Friday, February 19th, 2010
How can everything have gone so wrong so quickly? A year ago, the prospects for successful climate change regulation were bright: a new US president promised positive re-engagement with the international community on the issue, civil society everywhere was enthusiastically mobilising to demand that world leaders “seal the deal” at Copenhagen, and the climate denial crowd had been reduced to an embarrassing rump lurking in the darker corners of the internet.
Now there seems to have been a complete reversal. Obama is held hostage by a deadlocked Senate, which will agree to neither domestic climate legislation nor US participation in a new legally binding treaty. Copenhagen was a disaster from start to finish, and even the face-saving Copenhagen accord is winning at best lukewarm support even from the countries that helped draw it up. To add to the sense of crisis, the climate denial lobby is suddenly resurgent, and the conspiracy theories that underlie the hacked climate emails controversy are in danger of becoming popular received wisdom.
These are dark times. And the resignation of Yvo de Boer as executive secretary of the UN climate change secretariat today only compounds the sense of gathering crisis. De Boer has been a steady pair of hands guiding the international negotiations through some very rocky periods — not least the dramatic episode in Bali two years ago where he himself burst into tears on the plenary stage — and his trustworthy, solid presence will be sorely missed. Despite the official denials, there can be little doubt that this resignation indicates his frustration at the general unravelling of the process that was so depressingly evident at Copenhagen.
This article was posted: Friday, February 19, 2010 at 5:27 am