16 Going on 17

by Einar Du Rietz

At the recent preparatory conference in Bonn, a gentleman asked me after a short discussion if this was “all about money”. To some extent I’m beginning to feel that he pin pointed the entire circus.

COP 16 is kicking off in Cancun, and it’s amazing to read all the commentaries having one sole thing in common: The conviction that it will lead nowhere. Quite different from the general Hallelujah one year ago.

But it is going somewhere. To South Africa, where COP 17 is already scheduled to occur in time for Christmas in a year. Conducting the meeting in the southern hemisphere might even be a good idea, to avoid the biting cold that destroyed all connotations to global warming in Copenhagen.

Among all the comments and sometimes interesting articles, I found one¬†particularly interesting. Mr Bruce Usher, acknowledging that Cancun will lead to nothing, advocates a “bottom up” strategy, instead of a top-to-bottom. The idea sounds like recognizing the market as the only viable force in any environmental endeavour, regardless of your convictions otherwise. Mr Usher describes, according to him, successful local initiatives and experiments in alternative energy production.

Then it comes.

“Congress should extend federal financing, tax credits and loan guarantees for renewable energy projects and for upgrading transmission lines.”

It further becomes clear that the grass-root experiments that Mr Usher is enthusiastic about are state and local, governmental projects.

Yes Sir, it seems to be about the money. Tax money. The only, if any, pledge that emerged from Copenhagen was a load of money to the developing countries, something the same countries have been complaining about not getting since then. When all the enchiladas are gone in Mexico, thousands of people – mostly the same people – can look forward to another year of reports and preparatory meetings all over the world, until it’s time for the annual reunion party next December.

By the way, Mr Usher, “an executive in residence at Columbia Business School, is the former chief executive of a company that operates emission-reduction projects.”

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About the Author: Einar Du Rietz

Einar Du Rietz is a journalist and communications consultant based in Europe. He has authored several environmental reports for the Electrolux Group and written many blogs for the Center for the New Europe at CNE Environment.