The last two days, I, Daniel, the head of the political team at Greenpeace International, have been hanging out in Seoul, Korea. It´s an impressive city. In the city centre you can see as many people in designer ware as in downtown Tokyo or New York.
But Korea is the first country that isn´t part of the "rich world club" (the G8) that is hosting a G20 meeting. And it is making Koreans visibly proud. At the airport, at tube stations, in restaurants: Everywhere people are celebrating Korea´s elevation to "big power status". Flags are a must and people in the street seem to have a spring in their step.
What you will hear in the press about this meeting is all about money and trade. Korea, to their credit, wanted the Summit to also focus on green issues. They have been pushing for what they call "green growth".
We at Greenpeace are sceptical that you can deliver unlimited growth on a finite planet. But we do know for sure that we can deliver what everyone needs while saving our climate. Our Energy [R]evolution, for example, explains how we can bring electricity to all and still prevent dangerous climate change. It can be done.
And here in Seoul, governments sounded like they are starting to get it. In their final communiqué they "commit to stimulate investment in clean energy technology". Sounds good, deosn´t it.
Sadly, everything else these governments did and said in Seoul makes me think that they are not serious. Just think: in the very same document they fail to make any commitments to fight climate change.
They could´t even agree to keep global temperature rise below a catastrohic threshold. They also shamefully dragged their feet on a promise they made last year to - at least - stop throwing taxpayers money at climate destroying oil and coal companies.
So, despite some fancy green rhetoric, the G20 has in fact failed the world. (Our full reaction to the final outcome is here.) But let me end on a less sombre note.
I happen to be German. And - true to stereotype - I happen to love beer (though do make it organic please). The bar pictured here amused me therefore.
A German "Bier Halle" (pub) right in the centre of Seoul. Globalization can be a funny thing sometimes.
I, however, stuck to local food and beer myself. As a vegetarian, I have to say I enjoyed the local "kimchi".
More than the (rather weak) local beer ...
Next year, the G20 will be meeting in France. I doubt I will find a "Bier Halle" there. Will global leaders do any better in addressing the urgent problems of our world?
Greenpeace will certainly be working for that. Please join in!