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Mr. Get-over-it Does It Again

(I’ve been out with swine flu. It was so peaceful, not knowing the news, I kept floating in blissful ignorance as long as I could. As far as I can tell, the Copenhagen climate summit hasn’t been discussed much in US blogs. Or maybe I’ve just been too out of it?)

First, a bit of backstory. For years, most of the world’s countries have been preparing for the UN summit on climate change at Copenhagen. They see climate change coming, they know they’ll suffer from it, and a majority of countries wanted a more inclusive and more binding agreement than Kyoto 1997. So far, not good enough, but better than nothing.

The summit itself was five days of meetings with all the usual wrangling of “You first” “No, you first” and negotiations going far into the night.

Okay, so you have the picture. The whole world, pretty much, has been working on this thing, and as the meeting goes on, the delegates are getting less and less sleep.

Enter the US. Obama decided that he’d come and give a speech at the close, but would eschew dealing with the sweaty, red-eyed delegates before that. High-handed, but par for the course.

And then what actually happened raised US arrogance to a whole new degree. He parachuted in on the last day. There was no agreement to his liking. So he acted as if the UN didn’t exist, and as if 183 countries hadn’t been talking since forever. He had his own private meeting with China, pulled in Brazil, India, and South Africa to make it a bit more multilateral, and announced that an agreement had been reached and the UN could now sign off on it:

The Obama White House mounted a surgical strike of astounding effectiveness (and astounding cynicism) that saw the president announcing a deal live on [US] TV before anyone – even most of the governments involved in the talks – knew a deal had been done.

Then he hopped on his plane and flew home so the snow wouldn’t mess up his schedule.

The “agreement” did not commit to anything binding and expressed a hope (now where have I heard that word before?) for minimal greenhouse gas reductions. The reductions are so minor that even if those targets were met, the data indicate that they would not keep average temperature from rising less than 2C, would not prevent drastic warming, droughts, migration, famine, disease, and, generally, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

It does, however, allow China, the US, India, and so on, to keep polluting while making polite noises to places like Bangladesh and Florida when they drown.

The “agreement” has too little in it to stimulate green industries, so we won’t be getting that benefit either. It has a promise of $100 billion from a consortium of nations over ten years to help developing countries cope with climate change, but similar promises in the past haven’t led to much in the way of actual cash.

And the “agreement” was such a slap in the face to everyone who’d been negotiating that even reporters for the BBC, who’d rather die than lose their professional detachment, say things like:

The concept that global environmental issues can and should be tackled on a co-operative international basis has taken a massive, massive blow.

The UN climate convention is the flagship agreement, and its outcomes are supposed to be negotiated. This deal was presented to the greater body of countries on a take-it-or-leave-it basis by small group of powerful players.

It is now debatable whether the UN climate convention has a meaningful future, or whether powerful countries will just decide by themselves, or in a small group, by how much they are prepared to cut emissions.

That makes optional the established schemes for helping the poorest countries towards a clean energy and climate-protected future.

The implications for other global treaties that are not meeting their goals, such as the UN biodiversity convention, can only be guessed at.

The Europeans, like all good progressives thrown under the Obama bus, swallowed hard and went along with this thing. Half a loaf is supposed to be better than none. But at what point is that no longer true? How about when it’s down to a couple of dirty crumbs?

The delegates generally were mad enough that they came to no decision. They “took note” of the US agreement and went home. It’ll be a cold day in a globally warmed world before they slog for years so the US can step on them again.

Obama, meanwhile, is back and working the same magic on what’s left of health insurance reform. And the progressives here are also staring at a couple of dirty crumbs, swallowing hard, and preparing to go along with it.

What else can they do? They couldn’t possibly walk out on him. They just have to do what he says. Get over it.

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12 Responses

  1. So much for all the green jobs, eh? My biggest concern remains the Amazon. It is the single biggest sink for CO2 in the world, and it is looking as though it remains at risk.

  2. O.M.G. Is that man the consummate jacka$$ or what?

  3. this is not so much tinfoil chewing as it is innocent 11 year old girl back in the day looking at the layers of earths atmosphere in relation to a chicken egg membrane layers… no less insulary, but, why is no one ever looking at the effect of exoatmospheric penetrations?

    flat out, straight up moratorium on such business is in order while we examine the implications thereof…

  4. African nations wanted a 3-3.5% reduction in emissions They state that the proposed 2% is a global average that will adversely affect them in their location. China, because it was listed as a developing nation in 1992, wanted to continue in that status and receive the financial benefits thereof. Obama negotiated for them to go to the back of the line behind island nations, who are likely to drown and african nations, suffering from desertification.

    There is a tentative accord with works in progress that may yet be signed. There is a distinction between signing and ratifying documents.
    The US does not want to ratify the Kyoto Accord, but the three countries may work out a similar one. Other countries who have ratified are dubious of this process.

    Of the three, the US has signed and ratified the most environmental treaties.

    India and China have signed but ratified no treaties.

  5. I actually don’t know if he wanted to go. He changed his schedule to the last day. While I do think the grand entrance was part of the plan, based on the deadlock in place before HRC’s flight and promise of the 100 million, his splashy entrance was looking iffy. Consider HRC’s viewpoint that you don’t take the trip unless the negotiation is in the bag.

  6. I misquoted, India and China have signed and ratified treaties and currently have no unratified treaties.


  7. I really did hope that Obama would do something for the environment. After all he was promising green jobs-looks like it’s not gonna happen.

    .As for turning up at the last minute to make a speech-I don’t think that’s going to cut for anyone much longer.

    Glad to see you’re better Quixote.

  8. Did you see what Feinstein’s doing?

    Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to protect a million acres of the Mojave Desert in California by scuttling planned solar plants and wind farms.

    “Desert Vistas vs. Solar Power”


  9. Quixote: So sorry you were ill, however floating above the fray may have been worth it.

    Can’t comment on climate change right now as I’m freezing my ass off here on the tundra of the lower 48.

    Glad you’re well, have missed you a bunch.

  10. Hi, folks. Thanks for the kind words. Actually, to be precise, I’m not better, because after the blankety-blank flu, I’ve come down with a cold. If you’re guessing I’m not a happy camper, you’re guessing right. But the good side of it is that I can use it as another excuse to stay ignorant. 😀

    Re covering the Mojave in solar panels: much as I disagree with DiFi on just about everything, she’s right on this one. It’s an asinine idea. Why ruin pristine habitat when you can do rooftop solar? Oh, wait, that would involve distributing the money to householders and businesses and wheeling power, instead of just giving it all to one big company. Grrr.

    The whole climate summit is so sad. If you look at international news at all, you could see the whole world breathe a sigh of relief that we were supposedly not being run by a lunatic any more, and that everyone could get to work now and get some real agreements. And now this.

    We coulda told ’em….

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