Your Role in the Copenhagen Climate Talks


I wouldn’t make a very good diplomat. The veiled dance and coded signals of international political negotiation would drive me crazy.

There are two months before world leaders gather in Copenhagen, Denmark for a United Nations Summit to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. This could possibly the most important international meeting in the history of the world and yet, like Nero and Rome, we seem to be fiddling as the world burns.

I read the news every day and try to stay informed – The Guardian is probably doing the best and most consistent coverage of the mainstream media outlets and on the new media side I love TckTckTck. Yet I honestly can’t tell whether the negotiations are in a big mess or this is just the normal political process and it will deliver results in the end.

We’ve got the United States, and now Europe, saying that the new agreement should NOT be based on the Kyoto Protocol, even though legally it has to be for the countries that previously signed on to Kyoto. We’ve got poor countries saying that rich countries should take the lead and, by the way, you need to cough up if you want us not to chop down our forests – never mind that experts are saying the forest protection payments will just fuel corruption and organised crime. Check out the plain English guide to the negotiating text.

All the while, the environmental news is worsening. Just last week, I read that the Arctic seas are acidifying at such a rate, the seawater around the North Pole could be corrosive within a decade. So corrosive, it could dissolve the shells of live shellfish, with devastating consequences for the food chain.

We need strong action on greenhouse emissions now. All the countries in the world are going to have to make sacrifices to prevent the bigger calamity. We need to stop the blame game and come up with imaginative and fair solutions about how we can solve this crisis together. We must not let other problems like the economy or health care get in the way.

As citizens of the world we won’t be sitting around that table come December and any individual action will only be small. But that doesn’t mean we should do nothing. Sure, it’s great to take cloth bags to the supermarket (or better still, farmers’ market) and use long-life light bulbs. But for the next two months we need to be political activists. If you never write a letter to politicians in your life but you believe in the environmental cause, now is the time.

Many world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, haven’t even committed to attend Copenhagen in person. Action point – if you live in a democracy, write to your elected leaders and tell them that you want them there and what kind of deal you want.

Right now, preliminary talks are going on in Bangkok, Thailand. You can adopt a negotiator to lobby on your behalf, via international development charity Oxfam and TckTckTck.

Add your name to the global pledge, declaring your readiness for a strong deal. Join the world’s biggest climate event on 24 October. Act and act now.

Your world needs you.

Image: Amir K.