Shock therapy at Copenhagen

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While leaders have the power to change things, they rarely do. How do you make world leaders act? They are bogged down by political considerations, powerful lobbies, historical issues and gigantic bureaucracies with entrenched interests. To break the deadlock, the UN is planning on mixing things up at the upcoming Copenhagen climate change conference (Guardian Article). One interesting idea is to strip the leaders of the attachés, assistants, and entourage and place them at a table with the leaders of countries their pollution is affecting most. In effect, they hope to strip the leaders of their protective bubble and return them to a more natural state where they might see the impact of their decisions in the eyes of others. From the Guardian article,

The leaders will also lunch with environmental activists and chief executives of corporations who have been pressing their governments for action. At dinner, the leaders of the biggest polluting countries will dine with the leaders of Bangladesh, Kiribati and Costa Rica – which are among the primary victims of climate change.

By the end of the day, the rationale goes, the leaders will be imbued with a new sense of purpose. Leaders of rich countries will have been galvanised to take on the big emissions cuts – 25-40% over the next decade, 80% by 2050 – needed to keep temperatures from rising more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, the temperature set by science to avoid the most calamitous effects of climate change.

Will be interesting to see if these tactics have any effect. These noble ideas, that a few individuals can decide the fate of the world reminds me of a movie where a young lady infiltrates the G8 meeting and convinces the leaders to take a stance on poverty. She is promptly thrown out, but they do sign a more serious commitment to poverty alleviation. Speech on Millennium Poverty Goals: