Copenhagen – the Mother of all Negotiations

Who hasn’t been in a tough negotiation? If nothing else, negotiating with your kids can often be most difficult. But the negotiations at Copenhagen summit and next year on climate change are going to be the hairiest negotiations you can ever imagine.

An FT article [pay wall] shines some light on why the negotiations were so difficult. The biggest reason is of course that these are multi-lateral negotiations. And different groups have different interests. Developed countries want developing countries to make commitments on emission reductions while not over committing themselves. They also want transparency in developing country emission measurement.

Developing countries don’t want emission reductions to get in the way of development. They want developed countries to pay for clean technology.

There are a also a whole bunch of developing countries in Africa who are not significant emitters but will feel the brunt of climate change. They have nothing to give in the negotiations but a lot is at stake for them.

And then there are also a few heads of state like Chavez, Morales and Ahmadinejad, who simply use the stage to take potshots at the US and the West. But they still have to be invited to party.

Obviously, 170 independent actors can never achieve any consensus. So groups were formed. US, UK, Germany, France as representatives of the developed countries and China, India, Brazil and South Africa as representatives of the developing world. But this still wasn’t enough to get an agreement. The bulk of the world’s emission in the next 20 years is going to come out of the US and China. If only these two countries had sat down and thrashed it out, we would have had a deal.

The world is not going to be happy with their leaders if they don’t put their shoulders to the wheel and get a deal together soon in the new year.

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