|COFFIN AT COPENHAGEN
MELBOURNE, November 16, 2009 --- The Copenhagen Climate Change conference next month, once the great hope of environmentalists, had its teeth pulled this week after an accord between China and the United States to postpone an envisaged global treaty that would have set limits to gas and carbon dioxide emissions world-wide.
| With the main polluters out of the treaty project the conference is a lame duck.
Ironically the disheartening Sino-American accord was reached during President Barack Obama’s visit to Beijing and indicates the Chinese may have used their credit-power - the U.S. owns billions of dollars in trade to Beijing -to bend the U.S. administration to their will and in the process weaken a U.S, president who won his mandate on a pledge to tackle climate change and had proclaimed himself a leader in the battle to save the planet.
Although a disaster for the environment the Sino-American agreement has been an important signal of the rapidly changing balance in world power. China with trade surplus money all around the globe can now play banker, indirectly staking the U.S. military adventures - just like empires in medieval times which turned to bankers and merchants to bankroll their expansionist ambitions.
Since the glut for cheap Chinese goods is unlikely to abate among a consumer-crazed human race the Chinese hold all trumps in the global power game today. And China’s omnipotent communist party has always fiercely opposed limits on gas and carbon dioxide emissions. The party is afraid any curb on its mainly coal-powered energy would slow down industrial production and with it the economic boom that is vital to maintaining the party’s power and prestige. A slow-down or recession may kindle revolt among 1.3 billion Chinese citizens who tolerate the tyrannical rule of the communist nomenclature as long as the economy grows and individual prospects improve.
In fact the postponement saves both China and the U.S. from violent domestic reaction by industrialists and skeptics of global warming. For the last months all Obama’s efforts to push through significant anti-pollution legislation have been short-circuited, slowed down, shelved by the U.S. Congress or were stuck in the Senate. This led to speculation he would have to legislate by presidential degree.
Postponing the emission treaty ‘indefinitely’ has virtually scuttled the much expected Copenhagen conference in which 122 nations were to participate. Copenhagen is now a toothless wonder where prime ministers and presidents or their serfs will mouth the usual platitudes about the need to tackle the problem of our dying planet, where scientists and experts will make doomsday speeches about our children’s apocalyptic future in air-conditioned bubbles on a planet where rising sea levels will wipe out entire island nations and drown millions of homes, a planet where storms, tsunamis, typhoons and climatic abnormalities will become ever more frequent and ever more fierce.
On the other hand the decision to scuttle the emission treaty provided fresh wind for those who have either stubbornly ignored the growing signs of climatic perversions or keep arguing that ‘the others should do it first before we follow.’
For example in Australia the opposition Liberal Party, just like the Republicans in the United States, has been doing exactly that. Its leader, Malcolm Turnbull, argued ‘we should wait to pass climate change legislation until after the Copenhagen conference.’
At least he was not as bad as former U.S. Republican Party President George W. Bush who remained skeptical about the scientific evidence of climate change and publicly felt there was no need for joint global action – or any action at all even though he was made frequently aware that the United States is the world’s leading polluter of climate-altering gases.
On the other side China’s supreme leader Hu Jintao’s oft-repeated argument is that the industrialized western nations should first curb their emissions because they had been the planet’s main polluters for decades while ‘developing’ countries like China and India should be allowed to catch up by continuing their level of pollution.
Perhaps Australia’s staunchly pro-treaty Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, summed it all up when he yelled at his opposition in parliament: “Their argument is that we must not act until others do. But this has been used by political cowards since time immemorial both of the left and the right…….”
Of course, there are always those who want to make a compromise and hope for better luck in the future – when its probably too late. Denmark’s Prime Minister, Lars Looke Rasmusssen, is one of those. He was ordered to Singapore overnight to be informed about the Washington-Beijing agreement on postponement which he must have known literally castrated his much anticipated Copenhagen Climate Conference.
Said the unperturbed Dane: “The conference must resign itself to face what is possible - and not what is not possible.”
Obviously jeopardizing profits and vested interests is NOT possible.