Climate negotiators in Poznan are starting to question whether the 2009 deadline for Copenhagen is realistic. Maybe there are good reasons to take a step back and reconsider the global climate diplomacy process.

This week, a few non-suspect climate experts have uttered doubts about the end-2009 deadline for a new global warming agreement.

As reported by Associated Press, Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center on Climate Change does not believe the Obama administration will be ready in time with a full negotiation package as it will have to deal with a difficult Congress. Former Clinton administration energy expert Joseph Romm is also convinced that Obama will not succeed in convincing 67 senators to vote for a new climate deal. The “only thing worse than no global climate treaty in 2009 is a treaty that Obama can’t get ratified”, says Romm and I fully agree.

That means that we also need to have the courage to question the UNFCCC process. The “UNFCCC process as we now know it is essentially a Dead Man Walking, even if nobody knows it yet”, according to Romm.

Of course, I am fully convinced about the need for an urgent climate “surge”, but I am also realistic. Without leadership from the US (including the Congress), there will be no REAL progress on fighting climate change. This is the first good reason to postpone Copenhagen and wait (one more year?) for the new American President and his other “first lady (yes Hillary :) ) to get their act together.

But there is a second reason which I think is even more important. Copenhagen and the whole UNFCCC deals only with one dimension of our current systemic sustainability crisis. Where is the international diplomatic dialogue on resource scarcity (“peak everything”), biodiversity, water or inequality? Maybe it is time to create a new global governance platform where all the sustainability issues (including also the current economic crisis which is just one side-effect of the sustainability crisis) can be discussed? Maybe putting all the issues on the table could make the process more efficient.

So let’s postpone Copenhagen and start talking about how to best tackle the biggest challenge of the 21st century: provide quality lives for all our 6 billion citizens within the ecological limits of our one Planet.

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