Emotions running high

 

 

MARY PATERSON: The newspapers and news channels are full of emotion about COP15. On Monday, 56 newspapers around the world shared an editorial which read: ‘Fourteen days to seal history’s judgement on this generation.’ The Guardian has created a Flickr group to capture its readers’ experiences, and a live blog. Yesterday Sky News halted its ticker tape of breaking stories for a second, its presenters stared glassy eyed and lost into their teleprompters, until they received the announcement that Obama would be attending the end of the conference. This means, they said in emphatic and long drawn out tones, that he might sign a deal.

A Deal.

Connie Heddegaard, the President of COP15, is hopeful about the deal that could take place. She said there is an unprecedented political will to reach not just an agreement, but an ‘ambitious agreement’. Meanwhile, the most optimistic headline I read this morning comes from The Guardian: ‘Hopes of a deal remain high as climate talks open.’ The implication is that these hopes will soon dwindle. The Daily Telegraph counters with, ‘Sceptics may resort to illegal attacks to stop climate change deal.’ The Independent dwells on Naomi Klein’s soundbite about ‘the capitalisation of hope.’ The activist is referring to the Siemens and Coca Cola logos brandished on the publicity for cultural events that support the conference. The article does not explain why capitalist corporations should be against a climate change deal or, conversely, why they should be pro- the destruction of the world.

The emotional tenor is so strong, that actual facts and figures are hard to find. While The Independent says that the MET Office has released information on world temperatures, for example, it doesn’t give any indication of what that information actually contains. Facts are restricted to the strategic movements of individuals, like the American President Barack Obama, whose support is greeted like a talisman for success. Or, more prosaically, the party political angling of the two main parties in the UK, each leader trying to grab the headlines in a country only a few months away from an election.

Instead, all the news reports refer to something intangible carried out on a massive scale – the judgement of history, perhaps, or the hopes of an unidentifiable mass of individuals. These are not just hopes that a deal will be made, but that a deal will be reasonable, that it will be good enough. This deal – this ideal – will of course be based in facts and figures, but it will mean a lot more. The real hope is that the world’s leaders can create a plan of action that extends beyond national interests. When the stakes are so high, the rules of the game also extend to new dimensions. Can the entire world fight together for a global cause?

And of course the conference does not get a mention in some newspapers, like The Daily Mail or The Sun. Elsewhere, away from Copenhagen, life ticks on as normal. Buses are stuck in traffic. It rains. The view across the Thames from the Southbank Centre on a weekday night is quiet and undisturbed. People are Christmas shopping.

This afternoon, The Guardian leaked a document that it claims gives details of how the richer nations plan to take advantage of the poorer ones. It is illustrated with a picture of a conference room, empty except for the delegate from Haiti, who holds her head in her hands. The picture is not a fact, of course – the Haitian delegate cannot have been alone in a conference room when she heard of the leak; she could have held that pose for less than a second; perhaps she was just tired. But on a day when headlines are also made by ex-X Factor contestants and I’m a Celebrity … outcasts, it’s the next twist in the live action from COP 15: The Soap Opera.

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Posted: December 10th, 2009 | Author: Mary Paterson | Filed under: Text | Tags: | No Comments »

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