Durban Decides

I learned yesterday that the world had been saved.

The world was saved by the carefully planned and perfectly executed actions of its great powers, united by their unhesitating concern for the human family. We shall be forever grateful to the United States, Japan, the major European nations, China, Brazil and, it must be said, even Canada.

I do concede that these major powers were not elected governments. They were central banks, acting in unison to prevent the European currency plague from contaminating the global financial system.

The banks took this action because their expert economic advisers told them that the system was on the verge of meltdown. These experts were not certain about this but the banking authorities decided to take no chances.

I doubt very much if this news has reached Durban. And I’m quite certain that its cost will never be known.

But we are undoubtedly saved, at least for now, because the barometer of our well-being is once again ticking clockwise. The global stock markets have rebounded.

The shared values which underpin this remarkable act of international cooperation are honourable but no longer fit for purpose. They were forged in an era in which the great forces of nature were capable of absorbing any abuse dished out by one runaway species.

Humanity has now acquired the intellectual means to know its fate but lacks the wisdom to respond. This existential absurdity finds its greatest expression in the climate change conferences of the United Nations. How can so many people care so much but achieve so little?

They all do care – every negotiator in Durban, every long-suffering ministry official, every angry NGO campaigner, every lobbyist and entrepreneur. They should unite in tearing up their order papers for Saturday’s official proceedings, forget the tiresome acronyms of their trade and join the Durban Day of Action to convey a peaceful message for radical change to their political masters.

Durban itself should abandon the vanity of pinning its name to another vacuous compromise that might just possibly be achieved from this UN conference. The city has far greater potential resonance for the fight against climate change outside the conference centre.

It’s one of the world’s cities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. And it’s the home of Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, one of few people on the planet who can pluck out the heart of this terrible problem and compel a response. Go and listen to what he has to say.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK