Climate Feedback

Countdown to Copenhagen

Keith Kloor

After world leaders announced over the weekend that no legally binding global warming treaty would be reached at the upcoming Copenhagen summit, the post mortems have started coming in fast and furious. Christian Schwägerl in Der Spiegel writes:

“The U.S. is quite happy to see itself as the leader of the Western world. But when it comes to climate change, America has once again failed miserably — for the umpteenth time.”

Foreign Policy Magazine asks “Who killed Copenhagen?” and names President Obama as the top culprit, citing his lackluster leadership on climate change since taking office last year. Prominent environmental activist and writer Bill McKibben levels the same charge over at Mother Jones magazine:

“For a year now it’s been clear that the president is not particularly focused on applying the political pressure that would have been necessary to reach any kind of pact, much less one that approaches what the science demands. Despite the deadline of the Copenhagen conference, Obama placed energy second on his priority list, guaranteeing that health care would occupy most of the year. He talked very little about climate, tending instead to talk about green jobs and energy security, and in the process left the door open for climate deniers to have a field day.”

But John Broder of the NYT says Obama is “hobbled” by the U.S. Congress, which is moving glacially on climate change legislation. As Broder writes:

“Without a firm commitment from the United States — for decades the world’s leading emitter of climate-altering gases — other nations have been reluctant to deliver firmer pledges of their own.”

Never mind all that for now, argues Danish prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who, according to the Guardian, told world leaders that “we must, in the coming weeks, focus on what is possible and not let ourselves be distracted by what is not possible.” The new endgame, he said:

“The Copenhagen agreement should finally mandate continued legal negotiations and set a deadline for their conclusion.”

Given the heady built-up over the past year, maybe a delay isn’t such a bad thing, argues David Roberts in Grist:

“If the world’s nations had headed into Copenhagen expecting a legally binding treaty complete with targets and timetables, the result would have been disappointment, acrimony, and worst of all, wasted time. By taking some of the pressure off Copenhagen, the two-steps agreement has avoided disaster and maintained momentum. It’s also given the Obama administration time to engage in more climate diplomacy.”

On that last point, the United States and China just released a joint statement on a number of issues, including climate change. The two sides believe that,

“while striving for final legal agreement, an agreed outcome at Copenhagen should, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, include emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries. The outcome should also substantially scale up financial assistance to developing countries, promote technology development, dissemination and transfer, pay particular attention to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change, promote steps to preserve and enhance forests, and provide for full transparency with respect to the implementation of mitigation measures and provision of financial, technology and capacity building support.”

Meanwhile, at the World Summit on Food Security in Rome, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the Rome and Copenhagen summits “must craft a single global vision to produce real results for people in real need”. As the BBC reports, the Secretary General called for a more co-ordinated approach to the issues, saying:

[there] “can be no food security without climate security”.

Making that connection may be easier said than done, however. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies recently asked the governments of the G20 about their top humanitarian priorities (PDF), and while “climate change” was named the leading priority, as Roger Pielke Jr. notes:

“Poverty and food security did not even make the top 3 on the list. As these are ‘humanitarian challenges,’ I wonder how responding to climate change differs from responding to the other issues on the list.”

Finally, as reported by ENN,

“The rusting remains of a ski lift now dominate what was once the highest ski-run in the world perched on the Chacaltaya glacier at some 5,300 meters high.”

Citing global warming, ENN reports that today, “only a snowy ice cap of some 50 square meters remains of the magnificent Chacaltaya glacier which spread over 1,600 square meters in the 1950s.”


  1. Report this comment

    LC Perkins said:

    How / when can we see what has been fabricated and what is real?

    Let’s hope everything is exposed to enable real science to be restored…

    The fraud propagators need to be prosecuted…

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