Monday, November 02, 2009

Copenhagen conference not so important after all

Unless you've been living in some secluded monastery or are, like so many of my readers, inclined to spend extended periods in jail, you've no doubt heard about December's desperately important, do or die, last chance, now or never and so on and so forth climate change conference in Copenhagen (aka Hopenchangen). Hell, even Greenland has gotten the message, Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist (didn't know Greenland had its own government much less a PM, did you?) summing up:

"We all inhabit the same globe, and we all must make an effort to curb climate change now."

But with conflicting national interests on the line a binding emissions reduction agreement is looking increasingly unlikely. Thus we see a bit of back-pedaling on the now or never importance of the conference. Lars-Erik Liljelund, climate advisor to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, currently Chair of the EU, now says the scare tactics were perhaps a tad overdone:

"It was a little unwise to describe the Copenhagen meeting as a more important meeting that it in fact is."

So be prepared for the Copenhagen conference to produce not much other than the carbon pollution generated by hundreds of very important people and their entourages flying in for the big gab fest.

In related news EU leaders have agreed that the developing world will need lots of climate change cash:

"The EU leaders agreed that developing nations would need 100 billion euro (150 billion US dollars) worth of help annually by 2020 to cope with climate change and to deal with the consequences of global warming.

"'We can now look the rest of the world in the eyes and say we Europeans have done our job,' said EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso at the summit-closing press conference.

"'It was essential that the European Union kept its leadership role and we have done that,' he added.

"However, he cautioned that the EU 'offers are not a blank cheque... we are ready to act if our partners are ready to deliver'".

So the Europeans' job was to commit, without outside consultation, the developed world to spending US$150 billion a year on the developing world but it has yet to be decided who kicks in what. As is so often the case, Europeans are adept at thinking and talking but not much on actually doing.

Update: BBC News environment blogger Richard Black uses International Energy Agency and World Bank figures to come up with $200 billion that the developed world must provide annually to help the developing world adjust to a changing climate and for reducing emissions. It is, however, unclear exactly where all that cash will come from.


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