If at first you don’t succeed, pretend you never tried. It’s the loser’s lament that the UN is singing right now at the COP 20 climate conference in Lima, Peru.
Before the two-week gathering of Gaia worshippers opened, the UN said it wanted to force countries to provide a checklist of their plans to deliver ‘climate action’ ahead of next year’s long hoped-for signing of a new climate charter in Paris.
Without that elaborated road map, the pledges would be less accountable, with zero scope for the UN and non-government observers to compare, analyse, aggregate and challenge outcomes.
In other words they would be useless.
Trouble is, nobody is buying what the UN is selling.
China’s negotiators in Lima have already made clear they want to delete anything in the final text that would enable monitors to query its carbon-reduction plans.
Now the UN is ready to capitulate and do the same for all countries. It will excise the requirement for a detailed list of what information countries should provide in their pledges – a list currently contained in an annex to a draft Lima decision.
According to a report published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, all countries will be given this opt-out because of splits over their breadth and scope and whether they should draw a clear line between what is demanded of rich and poor nations.
On Tuesday U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon implored countries to try harder to resolve these differences on the pledge format but even he realises that getting broad accordance may be hopeless.
The only alternative is to admit defeat.
“I am deeply concerned that our collective action does not match our common responsibilities,” Ban said in a prepared speech to the conference.
“We must reach a common understanding on the scope and status of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs.”
Of course, the UN deeply believes that increasing its political and economic power over the rest of us is the answer to all our environmental travails.
It wants names, plans, schemes, dates and places of every individual national carbon reduction scheme handed to it in writing. Without those, how else can UN penalties be imposed on climate recalcitrants?
It’s not going to get them though. Then there’s the issue of money.
The UN is fighting hard to build a sovereign wealth fund to ensure that those countries with the most to give transfer wealth to countries it deems cannot afford to join its fight to save the world.
UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, said that focusing on ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions would complement climate finance, by cutting the costs of low-carbon technologies.
“The two go together,” he told reporters in Lima on Tuesday.
Will the conference ditch a detailed format for the pledges?
“Clearly we do need to make progress (and see) that the INDC concept goes forward. I am confident we can get agreement.”
Yes, an agreement of intent and good (if misguided) intentions but no enforceable, practical purpose.
Way to go, UN.