COPing with the Arguments

It is the end of week one, and to the casual observer, Copenhagen appears to be in an uproar.  Several groups have put out “final” negotiating positions that are inconsistent with each other, and the Chinese envoy declared the head of the American delegation “not helpful.”  (Todd Stern of the US said rather plainly that the US will not give money to China….probably not the smartest thing to throw out there).  Many of the arguments have fallen on the old grievances that the developing world has against the developed world.

On the other hand, progress is being made.  The initial negotiating points are now clearer and the parties realize what they have to work with.  The small island nations are calling for cuts from the major developing economies (China, India, et al.) as well as the developed world.  And the message is getting clearer that while the developing countries may wish for more aid and bigger cuts from the developed world, the large developing countries must do something or it will all be for naught.  In other words, the Kyoto framework with its rigid division between the developed and developing world has outlived its usefulness.  In the last 12 years, we have seen the growth in emmissions from the developing world increase so much, that 97% of all growth from now on, will come from the developing world.  Though China and India have not indicated that they will agree to any binding cut, look for come compromise along the lines of something that can be classified as binding, but doesn’t seem too onerous for their economies.

The protest against the inevitability of cap and trade and market mechanisms continues, but interestingly, that will be a sideline to the more important targets…Once agreements on targets are reached, it will be unlikely that the market mechanisms or cap and trade will be scrapped.

The most interesting thing so far is again how the other countries are really looking to the US for leadership and following all the news from here (about the new Senate compromise for instance).  This need for the US and US leadership is at war with the harsh criticism of the proposed US near term cuts.  What could happen?  Maybe moving to a slightly later time for cuts or allowing averaging so that the US’s later cuts could be presented as more significant than the short term ones.

Next post will be from Copenhagen…if I don’t get hit by a water cannon.

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