Saturday, December 12, 2009

When disaster is business

By Soumya Dutta based on Day 4 Update from COP15 climate negotiations, at the Bella Centre, Copenhagen

At the Copenhagen Climate summit, the 'maha-kumbh' of environmental negotiations - with over 30,000 people from nearly 200 countries of the world -- one would have thought that every one is very concerned about the oncoming crisis that is already devastating the most vulnerable communities , all over the world - but mostly in the poorer countries .

But that is turning out to be naive, in a sense. There are a very large presence of people and organisations out to get new opportunities of business , newer sunshine areas of high profit investment, and new geographic territories to be (commercially) conquered. Now, if that sounds somewhat odd in an international conference 'designed and convened" to collectively tackle the greatest environmental threat that humanity has ever faced -- you are not alone, but you not in the majority either.

Moving around in the corridors of power-broking, of wheeling-dealing here in COP15, are the large army of tech-savvy 'executives' and 'technology entrepreneurs' looking for the 'killer apps' (the so called killer applications which are so good, so good ...., well )that either they can latch onto for Technology Transfer, or that they have supposedly brought in for "saving the World". The loud proclamation by the business lobbies here --
"We already have the answers"
are staring at you from many corners !!

one wonders, if all the solutions are already there, ready & packaged by the worlds big business, why has the crisis gone from bad to worse over the last two decades or more ?? The rich countries have all the finance (they pumped in over $10 trillion to bail out banks & mega corporates, lets not forget), and their big MNCs claim to have the solutions ready, so what is actually the problem of the climate change ? Why the supposed solution is repeatedly thrown to countries of the south, much poorer and much less "capable" by the conventional definitions ?

The big wind industry associations, the high speed rail transport, the CCS 9carbon Capture & Storage) technology folks, and even small business people trying to cash in on the CDM windfall -- all sound sooo confident, that you would think there is no need for this conference in the 1st place !! There are also some tinkerers and even nuts - peddling variations of perpetual motion machines to extract 'deep-water energy" (whatever that might mean) from tall water tanks and buoancy bubbles !

But some of the faces of business seemed a little unusual here in COP15. A small-business woman Senegal, looking for bottling machines for mango juice -- do not really fit into the COP15 image, but may have much better resonance with a large percentage of the NGO participants here. Green-horn CDM analysts sitting with their laptops logged on the stock exchanges also do not lead you to believe that the Earth has put us on serious warning (and warming), and time is running out for various Tipping Points to start being unstoppable !

The really sincere & serious 'business' is being carried out by the large no. of climate justice groups, including the very agitated and very vocal youth activists from all continents. With the official negotiations in limbo, that is the only encouraging message coming out of COP15 -- "WE WILL NOT LET OUR FUTURE BE DESTROYED BY THE UNSTOPPABLE GREED OF OUR FATHERS & GRAND-FATHERS" -- as mentioned by a school-girlish young climate activist in her orange shirt of protest.

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