Posted by: carbonara | October 8, 2009

Climate talks drown in [bracket][parenthesis] overload

Bangkok bracketing session

Bangkok bracketing session

You can count the number of [negotiating][procrastinating][posturing] days before Copenhagen’s crucial meeting on the [fingers][toes] of one [hand][foot]. 10 days have just passed by in a [whirlwind][quagmire] of political positioning and heated disagreement in the UN’s [pleasantly cool][certainly over-chilled][arctic] conference centre in Bangkok.  The weighty negotiating text still sits at around 160 pages and must be reduced by more than 100 more pages before December. What has resulted in such verbosity and the death of so many trees each time a new iteration is printed? Brackets. The text is littered with [square] {squiggly}(boring) brackets highlighting multiple options where proposals put forward by different Parties lie waiting to be culled in favour of the hoped-for consensus.

Narrowing down options on such sensitive issues of language and delicate cliché is no easy matter. Fundamentally, the Parties have [agreed][disagreed] to [agree][disagree] that they [should][might][will] [act][do nothing][bury their heads in the [sand][oven][oil]] about this [issue][non-issue] that the climate [might][should][will] be  [changing][not changing][different to the old days when I were a boy] because of excessive activity by [humans][men][women][them][us][sunspots][aliens].

On Russian hot-air allowance surplus, the text currently describes the [pink] [white] [unspecified colour] elephant in the [room][corner][way]. A strong commitment by the US at Copenhagen backed by domestic legislation is down as pigs [might][should][will] [fly][get flu][be made into bacon sarnies][never be eaten].

Financing is also a tricky issue. It is generally expected that rich countries such as [UK][China] should be funding poorer developing nations such as [UK][China]. It is generally expected that this will lead to technology [transfer][sale][theft] as engineering know-how and capability is passed from  [UK][China] to [UK][China]. Specifically, the text goes into some detail on carbon capture and storage but fails to decide whether it is a [silver][aluminium][rusty steel] [bullet][cruise missile] or could even be considered as a [panacea][pandemic][pants idea].

The inability to narrow down options is widely believed to be the fault of [everyone else][not us][George W Bush][them again]. As the last full week of negotiation before Copenhagen approaches, there are many [fingers][toes][Catholic chests] being crossed as the world hopes for a deal – touch [wood][and go][of wishful thinking]



  1. Excellent! Keep up the good work!

  2. Brilliant! Most amusing.

  3. […] is no plan B” said Mr Worry in Bangkok in October,  speaking of a comprehensive international agreement at Copenhagen. “There is no […]

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