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Friday, December 18, 2009

No Deal

Or at least no binding deal; it's looking like anything coming out of Copenhagen will be as toothless as a Danish alligator

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 3:46 PM

photo by Chris Benjamin
  • photo by Chris Benjamin

Twitter was so right. Hours before the Globe and Mail posted the story rumours started circulating that leaders had failed to make a deal and had been asked to stick it out another day.

The PMO's office denies it but says "negotiations are still ongoing." Somebody should tell Russia's Medvedev that; apparently he left already.

The good news is that today's draft documents (which amazingly were made public without being leaked) could create an agreement to try and stop the global temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius. If average global temperatures rise by more than that the heavens will rain apocalyptic hail and winds and so-forth.

The "leaders" have apparently agreed to cut greenhouse gas emission by half from 1990 levels by 2050. Industrialized countries would aim for an 80 percent reduction, putting them in line with Barack Obama's goals. There would also be a $100 billion-a-year fund for poor countries to help them green their economies. Sounds pretty good except that 2050 is a long way out. Depending how quickly we move on targets we could easily go above that two degree threshold by then.

The commitment will probably be completely toothless, but in my mind it beats coming up with a toothy protocol with namby-pamby commitments like "reduce emissions by one percent below 2020 emissions." As I've been pointing out, cramming the world's future into three days of actual negotiations is just stupid.

If we end up with a vague agreement in principle, the question then becomes, what next? Do we wait until the next regularly scheduled COP meeting, wasting precious time conducting business as usual? Or do we move quickly to turn "in principle" into something legally binding and quantifiable.

From the sounds of it, it will be the former. The wording of the draft seems to indicate that there will be no firm starting date and no timeline for using any Copenhagen agreement to make a legally-binding treaty.

[By the way, if you aren't afraid of global warming yet: Wend Travel Magazine reports that hops and barley will fail if the planet keeps warming. That's right, no more beer.]

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