November 12, 2009
After two years of preparation intense diplomatic activity humanity does not seem to ready be up to the task of for taking the necessary action for the dramatic substantial reduction of green houses gases that is necessary to preserve the decent livingclimatic conditions on our small planet earth.
As things stand, Formally speaking, tthe Copenhagen Climate conference is bound to failure.
- There is a 200 pages draft text for a new agreement on the table, but it is stuffed with a thousand square brackets.
- The US Congress has not been able to finalise its the far-reaching climate legislation package without which US negotiators will not wish to put their signature under any new text, fearing a repetition of the 1997 Kyoto ratification disasterdisaster.
- China, India and other emerging countries are not prepared to take any binding commitments for reducing their green house gases.
- There is a huge divide between developed and developing countries on the new issue of financing of measures to help mitigate climate change in developing countries and adapt to it.
Thus nobody expects the 190 odd countries attending the meeting to finalise any legally binding text before the end of the year. The presence of 40 heads of government wills not fundamentally the change the outcome.
But a formal failure is need not be the equivalent to disaster! During the past two years of preparation we have witnessed unprecedented changes ion the climate scene.
- No serious politician dares to challenge the seriousness of the challenge any longer. The level of global awareness about the climate risks has risen enormously, everywhere on earth, in governments and business. No serious politician dares to speak out against the need for effective climate policy any longer.
- Technology has made great strides and helped to make renewable energies more competitive with fossil sources.There has been a huge increase of iInvestments and in “green technology energy” have soared technology advances in energy efficiency and renewable energies in Europe, the USA, China, India, Brazil etc.
The world iIn 2010 we will will therefore be totally find ourselves in a very different world from that in 2007 with no . No government being able to can any longer afford to ignore the issue.
China has made great strides in pushing energy efficiency, e.g. by setting consumption standards for cars. It has become the single biggest investor in wind energy and the biggest exporter of solar panels. Having realised both the immense damage from climate change for its own population and the huge business potential for renewablefor renewable energies China is likely can be expected to take atake a much more aggressive policyaggressive attitude line when it comes ton containing its emissionsits emissions.
The US Congress can be expected to adopt its the Energy and Climate Act in the first half of 2010, whatever the opposition from coal-mining states and Republican senators. With the health reformhealth reform hopefully having passed,adopted, President Obama will be able to focus on his second major legislative packageclimate change.
US legislation That Act will not satisfy high European expectations. But it will imposed contain substantive reductions of emissions at the horizon of 2030 and put in place the necessary policy tools, including emission cap and trade.
US business from General Electric to m major utilities and the automobile industry will find out that the climate legislation to will be profitable ratherprofitable rather than harmful and that the much feared “carbon leakage” will not happen.
Read also: Can Europe Lead The Copenhagen Negotiations?
Copenhagen can therefore still become the turningthe turning point every one hopes for., if To that end, the international community will is prepared have to
- Abandon its hope for signing asigning a treaty imposing legally binding commitments for reducing emissions.
- Focus on a series of practical policy measures to be taken by individual or groups of countries, e.g. forest preservation, introducing energy-saving lighting, fixing energy-saving buildings codes, imposing fuel consumption standards for passenger cars automobiles, taxingation of fossil fuel fuelsfuel fuels including kerosene etc.
- Tie financial assistance to developing countries to specific policy measures for reducing emissions.
Such a new approach will take a few months for maturingfor maturing. In Copenhagen it would suffice for thefor the parties to sign a political declaration by whichby which they jointly commit to tackle climate change in the comingthe coming decades as the overriding priorityoverriding priority for humanity.
In early 2010 the key parties – – EU, USA, China, Japan, India and Brazil – should sit down and negotiate the format of an effective international body endowed with the authority to
Oversee climate/energy developments and the policy performance of major actors;
Take appropriate initiatives to advance the fight against climate change at national, regional and global levels.
Brussels, 08.11.09 Eberhard RheinAuthor : Eberhard Rhein