The GOOD Guide to COP15: Dispatches from the Future, Today
The conference is still a few months away, but we asked several activists to predict what they will be talking about after the conference wraps up. Here is what they think they're going to be saying next January:
Richard Graves, founder of Fired Up Media, blogger for the TckTckTck campaign, and editor of ItsGettingHotinHere.org:What surprised me was the startling diversity of groups, beyond environmentalists, that got involved-from youth groups to union leaders to the Dalai Lama to the Pope. People realized that this is bigger than polar bears and icebergs.I am disappointed, though, by how little actual work got done. Negotiators dragged their heels all year, and when the wave of civil society crashed onto them, we got some great goals and targets, but a lot of the procedural work still has to be done. The financial mechanisms and the binding provisions need to be worked out and negotiated later.I am damn glad that a people-powered movement was ignited this fall, because so many organizations spent their war chests and best people on this agreement. Now we still need to make this treaty binding and get it ratified at home.
Matt Dernoga, campaign director for University of Maryland for Clean Energy:I have mixed emotions. COP15 was better than analysts were anticipating six months ago-President Obama arrived toward the end, committing America to targets for which the Senate had just voted. Western Europe did well (aside from Italy). Canada was an embarrassment. China committed to certain reductions in energy intensity, and to emissions peaking no later than 2020. This was earlier than the 2035 they were rumored to be pushing, and helped hold talks together. Interestingly, the real unsung hero was Japan. Fresh off elections in late August, it set a target of 25 percent below 1990 levels. This brought China along, as it wasn't about to lose the clean energy race to a regional rival. It reminds me of the debate over the bill the United States passed. Most politicians and some environmental organizations are calling it a win. Greenpeace, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and NASA scientist James Hansen say the framework in place doesn't reduce emissions fast enough to avoid runaway climate change. My take is that we didn't get enough to declare victory, but we won enough to keep on fighting.
William Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project:It was nearly a disaster. The governments failed, but the people didn't. Delegates bickered and bartered, only to deadlock on the final day.It was the business community, along with millions of young people, that came to the rescue. Youngsters from all over the world marched through the streets in protest, inundating the delegates with emails and tweets. Two dozen of the world's largest corporations pledged to fund the U.N.'s Global Green New Deal. More pledges followed. By day's end, corporations and investment firms had committed hundreds of billions of dollars for energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects.That final day broke the stranglehold of fossil fuels on the global economy. It was a narrow escape, a historic test of our intelligence as nations and as a species. We barely passed. But we did.