Disappointment due to wishful thinking

Luis Pais Antunes
There were great expectations in Portugal for the Copenhagen conference. Secretary for Environment, Humberto Rosa, qualified the results of the conference as “deceiving” but in any case “better than nothing”[1], in line with most of the European representatives. As Minister Amado recently acknowledged, the disappointment was mainly the result of wishful thinking about how the other interested parties would accept the negotiation terms. Amado expressly mentions that the European position “was a little bit naïve” in trying to take leadership in a subject matter where it could find an easy consensus among the member states, without understanding the concerns of its main partners. According to Amado, Europe, which still lives under the strategic dependence from the USA, tried to use the climate issue as an opportunity to take the lead and clearly failed, which also proves that it still faces significant limitations as to its status as a global actor.[2]
Excluding Japan, the most conservative European proposals in Copenhagen seemed to be far in advance of those of the other main international players, but this should not necessarily be a reason to cause the European Union to change its own energy and climate policy.[3] It is necessary to give a new impulse to the international negotiations in view of the COP16 at the end of the year in Mexico, although one should not be too optimistic about the outcome of the next conference. Europe by itself will not be in a position to impose its own views without a clear change of US policy under the Obama administration.
Climate change is a world issue. Of course, nothing prevents Europe from adopting measures to take the lead, as it did in the last decade. But under the current economic scenario, one fails to see any possible alternative to a global agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to fight climate change.
Portugal supports the financing of mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries, as per the National Strategy of Adaptation to the Climate Changes adopted by the Portuguese government in March 2010.

[1] Lusa news agency, 20 December 2009.

[2] Interview in the newspaper Expresso, 24 July 2010.

[3] Viriato Soromenho Marques: Entre a crise e o colapso. O desafio ontológico das alterações climáticas, Brot´ria, December 2009.