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Copenhagen: Now What?

December 20, 2009

Planet_earth_white_background_pv3j It would be a stretch to call the non-binding agreement announced at the close of the UN-sponsored climate summit a victory for supporters of steep, phased-in reductions in CO2 emissions. Indeed, reaction to the Copenhagen Accord ranged from skeptical acknowledgment of the few meaningful concessions it did contain to bemused disgust ("the emptiest deal one could imagine short of a fist fight").

According to the Seattle Times, the key elements of the agreement were worked out among the United States, China, Brazil, India, and South Africa on Friday:

  • Signatories agreed to cooperate in reducing emissions "with a view" to scientists' warnings to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) above preindustrial levels.
  • Developing nations will report every two years on their voluntary actions to reduce emissions. Those reports would be subject to "international consultations and analysis," a concession to the United States by China, which had seen this as an intrusion on its sovereignty.
  • Richer nations will finance a $10 billion-a-year, three-year program to pay for poorer nations' projects to deal with drought and other climate-change impacts, and to develop clean energy.
  • They also set a "goal" of "mobilizing" $100 billion a year by 2020 for the same adaptation and mitigation purposes.

In other words, business as usual, with a few extra bucks -- how else to describe $100 billion in an age of trillion-dollar bailouts? -- set aside to help poor countries deal with the long-term consequences of a warming planet.

We will hear, in the weeks to come, how the "failure" of Copenhagen underscores the growing irrelevance of the UN and its approach to the climate change problem. And that's a shame. Because the real lesson of Copenhagen is that solutions to the problem -- and the related issues of energy security and sustainable economic growth -- are never going to be hashed out in a conference room. They lie, instead, with you and me, in the choices we make on a daily basis about how we eat, what and when we drive, how much stuff we need, and what kind of world we want to leave our kids and grandkids.

The politicians and bureaucrats gave it the old college try and came up short. Now the ball's in our court. Here are a few things you can do. Start by adding your voice to the tens of thousands who are fed up with the status quo. Let your elected representatives know you're concerned about climate change and energy independence and are ready to do something about it. Invest in American entrepreneurialism, innovation, and ingenuity. Make a New Year's resolution to be "green" in 2010. And remember the words of Henry David Thoreau: "Things do not change; we change."

--Mitch Nauffts

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Posted by DJ  |   December 21, 2009 at 10:04 AM

The failure of Copehnagen to institute crippling economic schemes and massive transfers of wealth is more likely a major victory for supporters of freedom. Hugo Chavez gave away the game with his speech- which was met with quite the warm reception I may add (and boy, was that warmth needed, what with that blizzard and all!)

Or maybe Copenhagen failed because the whole idea of man-made global warming is failing, thanks to those leaked emails that seem to show "scientists" engaging in pretty unscientific behavior.

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