Will Copenhagen Fail? (Nov. 2009)

Many impending crises are on the agenda this month …
Climate is clearly one of them, with the international conference on climate change in Copenhagen started in just a few weeks. Here we might end up not being as successful in reaching a consensus as the media has suggested in the past 2 or 3 years. While I share with many others the desire to establish a clearer international framework on climate-related business and public policies (markets don’t really like uncertainty), I’m not convinced the gathering Copenhagen will have successful outcomes, as many anticipate.

For one thing, we know that international deals need to be negotiated far in advance within the delegations of top decision makers and across delegations of different countries (call that the preparatory work). From what I’ve been hearing these last few weeks, we are still far from it despite major efforts made by Europe and Brazil for instance. Second, we must keep in mind that one of the challenges for heads of state is (1) that they need to go to Copenhagen with something to negotiate; (2) need to come back from Copenhagen and be able to tell their own people why they should care about the rest of the world and (3) show how the results of the Copenhagen negotiations would translate into their day-to-day life. Unless you are convinced (I am), that we are living in a growing interdependent world where our actions affect so many and the actions of so many outside of our own frontiers will also affect us, this might be hard to sell on the national political scene.

We shall see… I’d love to be proven wrong by a great output from Copenhagen.