[If you haven’t a clue what I’m on about here, please first have a look at the wonderful series of books by Roger Hargreaves that has enchanted generations of children – the adventures of the Mr Men. If you want to see what any particular character is really like, just click on the pictures. Right. Here goes]
The UNFCCC negotiations got back down to business in Barcelona from 2-6 November. Having had three weeks rest after their starring role in Bangkok, the brackets were raring to go and keen to get back into the thick of the action. The negotiators struggled to contain the army of parenthesis as they threatened to multiply yet further and suffocate the young treaty text. This time, however, the Mr Men were in town…
Mr Worry and Mr Tickle were taking charge of proceedings as per usual. With each successive session of the talks Mr Worry seems to get even more worried, making it look like his role of Executive Secretary gets harder and harder. This time he spoke for the first time of the reality of there not being any real chance of signing a legally-binding treaty in Copenhagen. Worrying indeed. Fortunately, Mr Tickle was there to keep some humour in the proceedings. Each time he chairs an LCA negotiating session, he can’t resist but inject his witticisms to keep everyone cheerful. No negotiator is free from his tickling humour.
The most talked-about star at this week’s talks was Mr Grumpy and his very grumpy threats to walk out of the Kyoto Protocol negotiating sessions. Representing the Africa group, he said he was fed up with developed countries not committing to targets and that he wouldn’t negotiate until they agreed to sort this out as a priority. Luckily he agreed to a compromise and the negotiations could resume – but still the KP process barely moved during the week. This did not please anyone, least of all Mr Grumpy. We may see more of such grumpiness in Copenhagen.
As usual many eyes were on Mr Uppity, the richest man in the whole world. He used to be the snootiest and rudest too but that seems to have changed a little over the past year. Nevertheless he was continuing to get quite uppity as other countries kept asking for more and more of his money whilst asking him to do more and more things himself – something that he knows he really can’t do because his friends at home can’t agree on what they will sign into their lawbooks. When things get heated he starts to point the finger at Mr Strong and asks why he should do so much if strong Mr Strong is not doing very much to match it.
Red Mr Strong continued to be cool and strong as he calmly defended his position and enjoyed explaining all the things he was doing already better than Mr Uppity does them. Many people are hoping that Mr Strong and Mr Uppity will learn to get along sometime before Copenhagen, even though Mr Uppity owes Mr Strong so much money.
Little Miss Fickle and Mr Clumsy are representing the European Union. Unfortunately Little Miss Fickle can never make up her mind because she is always being bombarded with 27 conflicting opinions. Worse still Mr Clumsy finds it all too easy to offend people wherever he goes, especially when he speaks of his vision for a single legal agreement and sectoral trading. Together the pair seem to be finding it awfully difficult to make their mark on the proceedings.
Little Miss Bossy and Mr Fussy are busy representing AOSIS – the Association of Small Island States – and as usual they are always quick to point out where bigger countries are not being strict enough on their environmental integrity. Sometimes Little Miss Bossy even let the negotiations conclude on a point and move on before hauling everything back and then blocking the previous point for everyone. Maybe that’s a climate negotiator joke. Anyway almost everyone appreciates the danger that climate change poses to Little Miss Bossy and Mr Fussy and their vulnerable countries and so their fussiness is very understandable.
On the contrary, not many people had much time left to listen to Little Miss Stubborn. Representing Venezuela, she continued to grand-stand the proceedings by taking every opportunity to lament the use of markets and how capitalism has ruined the world. Who knows if she will carry on being stubborn right into Copenhagen, or is her show over for the time being?
Nobody could ever forget the presence of Little Miss Chatterbox at any UN session. You can’t come within half a mile of the conference centre without noticing her dulcit tones emanating out of the negotiating hall. Whether she’s speaking for the Philippines or for the whole of the Group of 77, you can be sure that she will talk as though she has everything to say for all 192 Parties to the UNFCCC, and their mothers too.
The same certainly can’t be said of Mr Quiet who sits meekly and hardly ever makes himself heard during the negotiations. Why is Mr Quiet being so quiet? Is he afraid that people may laugh at his Russian accent? Or does he have some negotiating dynamite up his sleeve that he won’t reveal until Copenhagen? Only time will tell.
Our sorry tale is almost over but we can’t leave without thinking of the non-governmental observers. Mr Greedy was making his presence his felt on the fringes of the talks, representing the business and industry community. Many people fear his presence and assume that he is only there to eat more than his fill and to extort as much money as possible from the process. For some of Mr Greedy’s followers this is certainly true! However maybe some of them want to help tackle the challenge by wisely investing their money. Mr Greedy is not all bad.
Meanwhile Mr Nosey, green from head to toe, was everywhere around the negotiations, tracking negotiators and popping up behind them when they least expected it, demonstrating outside the conference centre, even climbing the famous towers of the Sagrada Familia to ensure that the importance of the environmental issues at stake is not forgotten. No doubt he and his band of environmental NGOs will be back in force in Copenhagen to keep important pressure on negotiators.
Of course, whatever directions the negotiations may take, everyone everywhere is hoping that the end result may be rescued by the arrival in Copenhagen of Mr Uppity’s President, none other than Mr Perfect himself…