Delegates from around the world have been meeting in Bonn, Germany, for the past two weeks, but those officials are heading back to their respective countries with nothing to show for their efforts. Reuters reports:
The stalemate gives investors little sign that there will be a pickup in demand under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the U.N.’s current main carbon market which has seen activity dry up after funnelling over $400 billion into emission-cutting projects in developing countries over the past decade.
Predictably, this latest deadlock emerged out of a wide positional divide between the developed and the developing world:
Big-emitting businesses and rich nations including the United States, Japan, and members of the European Union, favour designing new market-based mechanisms to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions as cheaply as possible.Poorer nations have been more wary, particularly as most CDM investment went to wealthier emerging economies such as Brazil and China and to industrial gas destruction projects, which generated healthy profits for companies but led to little sustainable development and had their environmental integrity questioned.
This latest summit in Bonn, like the many, many UN-brokered meetings before it, has turned out to be a massive waste of time. At least at this one, fewer high-profile officials attended—a sign of the slowly dawning understanding of the futility of these efforts at crafting a Global Climate Treaty (GCT). There’s no doubt that climate change is a problem, and that it’s one that affects everyone, but trying to build an international consensus on addressing and adapting to our warming world is a fool’s errand. The responsibilities for climate change are too diverse, the dangers posed too disparate, and the potential solutions too difficult for countries to craft a binding GCT. The sooner the world realizes that, the sooner it can divert what scarce political capital there is for climate action to workable efforts that make sense at the national level.To that end, parallel talks held at a summit in Mexico City, predicated on countries sharing best practices regarding adapting to and mitigating climate change at the national level, advanced humanity’s response to climate change further than those in Germany. But the GCT farce rolls on: the UN will next host talks this December in Peru. We’ll be watching, but we won’t be holding our breath.