Friday, December 18, 2009

Is The Copenhagen Glass 90% Empty or 10% Full?

With all due respect to the optimistic take at DeSmogBlog, I'm siding with The Guardian in viewing the supposed agreement reached in the dwindling hours of the Copenhagen summit a failure.

With 192 countries finally massed for two weeks of deliberations they needed to sink a basket, at least one, and they didn't.

Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator for the G77 group of 130 developing countries, was scathing: "This deal will definitely result in massive devastation in Africa and small island states. It has the lowest level of ambition you can imagine. It's nothing short of climate change scepticism in action.

"It locks countries into a cycle of poverty for ever. Obama has eliminated any difference between him and Bush."

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport. Ed Miliband [UK climate change secretary] is among the very few that come out of this summit with any credit. It is now evident that beating global warming will require a radically different model of politics than the one on display here in Copenhagen."

Lydia Baker, Save the Children's policy adviser said: "By signing a sub-standard deal, world leaders have effectively signed a death warrant for many of the world's poorest children. Up to 250,000 children from poor communities could die before the next major meeting in Mexico at the end of next year."

There was indeed some progress but this summit needed to produce more than "some" progress. It very much needed to generate something concrete, something to keep the momentum going. That simply didn't happen.


Anonymous said...

A tweet I saw (somewhere?) says the leaders are fleeing but the negotiators are staying until Sunday. Still though, where is the money coming from Obama speaks of? And more importantly, where is it going? To the IMF for Global Goverance or to the UN? The Guardian reported a few days ago to the IMF, not sure.

And yeah that desmogblog post didn't have a disclaimer, so I took it srsly as well. Go figure.

LMA said...

James Hansen and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia were on PBS tonight and both sounded pretty discouraged. Hansen says we need a G2 meeting in which the US and China agree to put a price on carbon, because as long as fossil fuels remain the cheapest source of energy there will be no motivation to switch to alternative sources. Period.

I'm very disappointed that so far there is no date set for the next negotiations. What happens next? Is Obama going to lead us out of this mess? If not, who?

The Mound of Sound said...

LMA what little I have learned of you is that you've been something of an optimist on this business. I take no pleasure that my side is adding those like you to our ranks. Nothing would have pleased me more than to have seen a genuine agreement come out of Copenhagen that would have allowed my critics to say "...see, you were wrong, totally wrong." I was, like most cynics, in a no-lose situation. Being wrong would have meant the hope of some better life for my kids, grandkids and their kids in turn. If I could have handed over everything I have to be wrong all it would have taken is someone to show me where to sign.

What happens next? Presumably another go in Mexico at the end of 2010. Will Obama lead us out of this? Not so long as America is beset with a "bought and paid for" Congress. Even up here we have a Liberal leader who still talks nonsense about working with Stephen Harper on a meaningful solution.

Liberace Liberalism. What a sick joke.

LMA said...

We're down, but not out, MoS. If the political process fails, there's always Greenpeace - at least they don't seem afraid to stand up to Harper.

The Mound of Sound said...

The fiasco of Copenhagen only convinces me that next year in Mexico will probably be a weak mirror of our folly.

Now more than ever I'm convinced of the German solution as the only viable option. You don't see nations big and small endlessly chasing their tails proposing this percentage of that base year 'target' emissions reductions. That leads straight down Chaos Ave. and it's a one way street.

You budget emissions. That is to say you ration emissions by quotas. We know the atmospheric GHG balance we need to achieve and we know how much we have to curb global emissions. So you take that maximum capacity, count the legs and divide by two, and issue each country its carbon ration on a strictly per capita basis. That's a seriously imperfect solution BUT it's the only option that has a snowball's chance of being implemented, verified and enforced.

Anything else is a Con game and we had damned well better wake up and realize it.

Jingles said...

I cannot believe this summit turned out to be a complete dud. And...what in hell is Harper talking about following the US in what ever they decided to do about Global Warming? The US is 300 million people, we are 33 million how does our nose even get a whift? Yesterday, a death occured.

LMA said...

Maybe it's time we all took to the streets. How about a million (well a hundred thousand) man/woman march to Ft. McMurray?

Obama is going to have a tough enough time getting even the most modest targets through the Senate. So budgeting carbon emissions on a strictly per capita basis might be a hard sell because certain countries naturally have higher energy requirements, e.g., for heating, driving long distances, etc. It would be easier once alternative energy sources or rail transit are available. For starters, anything that puts a price on emissions and gets people thinking seriously about conserving would help.

The Mound of Sound said...

None of our national parties, save the Bloc, see this as a dominant issue. We know from the leaded Prentice document that the modest emissions cuts Harper announced in 2007 were a smokescreen. Ignatieff has shown his hand by not pouncing on either that leak or Harper's invisible man performance at COP15. His Igness talks of 'working with' Harper on 'reasonable' numbers. The Libs have no policy that's worth a damn. Layton is wetting his pants worrying that the guy with the old pickup might turn on him if he even mentions carbon taxes.

Dyer, in his book "Climate Wars", has a helpful discussion of alternative fuels. He suggests not only are proven alternatives available but they're also quite affordable IF we're willing to stare down Big Fossil Fuel and tell them their days are done.

I'm looking to put in a wood stove in the spring. Yes, it creates emissions from burning but it's local deadwood and that's surface carbon that will be offset by the new tree that grows in place of the old. That creates a closed loop cycle. Burning surface carbon, wood, is vastly better than bringing prehistoric buried (i.e. sequestered) carbon to the surface and then burning it - coal, oil, or gas - because that merely adds buried carbon emissions to the surface carbon.

With the vast tracts of deadwood killed off by the Mountain Pine or Lodgepole Pine beetle, British Columbia has an enormous supply of surface carbon fuel. They can either extract useful energy from it or allow the carbon to be released from natural decomposition.