Climate talks and linguistic finesse
Do you know the feeling when you read minutes or an account of a meeting and wonder if the person who wrote it was actually at the same event as you? Subjective perceptions are often very different, and that is even more the case when it comes to international negotiations about climate change. I remember when the last head of the UNFCCC Yvo de Boer resigned in the wake of the Copenhagen climate talks fiasco, I wrote a commentary entitled “No job for an optimist”. Maybe I should have turned it around to “optimism essential” – or at least keeping a positive attitude and repeatedly sending out positive signals no matter how frustrating the process is.In Brussels for the Green Week last week with the focus on water, the emphasis was very much on the idea that we need to adapt – now. Emissions cuts are nowhere near the dimensions necessary to keep temperature rise to 2° C. Then, back in Bonn, where I had attended some of the climate talk sessions, I read in the closing press release from the UNFCCC “Bonn UN climate change meeting delivers progress on key issues”. The devil is once again in the detail, the subtle formulation aimed at veiling the lack of tangible progress.
“Meeting in Bonn for the first time after the historic UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, governments made progress in ensuring that this year’s conference in Doha, at the end of 2012, can take the next essential steps towards meeting the long-term challenge of climate change.”Hm. Progress towards the steps toward meeting the long-term challenge…” I am reminded of someone in one of the Green Week sessions who said he would love to be a politician to be allowed to come up with this kind of language…Am I being too cynical?
I have the feeling my colleague Nathan Witkop shares my lack of optimism here, see Bonn talks end in squabbling
DateMay 30, 2012 | 1:28 pm