Copenhagen Day 10: Naomi Klein Talks Protests and Progress as a Deal Is Neared on Deforestation
In an interview with the Huffington Post Tuesday, author and activist Naomi Klein talked about protests and progress, saying there is more at stake here then just getting any old deal on the books. She stressed that the messaging of NGOs to “seal the deal” in Copenhagen is the wrong one. “What’s on the table will NOT save the world,” she said. “We should not fight for just any deal, or at the cost of a deal that in the future would actually mean something.”
Klein went on to say that the United States has set the bar far too low in terms of goals and targets, and thinks the American delegation has “squandered a tremendous amount of goodwill.” See Klein talk to Grist.org about the planned protest that took place earlier today:
The massive protests involved about 4,000 participants and took place both inside and outside the Bella Center today, largely without incident. At least 260 protesters have been arrested; with police using continued aggressive tactics like pepper spray, dogs, and batons. Activists inside the conference center staged a noisy walkout to protest both the lack of progress being made at the summit, and the feeling that negotiators at the conference were making deals for profit rather than human interest. Here’s Yvo de Boer, head of the UN’s climate change secretariat, talking to protesters inside the conference hall:
In stark contrast to the continued protests, there was finally some progress in the climate talks, with a deal close to being reached regarding deforestation. Almost complete, the agreement would compensate countries for preserving forests and other natural carbon-trapping sources that would help to curb climate change. Forests, peat soils, and swamps are excellent carbon dioxide-absorbers, and the current, ongoing destruction of rain forests accounts for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The agreement sets up a system whereby poorer countries could make money, and richer nations could use the program as a cap and trade for carbon credits, using the greenery to cancel out other industrial emissions. If passed, the deal could be the most significant agreement to come out of the Copenhagen talks.
And finally, according to this Wall Street Journal blog post, Senator John Kerry made it out to Copenhagen today, trying to assuage fears that the United States isn’t willing to commit to climate change.
Without a transparent agreement coming out of Copenhagen, he said, “it will be exceedingly difficult to persuade already doubtful elected officials that they are safe in asking their citizens to go along.” He went on to 100% guarantee the conference that if a deal is passed in Copenhagen, the US Congress will pass climate change legislation in the coming year.
Kerry’s words are nice, but it’s hard to know if they are anything beyond just that, words. As the Guardian piece points out, the failure of the United States to take a firm stance on greenhouse gas emissions has allowed China, India, and other developing nations to stall on their own commitments. The major powers seem to go round and round: the U.S. won’t commit to larger emissions without international transparency, China won’t agree to transparency without a firmer commitment from the US, and Congress won’t pass a bill without a deal. In short, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Perhaps Al Gore is right. ABC News reported today that he called for a binding agreement to come in the July 2010 meeting in Mexico, rather than scrap something together by the end of the week. With the huge hurdles that still face this conference, it’s possible that this may soon be the world’s new best hope for real change.