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We may be only a third of the way through the Copenhagen climate change bonanza (Copyright Rob 2009) but you could be forgiven for thinking that most people had grown sick of it already.

Actually, this is not strictly true. Copenhagen has gripped the business world, and The Lobby is no exception.  Indeed, we are proud to say we now know our baselines from our carbon intensity, our CCS from our BRICs.  You want to know why the US is being sneaky by choosing 2005 rather than 1990 as its base year for emission reductions calculations?  Just ask us.

Forget the global economic crisis.  Forget bankers and risk speculation.  Forget the Iraq War, the Afghanistan surge, forget Somali pirates, forget – yes, even this – the Lisbon Treaty.  For the issue everyone is talking about now, from Brussels to Brunei, is Copenhagen.

It may not be true that more people know Kyoto for its climate change summit than its Shinto temples, but will the same be said of Copenhagen?  Perhaps The Little Mermaid’s days of fame are numbered.

The public can be forgiven for being confused.  One minute leaders are playing the Summit down (e.g. there will be no agreement), the next they big it up.  One minute man-made climate change is portrayed as an unarguable fact, the next it is being torn to shreds by a biblical-sounding climate change “denier”.

Whatever does come out of Copenhagen – and something will, despite the attempts of the latter group – the actions of the individual look certain to be more scrutinised than ever before, particularly in the developed countries.  In a nutshell, if you aren’t already aware of your carbon footprint, you soon will be.

We at The Lobby like to think of ourselves as being relatively carbon-neutral – the Editors own one car between us, but we sure as anything rack up the air miles.  We also probably overheat our apartments.  All victimless crimes, or so we may think, but Copenhagen looks set to change perceptions, as well as reality.  Time to wake up and smell the carbon before it’s too late.

– Rob

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56 newspapers around the world published today the common editorial “Fourteen days to seal history’s judgment on this generation” calling for decisive action on climate change.

On the first day of the “largest and most important UN climate change conference in history”, the text reached readers in 45 countries in 20 different languages. Drafted by a team from the left-leaning UK newspaper The Guardian, the editorial pleads for a “fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty”.

The piece apparently took one month to prepare and is an unprecedented initiative. The news has already become viral, and The Lobby has already played its part by blogging and tweeting about it.

We are fairly certain that more than 56 blogs posts will be created on the subject, so let’s see if we can recreate the editorial’s success. Passing the torch now…

– Bilyana

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Will we see a Royal Flush in Copenhagen? (image by The Lobby)

As happens in poker games, players often “check” before betting. Poker tactics and psychology seem to work as well in climate change negotiations. After a long silence, two major card sharks have finally announced their bet as the game truly begins.

The bets translate into a 17% reduction by 2020 for the US and a 40% reduction by 2020 for China. That doesn’t sound too bad except that there is a little footnote. The base year to calculate the reductions is 2005 for both countries. Compared to 1990 levels (the EU’s base year) this makes the figure look tiny. Even tinier for China which will reduce by 40% “per unit of GDP”, thereby linking efforts to economic growth – the devil, as The Lobby’s boss likes to say, is in the detail. Whilst welcoming both players to the game, the Swedish EU Presidency announced itself to be ‘disappointed’ and asked them to raise their bets. That’s however a good start according to many commentators and China even received support from Greenpeace – so it can’t be too bad!

The EU of course wants more – as in a poker game, the one who’s got the good hand always wants to raise the pot. Shuffle up and deal!


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Building bridges for a better debate (Under the Bridge by Andrea Schafthuizen, via

There exists a vacuum in Brussels. A void that could and (should?) be filled by so called first-party bloggers. First-party bloggers are, in this case, the people who have the acumen and potential of serving as bridges between the many industry players and NGOs active in Brussels.

To be honest, industries and NGOs in Brussels are presently not really talking to each other – rather they are talking at each other, or indirectly to each other via various EU fora. Taking a more concrete example, looking at the posts on Greenpeace’s Climate blog ahead of Copenhagen I see quite a few comments – but none from industry, at least not explicitly stated as such. And where are the industry blogs? Sure, there are a few – but far from enough.

More industry and NGO blogs coupled with a few passionate (and independent!) first-party bloggers building bridges between the two communities could quite possibly lead to greater transparency and a more fruitful debate on critical issues such as climate change.

Any structural engineers keen to take on the challenge?

– Emil

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While some are focused on tonight’s France-Ireland or Portugal-Bosnia games, another match is taking place in Rome this week. The goal: to find a way to feed 9.2 billion people by 2050.

Since Monday, world leaders, convened at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters for the UN World Summit on Food Security, have been reflecting on the best ways to eradicate hunger. A key solution foreseen is to boost agricultural investment in poor countries. New technologies were also discussed as a way to “produce more food with less” – three polemical initials should come to your mind in this regard – GMO!

But the real wake up call was the warning by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that failure at next month’s international climate change negotiations would result in a further rise in hunger. “There cannot be food security without climate security”, he said. In particular for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which already are suffering from declining yields and a worrying frequency of extreme weather events.

But can climate change and hunger be solved together? The biofuel example, which has introduced competition between “crops for food” and “crops for fuel” and exacerbated the rise in food prices, proves that if the two problems are linked, then it is necessary to find joint solutions.

UK Minister Jim Fitzpatrick declared that food and climate security were “two sides of the same coin”. Well, the die is cast but there are no doubts about the bets of politicians. If Copenhagen and its preparation have been focusing political attention for over a year, many noted that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was the only G8 leader to attend the UN Food Summit. Let’s just hope that political will is not the only key to buck the hunger trend.

If you want to play a role on the ground, you could start by taking a Fair Trade Breakfast this weekend. This Oxfam initiative should be a convivial opportunity to familiarise people with the issues surrounding global trade and its impact on hunger in poor countries.

– Delphine

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