Climate summit comes and goes, but can we protect the world from the devastating impact of climate change?
Those who observed the hustle and bustle of world leaders in Paris summit may have missed the minutiae of deals which were hammered out late into the night.
Despite the leaders’ bravados and platitudes, what mattered most in the summit are the countries’ interests. I mean the geo-political interests of the governments.
Few know that some serious stuff went on in the side rooms, off limits to journalists and observers. Some negotiations stretched through the night to 3am or later.
One veteran negotiator bemoaned an earlier era when, as was the case at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, environment ministers used to sit down with the scientists with barely a lawyer in the wings.
“There’s now a professionalization,” the negotiator said. “It’s just another part of the geopolitical discourse – how to protect your government’s interests.
“This week it’s the climate, next week the World Trade Organisation, the week after, something else.”
And, it turns out there are humans who thrive in the worlds of arcane legal and technical language, and acronyms like the “Ad hoc working group on the Durban platform” (ADP) that had been the centre of the Paris talks.
“For them, it’s all about nifty formulations – how can I keep our interests and get other countries to agree,” one delegate rightly pointed out.
In a major breakthrough, 184 governments submitted plans detailing how they will cut their domestic emissions after 2020.
Those pledges are expected to make up the core of a new accord, which could be signed next weekend. The agreement is also expected to require countries to return to the table at least once every 10 years with even more stringent emissions reduction pledges.
But can those governments be trusted to do what they say they will do?