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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why COP15 was bound to fail before it started

This has absolutely nothing, well a smidgen short of nothing, to do with the 50-plus.

You may have noticed that there has been a bit of shindig going on in Copenhagen called COP15. It hasn’t gone well and is likely to go even worse once a few days of perspective are given to the events.

Let’s forget the scientific arguments about climate change and just consider the event and why it has been such a monumental mess. Let’s look at it as cool, clear-headed marketers.

Just think; the organisers were given unlimited funds to mount an event that would result in an ‘agreement’ to do something about the amount of nasty stuff we pump into the atmosphere. You are guaranteed the attention and overwhelming support of the media and political class. How can you fail?

What was the story line the organisers were hoping would unfold? I reckon it goes something like this – meet in a ‘clean’, neutral, ‘nice’ place (Copenhagen) – invite everybody who has a view on the subject (excluding those who disagree with the climate change orthodoxy) – have lots of time and space for people to meet and express their views – slowly build to a crescendo and conclude with the world’s leaders arm in arm, perhaps shedding a tear, saying that the planet is safe in their hands. What a lovely story that was doomed before it started.

OK, smart alec, what would you have said if the organisers had asked your advice?

1. You cannot mix a show-piece world uniting event with the eyeball-to-eyeball tough negotiating necessary for the half a dozen people who really matter to come to an agreement.

2. You are never going to get 193 people/countries to agree to anything of any substance so don’t try.

3. One of the three main players (Obama), perhaps the most important, was powerless to agree to anything of any substance so don’t ask him to do so when you know he can’t.

4. If you believe climate change is serious then the event must be serious and not something that was a mix between a May Day demonstration and a music festival.

5. Make it short and sweet. The longer it goes on the more chances for failure. Two weeks should have been 3 days.

6. Be careful who you invite. There were 45,000 invited to attend the conference at least 5% (some would say 95%) were going to be nutters.

7. Make sure the high profile people involved are serious and credible. The chief G-77 negotiator is from that hell hole Sudan where the UK Foreign Offices says “the security situation is unstable, banditry is widespread …..” What message does that send?

8. All the set-piece sessions were bound to turn into an opportunity for world ‘leaders’ to grandstand for the benefit of their domestic audience (yes that means you Mr Brown).

The list goes on and on and on. And now it is over and the UN Secretary General welcomes the climate deal in Copenhagen as an "essential beginning". So if 45,000 people, £130,000,000, 10 days can only reach a beginning one wonders how much an end will cost.

It is going to take a long time for the climate change campaign to recover from COP15 if indeed it ever will.

Nearly forgot. I did say that this post had a smidgen to do with the 50-plus. The abiding memory of this event were young people haranguing each other and the world ‘ leaders’. That is when they weren’t rioting or dressing up as polar bears. In practice the age group that is most concerned about climate change is the oldies, not the young. There is only so far the 50-plus are willing to look kindly on youthful enthusiasm, energy and sensibilities before it morphs into something darker like youth naivety and stupidity. Dick Stroud

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