Copenhagen – December 12, 2009 - The World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader’s held a private think tank like meeting with officials and advisors to discuss prospects for the negotiations. About twenty young global leaders convened at the talks to find ways to better understand climate change in the context of the current talks. An eclectic mix of attendees at the event included an acclaimed industrial designer, an alternative energy expert, an acclaimed National Geographic Society photographer, an international law expert, a carbon-neutral rose grower from Ecuador, an indigenous peoples leader from Indonesia and the Crown Prince of Denmark. Three Canadians attended.
Former United Nations Under-Secretary General Maurice Strong offered some frank views. He believes that the state of the talks cannot result in a truly successful and meaningful deal. Mr. Strong, a Canadian who chaired the ground-breaking 1992 UN’s Earth Summit Climate Change Conference, the only workable deal can be a legally-binding mandatory one. And for him, it is clear that the political will is simply not present to get such a deal at this time.
Advisors to the governments of the United States and India told the Young Global Leaders in their off-the-record sessions that a political deal is the best deal that can be achieved during the Copenhagen talks.
Jose Maria Figures, a former Costa Rican President who was elected on an environmental platform, believed that having some political deal would be better than no deal at all. Mr. Figures, a Former CEO of the World Economic Forum, suggested that steps towards a non-mandatory climate change agreement (a political deal) could result in environmental benefits that could result in a mandatory deal being reached in future. He advised the Young Global Leaders to find ways to assist governments attending the talks to find political support towards the tough domestic political decisions necessary to make any binding deal work.
Mr. Strong stressed the need for a way to make the best out failure at these talks through an interim agreement to get negotiators towards a fuller agreement later. But there are costs to this approach. In his view, business leaders will likely withhold the types of meaningful climate change investments necessary to address global warming without a binding and mandatory agreement.
The Climate Changes talks will continue for one more week. On Thursday, American President Barrack Obama will attend the talks in what is expected to be an attempt to find a way to salvage some form of deal.
Appleton Charitable Foundation