An exciting prospect: Upcoming Climate conferences

About COP23 and COP24’s locations and what I think about it. Also, looking back at COP22 and forward at a big climate fight in 2018.

So the COP22 Marrakech Climate conference is over, and I haven’t been there. Sure, it would have been interesting reporting the progress or lack thereof one after my big Paris expedition. Also, meeting some of the many nice people, especially from the PlaceToB project should have made me go to Morocco.

Still, I had decided to skip the 2016 conference, which – unlike the COP21 – wasn’t expected to bring great changes. I speculated that COP23, which should normally take place in Asia, might be hosted by China. I planned to go there. First because of the importance of the country in climate politics. Second, because I have a thing with China and know the language reasonably well to get along. I think that would have made for some more good reporting.

Climate leadership: From the USA to China

It turns out, the COP23 won’t take place in China – as a matter of fact, nobody was volunteering to host it. Now I guess the Chinese government was surprised – as we all were – by Donald Trump winning the presidential election. It has become clear that the kind of partial leadership the US took in climate politics will be given up and that there’s room for new countries to draw prestige from being in the frontline of the fight against global warming.

China’s certainly the most interested in this role – and had Trump been elected a month earlier, I bet they would have seriously considered to host the Climate conference in 2017. Bad luck for them… and for me.

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Climate conferences: A dim future? (Bonn – Wikipedia / Tohma / CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Finally, I learned that the COP23 would take place at an enclave of the Fiji Islands, namely Bonn-by-the-Sea. Seriously, Fiji as an Asian country volunteered to preside the Conference whereas it will take place in Germany’s former capital, some 150 kilometers from Luxembourg. That’s goood for me, and I’ll try my best to be there.

I’ve wanted to visit Bonn for some time. It has a kind of United Nations District, with several environmental institutions, notably the UNFCCC secretariat. Also,there’s the Museum Mile, with the Bundeskunsthalle (art) and the Haus für Geschichte (history). Last but not least, there’s the Beethovenhaus.

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Beethoven (Joseph Karl Stieler / Beethoven-Haus Bonn / PD)

I hope the people from PlaceToB plan to set up a project for that conference. As I don’t live too far away and I’m bilingual in German and French, I might be of help with the preparations and the communication in Bonn.

COPs, next stops: Beethoven, Germany, then Chopin, Poland

Beethoven is one of my favorite composers, but I’m also a big fan of Slavic music. So when I hear Poland, I think of Fryderyk Chopin, and also of Henryk Wieniawski. The reason I mention this is, the government in Warsaw has volunteered to host the COP24. As far as I understand, this is a proposal, not yet a decision.

Normally the 2018 Conference should take place in Eastern Europe, but because the preceding conference is already located in Europe, this might be changed. Should it take place in Poland, I think Wroclaw (German name: Breslau) might be chosen (after 2008 in Poznan and 2013 in Warsaw) – the city has been the European Capital of Culture 2016.

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Chopin (Maria Wodzinska / National museum Warsaw / PD)

Anyway, while the COP23 will be transitional, the COP24 will be really important and conflictual. 2018 will be the beginning of the Facilitative dialogue, which is meant to bring the countries commitments in line with what is needed to remain below the 1.5 degree target. How much more needs to be done will be more clear thanks to an IPCC report to be published that year.

COP24 might see a big fight, and may represent the last stand if humanity is to avoid a massive climate change that may cause anything from an unprecedented economical crisis up to the extinction of the human species.

An all-important climate conference at a „climate dunce’s“ place

Should the Climate conferences take place in Bonn and somewhere in Poland in succession, that would symbolize a core problem of the international climate policy: There are highly motivated countries like Fiji and Germany, but there are others that keep a hidden agenda, like Poland. The Eastern European country depends on coal for its energy production and for economical and social reasons tries to keep mining as long as possible.

Clearly, organizing the all-important COP24 at a „climate dunce’s“ place will make for interesting discussions. And although Poland is some 1000 kilometers from Luxembourg, it’s still quite close – I just have to be there!

 

TTIP almost officially dead

It should not come as a surprise (not to me at least, see below). The news from the last two days, although sometimes contradictory, mean that giving up on TTIP is acceptable to the political elites in Berlin, Paris, and ultimatey in Brussels.

First Sigmar Gabriel stating TTIP is dead in the water, Jean Claude Juncker’s spokesperson still assuring that the negociations are going on. Then François Hollande’s minister declaring they will officially ask to bury the whole thing, Angela Merkel and the US insisting this cannnot be

Champagne for the anti-TTIP NGOs and civil society! (Filaos / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Champagne for the anti-TTIP NGOs and civil society! (Filaos / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Whatever will be said during the weeks to come, there’s no way back: once an end to the negotiations has been declared as a possible outcome, nothing can prevent this doomed project from going all the way down. This is different from the many critics asking for – not announcing! – the end of negociations. Different also from Social-democrats and Greens stating that TTIP “should be abandoned if …” This is: “We can drop it.” It will be dropped – and very soon, dropped like a hot potato.

I’m not surprised. I always told people I thought TTIP was basically a lost cause, since I learned that the expected economical benefits were officially deemed ridiculously low (remember, something like less than one percent of GDP growth over ten years). Of  course, it was important to fight against it with all kinds of arguments. But basically, it was a flawed project insofar as the elites thought of selling it to the people as a project that would increase their welfare.

Why did the EU elites fail?

True, TTIP would have been economically beneficial to some sectors and some countries – and to most of those people the elites are having lunch with. But it was obvious that the big economical advantages for the average European – or American, for that – were simply not there. As for other arguments – strengthening the transatlantic bond – the elites were not prepared to fight for them. So, from the beginning, TTIP has been what it is now for everybody to see: a doomed project. Just one more little push, and all will agree and give up on it. Champagne!

Is this only good news? What does it mean for the future political course of the European Union? I’ll write that up for a woxx editorial and post it here when finished.

 

Some of my former woxx articles about TTIP:

From 2014, after a lecture by Raoul Marc Jennar:
Freihandel und TTIP: Der Waffenlieferant

Recently, on what a “good” TTIP would be:
Schiedsgerichte und Politik: Der iTTIP-Traum

Recently, strengths and weaknesses of the TTIP criticism:
Plattform gegen CETA und TTIP
: Bedrohlich, aber wahr


L’Amérique est de retour!

La première semaine de négociations de la COP36 a donné des résultats spectaculaires. Une des raisons en est le retour des États-Unis à la table des négociations.

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Edward Moran, 1886, Museum of the City of New York, PD

Rappelons qu’après 2022, ce pays avait pratiqué une politique de la chaise vide. En effet, à l’époque, le traité de Paris, conclu en 2015, ne prévoyait pas de contraintes juridiques. Lors de la conférence de révision de 2020, les États-Unis avaient refusé de confirmer ou de renforcer leurs engagements de 2015, ce qui avait conduit à une crise diplomatique de grande ampleur.

Le climat, avec contrainte juridique

Aujourd’hui, deux ans après la victoire du candidat démocratique Allen Santiago aux élections de 2028, les États-Unis ont résolument abandonné leur politique isolationniste et essaient de jouer un rôle constructif dans les relations internationales. L’annonce américaine d’un objectif de zéro CO2 pour 2050 constitue un premier pas en direction d’un engagement semblable, juridiquement contraignant cette fois-ci, de l’ensemble des pays industrialisés.