Paul Gilding: “Don’t sweat the small stuff, Copenhagen is just a training exercise”


Paul Gilding, a climate change activist and independent writer has published an astonishing piece on his blog (‘The Cockatoo Chronicles‘) on why we shouldn’t worry too much about the outcome at Copenhagen Conference in December this year:

Now the world is slowly waking up to the climate threat, passionate debates are raging around the world on climate policy – cap and trade systems vs taxes, renewables vs coal with CCS and global agreements vs national action. From the US, to China, from South Africa to Australia, policy makers are examining their options and vested interests are furiously protecting their turf.

As recently as a year ago I would have been deeply engaged by these debates, deeply concerned that we got the right reduction target, the right policy mechanism, the right strategy in place. Now I find myself watching with an almost surreal detachment, observing with interest but rarely getting excited or disappointed as the debate swings this way or that.


This is all just shadow boxing, the training session before the game really begins. What happens this year and next, even at the Copenhagen conference is of marginal significance only. What? That’s heresy! Isn’t the Copenhagen Climate conference the most critical global meeting in history, the one that will determine the future of civilisation? No, not really. Here’s why.

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1 thought on “Paul Gilding: “Don’t sweat the small stuff, Copenhagen is just a training exercise”

  1. I agree with some of Gilding’s points but his conclusion that we should “just relax” and wait for the main game frustrates me greatly.

    I agree with his comments that:

    “It is now completely clear that all the actions currently on the table by policy makers are based on the wrong science and the wrong assumptions – the science of a decade ago when we thought a target of 450ppm and 2 degrees was radical and bold. When we thought dramatic global reductions in emissions by 2050 of around 60% was going to put us into safe territory and protect humanity from collapse. But that science has been superseded.

    The current debates are simply the world of policy and business slowly catching up to the science of yesterday. They’re acting in 2009 on what we knew in 1990.”

    But to conclude from this that “all climate action advocates [should] relax” and wait for the main game when disaster hits us is astounding. It is like waiting until we actually drive over the cliff before trying hard to apply the brakes.

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