Here are some more interesting commentaries on the Copenhagen fall-out (see also my previous “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting”)

Thomas Friedman (again, sorry but he is prolific and always good) in the NY Times looks at the “Copenhagen that matters”, the capital of a country where political leaders have had the courage to introduce higher energy taxes to stimulate innovation and stay competitive. Friedman jokes Danes must be from another planet, compared to his own America: “How long are we Americans going to go on thinking that we can thrive in the 21st century when doing the optimal things — whether for energy, health care, education or the deficit — are “off the table.” They’ve been banished by an ad hoc coalition of lobbyists loaded with money, loud-mouth talk-show hosts who will flame anyone who crosses them, political consultants who warn that asking Americans to do anything important but hard makes one unelectable and a citizenry that doesn’t even ask for optimal anymore because it believes that optimal is impossible.”

In Le Monde, French politician and Member of the European Parliament Corinne Lepage is hard on her colleagues: “Il est désormais clair qu’il n’est plus possible de faire confiance aux politiques, devenus des hommes d’affaires et non des responsables politiques, pour reprendre l’expression du président brésilien Lula, pour résoudre les problèmes du monde. Le court terme et les visions géostratégiques l’emportent sur le fondamental : notre survie.

Il restera de l’année 2009 que les dirigeants du monde ont été capables de sauver les banques et de leur allouer des milliers de milliards de dollars sans contrepartie, mais ont été incapables de mobiliser quelques dizaines de milliards de dollars pour éviter la disparition de zones entières, l’exode de millions de personnes, l’accroissement de la famine et de la pauvreté de millions d’autres ou les conséquences humaines des phénomènes extrêmes”. That said, I guess Lepage is still very much dreaming when she thinks civil society and the South can be mobilised in a big climate coalition.

When it comes to what people really want (remember the Spice Girls), I am afraid Eric Le Boucher comes much closer to the truth in Slate.fr when he writes: "La victoire d’Obama et Wen, c’est la remise de l’économie au dessus de l’écologie, ou plus exactement l’émergence de l’idée que la solution ne peut que venir du mariage des deux”. And as to the South: “on comprend que toutes les nations ne sont pas comme les nôtres, riches, vieilles, repues, adeptes de la décroissance. Non, au sud on veut des usines, du chauffage et des voitures!”. What we need, says techno-optimist Le Boucher, is an alternative driven by science and technology and a gigantic investment in research and development. I agree with that point but simply wishing away the ecological limits to technology and growth will not make the world less safe, Eric. You can call this Malthusianism, but the fact is Malthus was right, although he had overlooked the coming oil age.

So when not technology and not politicians nor civil society, who has the key to our common future? Well, as Dan Box states in the (not always pro-business) Ecologist: “Politicians have failed, business is now our only hope”. More on that and on the need for NGOs to rethink and radicalise their strategies after Copenhagen in another post.

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