Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Obama Follows in Bush's Footsteps on Climate Change

The era of massive global climate meetings may finally be ending. Thank goodness.
The collapse of the Copenhagen climate change conference in December killed the Kyoto Protocol—and not a moment too soon.

Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into effect, there have been 15 Conferences of the Parties (COP) in which 192 nations have tried to hammer out a response of man-made global warming. These meetings resulted in the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which came into effect in 2005. Under the Kyoto Protocol, 37 nations agreed to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012 to about 5 percent below the level they emitted in 1990. The United States never got around to ratifying the protocol and withdrew from it completely in 2001. In the meantime, only the countries in the European Union set up a carbon market as a way to implement carbon rationing aimed at meeting their Kyoto Protocol targets. Most other signatories simply ignored their greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Originally, the Copenhagen meeting, COP-15, was supposed to result in a binding international treaty that would establish new and deeper greenhouse gas reduction targets that would come into effect once the Kyoto Protocol expired in 2012. This goal was jettisoned a month before the COP convened when it became apparent that the goals of the developing countries and the developed countries were too far apart to bridge.
So then the Copenhagen meeting was supposed to come up with a strong political agreement that would set overall global greenhouse gas reduction targets and provide climate change damage aid to poor countries. The developing countries wanted commitments for hundreds of billions of dollars in annual climate change aid from the rich countries. On the other hand, the rich developed countries wanted some kind of enforceable emission reduction commitments from big emerging economies such China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil. These countries have no obligations to reduce their emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Ultimately, it is not too much to say that the Copenhagen conference collapsed over deep differences between the world’s number one and number two emitters of carbon dioxide, China and the United States, respectively. Read more.

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