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Nothing Surprising in Leaked Copenhagen Draft Agreement (Updated)

Kyoto II, or whatever one wishes to call the second phase of the 2002-2012 Kyoto Protocol, was understood all along to be something that "necessarily" must include those large, developing economies like China, India, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, and others among Kyoto's 155 exempt nations. Until recent months, it was acknowledged at the highest levels that Kyoto II included them in some allegedly meaningful way beyond receiving wealth transfers but also

requiring actual "reductions" (even if from artificially high, business-as-usual levels).

It was on this understanding that those few covered countries agreed to this first five-year plan. This changed suddenly in recent months as the Copenhagen talks loomed. So, for some rich countries to now say ok, it's time to follow through on a decade-long promise made as something of a conditional precedent to those thirty five developed countries who agreed to reduce their emission levels (also mostly rigged, by clever baselines and the like) is not shocking. This call will not be consummated in any meaningful way, but its emergence is not surprising or reason to reevaluate Kyoto and Copenhagen as serious enterprises.

But this call remains unimpressive. By committing select  developing countries to the gauzy notion of "nationally appropriate mitigation actions," and making clear these actions will be underwritten by the rest of us, the document offers nothing but voluntary compliance, and a largely free lunch. These actions "could" lead to some unspecified reduction from current emission levels -- which will also be a rigged number -- that assumes no efficiency improvements, which is traditionally experienced by developing economies.

The document doesn't assign any figures either, even for purposes of leverage or pressure. It's up to the countries squealing about the prospect of having to do anything about emissions except lift the enormous bags of money parachuted out of our C-130s. It also reaffirms fealty to Kyoto's "common but differentiated responsibilities" standard, which has been used as the excuse for wildly disparate requirements that would be applicable to these countries. As part of this, it reaffirms supposed historic Western liability for past industrialization, as opposed to recognizing that but for select industrialization the poor would be even vastly poorer.

This draft document calls for "substantially scaled up financial resources" --  from us of course. "Resources will ... flow through multiple bilateral and multilateral channels." Critically, the paper confirms  that this money will be new money, and that a few European noises about recasting foreign aid as "climate aid" shall not pass (Article 21).

It also means institutionalizing the third world as a perpetual welfare state, with "rents" in return for accepting their station, if there is some level of improvement (but not what you would consider "development" in the western understanding of the word). This proposal still envisions extracting enormous wealth from the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, other developed countries to underwrite that understanding.

The  draft offers nothing worth pursuing any more than the rest of what has been produced in Kyoto/Kyoto II's sorry history. In fact, it clearly perpetuates the mess while trying to keep the process from spinning into a full-blown "climate reparations" agreement, as some are pushing.