Michael Jacobs, one of UKPM Gordon Brown's climate change advisers, told a London newspaper “Let's get the bad news out of the way first – there isn't going to be a legally binding global climate treaty for at least three years.” That seems the consensus view here.
Which made it all the more interesting that on one wall of Cancún Messe are these charts of delegates’ and observers’ carbon footprints for all of the Climate COPs since the Earth Charter was translated into the big three frameworks for action (the convention on climate change, the convention on biodiversity and the convention on desertification) — 17 years ago.
México decided to invest its one-time bonanza of petrodollars — now in rapid decline, not to say freefall — in tourism. In that 40 years it went from exporting food to the world to becoming a net importer of its most important staples — rice, beans and corn. Instead of selling huaraches and jalapeños, it sold turquoise beaches, Jose Cuervo tequila, and Corona. México cut a 50-mile swath of mangroves to erect luxury resort hotels and tethered itself to multi-thousand-mile jet flights from London, Paris and Atlanta. Now that peak oil has arrived, it is a good day to die.
The center of the conference is in the Hotel Moon Palace, with 2,457 rooms fetching some $750 per night. Each room comes with a double-occupancy Jacuzzi and a sea view, liquor dispenser with top shelf brands of whisky, rum, tequila and vodka, and LCD TV with Fox News locked in. There are three Jack Nicklaus golf courses and spas and a half-dozen upscale restaurants with dinner buffets starting at $50 if you didn’t book the all-inclusive. You can swim to two of the restaurants (and three beach bars) by either the ocean or the 220-meter chlorine river that winds through the connecting patios by the beach. With their rooms comp’d by their governments, delegates can unwind with a hot stone and aloe massage by the pool, balneotherapy in one of 6 private suites, or facials and body scrubs in 20 spa rooms.
If mingling with lower classes is not for you, the Moon Palace has 50 Presidential Suites where everything can be brought to you by skilled professionals.
Last Saturday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon dedicated the State’s first commercial-scale wind turbine, announcing that it will provide “part” of the hotel’s electricity and save carbon for the conference. Given that each double Jacuzzi generates 35 times more carbon dioxide than an ordinary bath and 80 times more than a five-minute shower, we’re guessing that the wind will only make a very small contribution even to México’s public relations.
The Climate Action Network voted Canada its first Cancún Fossil of the Day Award for a year of climate inaction, but the New Face of Moet Champagne, Canadian Scarlett Johansson, has gotten into the Jacuzzi with Tcktcktck and Oxfam. The actress has signed an open letter as an Oxfam Global Ambassador “to call on international negotiators to protect the world's poor from climate catastrophe.” Leonardo DiCaprio, another respected climate change celebrity, has received praise from environmental groups for flying on commercial airlines rather than by private jet. In fairness, earlier this week he donated $1 million to the World Wildlife Fund to protect wild tigers around the world. They don’t fly by private jet either.
|Margarita C. de Salinas|
In all of this, there is an abiding sense of dancing on a grave. The trouble is, it is our grave. All of ours. There is no joy in that, not really. There is only a profound disconnect.
|Global Ecovillage Network delegates Hector Reyes and Maria Ros|
Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) terminology translated by Climate Action Network (CAN):
Forest management: Logging.
Sustainable forest management: Mostly logging.
|All of the music at the President's reception were Military Bands.|
Temporarily destocked: Logged (usually logged natural forest).
Age class structure: Age of forest.
Wrong age class structure: Old trees = needs logging.
Conversion: Logging a natural, carbon and biodiversity-rich forest and replacing it with a low carbon, low biodiversity forest with no penalty (see also temporarily destocked, empty forest, displaced local and indigenous people and Australia).
Unique national circumstances: Need to log (often thought just to apply to New Zealand but can apply to any country wanting to log).
Forward looking baseline: A means of hiding logging emissions (see also Canada and others).
Bar with a band to zero: A means of hiding logging emissions (see also Russia).
Incentive: Not penalizing logging emissions and/or allowing them to be hidden, as in ‘give us an incentive (logging loophole) and we will take on a more ambitious target’
Voluntary: If you might have a high emission from logging then you can opt not to tell anyone. Notable as being the only term that means roughly the same in English. (See also ‘not electing for forest management’ and Austria.)
Cap: Term used by the G77 and China but not understood by Annex I.
Harvested wood products: The logging industry’s little joke.