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Brazil: 2009 Green Retrospective and COP15

cop15_logo_imgAlmost a month after the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15), many people are still engaged in debating its results. In Brazil, as well as criticizing the outcome of the conference, bloggers have dedicated part of their blog retrospectives of the year to the event, considering it to be one of the most important moments of 2009.

Photo by kk+ on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by kk+ on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Brazilian cartoonist Toni D'Agostino in A Caricatura do Brasil [pt] comments that the heads of state have “missed their opportunity to write their names in History”:

A grande expectativa que avizinhou a COP15 só fez aumentar a sensação de perda ante os parcos resultados práticos. O mundo perdeu a grande oportunidade de começar agora o que é inevitável; a maioria dos chefes de Estado perdeu a oportunidade de escrever seus nomes na história – como expressão dos anseios de uma nova era. Esperemos que o planeta não entre em colapso antes dos interesses econômicos conflitantes encontrarem um meio-termo.

The great expectation around COP 15 only increased the sense of loss in the face of the poor practical results. The world has missed a great opportunity to start now what is inevitable; most of the heads of state have missed the chance to write their names in history – as an expression of the aspiration of a new era. Let's hope the planet will not collapse before the conflicting economic interests find a middle ground.
"Strenght and Height do not guarantee life". Photo by Mestro Chi on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

"Strength and height do not guarantee life". Photo by Mestro Chi on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

César Yip produced a retrospective of the diplomatic accomplishments in 2009 in a post entitled “2009: a dark year for diplomacy?” on the Blog do NEI – Núcleo de Estudos Internacionais [Center for International Studies, pt].  He cites many cases, such as the Doha Round and the Iranian nuclear program, and finishes by considering climate talks as the greatest failure of diplomacy:

Fracasso anunciado, que só pegou de surpresa quem não acompanhou as movimentações pré-COP-15, como acordos firmados entre países em desenvolvimento na Ásia, ou a paralisação da legislação sobre o clima no Senado americano. Esperava-se inicialmente um tratado com metas vinculantes e outros mecanismos para suceder o Protolo de Quioto. Em seguida, alguns especialistas alertaram que seria mais realista esperar um acordo básico para um futuro tratado no próximo ano. […] Talvez o melhor balanço do grandioso evento seja o fato de, após seu final, os países imediatamente passarem a discutir de quem foi a culpa do fracasso. Lula culpou os Estados Unidos por induzir a Europa e Japão a tentarem eliminar o Protocolo de Quioto. O Reino Unido acusou China de impedir o acordo. E a África do Sul culpou a Dinamarca por tentar impor sua posição aos outros países. E que venha 2010!

[The] announced failure only surprised those who had not been following the pre-COP-15 movements, such as the agreements between developing countries in Asia, or the demise of the climate legislation in the U.S. Senate. It was hoped initially to become a treaty with binding targets and other mechanisms to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Then, some experts warned us that it would be more realistic to expect a basic agreement for a future treaty next year. […] Perhaps the best balance of the grand event is the fact that, in the end, the countries immediately began to discuss who was to blame for its failure. [Brazilian president] Lula placed the blame on the United States for inducing Europe and Japan to try to get rid of the Kyoto Protocol. The United Kingdom accused China of preventing an agreement. And South Africa blamed Denmark for trying to impose its position on other countries. And here comes 2010!
"Ten less trees per minute." Photo by Mestro chi on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

"Ten less trees per minute." Photo by Mestro chi on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Following the same line of thought, Diogo Campos also contributed to the discussion suggesting at least one positive outcome [pt]:

A única coisa positiva que podemos tirar dessa COP15 é o fundo de curto prazo de 30 bilhões de dólares que será liberado pelos países ricos para aqueles que sofrerem com as já conseqüências do aquecimento global ( Bangladesh, algumas ilhas do pacifico entre outros…) até 2012 e o inicio das discussões sobre o fundo de 100 bilhões de dólares anuais para aqueles países que sofrerão futuramente as conseqüências do aquecimento global e se adaptarem a esse novo contexto do clima no futuro. Vamos esperar agora que nos próximos meses todo esse impasse caminhe para um acordo suficiente e capaz de evitar as piores conseqüências do aquecimento global, tomara que na reunião da COP16 no México ano que vem saia no tão esperado acordo e que o impasse do clima não acabe como a rodada Doha que deste 2001 esta emperrado.

The only positive thing we can take from COP15 is the short-term $30 billion fund that will be paid by rich countries to those who have suffered the consequences of global warming (Bangladesh and some islands of the Pacific, among others…) by 2012, and the initial discussions about a $100 billion a year fund for those countries that will suffer the future consequences of global warming in having to adapt themselves to this new context of climate. Let's hope now that in the coming months all this dead-lock turns into an agreement strong enough to avoid the worst consequences of global warming; hopefully, at the COP16 meeting in Mexico next year, we will see the long-awaited agreement and hopefully the climate impasse will not end as the Doha round did, stuck since 2001.
Ecological Station Juréia Itatins - Romaria in Iguape/SP. Photo by Paulo Henrique Zioli on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

A dead penguin washed up in Brazil, at the Ecological Station, Juréia Itatins – Romaria in Iguape/SP. Photo by Paulo Henrique Zioli on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

The incredible, not-so-green Brazilian delegation

As a participant in the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Clóvis Cavalcanti has seen it all before. Guest-blogging at Blog do Alvinho Patriota [pt], he believes that it is difficult to expect a positive outcome from conferences like COP15, and makes some criticism of the Brazilian government and its 700 delegates who went to Copenhagen to “have fun” despite the seriousness of the debate:

No caso das grandes conferências internacionais, há participação significativa de burocratas e pessoas que vão ali apenas passear. Como, de fato, explicar que o Brasil tenha tido em Copenhague uma delegação de 700 membros? Não é sem razão que se passou a denominar acapital dinamarquesa de Shoppenhague. Por outro lado, quem pagou a despesa de tanta gente inútil para as discussões sobre o que interessava no caso, um acordo para conter a ameaçadora progressão da mudança climática do planeta? Admitindo a modesta quantia de 15 mil reais para a viagem de cada um desses nossos “representantes”, chega-se ao total de 10,5 milhões de reais de custo para a revoada (o dinheiro foi público). Sobre isso, deve-se adicionar a chamada pegada ecológica (custo ambiental) correspondente, esta última uma das causadoras do efeito estufa que a COP-15 visava conter.

In the case of large international conferences, there is a significant involvement of bureaucrats and people who go there just to have fun. How can we, really, explain that the Brazilian delegation to Copenhagen had 700 members? It is not without reason that the Danish capital has been nicknamed Shoppenhagen. On the other hand, who paid the expenses of so many people useless when it comes to the discussions, an agreement to halt the threat of climate change on the planet? Assuming the modest amount of R$15,000 (approximately US$8,600) to pay for the trip of each of our “representatives”, we arrive at the sum of R$10.5 million in actual flight costs (it was public money). We must add to this the individual carbon footprint (the environmental cost), which is one of the causes of the greenhouse effect that the COP-15 was intended to fight.
Photo by kk+ on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by kk+ on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Talking about the Brazilian delegation, Ciência na Mídia [pt] ironically singled out a faux pas made by Dilma Roussef, President Lula's chief of staff, in her speech during the press conference:

Dilma foi, de fato, a única que entendeu todo o espírito da COP-15 e por isso soltou: “o meio ambiente é uma ameaça ao desenvolvimento sustentável” (veja a declaração ao vivo e a cores, da boca da própria muy perspicaz Dilma aqui).

Dilma was, in fact, the only one who understood the whole spirit of the COP-15 and that is why she said: “the environment is a threat to sustainable development” (see the statement for yourself, from the mouth of the very insightful Dilma here).

Green retrospective and hopes

Felipe Saldanha wrote a “green retrospective” on the Projeto Jogo Limpo [pt] blog. He selected the 10 top facts that changed environmental discussions in various ways in 2009, saying that the new year is time to reflect on the episodes that help us to rethink our actions, among which, toward the environment:

Alguns episódios que aconteceram em 2009 foram desanimadores, outros renovaram nossas esperanças, porém o mais importante é que todos nos mostraram que líderes políticos, ativistas, cientistas e pessoas como eu e você continuam trabalhando pelo nosso planeta – e os resultados estão aparecendo.

Some episodes of 2009 have been disappointing, others have renewed our hopes, but more importantly they have all showed us that political leaders, activists, scientists and people like you and me are still working for our planet – and the results are showing.

And he has chosen COP15 as the top event of the year [pt], despite its discouraging outcome:

ntre as propostas que foram levadas para debate, estavam a fixação de metas para reduzir emissões até 2020 e a criação de mecanismos como um fundo climático em que os países ricos ajudassem os pobres a diminuir sua poluição. Esperava-se um sucessor para o Protocolo de Kyoto, que expira em 2012. Em meio a denúncias de manipulação de dados e muitos impasses, o que saiu foi um acordo político, que não foi aprovado com o consenso de todos os países, nem tem força de lei.

Among the proposals brought up for discussion, there were a set of targets to reduce [CO2] emissions by 2020 and the creation of mechanisms, such as the climate fund, through which rich countries can help the poor to curb their pollution. [COP15] was hoped to be the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Amid accusations of data manipulation and many dead ends, its outcome was a political agreement that has not been approved by consensus among all countries, nor has it the force of law.
350 vigil in Copenhagen. Photo by kk+ on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

350.org vigil in Copenhagen. Photo by kk+ on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Bloggers Pedro and Mariana from the Um Pouco de Tudo [pt] blog criticize the results of the COP15 saying that it came to nothing:

Tivemos, mais uma vez, a certeza que desenvolvidos e emergentes não chegam a um acordo. Os ricos não querem alterar a sua matriz energética ao custo de rios de dinheiro e, os emergentes, surpreendentemente mostraram maior interesse na luta pelo planeta.

It was, once again, made clear that both developed and emerging nations do not agree. The rich do not want to change their energy matrix at great costs and emerging nations surprisingly showed more interest in the fight for the planet.

But they also highlight:

2010 reserva o segundo capítulo do COP15. Esperemos que tudo dê certo.

2010 awaits the second chapter of COP15. Let's hope everything works out well.
"Flowers of Ceará." Photo by deltafrut on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Hope. "Flowers of Ceará." Photo by deltafrut on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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