COP15 Insights & Observations

A few random insights that I scribbled down during the process:

  1. Blame the system, not the people. A lot of people worked incredibly hard towards something positive. There were some screwups (late injection of the Danish text?), but on the whole, things didn’t come together because the structure wasn’t in place for them to do so.
  2. The US came to the table with nothing to offer – a tentative commitment, but no money and no headroom for bigger commitments.
  3. There’s little trust between parties. The developed world needs to demonstrate something concrete (significant emissions cuts or big $) before the developing world will budge.
  4. You can’t fix historic emissions inequity with future emissions – unless you don’t care about anything remotely like a 2C target.
  5. It’s not just about climate – development, resource management, and many other problems are intertwined.
  6. When major unstated values or mental models are in conflict, the COP process reverts to niggling over unimportant administrative details.
  7. It’s a good idea not to register more participants than you can handle.
  8. Analysis and decision support are probably not the key constraint at this time (maybe later). Negotiators need more scope from their home constituencies to be able to reach agreement.
  9. Emissions and welfare are not the same thing.
  10. Deep cuts for the world imply ~100% cuts (or more) in the developed world.
  11. It’s tough to reach 100% cuts due to fixed process emissions and activities for which it is difficult to substitute for hydrocarbon fuels.
  12. A number of industries are planning on more than their share of the remaining x% of emissions – how will it really add up?

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