Monday, December 21, 2009

Copenhagen Final

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen closed on Friday December 18th 2009 without an agreement. The conference in Copenhagen, the 15th conference of parties (COP15) failed. The parties of the UNFCCC met for the last time before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and failed to hammer out a new agreement to prevent or stop climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The Kyoto Protocol requires emissions cuts from developed countries that ratified it. The new accord does nothing and the Kyoto Protocol was made irrelevant by not including the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, China, India and the US.

Now, China has proven that we of the United States are becoming increasingly irrelevant. We are only useful for the money we should be paying as retribution for having once been the major industrial power. We are a far less rich nation than we used to be and are rapidly spending our way to insolvency. The Copenhagen conference ended Saturday saying "the majority of countries" showed support for a U.S. negotiated political agreement without clout or consequences. China was clearly in control of the process. U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders of major emerging economies including China, India, Brazil and South Africa met late Friday to hammer out some sort of agreement. Apparently, the President and Secretary Clinton thought they were meeting with China alone and found themselves faced with representatives of all the emerging economies.

Only with Chinas approval was an accord hammered out. The Copenhagen accord set a target of limiting global warming to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times and reiterated a goal of rich nations to jointly mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. However, no details were provided as to exactly how such a target would be achieved or where that money would come from. A proposed 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 that had been in earlier drafts was removed. There are no consequences to failure to meet the goals. The U.N. climate conference agreed to "take note" of the Copenhagen accord, as the agreement is known. The accord was not formally approved so that no one is required to comply with the agreement.

With the accord in place emissions of carbon dioxide will continue rising rapidly beyond current level. Total atmospheric CO2 is currently 386 part per million. China, which emits 30% MORE CO2 per year than the US will continue to grow their economy unhindered by any aspects of the Copenhagen accord. China and the other developing nations have promised nothing. At the heart of the disputes in Copenhagen was money and economic strength. The poorest nations wanted a large pot of money (with no strings attached) to compensate them and pay for whatever programs they saw fit to support. China and India agreed to allow their emissions to continue to grow with no target to cut greenhouse gases. Our wants and desires for capping or reducing carbon emissions are irrelevant.

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