Saturday, 19 December 2009

Copenhagen in Sporting Imagery

Cartoon by Martin Rowson
in the Guardian 19 December 2009

Well the world came, they talked, they didn't really agree anything.

The sportsman in me knows that you have to set a goal a target to aim for. Sometimes you end up reaching that goal, I have won two Irish Junior cups at bowls as well as several other titles. Sometimes you miss, I didn't make the 1992 Olympics for example. But they were both goals that were set and they were both something that I strived for.

What has come out of Copenhagen is a non-binding accord to limit temperature increases to no more than 2C, but has not set any targets on how to do so. For me as a athlete that would be like saying I'm going to run a sub 4 minute mile (which I have done in the past) but have no clear way of how I'm going to train to do so, nor any idea of how I'm going to run the race to do so.

So how would I go about running that race to get to sub four without a plan. I could set off as fast as I could. Yeah I could run the first 100m in about 11 seconds. If I do that 16 and a little bit more times I'd run a mile in under three minutes. Easy. Err no.

Ok I'd set off then at a gentle jog and start to really run after the first three minutes are up. Only after the first three minutes I have only run a quarter mile, and I have to run the other three quarters of a mile in one minute. Something not even Usain could run at that required pace for.

After two years of planning to get to this summit in the final hours the issues of emissions cuts, monitoring of emissions and the legal nature of the deal all re-emerged in the final hours of negotiations. Taking a different sporting metaphor this is like getting to the final minutes of a game of football only to realise that the size of the net, selection of a referee and the rules of the game are contended by each of the players on the park and several of the fans. We wouldn't stand that in our sports following, how come we are to accept it for something as important as the future of our planet.

Yesterday there were rumours that the worlds leaders were going to be asked to stay in Copenhagen until they came to a substantive and target based agreement. It would be better than the hogswash of a document that they did.

Barack Obama says:

"This progress is not enough. We have come a long way, but we have much further to go."

Gordon Brown says:

"This is the first step we are taking towards a green and low-carbon future for the world, steps we are taking together. But like all first steps, the steps are difficult and they are hard.

"I know what we really need is a legally binding treaty as quickly as possible."

Only thing is Prime Minister this isn't the first step, this is a vital step along the way. This step may well have been like one an Olympic diver takes on the platform before the dive. The end result is either to soar to success or miss the end of the board and fall to a horrible mess. Sadly the second is a lot closer to the step that has been taken.

As Martin Rowson illustrates above it is like the World Leaders have washed their hands of their responsibility like Pontius Pilate. They should have been kept at the negotiations until they really did have a deal to help the world.

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