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Complexity and the State of the UNFCCC Climate Talks

Published: February 16, 2010, Author: AngelSupport

Since the tumultuous negotiations surrounding the development of the Copenhagen Accord last December, many have started to question the efficacy of the UNFCCC process of coming to a global consensus on climate change. This increased when only 55 countries submitted their reduction goals according to the Accord on the assigned deadline on Jan. 31. 139 countries remained unsupportive of the Accord, leading the Convention to push back the date indefinitely. A recent article from the Worldwatch Institute elaborates on this twist of the negotiations.

The global climate talks remain in a state of confusion. The UN and its member states repeatedly fail to come to an agreement on climate change adaptation and mitigation.  This leaves us to wonder if these bodies are equipped to really deal with this problem.

It’s becoming clear that the UN process is simply far too complex. As demonstrated in analyses of complex interactions (such as that of John Bodley in The Power of Scale), the human mind can only handle so many social interactions. Beyond that, the system becomes too complex for any one person to comprehend. Is it realistic to expect a consensus from a gathering of 10,000 people? Maybe it is. But so far, it hasn’t worked.

This also leads us to question whether States’ governments can effectively manage these issues. With too many short-term goals and corporate influences, they seem to be caught in a web themselves. NGO’s are not well-suited to deal with the problem either, given that they are not policy and law-making bodies and don’t represent (or are accountable to) a constituency. This points once again to the world’s indigenous peoples to pave the way for a ground-level approach to dealing the world’s changing climate.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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