Thursday, 15 December 2011

Season's greetings

‘Tis the season to be jolly’….or as they say in politically correct Singapore, where I am now, the ‘gifting season’. But is there a lot to be merry about? Well, the Durban package has been secured against the odds after a marathon session. Even the big three carbon emitters, US, India and China, have signed up to a form of treaty by 2015 (to be in place by 2020 at the latest). And for the ‘keen’ countries such as the UK and the EU, the Kyoto protocols are rolling over with some substantial investment cash available too.

Obviously the South African foreign minister, H.E. Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, COP 17/CMP7 Conference President, has diplomatic skills beyond anyone in the Euro zone conference! It is a great achievement to keep the show on the road and hold all nations together. But as many campaign groups, including Save the Children and Greenpeace said afterwards, it could be seen as a crime that the main proposals are so delayed. So, is it a season to be full of cheer? Well, it is a reality that developing countries are unlikely to give up their desire to reach similar levels of prosperity as ‘the West’without a fight. We will probably have to get to the brink and look over the edge before everyone gets fully committed. But there is progress and this may slow down warming enough to make it a soft descent not a crash landing!

Durban is an important step in our global green path, especially as so many expected failures. It keeps the door open between stakeholders, and it keeps the conversation going. Actions can still happen, international collaborations can still emerge; you never know how the journey will progress. It also keeps everyday citizens feeling like there is hope, and that they have something of an involvement. Let’s see what happens, countries have the chance to be leaders, drafters have the chance to produce elegant and popular policies and stakeholders have a chance to remain engaged.

Perhaps the real Christmas message is the continued commitment of individuals, families, companies and communities. So the gifts we choose to buy matter. How we celebrate, how we travel and what we do with the detritus of celebrations, matters. The holiday season gives us something very precious in our hurried lives – time; time to think about the future, the state of the world and our hopes and fears.

David Jackman

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