One big cop-out

So Copenhagen failed, and we’re deep into the post-summit finger-pointing. Maybe we’ll be able to analyze the scatter-pattern of accusations, retrace what went wrong, and fix it. More likely we’ll just use the blame game as a convenient distraction from figuring out what to do next.

My favourite — both as an article, and because I agree with him — is Joss Garman in the Independent. He’s fiery about Obama (“

a speech so devoid of substance that he might as well have made it on speaker-phone from a beach in Hawaii

“), and Wen Jiabao (“

sulking in his hotel room, as if this were a teenager’s house party instead of a final effort to stave off the breakdown of our biosphere.

“). But he still finds a few likeable figures, such as Lula and Ed Miliband.

Mark Lynas is more simplistic. His much-forwarded Guardian piece has one villain: China

The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful “deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame….

China’s strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and thenensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world’s poor once again.

Lynas staunchly defends both Gordon Brown and his own employer, the government of the Maldives*, while attacking the country chosen by both the British and American governments to carry the can. He tries very hard to present this support of the powerful as a contrarian position — and, given he’s writing for Guardian readers, I suppose it is. George Monbiot’s article, for example, is more typical in blaming America. “

The immediate reason for the failure of the talks can be summarised in two words: Barack Obama


Lynas also snaps out a not-entirely-unfounded accusation against the NGO world: “

Campaign groups never blame developing countries for failure; this is an iron rule that is never broken


It’s a shame he doesn’t go into more detail on this. Developing countries seem to have largely outsourced their negotiating teams in environmental summits to NGOs, and to first-world campaigners willing to work cheaply for the good of the planet. It’s the same trade of influence against expertise that happens when they rely on multinational corporations to provide legal or economic advice in trade negotiations — just with added idealism. This area must conceal some fascinating culture clashes and conflicts of interest, which I’d love to see somebody dissect for public consumption.

* It’s hardly encouraging that the Guardian lets Lynas gush about the president of the Maldives without mentioning his conflict of interest.

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