This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
The Paris climate summit is a gigantic photo op – where ineffectual political leaders will pretend to be environmental superheroes.
The Paris climate summit, it now appears, will take place as scheduled – beginning Monday, November 30. At a time when French authorities should be focused on tracking machine guns, explosives, and potential suicide bombers, massive resources will instead be devoted to ensuring the security of a climate carnival.
Officially known as COP21 (the 21st annual Conference of the Parties), the Paris climate summit will try to keep alive an international treaty known as the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Kyoto Protocol is a component of that treaty. Kyoto’s first “commitment phase” expired at the end of 2012. Since then, UN officials have struggled to get matters back on track.
Every calendar year, foreign affairs specialists and environment officials from around the world spend their working lives discussing this treaty at taxpayers’ expense. In February 2015, a meeting was held in Geneva. Since then, three others took place in Bonn – in June, September, and October.
Treaty negotiations are a lengthy, ongoing process. Contrary to media portrayals, Paris isn’t a stand-alone event in which world leaders will fly into town, participate in a few intense days of discussion, and then announce that the well-being of the planet has been secured.
We’ve known for months now that the Paris event is unlikely to achieve anything meaningful. In early September, a “risk of failure” was publicly acknowledged by French President Francois Hollande. The following week, at a conference held in London, longtime UN climate consultant Lavanya Rajamani was close to despair:
it’s clear to those of us involved in international negotiations that one can’t expect too much of the international negotiations…
In other words, long before the famous names begin touching down at the private jet airport at which the latest summit will be held, matters will already have been discussed exhaustively. The vast majority of political leaders traveling to France will play absolutely no role in these negotiations. This includes Canada’s provincial premiers, as well as mayors from communities large and small.
The Paris climate summit is primarily a photo op; a chance for politicians to preen and pretend. Political leaders who’ve proved themselves incapable of balancing budgets or fixing broken education systems love to pose as environmental superheroes saving the planet in the nick of time.
Luckily, the public wasn’t born yesterday.
Last month I accepted an invitation to speak at a three-day event in Paris that will present alternative climate perspectives. This event will run parallel to the official climate summit, and will be held at a different location.
My one-hour talk is scheduled for 11:30 am on Wednesday, December 2nd. The address is 11 rue La Rochefoucauld, 75009 Paris. More info here.
While I view the UN summit as an extravagant waste of time and money, I sympathize with the argument that cancelling it would hand a victory to the terrorists who slaughtered civilians in that city last week.