THE COPENHAGEN DEAL
Greenhouse-Gas Pledges by China, U.S. May Drive UN Climate Deal
Alex Morales, November 27, 2009 (Bloomberg News)
"Pledges by China and the U.S. to set numerical targets for their greenhouse-gas emissions through 2020 may improve chances for a global climate agreement at negotiations next month in Copenhagen.
"China…[said it] will cut output of carbon dioxide per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005….[T]he U.S. said it will propose a direct CO2 reduction in the same period of about 17 percent, provided the cut lines up with a new domestic climate law…"
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"The announcements mean the two biggest emitters of industrial pollutants blamed for climate change have spelled out their intentions to lower discharges, driving forward the United Nations-led [Dec. 7-18] negotiations… Yvo de Boer, the top United Nations climate official…[and the] European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, welcomed the goals while urging both nations to go further…[because neither] proposal is as strong as the EU plan to cut emissions by 20 percent from 1990 through 2020.
"The U.S. move depends on Congress passing climate- protection legislation…China’s [voluntary] targets don’t mean emissions will fall, only that their growth should slow. The nation’s economy has more than quadrupled since 2000 to $4.3 trillion, and if that world’s fastest pace continues the country’s carbon pollution will also increase….China has balked in climate negotiations at taking on legally binding commitments…[as part of] a framework for an accord to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012…De Boer has called on all developed countries to commit to legally binding emissions reductions…[and for developing countries to] say what actions they’re taking, without defining absolute reduction targets…"
If there is good news in this, it is that many experts believe a better treaty can be negotiated next year. The bad news is that there aren't many next years left for this good earth as we know it. (click to enlarge)
"Negotiations leading up to the summit have been stymied as richer nations and developing countries disagreed on issues such as emissions-reduction targets and how much financial help industrialized nations should provide to poorer ones…China and India have said industrialized countries must be willing to cut their carbon output 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 if they expect poorer nations to agree to long-term reduction goals…
"The U.S. pledge is contingent on a deal in Copenhagen…That pledge amounts to a reduction of about 5 percent from 1990 levels. The EU has said it’ll cut emissions by 20 percent over three decades and that it’ll ramp that up to a 30 percent reduction if an ambitious global deal is reached…The White House said the U.S. intends to reduce emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42 percent cut by 2030. Legislation backed by Obama to cut greenhouse gases and establish a market for the trading of pollution allowances…[is] stalled in the Senate…[which is why] the UN’s de Boer [recently] said a legally binding deal won’t be possible in Copenhagen, and a political agreement must be reached that over the following year can be translated into a treaty."