend for themselves and will soon learn to become part of the global financial system.
    No doubt they’ll follow the way and learn what Sth America/Poland and others learnt as Friedmanisn rips the heat out off and robs blind their nation.

    Tony

  11. “And one good thing about having an accord with weak targets, rather than a legally binding agreement with weak targets, is that at least it gives room to strengthen things more before the legally binding agreement is put in place.”

    I kinda get that. I wonder – is that the kind of reasoning behind why the Australian Greens helped block the Rudd ETS? I tend to go with the old “even diluted reform is better than the status quo” but am trying to be open-minded.

  12. Daniel

    I don’t speak for the Greens when I write here, but their statements over a fairly long indicated a belief that the original CPRS (before it was amended/weakened further in an attempt to gain Liberal support) was so far below what the science said was necessary that it would have dangerous to pass, as it would have locked in investment and pricing far below what is needed to reduce emissions sufficiently. Any future amendments would have then had to cost many billions more in further compensation to those who invested on the basis of the original model.

    If that’s the case, then it is not a matter of the CPRS being at least a step in the right direction, but rather another barrier to necessary reform.

    In any case, the legislation is coming back again in February, and the Greens will have to engage with the debate again.

    They are in the difficult position where the government has been uninterested in negotiating on core factors like the emissions target, and where they can’t deliver enough Senate numbers on their own – I doubt the two Liberal floor-crossers would support amendments strengthening the CPRS targets (although someone should certainly ask them), and obviously Fielding is not going to support anything.

    On the other hand, the Greens are likely to hold the Senate balance of power after the election – but that may be too late if the CPRS is already through, or if it is used as a double dissolution trigger and gets passed as is in a post-election joint sitting.

  13. Yes, I thought The Greens voted against the legislation because it was not extreme enough for them. I believe they want to financially break the developed nations as quickly as possible in order to bring on Global Governance at the earliest possible time.

    Fielding is definitely against an emissions trading scheme, but there are quite a few heavily indoctrinated people on his blog who seem to believe any rubbish they are dished up by scientists.

  14. Andrew Says:
    On the other hand, the Greens are likely to hold the Senate balance of power after the election – but that may be too late if the CPRS is already through, or if it is used as a double dissolution trigger and gets passed as is in a post-election joint sitting

    There wont be a double disalution. The ALP wont have the courage. If their senate team played rubbers stampers and deserted their electorate none will have the guts to risk a DD. The ALP will not want to deal with a party that is looking at total de-industrialisation. 40% reduction, come on.
    The Green vote peaked in 2007. Its unlikely they’ll advance from here and may even drop back a seat or two.

    Tony

  15. I wonder – do international agreements governing things like telephone exchanges or postal services or shipping lanes provoke fears of “Global Governance”? Or maybe it is already here (mwhahahaha!!!).

  16. No Lorikeet.
    Not because they wanted to “break the industrial system”, just to have greedier, nastier corporate elements brought back within the legal system and subject to community scrutiny – to have the system work for ALL of us, not just the Bernie Madoff types.
    The whole point of globalisation is to enable trans national corporations, financiers, funds managers, tycoons etc to avoid governance within whereever they operate.
    The “corporate socopaths”, eg the given typical modern corporations, the Hardies, Gunns, tobacco corporations, oil companies of this world move into vulnerable locales (Tasmania, New guinea, Africa and locally (Cubbie Creek?) and just “go to it” in their own narrow interests, regardless of the mess they make or impact caused on a locale,or others. Polluting, bribing, tax -fiddling, buying out the local politix, smashing heritage…
    Greens are not against capitalism per se, tho.
    If they could get it working for society as well as just a few geedy bums running things, who don’t care what harm they do so long as they get rich quick, they’d cheer from the rafters.
    They want to go back to a situation where the dog wags the tail, not the way its become, where even the effects of climate change can’t be dealt with, because it might upset them or cause corporations to forgo a few shekels.
    Cheeez!

  17. Daniel Says: wonder – do international agreements governing things like telephone exchanges or postal services or shipping lanes provoke fears of “Global Governance”? Or maybe it is already here (mwhahahaha!!!).

    No but they don’t collect taxes from you either. Or create unelected bodies to monitor what you can produce and how you run your country.
    Copenhagen was to have done just that (with penalties for those who didn’t comply). In other words enforcement measures on our population.

    Surely before giving up any sovereignty of our nation, the nation should be entitled to be asked.

    Were you…….. Or do you just have your head stuck deep into the sand and hope that others will come to look after you.

    Paul Walter Says: They want to go back to a situation where the dog wags the tail, not the way its become, where even the effects of climate change can’t be dealt with, because it might upset them or cause corporations to forgo a few shekels.
    Cheeez!

    The problem is Paul that the TNC’s will be the ones profiting from any CPRS. Polluting credits can be exchanged internationally. The funds that make up the credits will be taken from the local population.

    The Banks especially will cash in on this scheme. Remember only the major corporations made any money out of the European Carbon trading.

    Tony

  18. Well I _do_ vote for those candidates that best fit my beliefs and then scrutinize their actions. And all those nations will have to design their own implementations of agreements that must pass national legislatures. But I do not expect the world must be _exactly_ as I would wish it to be.

    I go off-line now for the silly season. Best wishes for 2010.

  19. Paul Walter:

    I think the DLP wants to go back to a position where the dog wags the tail – certainly not The Greens.

    The Greens want excessive taxation which will control everything we do. The collection of taxes will be further privatised (as in water, electricity, other utilities, household audits) and the TNCs will rip us all off. Our country will go broke altogether.

    I saw Rudd on TV talking with little school children, indoctrinating them with his colossal farce. He’s lucky I don’t have any little kids, or he would be getting a letter from me, telling him not to indoctrinate my children with any religion of HIS choosing.

    If the government wants to teach Greenism in schools, they should have to do it in an RE class. That is, the parents choose which faith they want their kids taught, and that’s the only religion the kids learn.

    What people need to understand is that the Earth is fully self-contained, with its set quota of carbon either above or below the ground. If it gets out of balance, Mother Nature/God can easily fix it without any help from arrogant scientists who have made numerous colossal errors of judgement in the past e.g. screwing the Age Pyramid with their contraceptive pills, and thereby making nearly everyone wasteful, selfish and greedy.

  20. why cant so many inteligent ppl see whats going on im not the brightest person but mabe thats an advantage .

    tony has hit the nail on the head as far as i see it

    The problem is Paul that the TNC’s will be the ones profiting from any CPRS. Polluting credits can be exchanged internationally. The funds that make up the credits will be taken from the local population.

    PROFIT

    theres the problem the tecknolage has been around since the begginig of the century and why has it not been used PROFIT .!!

    thats what they are trying to do now tax fresh air.

    only a fool would belive that the banks and corperations are not ruling the world now just look at what westpac did two weeks ago
    where was our govt then oh planning a talk fest that they knew was a waste of time .

    this global warming will not be avoided because of greed and the persuit of power over others.

  21. Red Crab:

    Well, I think you have a lot of common sense.

    As well as taxing fresh air, we have had huge increases in water and electricity charges. In Queensland, Anna Bligh wants to charge us $500 for an environmental audit on our homes prior to selling them.

    If your dog is too fat, she wants to fine you if you don’t walk it every day. It hasn’t occurred to her that your fat dog is old, arthritic and CANNOT WALK, because there is no money in it.

    Now without the Traveston Dam, you can bet that water charges will continue to grow apace, while we all look forward to dying of thirst eventually, because the government wants to ramp up population from 3 to 6 million.

    Mad scientists need to look a little further into the life cycle of a cow and its place in the food and recycling chain, instead of only considering what comes out at either end.

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