Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Accord ?

I wasn’t sure what could be said about Copenhagen that would matter much.  This is after all the global conference midwifed by the Kyoto accord of past fame.  It all was an earnest effort by a group of ambitious promoters to create a working international mechanism of governance.  Perhaps it was well thought out at some level and at some point in its history.   But it was naive to think it could ever progress without the accretion of ideological barnacles.

This derailed the process early.  The wise stood back and let the inevitable happen.  What we get today is a press release masquerading as an international accord.

Canada got to play bad guy throughout.  After all we calmly signed the Kyoto accord with a completely straight face, went home and turned up the oil pumps to full speed ahead.  Perhaps after two hundred years of playing Boy Scout we thought it was time to have a lapse.

The USA did the principled thing at the time and refused to sign such nonsense.

I suspect that an international program to strangle CO2 emissions as a tool to cool the Earth is not going to happen.  The science has caught up to the promoters in the same way that fraudulent assay results catch up to fraudulent gold mines.

What we do have is a failed experiment in International decision making.  Let us make it instructive and develop something that actually works and this time we should try something a little easier.

Right now we need to organize international fishery law and it will need to be enforced at gunpoint.  The science and husbandry need to be formalized and regulated and we all know this.  It is presently been regulated by the highest bribe.  We could start with the whale fishery.  The whalers would be ecstatic to pay a proper fee to allow them a fair harvest and to prevent harvesting by pirates.

December 18, 2009

U.S., China, India and Other Nations Arrive at Nonbinding Agreement at U.N. Climate Summit


A new draft agreement from both developed and developing countries might prove the key to combating climate change

By David Biello   

Editor's note: After this story was posted, delegates at the U.N. Climate Summit resumed negotiations into the early hours of Saturday morning and the body eventually came to a consensus to recognize the deal outlined in the story below.

COPENHAGEN—The U.S., China, India and South Africa form the core of a growing group of nations that have agreed upon a commitment to combat climate change, concluding a grueling two weeks of negotiations in the Danish capital here as part of the United Nations' climate summit. The so-called "Copenhagen Accord" will not be legally binding but will list in annexed documents, for the first time, commitments from both developed and developing countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

"We're going to set a mitigation target to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius," said President Barack Obamain a press briefing. "Transparency, mitigation and finance that the U.S. and our partners embraced here in Copenhagen is a new consensus, a consensus that will serve as the foundation of global action."

A draft text of the accord—details were still be finalized as this report was filed—included goals to reduce global emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; developed countries will reduce their emissions by 80 percent by 2050 as well as "X" (this is the literal wording at present) percent by 2020; developing countries will take "mitigation actions" that will be "subject to international measurement, reporting and verification"; $30 billion for adaptation and mitigation between 2010 and 2012 for the most vulnerable countries, including a "Copenhagen Climate Fund"; and a review of this accord in 2016, which will "include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees [Celsius]."

"We know [to-be-set emission targets] will not be by themselves sufficient to get to where we need to be," Obama said. "Science dictates even more needs to be done."

The accord leaves out large swaths of the world, of course, including Africa, so-called small island states, and others likely to be impacted by climate change, though prime minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia was part of the negotiations, Obama said. "Africa loses more than most if there is no agreement on climate change," Zenawi said Wednesday in an address to the conference. "Because we have more to lose than others, we have to be prepared to be flexible and be prepared to go the extra-mile to accommodate others."

Some of the targets likely to be listed are already clear, such as a reduction in emissions intensity byChina. "We have set the new target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level," said premier Wen Jiabao in an address to the conference Friday. "We have not attached any condition to the target, nor have we linked it to the target of any other country. We will honor our word with real action." And India's Prime Minister Manomhan Singh reaffirmed his country's commitment to reduce its emissions intensity by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. 

"The money that will be put on the table is the payment for greenhouse gas emissions that were made over two centuries because [developed countries] had the privilege of those countries that industrialized themselves first," said President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil in an address to the conference Friday morning. "If it is necessary for us to make more sacrifices, Brazil is willing to tap money to help other countries."

But neither the money nor the cuts are guaranteed. "I think we should still strive towards something more binding than this is but that was not achievable at this conference," Obama said. "Kyoto was legally binding and people still fell short anyway."

Nevertheless, all 193 countries will now have the opportunity to respond to the would-be "Copenhagan Accord" late Friday, the night of the last day of negotiations. Sudan's Lumumba Di-Aping, a negotiator involved with the G77 bloc of developing countries, called the accord a "gross violation" of United Nations principles and noted "two degrees Celsius will result in massive devastation for Africa and small island states." He added: "This deal remains an idea. If any single party refuses the deal, there is no deal."

Environmentalists and other activist groups also expressed skepticism. "It clearly doesn't match up to the science," says Alden Meyer, policy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "We don't even have the [emissions] cut numbers you need to evaluate how good it is."

Scientists have no role left to play at this point, either. "There is nothing more for us to do," saysIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Bureau member Taka Hiraishi. "People are really exhausted. Perhaps fed up is the better phrase."

But many U.S. politicians showed support for something similar earlier in the week. "Two degrees Celsius is the proper goal for this moment in history," said U.S. Representative Edward Markey in a press conference on Thursday, although some of his colleagues in the House continued to debate the science of climate change at the summit. "There is a culture of corruption going through the scientific community," charged Rep. John Sullivan on Friday. And Senator John Kerry argued in a press conference Wednesday: "Success in Copenhagen is really critical to success next year in the U.S. Senate and Congress."

Ultimately, domestic and international politics trumped science in the drafting of this accord. "Ultimately this issue is going to be dictated by the science. The science indicates we are going to have to take more aggressive steps in future," Obama said. "We're going to meet those targets as I said before not because the science demands it but because it offers us enormous economic opportunity down the road."

"These international discussions have essentially taken place now for almost two decades, and we have very little to show for it other than an increased acceleration of the climate change phenomenon," Obama said Friday morning in his address to the conference before reaching the accord that he called "meaningful." "The time for talk is over." Yet, talks continue as Saturday begins and it remains unclear whether it's accurate to say that an agreement to combat climate change has come out of Copenhagen or not.

"You can't please everyone in the world," says Indian environmental minister Jairam Ramesh, noting that the accord will be taken to the full conference and he remained confident that the text would ultimately be approved. But, he added, some states might not think it strong enough. "For small island states, it's a matter of survival."

President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives would seem to agree. "Carbon concentrations higher than 350 parts-per-million and temperature rises above 1.5 degrees [Celsius] will submerge my country, dissolve our coral reefs, turn our oceans to acid, and destabilize the planet's climate," he said in an address Wednesday. "This is a matter of life and death."

But Mexico's president Felipe Calderon—Mexico City will host the next Conference of the Parties, number 16 in November 2010—announced to the press: "This conference will embrace the Copenhagen Accord…the advancements achieved here must be the basis of a future agreement."

Two Empty Triumphs: Copenhagen and Congress

Monday, 21 Dec 2009 03:03 PM

By: George Will

It was serendipitous to have almost simultaneous climaxes in Copenhagen and Congress. The former's accomplishment was indiscernible, the latter's was unsightly.

It would have been unprecedented had the president not described the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change summit as "unprecedented," that being the most overworked word in his hardworking vocabulary of self-celebration. Actually, the mountain beneath the summit — a mountain of manufactured hysteria, predictable cupidity, antic demagoguery and dubious science — labored mightily and gave birth to a mouselet, a 12-paragraph document committing the signatories to . . . make a list.

A list of the goals they have no serious intention of trying to meet.

The document even dropped the words "as soon as possible" from its call for a binding agreement on emissions.

The 1992 Rio climate summit begat Kyoto. It, like Copenhagen, which Kyoto begat, was "saved," as Copenhagen was, by a last-minute American intervention (Vice President Al Gore's) that midwifed an agreement that most signatories evaded for 12 years. The Clinton-Gore administration never submitted Kyoto's accomplishment for ratification, the Senate having denounced its terms 95-0.

Copenhagen will beget Mexico City next November. Before then, Congress will give "the international community" other reasons to pout. Congress will refuse to burden the economy with cap-and-trade carbon-reduction requirements, and will spurn calls for sending billions in "climate reparations" to China and other countries. Representatives of those nations, when they did not have their hands out in Copenhagen grasping for America's wealth, clapped their hands in ovations for Hugo Chavez and other kleptocrats who denounced capitalism while clamoring for its fruits.

The New York Times reported from Copenhagen that Barack Obama "burst into a meeting of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders, according to senior administration officials. Mr. Obama said he did not want them negotiating in secret." Naughty them. Those three nations will be even less pliable in Mexico City.

At least the president got a healthcare bill through the Senate. But what problem does it "solve" (Obama's word)? Not that of the uninsured, 23 million of whom will remain in 2019. Not that of rising healthcare spending. This will rise faster over the next decade.

The legislation does solve the Democrats' "problem" of figuring out how to worsen the dependency culture and the entitlement mentality that grows with it. By 2016, families with annual incomes of $96,000 will get subsidized health insurance premiums. 

Nebraska's Ben Nelson voted for the Senate bill after opposing both the Medicare cuts and taxes on high-value insurance plans — the heart of the bill's financing. Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, Indiana's Evan Bayh and Virginia's Jim Webb voted against one or the other.

Yet they support the bill. They will need mental healthcare to cure their intellectual whiplash.

Before equating Harry Reid to Henry Clay, understand that buying 60 Senate votes is a process more protracted than difficult. Reid was buying the votes of senators whose understanding of the duties of representation does not rise above looting the nation for local benefits. And Reid had two advantages — the spending, taxing and borrowing powers of the federal leviathan, and an almost gorgeous absence of scruples or principles.

Principles are general rules, such as: Nebraska should not be exempt from burdens imposed on the other 49 states.

Principles have not, however, been entirely absent: Nebraska's Republican governor, Dave Heineman, and Republican senator, Mike Johanns, have honorably denounced Nebraska's exemption from expanded Medicaid costs.

The exemption was one payment for Nelson's vote to impose the legislation on Nebraskans, 67 percent of whom oppose it.

Considering all the money and debasement of the rule of law required to purchase 60 votes, the bill the Senate passed might be the only bill that can get 60. The House, however, voted for Rep. Bart Stupak's provision preserving the ban on public funding of abortions. Nelson, an untalented negotiator, unnecessarily settled for much less. The House also supports a surtax on affluent Americans, and opposes the steep tax on some high-value health insurance. So to get the bill to the president's desk, the House, in conference with the Senate, may have to shrug and say: Oh, never mind.

During this long debate, the left has almost always yielded ground.

Still, to swallow the Senate bill, the House will have to swallow its pride, if it has any. The conference report reconciling the House and Senate bills will reveal whether the House is reconciled to being second fiddle in a one-fiddle orchestra.

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