A Note on Obama’s Announcement

Here is the link to the press conference where Obama announced the agreement that had been formed that day:

Many people, specifically the kicked-out civil society who watched from the NGO centre, were angered – even devastated – by the announcement he made.  While the deal is not ideal, we have to remember that it will still be revised and strengthened into the Bonn conference in March, and there is still time to finalize and improve the initial accord with the hope that a legally binding agreement will be developed at COP16 in Mexico.  Something Yvo de Boer said in one of the side events is that we should not have trust in our negotiators or leaders unless they’ve earned it.  While some of the most prominent negotiating parties are in my opinion not trustworthy, there are those I am comfortable putting my faith in.  Tuvalu, for example, and the Maldives, and some other AOSIS,  African, and LDC nations.  These countries are already being affected and will continue to suffer until their regions are no longer habitable.  Even then, in the words of Maldivian President Nasheed, they “will continue to fight until the end”.  I am sure that even there is an end in sight (although I desperately hope that a REAL deal comes forward in the next year), there will be those who will continue fighting hard for those who no longer can.

So while the outcome is not the one we wanted, I do not believe we can conceive it as a real failure.  We must take it with a grain of salt, considering that there are those who will continue meaningful work on the issues and that, with continued pressure, our voices will not only be heard but considered and obeyed by those who were put in a position to serve the society we represent.  True, Obama was elected on the promise of creating a change, and I believe that he made a genuine effort to create at least an acceptable accord despite the two weeks of bad politics that preceded the final 48 hours.  We all have to remember that no matter what the individual in power stands for, a society like ours means that there is always an institution that the figurehead needs to answer to.  In the cases of both Canada and the US there are systemic pressures and practices that have been in place long before either of our recent elected officials had been there.  As such, it will take many offices of similar paradigms to create a positive, more socially reflective system.  The only real (democratic) option for a change drastic enough to mitigate the effects of our climate crisis is a change in the minds of whole societies which must be united in voice and in force.  As Elizabeth May said on the topic of observers’ high expectations of Obama, “Obama may be Obama, but we all have to remember that the US is still the US.”


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