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Belmont Club

Escape from Copenhagen

December 18th, 2009 - 6:02 pm

Observers quoted by the BBC declared the “unprecedented” achievement of Barack Obama in Copenhagen “modest” and “questioned how it fitted into the overall deal being negotiated.” You mean they’re not the same thing? Which is the sideshow and which the Big Top? Richard Black of the BBC says:

President Obama may have a deal with Brazil, China, India and South Africa – but it’s not at all clear that he has a deal with anyone else.

While the White House was announcing the agreement, many other – perhape most other – delegations had not even seen it.

A comment from a UK official suggested the text was not yet final and the Bolivian delegation has already complained about the way it was reached – “anti-democratic, anti-transparent and unacceptable”.

With no firm target for limiting the global temperature rise, no commitment to a legal treaty and no target year for peaking emissions, countries most vulnerable to climate impacts have not got the deal they wanted.

Greenpeace complains that the principals have now skipped town before any further questions can be asked. “A number of leaders have now left the Danish capital, including the US president and Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Reacting to the Copenhagen ‘deal’, 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.’” Maybe they were trying to get away from the likes of Greenpeace, but perish the thought.

Gordon Brown, he of the half-step behind, was last seen in Copenhagen looking for an actual agreement. Nothing daunted, he has vowed to find it. Another BBC article describes the task he has set himself. “Gordon Brown has pledged to lead a campaign to establish a legally binding treaty on tackling climate change. Speaking at the Copenhagen summit, the prime minister said that was the next step after the US reached agreement with some major developing economies.”

“I am now going to lead a campaign around the world with other countries for the legally binding treaty that is the obvious next stage from this. We’ve got, for the first time, agreement about the limits to which we can allow emissions to go.”

The WSJ has the more details about what was agreed upon — and what was left out of the discussion. There were statements of principle and pledges of money for the “most vulnerable” Third World nations, but crucially “the agreement doesn’t specify how countries will achieve that goal.”

“It’s not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change but it’s an important first step,” an Obama administration official said after a flurry of meetings among world leaders on the final day of the two-week United Nations climate summit here. …

But a Senate leadership aide said Congress is more likely to set the cap and trade bill aside, since it currently doesn’t have enough votes to pass the Senate. Instead, Congress and the White House could craft an energy bill that includes “green” job creation measures like tax credits, standards for increasing the use of renewable energy. …

“These bills are dead. They won’t pass and I think people are in denial,” Sen. James Imhofe (R., Okla.,), who denies that global warming is an environmental threat, said on CNN after the deal was announced. Democrats, he said, “are losing this issue. It is not going to pass the U.S. Senate.”


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