Barack Obama's campaign pledge to act on climate change is beginning to look like electoral hot air. Despite the urging of poor countries at Doha, the U.S. is holding to Obama's old commitment of 17% emission cuts below 2005 levels by 2020 (even that still lacks Senate approval).
"'We're sleepwalking off a cliff,' Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned
Scientists said. There was a lack of ambition to confront rising world
greenhouse gas emissions at the two-week meeting, the first in an OPEC
nation, he said."
"China's chief delegate Su Wei insisted that the rich should extend
the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan that binds developed
nations to cut emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels
between 2008 and 2012.
"'If there is not agreement on a second
commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ... I think that would be
disastrous for talks on future enhanced action after 2020,' he said,
referring to plans for a global U.N. pact meant to be agreed by 2015.
"'If we cannot agree on immediate actions, how can anyone agree on future actions?' he said, urging the rich to do more."
Coming from China which, together with India, has plans to construct many hundreds of coal-fired power plants in the near future, demanding emissions cuts from rich countries sounds a bit hollow.
The Kyoto Accords, from which Canada, Japan and Russia have already defected, may end despite demands they be renewed. Kyoto is the only international framework ever reached to address global warming. If it collapses the world will revert to a patchwork of uncoordinated and, ultimately, unworkable national programmes, objectives and promises.