Copenhagen posturing

Obama-meets-with-UN-SecretaryThe last round of negotiations prior to the Copenhagen Summit in Barcelona fizzled to a message of decreased expectations.  This has set the table for rapid political posturing from the US.  On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal quoted several key Senators, including climate bill sponsor Sen. Kerry, with various statements postponing the possibility of US domestic climate legislation until next year.  Thursday the Washington Post broke a story that the Obama administration is feeling out the possibility for interim agreements in lieu of a formal treaty in December.  This morning the first official news of President’s Asia trip is of an agreement with Japan that both countries will commit to decreasing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 with global reductions of 50% by mid century.  With China and India on schedule for later in the trip it is probable that climate will come up again, although balance of trade and Yuan/$ exchange is likely to dominate the conversation (for more on expected China content check out Robert Borosage on Huff Post).

It seems to this writer that Obama is guarding his international reputation more than setting a clear signal that the US is ready to engage in international climate agreements.  Continue reading

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The U.S. and China on Climate Change: Who Has the Better Hand?

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Source: ipkitten.blogspot.com

As President Obama gears up to make his first presidential trip to China later this month, environmental groups and other research organizations are becoming increasingly more vocal regarding the need for greater cooperation between China and the United States on the issue of climate change.

Three prominent American organizations, the Asia Society, the Center for American Progress, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (N.R.D.C.) all agree that the two countries should make climate change a top priority. In their opinion, China and the U.S. should focus on two aspects of climate change mitigation: the use of carbon capture technology and the creation of a market for carbon.

These organizations lay a solid foundation for why China and the U.S. need to pay more attention to climate change, and they also make a strong case for why the two countries should work together on the issue. However, the question remains: will the two countries tackle climate change during President Obama’s upcoming visit and come to some sort of agreement before heading into Copenhagen, or will the issue take a back seat to other topics as is often the case during these “head of state” meetings? Continue reading

In the European Union, Consensus is Lacking on Climate Change

The European Union (EU) has been meeting regularly to come up with a consistent position on climate change going into Copenhagen in December. The big ticket item in all of these meetings is how to fund global climate change in terms of adaptation and mitigation. So far, the EU has failed to find common ground. Commentary appeared on the COP15 website this morning regarding this issue. Another article appeared in the Irish Times last week.

The EU finance ministers will meet again this weekend to try to iron out an official position.  However, the fact remains that without consensuses, the EU could potentially see a rift between the older, industrialized countries (France, Britain, Spain, Germany, etc) and the newer, developing members including Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Furthermore, the lack of unification would make it difficult for the EU to be seen as leader on climate change and threaten its ability to play a larger role in the summit early this December in Copenhagen.

Green Politics

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Green Politics by Anil Agarwal, Sunita Narain and Anju Sharma is perhaps one of those few books which talks about the stance of developing countries when it comes to global environmental negotiations. The developing countries have always come across as skeptics when it comes to global environmental negotiations and their reasons can be fairly justified. This book highlights the southern perspective of such negotiations and clearly shows how these environmental negotiations which are supposed to be based on the principle of good governance—equality, justice and democracy have often turned out to be business transactions where the rich crush the interests of the poor. Continue reading