When those who agree can’t agree

The Copenhagen summit called by the United Nations to put together a global response to global warming ended without an agreement. BBC asks Why did Copenhagen fail to deliver a climate deal? and goes on to propose some answers:

The summit failed to deliver a way to halt dangerous climate change
About 45,000 travelled to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen – the vast majority convinced of the need for a new global agreement on climate change.

So why did the summit end without one, just an acknowledgement of a deal struck by five nations, led by the US.

And why did delegates leave the Danish capital without agreement that something significantly stronger should emerge next year?

This is an example of a larger phenomenon: Often people who agree with each other on the fundamental issues nevertheless have trouble agreeing on specific proposals. We are also seeing this in the Democratic debate in Congress over the Health Care Bill. Virtually all of the Democrats want Health Care Reform. (One who didn’t, Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama just announced that he is changing parties and becoming a Republican.) And yet the Democrats are having trouble coming up with a bill that all of them agree on. We also see this in the church. Also academia. Also business organizations. Why do you think this is? Is it individual or group interests getting in the way?

At any rate, this is not always a bad thing, as in the case (in my opinion) of the Copenhagen summit.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I am not sure if the Copehagen summit is so much like ideologies not being able to come to an agreement, so much as it is representatives asking how will this agreement hurt or benefit my nations economy. The so called developing countries were holding out for a big payment and agreements that would allow them to circumvent regulations that would hamper or make economic development harder. While at the same time leading countries don’t want to have face the possibility of redoing complete infrastructures or damaging lucrative businesses. Oh they will make noise about Climate Change, some may even actually believe in it, but ultimately they are pragmatic politicians and they know where their money comes from.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I am not sure if the Copehagen summit is so much like ideologies not being able to come to an agreement, so much as it is representatives asking how will this agreement hurt or benefit my nations economy. The so called developing countries were holding out for a big payment and agreements that would allow them to circumvent regulations that would hamper or make economic development harder. While at the same time leading countries don’t want to have face the possibility of redoing complete infrastructures or damaging lucrative businesses. Oh they will make noise about Climate Change, some may even actually believe in it, but ultimately they are pragmatic politicians and they know where their money comes from.

  • DonS

    Agreeing that there is a problem is far different than agreeing on a common solution for that problem. In both health care and so-called climate change, there are many different motivations among those who agree there is a problem. Some are sincere, and want a better world, as they see it. Others (a majority of those attending summits such as Copenhagen and negotiating our future health care system, in my view) see the problem as an opportunity for a power and resources grab. Obviously, these impure motivations will cause a great deal of disagreement when it comes to negotiating a “solution” to the identified problem.

  • DonS

    Agreeing that there is a problem is far different than agreeing on a common solution for that problem. In both health care and so-called climate change, there are many different motivations among those who agree there is a problem. Some are sincere, and want a better world, as they see it. Others (a majority of those attending summits such as Copenhagen and negotiating our future health care system, in my view) see the problem as an opportunity for a power and resources grab. Obviously, these impure motivations will cause a great deal of disagreement when it comes to negotiating a “solution” to the identified problem.


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