Sunday, November 01, 2009
Copenhagen, One more Time
The peace Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu sent a letter to the EU parliament in which he berated them for not acting to slow down climate change. Mr. Tutu said in his letter " The rich world is historically responsible for the emissions causing climate change and they have a moral obligation to provide the means for the countries on the front line to survive and prosper."
Mr. Tutu was in effect urging the countries of the North to overcome their differences and to live up to their moral responsibility by agreeing; during the Barcelona negotiations; to find a way out of the current impasse before Copenhagen . The developing countries have made it clear that they expect financial transfers from the developed countries of around $148 billion a year by 2020 if they are to do their part of reducing their expected carbon footprint.
But since climate change is a global issue then it does require a global solution. Again it seems obvious that we cannot have a global solution if the largest, well second largest , emitter is not ready to participate in the game. Copenhagen is exactly one month away and the US climate change bill is still languishing in the Senate sub-committee. Senator Boxer , the chair of the Environmental Committee, remains hopeful that a bill will leave her committee before Copenhagen. That is not assured because a number of the Republican senators promise not to attend the committee mark up sessions. If they do not attend then no bill can be presented to the senate at large. Even if a bill is to emerge some very powerful Democratic senators such as Max Baucus promise to hold up the measure in his powerful Finance Committee by delaying funding for the measure. What is even worse are the proposed targets. Kyoto which was initially agreed to by the US was to cut carbon emissions by 5 % from the 1990 level by 2012. The US is estimated to have released around 5 Billion tons of carbon in 1990 and thus the implicit target by 2012 would have been 4.75 billion tons.The new bill is aiming for a 20% reduction from the 2005 levels by 2020. Since the 2005 emissions are estimated to be 6 billion tons then the 20% reduction will take the US back to 4.8 billion tons by 2020. That is irresponsible behviour besides being a cruel joke on the aspirations of those that take these existential matters seriously. The US is targeting to potentially reach by 2020 a level of carbon emissions that it was supposed to have hit by 2012 and yet they want the world to call such measures responsible action. Go figure.
Mr. Yao de Bar, the UN Climate Change Secretariat said it best when he stated the need to "Step back from self interest and let common interest prevail" Nothing else will work.