COP15: the last chance saloon?

I went to an engaging talk by Joe Smith from the Open University last week. He led a discussion on the challenges climate change poses for the relationship between Politicians, the media and the public.

It seems to me that there is a level of consensus between climate activists and the political elite (at least if you listen to the rhetoric) but there is the gulf of the public in between, most of whom don’t believe or are disinterested.

Joe’s most enlightening point (one of many) was that the media had to be careful not to over exaggerate the terminal importance of Copenhagen (COP15). Important as it is, it is part of a process, and succeed or fail there will need to be government and media action long after it. The Media mustn’t cry ‘FIRE’ too loud or the public will switch off to the longer-term process.

We need to be careful not to lull ourselves into believing that if we get a good deal then the world is saved and if we don’t the world will end. It is an ongoing process, and with all of the sensationalism and hyperbole of the moment put aside, we will still be working at this for the next 50+ years.

There is a note of optimism in this. We may be in the last chance saloon, but there are a few more hands to play at the table and they haven’t called last orders yet. After all COP15 means it is the 15th ‘Conference of the Parties’ and there will be many more, whatever the outcome.


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