Trying to get nearly 200 countries to agree to a global deal to cut carbon emissions has been like herding cats for the past 20 years, as international negotiators have discovered.
Take China and India, which refused to make carbon cuts at 2009 United Nations negotiations in Copenhagen because they said doing so would keep millions of their residents in poverty. Or oil revenue-dependent Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, which actively obstructed the process. Or even Tuvalu, a low-lying Pacific island nation northeast of Australia, that was the first to object to the Copenhagen plan because it said the pact didn’t adequately protect due process rights for smaller nations.
Mitigating the confusion and chaos that has permeated the talks will be critical when the nations head to Paris next year in the latest round of negotiations, said Yvo de Boer, the Dutch diplomat who led the failed Copenhagen negotiations.
“Paris is still more than a year away. I think that the public and political momentum before Copenhagen was massive, but unguided,” he told a small group of reporters in Washington. “And it was wasted. And I don’t think we have a second opportunity to waste public opinion again.”