Two of the fastest growing economies in the world — China and India — got a “Get out of Carbon Jail Free Card” from the 200 countries taking part in the climate conference in Warsaw. The two countries received vastly reduced goals for emissions as a price for their support of the final agreement.
Todd Stern, the federal government’s special envoy for climate change, said Warsaw “was quite a tough negotiation” but also “quite useful.”
“This is a quintessentially global problem, so you have to have action all over the world. Climate change isn’t local – the carbon you emit anywhere in the world affects everywhere in the world,” Stern said.
“It gives a strong message to civil society and the private sector that this is going to be dealt with at the global level.”
Developing and developed countries have long been on different pages when it comes to tackling climate change.
But even a narrow agreement at Warsaw, where close to 200 countries took part, could help lay the groundwork for a longer-term agreement in 2015. Negotiators are scheduled to meet in Paris that year to discuss a potential global climate change agreement.
On Twitter, Connie Hedegaad, the European Union’s commissioner for climate action, acknowledged the difficulty negotiators had in finding an agreement. “I’m sure there are more comfortable ways” to Paris in 2015, she sad, “but now we can move forward.”
Outside groups pushing for action on climate change said, that while the U.N. efforts in Warsaw might have found an agreement, countries still need to pick up the pace.
“In the nick of time, negotiators in Warsaw delivered just enough to keep things moving,” said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute.
There is also a matter of how much developing countries can extort from the industrialized west to pay for the effects of climate change:
Loss and damage was one of the key rows in the early stages of the meeting, as some developing countries demanded “compensation” from rich countries for the damage they suffered from extreme weather. A compromise was reached with a new “Warsaw international mechanism” by which the victims of disaster will receive aid, but it will not be linked to any liability from developed countries.
Another success at the conference was the completion of a new mechanism to keep the world’s remaining forests standing. Called REDD+, for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, this has been in the works for most of the last decade.
But all countries admitted that most of the preparation work for Paris still remains to be done. Politically, the battle between the like-minded group – which is separate from, but claims to lie within, the broader G77 group of the majority of developing nations – and the US and the EU will be key. For both sides, gaining support from the rest of the unaligned developing nations – some of which are highly vulnerable to climate change and are desperate for a deal, but others who are courting economic investment from China – will be crucial.
It’s all a useless exercise as long as the world’s number one carbon emitter — China — and the number three — India — continue to receive special treatment. It isn’t just that it puts the US at a competitive disadvantage. If these people were really concerned about carbon emissions, why come to an agreement that doesn’t reduce CO2 by one single molecule?
If global warming was as serious a crisis as many of the climate hysterics are claiming, they sure are going about solving the problem in an incompetent and ineffective manner.