Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Where to go after the failure in Copenhagen?

Happy New Year to you!

In all of what has gone on at Copenhagen, I wonder if, like me, you see a certain contradiction or tension between the high expectations placed upon political leaders to act, and the equally high systemic barriers that prevent them from doing so? There is, it seems, an element of irresponsibility on our part; that is, an irresponsibility on the part of citizens who on the one hand expect substantive action and yet, on the other, too easily overlook what prevents it.

For me, the "bleeding rhino's head in the room" is that we are asking our leaders to dramatically cut emissions and yet we expect them to do so without significantly harming our national economies. This, effectively, boils down to the first-mover fear of economic competitive disadvantage which can only be overcome if virtually all nations act simultaneously. But beyond that there is another problem: that we expect developed nations to keep developing countries on-side by paying them off while ignoring that, especially following the global financial crisis, even the rich countries don't have adequate funds to do so. This, then, would be like expecting our national governments to financially compensate elements in society that are unduly disadvantaged by some new law, but to somehow expect them to do so without being able to raise any tax revenues with which to make the necessary payments!

In theory, the global and simultaneous nature of all nations participating in an agreement to be implemented more or less simultaneously across the planet ought to solve the first-mover competitive disadvantage problem. In practice, however, there is far from sufficient security that nations will actually meet any commitments they make, let alone do so simultaneously. Furthermore, as I said, there aren't enough funds to adequately compensate developing countries, or oil producing countries, or any other group that might be disproportionately disadvantaged by a robust emissions reduction agreement.

What all this suggests, I believe, is that the whole basis of international negotiations on climate change is fundamentally and fatally flawed. It is as if we had, to recall former UK Chancellor Geoffrey Howe's famous cricketing phrase, "put our political leaders into bat, but only after first breaking their bats in the dressing room before the game". It should be little wonder, then, that their run-score in Copenhagen was wholly inadequate.

What this shows, then, is not only that we, citizens, are being wholly unrealistic in our expectations, but also that we would be foolish to leave it to politicians alone to carry on a cricket match that, because of the way it has been set up, cannot possibly allow them to produce the needed outcomes.

So we, citizens, must surely take responsibility for the flawed set-up we have made for our politicians. We also have to recognise that our politicians cannot themselves change the set-up of the game they are playing, for they are too immersed in it to see it for what it is. Instead, we, citizens, must find a way of fundamentally changing the game they have to play. And that, my friends, is what the Simultaneous Policy campaign is all about.

So let's do all we can to help promote it this year. You'll be in good company. Because articles on Simpol are due to appear shortly in some prestigious and well-known publications, namely the Journal of Integral Theory & Practice http://aqaljournal.integralinstitute.org and the Journal of Futures Studies http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw Ken Wilber, founder of Integral Theory and a member of the panel at the forthcoming State of the World Forum's conference on Climate Leadership, made the following comment on the article:

"The central idea [of Simpol] is very powerful; that is, the notion of how to link votes in one country with votes in another - how to link political action in one country with action in another. International competition is built-in to the nation-state system at its current level of development and so the issue is not environmental concerns, but how to get humans to AGREE on environmental concerns. This is really fascinating and very hopeful. In my opinion this is the crucial issue for the 21st century".

Please contact us if you'd like copies of either article.

While writing, the report on the results of the 2009 annual policy vote on the policies to be included in Simpol can be found at http://www.simpol.org/en/books/spvote2009analysis.pdf
Thank you to all Adopters who participated in the vote and those who proposed policies for potential inclusion,

Best wishes for a great year.
John Bunzl

No comments:

Post a Comment