(Washington, DC) On Thursday the 17th of December this All Voices Anchor writer took a few moments with William Yeatman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in Washington, DC to talk about his experience at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark (UNFCCC). Mr. Yeatman had just gotten back to the U.S. late on Wed. December 16, 2009 and was jet lagged.
This 193 country conference was meant to be a deadline for the developed countries of the world to try and reach a legally binding multi-lateral treaty to reduce climate emissions and allegedly stop climate change. However, President Barack Obama of the United States and Hu Juntao of China both declared that no agreement would be reached. “They conceded failure before the conference” Mr. Yeatman said. At present the cost of climate change work for the world over would be a hefty $45 million 2,050 according to the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In addition, the major countries seem to be embroiled in procedure based gridlock which prevented an agreement.
Still, Mr. Yeatman attended the conference as an official observer. There are three types of people who are admitted to the conference: media, diplomats and observers. Observers are nominated by non governmental organizations that send them to the conference.
As a representative of CEI Mr. Yeatman was in rare company “I went to observe and engage. We (CEI) have some pretty iconoclastic ideas on climate change. I was one of four people who were observers that have the viewpoint that I have…I went there to learn how this process works” he said. In light of the decision to not reach a treaty before the conference by the developed countries; one might wonder what the point is or what happens at the conference.
Outside the conference environmental activists raged for a treaty that was no longer viable. Inside Mr. Yeatman described the main floor of the conference as “a zoo” and looked like something out of a Las Vegas business conference. The main floor is covered with organizations trying to sell their products or ideas. Amidst these groups small countries have booths set up to “desperately try and get money from the rest of the world to fund their own climate related projects. It is a forum for developing countries to posture in front of the media and make demands that cannot be met. These negotiations and demands are completely unrealistic” he said.
Despite the main floor of booths and preening for the media most of the action and deal making happens in private behind closed doors off the floor of the conference. “This U.N. Conference is all light no heat, it is just a show, and the show must go on… there is no press conference at the end of the day that summarizes what happened. Instead there are rumors, you will learn about what happened in a negotiation for one country through a press event for something entirely different” Mr. Yeatman said.
It would appear that the reason for the conference to continue would be to give smaller less developed countries a chance to lobby for money. On Thursday afternoon it was announced that the world would give through the U.N. $150 million for climate change programs to small countries.
Mr. Yeatman was convinced the conference simply continued despite no viable reason out of “bureaucratic inertia” and an attitude that the “show must go on” he said.
The event did create a huge carbon footprint by all the people, most of whom claim to be fighting carbon emissions, that attended the conference itself. 40, 500 tons of carbon dioxide will be emitted into the atmosphere during the 12 day event. “I did not realize what a waste of time it was before I went -- The awesome stupidness of this event taking place just blows me away” Mr. Yeatman concluded.