Consequences of Copenhagen: Forget the Club of Rome, This is the Club Of Losers
After days of negotiations, debate, political drama and pages of will-they or won't-they headlines, the Copenhagen climate conference is over. And there is no conclusive agreement on any important issues. So did the situation produce any winners -- or has the whole world become a club for environmental losers?
The coast of the Funafuti Atoll: A rise in sea levels could have catastrophic consequences for island nations like Tuvalu or the Maldives.
Even if the world's leading climate scientists are only partially correct, then without a fairly ambitious climate agreement there will be dramatic consequences for our planet. And the climate conference in Copenhagen neither delivered such an agreement nor did it show any concievable way of reaching one. Countless scientific studies leave us in no doubt that the whole of humanity -- and in particular future generations -- will lose out. Because, at best, we can only guess the exact nature of the consequences of global warming and the extent of negative change in our natural environment.
Still besides the ongoing dramas which will no doubt ensue, the outcome of the mammoth Copenhagen summit has also indicated who the real losers are, in the short- and medium term.
Island Nations: Threatened by Rising Waters
Any rise in sea levels will affect these nations first and they will, most likely, be left to deal with these problems alone. Their fight for ambitious climate-agreement goals was unsuccessful. Among other things, the island nations of Tuvalu and the Maldives had wanted to set a goal of ensuring that the average global temperature not rise by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial times.
According to scientists, the CO2 reductions that have been agreed upon up until now will lead to a rise in temperature of up to 4 degrees Celsius. And while global warming will certainly be a problem in other parts of the world as well, it is in these island nations that it will be most immediate and most visible. Their environment will begin to disappear in the truest sense of the word, right from under their feet.
Major Industrial Powers: Blamed by the Developing World
The industrial states failed to convince the rest of the international community on the minimal consensus that they had tried so hard to negotiate for. Leaders like American President Barack Obama, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel cannot have enjoyed being taken to task by less geopolitically powerful nations in front of the rest of the world -- even while they maintained their willingness to negotiate some kind of mini compromise agreement.
The way that the consensus had to be structured -- a unanimous decision -- meant that the heads of the most important nations and the leaders of developing nations did not lose face altogether. But apart from retaining some pride, they really did not achieve much.
American President Barack Obama is probably quite happy that he can transfer his attention back to the issues surrounding healthcare reform back home. Even before Copenhagen ended so abysmally, his international image had taken a beating. That the US -- and de facto, Obama himself -- was not willing to make enough concessions at the summit resulted in disillusionment around the world.
That China managed to resist any consensus with America for what seemed like half an eternity also indicated the future state of world power constellations. And that is a bothersome situation that is likely to crop up for the US all too soon, in other areas too.
- Part 1: Forget the Club of Rome, This is the Club Of Losers
- Part 2: The Europeans: Defeated by Their Own Ambitions
Stay informed with our free news services:
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2009
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
MORE FROM SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL
German PoliticsMerkel's Moves: Power Struggles in Berlin
World War IITruth and Reconciliation: Why the War Still Haunts Europe
EnergyGreen Power: The Future of Energy
European UnionUnited Europe: A Continental Project
Climate ChangeGlobal Warming: Curbing Carbon Before It's Too Late