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Mexico in December 2010 will be warmer

Published 06th November 2009 - 1 comments - 679 views -

So, there will be no son-of-Kyoto treaty signed in Copenhagen in December. Well, that's what's being reported today, anyway.

Is this a bad thing? No. It's actually good because any deal that would have been struck in Copenhagen would have been doomed. You see, the US this time around does not want to repeat Al Gore's Kyoto mistake of letting the Europeans pressure him into signing a treaty the Senate wouldn't ratify because it exempted the developing world from emissions restrictions. Time, then, for treaty enthusiasts to take off those green-tinted spectacles and learn a bit about how law is made in the USA. Treaties require the support of two-thirds of the Senate, which means that they are much more difficult to pass than domestic legislation. So when the Obama administration's draft implementing agreement submitted to the UN in May specified that emissions reductions would be subject to "conformity with domestic law" it was saying very clearly that anything agreed in Copenhagen would mean nothing if the Senate didn't agree. And, given today's political and economic situation, the US will never ratify an agreement that doesn't require concrete action from the developing world, especially China, the world's largest emitter.

But China and India are under enormous domestic pressure to maintain a strong rate of economic growth, so both countries are firmly resisting calls for binding emissions caps.

By the way, those who didn't want to see which way the wind was blowing ignored a very significant statement in mid-October by State Department envoy Todd Stern when he called on developing nations to make significant, binding commitments to emissions reductions: "We don't in the U.S. deny that we have real historical responsibility but the IEA in Paris will tell you that 97 percent of the growth in emissions between now and 2050 will come from the developing world. The U.S. has to act and the EU and Japan but also the developing countries. It's the only way to solve this problem."

According to this report in the Guardian about this week's UN Framework Convention in Barcelona, "Sources said a meeting in Mexico in December 2010 would be more likely to see the legal treaty sealed."

The "sources" there are probably members of the British delegation, but they are likely to be disappointed next year as well. If the Democrats lose seats in the 2010 US mid-term elections, they will find it almost impossible to pass legislation in 2011–12 as the next presidential election approaches. The bottom line, then, is this: A climate bill will not pass before 2013 at the earliest, and the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012 without a comprehensive successor agreement to take its place.

That's reality. It's messy and it's frustrating, but it's how things are and there's no point in deluding ourselves about it. Still, all this is great news for bloggers because we'll have loads to post about for the next few years. 

Category: International Action, | Tags: mexico, us, senate, elections, china, india, obama,


Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 11th November 2009:

China and India has defacto signed, as did the US, a treaty saying that the developed world should pay for the co2 cuts.

I think you highlight something very problematic: whatever the rest of the world thinks, the real power lies in US senators that would be regarded as far right wing in any European country…

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