The COP currently taking place in Mexico is the 16th, indicating that the problem has been at the top of the UN list of priorities over the last decades. But what exactly has been done so far? Not much, except for the already mentioned Kyoto Protocol. But the Protocol itself doesn’t represent a great model of efficiency, considering it’s not being signed by the United States of America, which surely has a crucial share of responsibility for global pollution. A major weakness of the COP is that the Parties are not forced to sign or implement treaties and protocols discussed during the meeting. There is no legal possibility to do so, since the UN is not a global government but a transnational organisation, and in cases of global interest like environment or currency the advocacy for a world federalism is understandable and does not seem that visionary anymore.
More recent efforts were made, for example last year at COP 15 in Copenhagen. But no progress was made there, because some emerging countries put their people’s wealth first; meaning “Who cares about too much pollution? Our industries are at the top of productivity and why put that at risk only to reduce emission and save the planet? The planet will exist more than a lifetime”. It was interesting to see that neither the U.S. nor the 27 member states of the European Union were able to put on the agenda essential topics in order to convince those countries to change their point of view.
Since the global approach has failed in being efficient so far, why not apply the rule “think globally, act locally” and start with local policies to reduce emission?
It seems to be obvious that if the EU had a common foreign policy (and a single seat in the UN), if it was a federation, things might have turned out differently. But maybe members of the Union didn’t even want to convince others, maybe they profit from the current situation. Indeed, they decided to postpone the task of reaching an agreement on climate change, thus the conference did not result in any kind of concrete action. That’s something to think about.
Considering this, is it worth to spend lots of money and time (as well as boarding polluting airplanes) every year for such a meeting? Does anyone seriously believe something has changed since last year, when it was clearly not possible to reach an agreement? Since the global approach has failed in being efficient so far, why not apply the rule “think globally, act locally” and start with local policies to reduce emission? If the U.S. or the EU were to start the process, maybe others were willing to follow; and even if they cannot/don’t want to, someone has to be first. There is not much time left and seeking for an impossible global agreement is just a waste of time. If we didn’t even manage to create a European Federation, how could we possibly manage to have all the countries in the world sign and implement a protocol?