Little is expected of the upcoming COP 18 meeting in Doha – so is it time to abandon the idea of a climate treaty altogether? (Photograph: Mikhail Mordasov/AFP/Getty Images)
Progress towards an international agreement on tackling climate change has been painfully slow, dogged by fundamental disagreements between the countries involved and exacerbated by the financial crisis. Little is expected of the upcoming COP 18 meeting in Doha – so is it time to abandon the idea of a climate treaty altogether? Why not give up and focus on national and regional efforts to tackle climate change?
After all, negotiating a global deal is a slow, frustrating business. Not only is climate science constantly evolving, but the 194 countries that will meet in Doha often have diametrically opposed interests and points of view. Blocking progress is ridiculously easy.
Many of the differences between countries revolve around the concept of historic responsibility. This is the idea that industrialised countries got rich on the back of emitting greenhouse gases so they should act first, and developing countries should be allowed to develop before being called upon to limit their own emissions.
The lack of commitment from much of the industrialised world to accept this burden has contributed to a certain obstructiveness among developing countries. The rich countries are not just reluctant to pay to tackle climate change in poorer countries – they are unwilling to commit resources at home as well. Pre-occupied by the financial crisis, most countries have not seen tackling climate change as something that is in their national interest.
Whatever conditions that are required to incite global cooperation are likely conditions that will seal our fate.
Would not energy & time be better spent now (in serious regions) at helping their people survive in a much harsher +3-4C world? IOW, transitioning their agriculture and economy for a projected temperature rise in an unstable geo-political world (suggesting more emphasis on local, independent production)