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Copenhagen Ladder Awards: Prince Charles, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Key

John Gallagher proposes Ladder Awards for 3 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference speakers. They are Britain’s Prince Charles, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

John Gallagher says:

The Copenhagen Climate Conference offers plenty of scope for Shovel Awards. I will take that as read, and would like, rather, to propose Ladder Awards for three speakers who offered some strong pointers to real ways ahead.

Prince Charles

First, despite my not being any sort of monarchist, I wish propose a Ladder Award for Britain’s Prince Charles. He effectively noted as gone an era of competing nation states where the powerful could push to win at the expense of less powerful “losers” when he said:

The inescapable conclusion …is that a partial solution to climate change is no solution at all. It must be inclusive and it must be a comprehensive approach – one that strengthens the resilience of our ecosystems.

Now all nations and people face a common problem with everything at stake given our dependence on a fragile and endangered ecosystem. That means old “win-lose” ways of thinking need to go – or we and our nation states do instead. The only climate change solutions are win-win for all. Competitive, win-lose nation-state “realist” political theory has now become patently unreal.

I shall return to Charles again further on.

NZ Prime Minister John Key

I think John Key deserves a Ladder Award for, in effect, adding to Charles’s thesis about the need for inclusive global solutions, while also helping to retrieve New Zealand’s credibility as an international broker between the developed and less developed world, between the powerful and the less powerful nations. He so well said:

At this conference we need leadership from the major economies. They need to listen to the voices of vulnerable nations that are facing the harsh realities of climate change …  For New Zealand, we are acutely aware of the challenge climate change poses for our Pacific Island neighbours.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California and one-time film star

I have never seen any of the heroic, muscular, cyborg-fighter’s Terminator films for which “Arnie” as he is affectionately known, first became famous. I also shuddered when he first became Governor of California. But I think he is saying exactly what needs saying when he speaks clearly and strongly of the need for leadership to come not just from governments, but from below. His words:

Planetary transformation had to be made real – and governments alone could not do it. History tells us that movements begin with people, not governments, and when they become powerful enough, governments respond.

The world’s governments … need everyone coming together, working together, they need the cities, the states, the provinces and the regions. They need the corporations, the activists, the scientists and the universities, the individuals whose vision and determination create movement.

I take this to mean that communities, experts with relevant knowledge and governments have to find new, more effective ways of understanding and collaborating to deal with environmental issues.

Prince Charles, again

To return to Prince Charles, who expressed the same sentiments as Arnold. He said that climate change must crucially:

be embraced by the public, private and NGO sectors, as well as by local communities and indigenous people, while also encouraging individual responsibility.

Finally, to give Charles the last word for seeing how climate change is not a single issue, but is a “risk multiplier”:

Reducing poverty, increasing food production, combating terrorism and sustaining economic development are all vital priorities, but it is increasingly clear how rapid climate change will make them even more difficult to address.

In positive terms, innovative thinking is needed to conceptualize and create instead “solutions multipliers”.

Perhaps the deeper lesson of the largely-failed Copenhagen climate change conference is that people cannot afford to wait for the leaders to find the solutions. Rather, they may need first to look to what they can do amongst themselves. Perhaps the best way to do this will be for people everywhere to connect with one another to meet what needs they can at local levels, and then to look beyond the locality as required. This relative local self-reliance, including a commensurate reduction in transport needs, could itself hugely reduce carbon footprints and enable many other problems to be tackled rather more effectively than at present.

Then our presently over-stretched civic, national and international leaders and institutions may also find themselves able to deal much more comfortably and competently with the remaining problems that come their way.

What do you think? Send in your Awards.


Prince Charles Copenhagen speech: ‘The eyes of the world are upon you’, Tuesday 15 December 2009

Listen to voices of vulnerable nations – Key By DAVID WILLIAMS – The Press, Last updated 05:00 19/12/2009 and Full text of John Key’s Copenhagen speech

We must fight climate change, says Arnold Schwarzenegger, Belfast Telegraph, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

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