Greens Senator Christine Milne arrived back home in Hobart yesterday from
Copenhagen where she attended the Copenhagen Climate Conference (COP15)*.
Robert Hart from Byron Greens spoke with Christine about her experience at
"Christine said I have been attending these conferences since COP4*,
however This one was crucial, this was the conference where a legally
binding treaty was supposed to emerge to address what is now a climate
*COP stands for conference of the parties.
On the Ground in Copenhagen: Long queues
Christine described the experience of being there. The weather was freezing cold, and there were huge queues for everything, including waiting to get in, passing through security, meals etc. The venue was designed to accommodate 15,000 people and 45,000 were registered.
Australian Greens in Alignment with world mainstream View
There were people from all over the world, working on climate justice issues environmental impacts etc. as well as the negotiators. What became clear early on was that The Greens are completely in alignment with the mainstream view around the world. We are described here as at the extreme end because we say that developed countries should cut their aggregate emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, but this is the mainstream world view.
Local Press did a No-show for Press Conference
It is worth noting that the press conference was announced for Tuesday morning but the local Tasmanian press decided that a local story about police matters was more important than the climate catastrophe ahead of us.
Climate justice is absolutely imperative for the success of the negotiations, that is not given much importance in Australia, in fact there is a mean spirited debate here about providing assistance for developing nations to accommodate climate change and adaptation.
Canary in the Coal mine
There were many representatives for those with no voice, for example small African communities and people in the Torres Strait, who are experiencing difficulty growing crops, fresh water supplies, and collapsing sea walls.These are the canaries in the coal mine. What is happening to them now is actually affecting the richer nations now, but people just chose not to see it. They think they can fix it by building sea walls and all sorts of other things, but it wont work. Even here at the Hobart docks, the high tide now floods the low part of Fisherman's Wharf. This did not happen in the past.
Big Polluters Not playing the game
Christine said the main reason that the talks did not come to a successful agreement was that the big players, USA China, Australia and Europe, were not going to agree to the required cuts in emissions. Then the developing nations China, India, Brazil South Africa were not prepared to come to the table unless the developed countries made the required cuts in emissions. Then there were the least developed countries and Island states which wanted to keep the Kyoto protocol or have a new binding equivalent.
Australia seen as Climate Cheats
Australia is seen by the rest of the world as climate cheats. We want to bend the rules, such as trying to include carbon capture and storage in the system. Trying to cheat on agricultural emissions, forestry and not being prepared to make significant cuts. We proposed 25% if we could exclude emissions from agriculture which in fact we only give 17% . If Australia stopped logging old growth forests we could easily make 25%.
Copenhagen the city makes strong climate statements
All round Copenhagen there were signs of the conference, from big signs saying "Hopenhagen" from a big corporate push. At the Copenhagen airport there was a huge picture of Kevin Rudd aged 20 years older saying "I am sorry I did not take the opportunity to act on climate change when I had the opportunity". All around the city there was amazing sculpture made by various artists.
Next to the mermaid sculpture which is the symbol of Copenhagen there was a sculpture of a small frail man with a huge fat woman on his back, symbolising the weight of the north over the south. This really summed up this conference, because at the end The US getting together with India and China and saying we are not going to do what is necessary, we are just going to put this off, this conference has been a press release on behalf of the biggest nations at the expense of the poorest.