Kinda Consensus In Copenhagen

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 19, 2009


Yesterday, Fred Barbash of the Arena asked those of us who are contributors what we thought of the President’s address in Copenhagen. By the time that I got a chance to answer, an agreement of sorts was announced. My thoughts are here, and are reproduced in the excerpt below:

Well, a climate deal apparently has been reached in Copenhagen, but it contains “less ambitious climate targets than the United States and European governments had initially sought.” The draft proposal “also lacked the kind of independent verification of emission reductions by developing countries that the United States and others demand,” which means that countries like China and India can continue emitting, without any type of meaningful mechanism in place to monitor those emissions, and perhaps work to lessen them. We are apparently supposed to take China’s word that it will reduce its carbon emissions by 40-45%, which means that the United States will help facilitate a massive round of wealth redistribution, without much in return from developing countries.

So, I would say that the President’s speech achieved very little. I continue to believe that the best way to deal with carbon emissions is through a carbon tax that has its dollar amount pegged either to the three year moving average change in global tropical temperatures, or to a futures market in the temperature indicator where the futures price would determine the tax. Unfortunately, it appears that no such plan will be seriously considered at home by the Obama Administration and/or Congress, just as it received no consideration in Copenhagen.

UPDATE: Apparently, the climate conference is none too enthused with the nature of the agreement:

The United Nations-sponsored climate summit ended after a lengthy debate early Saturday with a tepid acknowledgement for a nonbinding agreement negotiated among the U.S., China and other large nations.

The U.N. climate conference agreed to “take note” of the Copenhagen accord, as the agreement is known, instead of formally approving it, meaning countries are left the choice of associating with the agreement or not.

The broad accord, based on the deal struck by U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders of major emerging economies including China, India, Brazil and South Africa late Friday, leaves huge challenges ahead to achieve a legally binding pact, said the head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“That means we have a lot of work to do on the long road to Mexico,” said Yvo de Boer, referring to the next round of climate talks scheduled for November 2010 in the South American country.

Not exactly the stuff of rapture and joy, now is it?

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