The first official draft on a climate deal has been written and issued. The expectation is the details won’t be worked out for another 6 months or so, which was what a lot of people were thinking going into this Summit. Keep in mind that George Bush’s crew did everything they could for 8 years to make sure the climate crisis was worse when they left than when they took power. President Obama’s administration has had only 10 months so far to undo those 8 years of damage. That little fact will be very handy when the Cons start screaming that the Summit and the U.S. President are failures. Gotta love those patriots! Back to the draft:
A key working group under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came up with a six-page text Friday. The draft may form the core of a new global agreement to combat climate change beyond 2012, when the present framework, the Kyoto Protocol, expires. However, most figures in the text are shown in brackets – meaning that there is not yet agreement on these specifics. Most importantly, the draft states that emissions should be halved worldwide by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, but it also suggests 80 percent and 95 percent reductions by that year as possible alternative options.
Those two emphasized statements are at the root of a lot of disagreement between parties, as I cover below.
AOSIS (the Alliance of Small Island States) wants global emissions to peak by 2015, only 5 short years away. China hasn’t offered any kind of peak emission goal whatsoever to this point and they’re probably not likely to any time soon, despite heavy lobbying by the European Union and others to do so. Moreover, AOSIS has held onto Tuvalu’s limit of 1.5C temperature (which we haven’t hit yet) rise and 350 ppm maximum for atmospheric CO2 concentration (which we’re well beyond already). China has expressed support for a 2 degree maximum and has never supported 350 ppm. Needless to say, the diplomats have their work cut out for them.
A group of Senators have identified a couple of goals for the U.S. (emphasis mine): a cut in carbon pollution “in the range of 17%” [of 2005 levels] by 2020 and 80% or more by 2050. It’s unclear to me at this time whether the 80% goal is baselined by 2005 or 1990. There were obviously more emissions in 2005, which makes 80% of them unattractive to parties who are being affected most by climate change today. It would be far better to aim for 80% of 1990 levels and not succeed than aim for 80% of 2005 levels and not succeed, all other considerations being equal.
This goes back a ways in time, but most people are probably unaware that Brazil is making some important progress in trying to slow and then halt deforestation of the tropical rain forests in the country:
Under the plan, deforestation is to be reduced by 70 per cent by 2018, which would avoid 4.8 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil wants “to eliminate net loss of forest cover by 2015”, Kahn said.
Good for them. 4.8 billion tons of GHGs is a significant amount to avoid.
To set up the next item, I wanted to provide a trustworthy source of information on the hacked e-mails that has the right-wing’s panties all in a bunch. ThinkProgress’ Wonk Room provides a comprehensive timeline of events. Plenty of wingnuttery in the comments, if you can stomach it. Bottom line: the e-mails do nothing to disprove the scientific proof that exists. The only people making this a big deal are those who hate science/scientists and love being controlled by mega-corporations. What frustrates me is I haven’t heard of any effort to arrest the hackers, who committed the only crime(s) in this mess.
Which leads me to the a-hat of the day – James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who wrote to Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the Chair of the IPCC, demanding that anyone involved in “nefarious” e-mail exchanges be barred from participating in any way for the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report. A number of retorts sprang to mind when I read about this. We could start with the fact that Mr. Sensenbrenner has no formal scientific training. For him to criticize someone (anyone) else about proper conduct in the scientific realm is pathetic. Nor did Mr. Sensenbrenner have any problem with damage to the public trust when Bush was in office, eviscerating citizens’ rights for 8 years. This partisanship and naked power ploy from Mr. Sensenbrenner could be characterized as ridiculous if it wasn’t so normal for the Cons these days. It doesn’t, of course, make it any less unacceptable. I recommend Mr. Sensenbrenner take Rep. Grayson’s advice to Dick “Darth” Cheney: STFU.
The public trust hasn’t been violated, by the way, as this poll continues to demonstrate. 61% responded that humans are mostly responsible for the warming Earth. As to why unneeded confusion continues in public, maybe the wording of this question can provide some insight:
1. You may have heard about the idea that the world’s temperature may have been going up slowly over the past 100 years.
Um, no, Ipsos/McClatchy. There is no doubt that the world’s temperature has gone up over the past 100 years. It’s not just an idea, idiots, it’s been proven, just like it’s been proven that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gone up over the past 100 years. Those facts don’t, by themselves, imply anything about the future behavior of either measure. But facts aren’t ideas, geniuses.
Unlike Sensenbrenner, other Americans are actually trying to propose solutions to our energy, climate and employment crises. Some, like the Center for American Progress, are trying to tackle all three at once. They’re such overachievers.
My 10Dec2009 summary is here.
My 9Dec2009 summary is here.
My 7Dec2009 summary is here.
Cross-posted at SquareState.