Obama Administration Said To Be Undermining Copenhagen Climate Deal

The Guardian is reporting very discouraging news, in the lead up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Copenhagen, in December.

Europe has clashed with the US Obama administration over climate change in a potentially damaging split that comes ahead of crucial political negotiations on a new global deal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The impasse is said to threaten the goal of limiting global temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees celsius, by 2015. Another Guardian article quotes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

“We are deeply concerned that the negotiation is not making much headway. It is absolutely and crucially important for the leaders to demonstrate their political will, leadership, and to give clear political guidelines to the negotiators. They should be responsible for the future of this entire humanity,” Ban told the Guardian.

Ban, newly returned from a trip to the Arctic, sees action on climate change as his personal legacy as UN chief. He said he hoped the unprecedented size of the climate meeting, the high level of representation and an unconventional format would transform the talks.

“Have you ever seen any such international conference at the level of so many leaders coming at one time and one place? In any summit meeting you have not seen such a highly political, highly motivated meeting. That is where we have to find some political strength.”

But as elucidated in the first Guardian article, the problem is this:

Europe has been pushing to retain structures and systems set up under the Kyoto protocol, the existing global treaty on climate change. US negotiators have told European counterparts that the Obama administration intends to sweep away almost all of the Kyoto architecture and replace it with a system of its own design.

European officials acknowledge the obvious: that the Obama Administration is engaged on climate change in ways the Bush Administration wasn’t. But that’s like saying any being with a pulse is alive in a way that a rock isn’t. And simply scrapping the previous agreement, while trying to push one of its own invention, wouldn’t seem to be the best way to build consensus. The Guardian’s source says the U.S. proposal would be effectively fatal to Kyoto, and starting over would mean nothing new would be in place by 2015 or 2016. Which would be just a slight problem.

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), world emissions need to peak by 2015 to give any chance of avoiding a 2C rise.

In other words, to those who think climate change is an imminent crisis, starting from scratch would seem to be a disaster. Literally.

The major sticking point is Kyoto’s lack of demands on China, but there would seem to be no reason that can’t be renegotiated within the Kyoto framework.

The US is yet to offer full details on how its scheme might work, though a draft “implementing agreement” submitted to the UN by the Obama team in May contained a key clause that emissions reductions would be subject to “conformity with domestic law”.

Legal experts say the phrase is designed to protect the US from being forced to implement international action it does not agree with. Farhana Yamin, an environmental lawyer with the Institute of Development Studies, who worked on Kyoto, said: “It seems a bit backwards. The danger is that the domestic tail starts to wag the international dog.”

That’s called a loophole. A loophole so vast you could drive a global disaster through it. And it once again seems to suggest an attitude of disastrous unilateralism. As explained by another Guardian article, from last week:

Reports by international groups of researchers – to be presented at a London conference next week – will show that climate change, caused by rising outputs of carbon dioxide from vehicles, factories and power stations, will not only affect the atmosphere and the sea but will alter the geology of the Earth.

Melting glaciers will set off avalanches, floods and mud flows in the Alps and other mountain ranges; torrential rainfall in the UK is likely to cause widespread erosion; while disappearing Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets threaten to let loose underwater landslides, triggering tsunamis that could even strike the seas around Britain.

At the same time the disappearance of ice caps will change the pressures acting on the Earth’s crust and set off volcanic eruptions across the globe. Life on Earth faces a warm future – and a fiery one.

Which would seem to suggest a need for some urgency…


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    • TMC on September 16, 2009 at 17:05

    then let’s gut it”, would seem to be what the Obama administration is proposing. Or at least, delay any positive advances until there are 100 Democrats in the Senate, since any treaty that the US would sign onto must be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate. Unless the treaty conforms to the energy consortium’s needs, any treaty stands as much chance of getting ratified as a snow ball’s survival in hell. Oh wait, “hell” is coming to us soon, too.

      Obama never fails to live up to my expectations.


    • banger on September 16, 2009 at 17:23

    Until the current order is overturned. Unfortunately it will not be overturned since the only people interested in change are on the right which is a therapeutic rather than a political movement. The left is dead and only pretends to exist. It has no political muscle–whatever the corporation decide will be the policy.

  1. The impasse is said to threaten the goal of limiting global temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees celsius, by 2015

    There is already enough CO2 in the atmosphere to grant the world a 6 to 8 degrees (Celsius) temperature increase — the only real question at this point is one of when the feedback effect kicks in and makes it real.

    Don’t believe me?

    This is the graph taken from Petit et al., a study of ice cores in the Antarctic.  You can see that over the past 420,000 years the CO2 levels and average temperature readings are correlated strongly.  As CO2 goes up, so also goes temperature.

    Well, the readings on this graph are not fully up-to-date.  Current CO2 readings are at about 389 ppm, about 100 ppm higher than the last reading on the graph.  That should, if the numbers on the graph are correct, lead to a six to eight degree (Celsius) average temperature rise.

    So basically there is no way temperatures are only rising two degrees.  They might only rise two degrees by 2015, but that will just be the beginning.

    So the IPCC reports are an attempt to fool you, but in the exact opposite of the way the teabaggers hoped.  Abrupt climate change will be far worse than anything the IPCC has predicted, and the idea that the rich crooks who run this world can hold a meeting and hold the line on two degrees warming would be extremely funny were it not so fatuous.

  2. And be checking this out.


  3. From 350.org: 350 Science

    350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

    Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

    There are three numbers you need to really understand global warming, 275, 390, and 350.

    For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million other molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount-without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

    We’re nearly at 390 ppm now, we need to get to 350 ppm. Currently we’re adding about 2 ppm per year.

    CO2 Now tracks the current atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    Current chart and data for atmospheric CO2

    Unless we’re actually reducing the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, we’re not doing enough.

    350 is the red line. That’s physics and chemistry say is the level of CO2 we can have in the earth’s atmosphere and have a relatively hospitable world climate. The science behind 350 ppm is no more negotiable than, say, gravity.

    How we respond to facts is up to us.

  4. much greater…….

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