Copenhagen Accord pledges are paltry

There is of course an ongoing, bitter debate about the Copenhagen Accord, about what it is and what, in the end, it will finally mean.  Briefly, it comes to this: Does the Accord’s “pledge and review” architecture open a new way forward, one that can succeed even given the sorry state of America’s climate politics and, for that matter, American democracy?   Or  does it  rather invite us into a future in which the rich and the responsible escape their proper obligations, and by so doing condemn the poor and the innocent, and eventually the rest of us as well, to the suffering and violence of extreme global warming?

The final resolution of this debate will take time, and, it seems, a great deal of acrimony.  But one matter, at least, is already clear.  The Accord’s “pledges” are entirely inadequate to the goal of avoiding “dangerous climate change.”  This is a matter of broad consensus among the analysts, who have published a variety of cogent commentaries on the Copenhagen pledges.  But a recent article in Nature, straightforwardly named Copenhagen Accord Pledges are Paltry, is the most notable of the quantitative analyses, and the one among them that’s actually required reading.

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You want Loopholes with that?

The bad news is that the climate/energy push just crashed and burned in the Senate.  The good news is that, in the wake of that crash,  the US climate community is having a robust Big Think.  The last time we had such an exchange was back after what, for lack of a better term, I will call the Great Copenhagen Disappointment.  Which raises an interesting question – do we only debate, openly and seriously, after we lose?

If so, and judging by the situation in Bonn, where an inconclusive post-Copenhagen “intersessional” just shambled a bit closer to December’s rematch in Cancun, we’re up for another round of disputation soon.  Not, of course, that disappointment in Cancun is certain.  It’s still possible that the wealthy countries are going to actually come up with the “fast start finance” that they promised back in Copenhagen.  Maybe they’ll even go beyond fast-start finance, and actually start acting like they want to make a meaningful international deal.  Because, frankly, it’s their move.

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