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The “agreeement” signed in Copenhagen is a milestone, though not in the way environmentalists and scientists hoped for. It marks the shift from the Old World, characterized by Europe (in a cultural, rather than geographical meaning, as it encompasses both Europe and the Americas) to a New World, where the lead is on two Asian countries – the “Giants” China and India – plus South Africa. The US is still holding on to the remnants of its power, while the sun is setting over Europe.
Barack Obama had arrived to Copenhagen anticipated by the salutes and helas! of everybody: friends, allied – and enemies alike. Twelve days of talks, meetings, workshops, round tables had achieved nothing: negotiation were, indeed, even quite a few steps behind the starting point! Supporters of a strong, fair and legally binding agreement were looking at the US President as the only one who could steer away from complete failure and ensure success.
Obama, indeed, presented himself as the savior. To go by the American common imagery, he was the 7th Cavalry coming to the rescue of the sieged Fort in the furthermost outpost. “We’re running out of time ,” he told the world at his first press conference in Copenhagen. He clearly and loudly called the rest of the world to engage themselves in a strong, binding deal, one he said would be a milestone. “We can make history, for us and our children”, he said. He was probably thinking his status of Peace Nobel Prize would be enough to support his stand: he was clearly holding too much confidence in it.
He had to come to terms with the new “Landlords”, the two superpowers from Asia. Not Japan, who has long lost their chance. Not Indonesia, Malaysia or the Gulf Countries, who are paying their being too deeply influenced by religion – and by one religion which is too far from what the world is asking today. But India and China, the two Tigers, the Giants, the two countries with the longest and most complicated history, dating back thousands and thousands of years. For the first time on the front line of the world. With them, South Africa, the strongest – economically and politically – representative of the Black Continent, of Africa, the land where it all started.
COP 15 had been indicated by many as the launchpad to a new world: as it turned out, we might say this new world definitely looks like the the very first one, with Southern Africa – human beings’ birthplace – China and India – the two countries where Civilization first achieved its highest developments – united.
Latin America, despite all its potential wealth and natural resources, still has to get by with a background role: Brazil’s President Lula did try to force his way into the main stage, but he yet has to build a strong enough network of political and economical allies and friends.
And Europe? The Old Continent is the real loser. The European Union was hosting the conference, in Denmark and under the Presidency of Sweden: with two of Europe’s strongholds of environmentalism so deeply involved, there was more than a reason to expect the EU would play a major role in drawing next world’s guidelines. It was a complete failure: when the game got tough, and the tough got playing, Europe was out of the room.
Small island states have seen their fate decided: and this time, it’s not White Man, the old colonist, to bear the blame. Tuvalu and the other ocean states had turned to the European Union as their strongest – and only – allied. As things came out, it was not the right choice.
Will the new balance of powers prove to be good for the world’s environment? Time will say, but the starting point isn’t very good. India and China have been against any kind of agreement from the very first moment. They have forced the US to accept a deal where no limit is imposed: priority is given to the needs of economical development, rather than to a sustainable development. Countries will enhance their own politics, with no fear of being fined for violations.
If the path marked in Copenhagen – the shift in the global balance of power – will br confirmed over the next few years – and we have no doubts it will – we can expect China and India to enjoy a stronger and stronger position by the year. Their political, economical and social models will slowly take over, radically and dramatically changing the world as we know it today.