Good COP, Bad COP

Al Gore live …
by -- December 15th, 2009

Have managed to squeeze in to Al Gore’s talk (security decided to let folks in without tix at end). Here is what he is saying …

Paraphrasing Al Gore (my comments in italics):

  • folks here are starting to despair of reaching an agreement, think of an important constituency not represented here – the future generations who will be affected by climate change
  • statistics on increase in greenhouse gases; no doubt that anything higher than 350 ppm cannot be considered safe; statistics on temperature, warnings on ice sheet melting, permafrost thawing, mountain glacier melting, water resources, Amazon rainforest loss
  • frustration at political leaders to make bold decisions ins pite of all this evidence
  • we have been at this a long time but emissions and rate of increase  have continued to increase
  • this meeting is critical – we will not have a binding treaty but must lay foundation for a binding treaty next year; again mention of 350 ppm (wow – that is going to be unbelievable difficult)
  • grassroots global campaign is necessary but end result must be treaty
  • harmonized international tax on carbon would be too difficult
  • people who believe technology will be savior are wring
  • market based approach will work, as EU has shown
  • Need fair, binding, and ambitious treaty (same phrase as used by grassroots movements)
  • US Congress is very close to domestic bill; call for a deadline on 40th anniversary of Earth day(April 2010)  for final action on domestic legislation
  • next  meeting of ministers and heads of state should be held in July and not wait for next Nov and Dec
  • full transparency is essential to not just pledges on mitigation actions, but also to developed countries financial pledges – this will make it feel more fair and equal (interesting twist on the verification issue)
  • international community should be able to verify reductions from largest GHG emitters, whether they have been funded domestically or internationally (direct opposition to India and China’s position)
  • everyone has to be in on this; fragmented action will not  cut it
  • emerging economies should understand effect of financial crisis on economic conditions of developed countries (call to India and China re meaning of ‘developed’ and ‘developing’)
  • for those who think better to have no agreement than weak agreement, we need to walk before we can run; lessons from Montreal Protocol and subsequent amendments offer lessons – first UN treaty to achieve universal ratification
  • financial, security, and climate crisis have a common thread runing through them – dependence on fossil fuels – and if we pull hard enough on this thread all three problems will unravel (nicely woven together)
  • problem is not abstract and in the future – it is real and now and
  • we have 3 days do to something about it here in Montreal (oops!)
  • Obama admin is moving on climate change
  • honor fact that EU has been and continues to be a leader;   Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have become leaders in some technologies because of carbon tax
  • Japan has also been a leader and has a bold proposal on the table; Australia, Mexico, Brazil are making significant pledges
  • India and China have made interesting new pledges
  • young people throughout the world are committed to solving this problem, and no doubt that problem would be solved if we wait for transition to next generation of leaders – but we don’t have luxury to wait for next generation
  • close with personal, fundamental question on ‘who are we as humans if  next generation concludes that this generations let Copenhagen fail’. Will next generation ask – didn’t’ you feel a connection to us and care enough to solve the problem. (back to what he started with – a very powerful closing)
  • we can do it, we must do it, political will is a renewable resource.

Applause and some scattered boos!

Great speech for occasion – big picture overview but with sufficient detail and nuance, touched on all hot button issues, great closing!


  1. Freddie
    Dec 15, 2009

    Gore’s comments about the next generation sound very powerful. William Sloane Coffin often said, it is not so much that our children will inherit the earth that we create, it is rather that we are borrowing the world from them. How do we want to treat the earth that we only have on loan from our children?

    • Tim Profeta
      Dec 17, 2009

      Freddie: You are one smart cat!

      • Freddie
        Dec 17, 2009

        Thanks. I like to keep up with current political and philosophical debates. Its just the kind of cat I am.

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