Ignore the Cancun Cacophony of Doom
So, Cancun produced something after all. Not an awful lot, it has to be said, but there is a definite narrowing of the agenda to a framework where more concrete actions can be worked up. The clearest sections are the $100m fund to help poorer countries cut carbon and adapt to climate change, and the forestry package (known as REDD) to help preserve forests. Everybody seems relieved that progress has been made – only Bolivia and a handful of NGOs are throwing their hands up in despair – saying the world has failed once again.
These professional negativists are never happy – ignore them. When my city of Newcastle was awarded ‘UK’s most sustainable city’ by Forum for the Future for the second time, the local Green Party didn’t even mention it in their newsletter (which they send me). When I challenged them, they said they believed it showed we were ‘least bad’ – OK you could argue that, but surely such progress was worth a mention by a group for whom sustainability is the raison d’être. I rather suggest that they are hiding from an inconvenient truth – that environmental purism doesn’t deliver whereas environmental pragmatism does.
And I know I keep banging on about it, but slow international progress doesn’t preclude fast local or organisational progress. And here too pragmatism and optimism rule the day. Ignore the doomsters, or better still, get them involved so they can understand the real messy world of imperfection in which the rest of us have to operate. Then they might get real.