Walkout at Copenhagen

2009-12-14

in Politics, The environment

Curried yams

The latest from Copenhagen is that the climate talks are stalled due to a walkout by poorer nations. As distant as I am from all the manoeuvring, it is impossible to know how significant this is. Most news sources are suggesting that the move is a calculated negotiating tactic. Some of those reporting on the conference have been critical of the drama; others have focused attention on how the probable outcome remains uncertain, though it is very unlikely to be a finalized agreement.

Arguably, the toughest thing will not be to hammer out a new global agreement of some sort, but rather to produce a document that will significantly change outcomes for major emitters in both the developed and the rapidly developing world. Canada’s record of signing on to a reduction target, then never developing and deploying a plan to reach it, is certainly not encouraging in this regard.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsy December 14, 2009 at 10:29 am

I’m glad that the lesser developed nations are standing up to the developed countries who, I agree, are not doing enough to cut their emissions. I hope this is just a quick show of force and everyone gets back to talks soon!

Milan December 14, 2009 at 10:49 am

The trouble is, nobody is doing enough to cut their emissions.

I am all for stunts, if they increase the ultimate chance of success. I don’t know enough about the negotiations to judge how constructive this one is.

. December 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm

U.N. climate conference President Connie Hedegaard has resigned, saying that talks have failed, Domain-b.com reported Dec. 16. Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen will now serve in the post; Hedegaard will continue as a special representative to Rasmussen and as a negotiator. Some 115 heads of state and 193 nations are represented at the Copenhagen conference, which protesters say has failed.

. December 16, 2009 at 6:12 pm

When the folks at Climate Interactive plug in every promise made at these talks (the American offer on the table, the Chinese promise to reduce “energy intensity”, the E.U. pledges, and so on) their software tells them almost instantly how much carbon they would eventually produce. When they hit the button last night, the program showed that by 2100 the world’s CO2 concentrations (currently 390) would be—drumroll please – 770. That is, we would live in hell, or at least a place with a similar temperature.

So that’s the scorecard. You may hear a lot of happy talk from world leaders over the next few days as they “reach a historic agreement.” But that’s how it all adds up.

. December 18, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Here’s Your Speech Mr Obama
Posted December 17, 2009

This is what the US president should say in Copenhagen

“Most of us have agreed on the ultimate goal: to prevent more than two degrees centigrade of global warming. But it should not be left to the poorer nations to remind the rich world of what its own scientists say. Even the most ambitious cuts the wealthy nations have proposed cannot meet our goal. They are likely instead to deliver three or four degrees of warming, threatening many of the world’s people.

So I have come here to propose two policies which could meet the challenge our scientists have identified. This is the first. I hereby commit the United States to cutting greenhouse gases by 50% against our 1990 levels by 2020. I commit to this cut regardless of what other nations might do, but I urge you to compete with me to exceed it. We should be striving to outbid each other, not to undercut each other.

I recognise however that even this measure cannot guarantee that we stay within the two degree limit. Eventual global temperatures will be set by the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The best scientific estimate is that we can afford to burn a maximum of 60% of the carbon stored in the world’s current reserves of fossil fuels. A safer proportion would be 40%…

I have no illusions about the resistence these proposals will encounter. This will be the political battle of my life. But I know it is a battle worth fighting. If I duck it, future generations will never forgive me, just as they will not forgive anyone in this room for failing to rise to our greatest challenge. This is the battle we owe to our children and to their children. This is the time to do not what is expedient, but what is right.”

. February 19, 2010 at 2:03 pm

U.N. Climate Chief Resigns

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR and JOHN M. BRODER
Published: February 18, 2010

UNITED NATIONS — The sense of disarray in the global effort to address climate change deepened Thursday with the resignation of Yvo de Boer, the stolid Dutch bureaucrat who led the international climate change negotiations over four tumultuous years.

His departure, which takes effect on July 1, comes after a largely unsuccessful meeting in Copenhagen in December that was supposed to produce a binding international treaty but instead generated mostly acrimony and a series of unenforceable pledges by nations to reduce their global warming emissions.

Mr. de Boer did not directly link his decision to step down to the chaos at Copenhagen. But he was known to be frustrated and exhausted by the meeting’s failures. His resignation was seen by some as a further sign that the United Nations framework, which for almost two decades has been viewed as the best approach to tackling global warming, may have outlived its usefulness. And it raised questions about whether any significant progress toward a global treaty would be made by December, when the next United Nations climate talks are to be held in Cancún, Mexico.

“If Yvo de Boer thought that there would be a legally binding treaty at the end of this year, I suspect he would be sticking around to take some of the credit for it,” said Michael A. Levi, an expert on climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations. “He has put in a lot of time toward a very well-defined end.”

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