Remind me… what was agreed at Copenhagen?

By the end of this week (31 Jan 2010) the world was supposed to have signed up to say what their cuts in CO2 production will be.

As far as I know, 9 nations have “indicated they wish to be associated with” the Copenhagen accord (no one is actually expected to go so far as sign or ratify the accord, that would be asking too much). Nine out of 192 is not a good ratio. The US is not one of them yet, nor is China, nor is most of Europe. One nation has said it does not want to be associated.

Does anyone care?

De Boer, the UN chief of climate negotiations, says he does not view the 31 January deadline as a hard deadline. This is worrisome. We have an accord which didn’t say anything to start with, but which did set a deadline for something to be said — and now we are told that deadline isn’t meaningful.

Certainly the 9 nations (Australia, Canada, France, Ghana, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Serbia, Singapore and Turkey) who have said they “wish to be associated with” the accord cannot make enough reductions by themselves to impact climate change.

Brazil, South Africa, India and China (the four nations who, with the US, drafted the accord) met yesterday and said that they supported the accord — after getting the UN Secretary General to say that the accord had no legal force.

So… they, the authors, only support it because it doesn’t mean anything?

Climate change has mostly dropped out of the news in the US. I’ve only seen two news items on the US position:

I find the first disturbing because by only getting input from the big polluters, it seems unlikely that significant change will happen (it would be like excluding environmentalists from a forum on reducing logging in forests). And by ignoring most of the world we come across as arrogant and uncaring.

It will lead to fragmentation of efforts. If the US is only willing to talk to China, then Bolivia will only talk to Cuba. The UN, with all its faults, is the only global form of governance we have. It may not be very effective, but that is one of the drawbacks of democracy.

The second speaks for itself. Will the US do anything? Or will it be just like Kyoto where we remove considerable substance from the treaty to make it palatable to our congress and then refuse to sign it. The worst of both worlds — a treaty which doesn’t do enough and a country which does nothing at all.


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