Posted by: carbonara | December 21, 2009

“On the final day of COP-mas, the Mr Men sent to me…




In the beginning was the Word,and the Word was the Convention and the Convention was agreed by all Parties for they questioned it not.  The Convention decreed that all Parties would act according to their common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities. In time the Convention begat the Protocol, which forced action on the richest and absolved those without earthly wealth, for their heavenly reward would await them. But the richest of all would not accept the Protocol because their wealth was too dear to them and they knew that anyway it would be impossible to pass through the eye of a needle.

In time the Parties came together again to see whether the Convention could beget something new to replace or expand the hated Protocol. After many moons of talking a great meeting was convened in a northern city called Copenhagen. And so the Parties promised to deliver an agreement to absolve the planet from its future of hellfire and destruction. The people of the world travelled north for the great meeting and they arrived in a great multitude so that for many there was no room in the inns. The meeting commenced but soon the Parties realised that because they looked upon one another with distrust and loathing, they could not agree. As the days ticked by there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as judgment day approached and still there was no peace between the Parties of the world.

And then there came a king from the sky who was much heralded as a wise leader and the one who would find peace by brokering a great agreement . “Hail the Heav’n born Prince of Peace!“, they cried, “ He is here and all will be well”. And when the great king addressed the warring Parties he spoke with supreme eloquence and authority and the Parties bowed to him and applauded with great cheer. But then they turned to one another and asked, “But did he say anything? No! He has not delivered us from our turmoil”. Soon all became aware that even he had not provided a solution that could prevent the world from burning. Instead he ventured up a dark mountain with a chosen few and when he came down the Great Accord was presented. But still the Parties could not agree and even as they cried out and smote one another the great leader turned tail and departed into the sky whence he came, leaving a scene of  intense devastation.

And so all that was left in this wasteland was the Accord. But accord the Parties could not find. And when they had no more strength – they had been fasting for many days and nights – they adopted it not and decided to merely “note” the accord so that they could return to their peoples without shame and failure.

And the world looked on and comprehended it not.


And so COPmas finally came to an end sometime on Saturday afternoon, the talks having drifted into an extra day for the final moments to be acted out by sleep-deprived zombies in front of a tiny audience, something akin to the Monday finals after a rainy Wimbledon fortnight. The All England club solved that problem by building  a roof. If only some kind of political shelter could be introduced to prevent such last minute drama at the UNFCCC.

It’s hard to try to be funny about the Copenhagen Accord. With so many heads of state in one place it was inconceivable to emerge with nothing, so the piece of paper that was finally signed, weak in conception and weakened further by negotiation,  “noted” at the death rather than adopted, is surely the least impressive outcome that could have been hoped for. Is the UN system itself to blame for this calamity? The talkshop format is at once the pinnacle of world civilisation to date – a means for cordial diplomatic discussion by nations of extraordinarily diverse interests and opinions – whilst at the same time being almost medieval in its formality and bureaucracy. Can it be trusted to deliver world-changing international action in the 21st century? Whatever the answer, we have little else and so must persevere. In climate change, small nations matter too.

The final dramatic hours saw many of the Mr Men living up to their characters in swashbuckling style. Host Mr Rush was almost universally criticised for his aimless rushing and weak chairmanship, almost allowing the COP to fold into unmitigated disaster, from both a political and emissions point of view. The only well-organised things about this COP were the NGO party and, arguably, the pickled herrings. It has been all the rage to play on the city’s name in all manner of fashions. Copenhagen became Hopenhagen before slipping to Chokenhagen and at the end, frankly, should be just failing to Cope-nhagen. Let us hope that the Mexicans can make a better job of it next year – although a greater contrast in culture, weather, surroundings and size of city is hard to imagine.

Elsewhere on the floor Little Miss Stubborn was stubborn to the final moments, echoing the words of President Chavez with great drama and being almost the last to block the accord that would have allowed Mr Rush to close the summit in failure.

Mr Grumpy for his part took grumpiness to a new level with his description of the “murderous” accord that he somehow likened to the European Holocaust. His indiscretion caused outrage and led to many of his African followers splitting away and coming out in favour of the document.

Europeans Mr Clumsy and Little Miss Fickle were as muddled as ever as they found themselves left out of the core nations who tabled the accord, and then lacked conviction and clarity in deliberating between remaining at a 20% target or pushing to their promised 30%. The final decision to stick at 20% is typical of the entire accord in its lack of ambition and vision.

Red Mr Strong, found himself right or wrongly typecast as the villain, but he certainly remained strong to the last in refusing to back down significantly on international verification of his actions and somehow refusing to allow even Mr Clumsy and Little Miss Contrary to commit to an ambitious 2050 target.

Mr Uppity, always the richest of the Mr Men, was typically throwing his money around as a veil to avoid taking more action himself back at home. This was quickly refuted by Mr Fussy who, unhappy with the lack of strong targets, refused to have his future “bought for 30 pieces of silver” and opposed the Accord to the end.

That leaves us with Mr Perfect who was sadly less than perfect in his commitment and vision to an outcome at this COP. His backroom deal may have ultimately saved political face for many leaders, but there was widespread anticipation that he would offer more and engage more deeply in negotiations, rather than departing to leave others to fight over the agreement that he began. But, as they say, nobody’s perfect

And finally, pity poor Mr Worry, head of the UNFCCC. Strangely invisible during the final high-level wrangling in the wee hours, he must surely now be worrying also about his job as well as the climate.  All that worrying now seems justified.

“There is no plan B” said Mr Worry in Bangkok in October,  speaking of a comprehensive international agreement at Copenhagen. “There is no Planet B” said the Copenhagen protestors last weekend.

Well here we are with Plan B being merely “noted” and not even adopted.  Planet B, anyone?

[carbonara is off to cheer up and will revert to some hopefully more light-hearted nonsense after Christmas. In the meantime, for some real satire from true professionals do not miss this really excellent dressing down of COP 15 from the BBC]

That sinking feeling: spotted in Camden, London, the day after the deflating conclusion of COP15



  1. Thanks, your commentary and humour have lifted some of the gloom already.

  2. Thanks, your commentary and humour have lifted some of the gloom already.

  3. […] en titt på bloggen “Low Carbonara Climate Spagetti”. Her er for eksempel en beskrivelse av Obamas rolle i klimaforhandlingene i København: And then […]

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