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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Are Senate Dems Kicking Climate Legislation To The Curb?

President Barack Obama scored a major victory in the final hours of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, getting a number of nations to agree on a path toward climate action moving forward.  Buttressing the victory was getting China and India to agree to international consultations and analysis of their efforts to curb pollution.  Such a condition is one thing that Senate Cons were supposedly waiting for in order for the U.S. to finally do something meaningful about climate change.  Whether that concern holds true now that the condition has been met by the Obama administration remains to be seen, of course.  In fact, I fully expect the Cons to claim that no such condition was really met or that a new excuse will crop up.

So what about Senate Dems?  How do they view the upcoming climate/energy legislation that Sens. Kerry and Boxer have worked on all year?  Most importantly, how do the same Senate CorporateDems who are responsible for gutting the Senate’s health care legislation (turning it into a health insurance giveaway) view the climate/energy legislation?  Well, if Politico is to be believed (a stretch, I know), some of those same CorporateDems who gave everything to the insurance corporations that they could have been releasing statements saying climate and energy should be put off until after the 2010 elections!

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2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit News 12/22/09 – Accord & Future Directions

I obviously haven’t posted anything about the Copenhagen Conference for a few days.  Not for lack of desire, but for a lack of time.  So before more time slips away and I lose track of what happened in Copenhagen, here are where things stand, as best as I can determine.

The Copenhagen Climate Conference of 2009 wasn’t an abject failure, as too many people continue to profess.  Did the Conference result in the most aggressive actions by every country that the most optimistic could have hoped for?  Of course not.  Anybody who thought that would happen set themselves up for severe disappointment.  Is it the final step in climate action internationally?  Again, of course it isn’t.  What I think happened is a solid step in the general right direction was taken.  The results were actually better than the total gridlock that appeared 1-3 days days prior to the end led observers to believe they would be.  The agent who made the recorded progress available?  The Obama administration.

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2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit News 12/18/09 #1 – UN Draft Analysis

By a twist of chance, I somehow missed the much talked about UN draft text yesterday afternoon, so I’m a little late to this.  A number of bloggers have referred to it as a secret UN analysis.  Most folks are completely up in arms about it.  Until more information comes out from the end of the Copenhagen Conference, I’m going to exercise caution and not jump to conclusions.  I’ll share what details I understand and provide my analysis of what’s gone on.

What is everybody freaking out about?  Supposedly, a “leaked UN report” contained info on cuts offered at Copenhagen and what those cuts would mean for total GHG pollution amounts and associated warming.  It shows a gap of up to 4.2 gigatonnes of carbon emissions below the required 2020 level of 44Gt, that is , the level currently thought to be required to stay below a global 2C rise.  That 2C rise has been cited as being critical to keeping catastrophic climate change at bay.  Below that rise, we should be “okay”; above it, we will face severe climatic consequences.

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2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit News 12/17/09 – Slow Movement, Clinton, Kerry & Science Updates

China and the U.S. continue to have a moderate level of disagreement on issues related to verification, namely “measurable, reportable, and verifiable” or MRV as the parlance has developed.  China says it isn’t opposed to MRV for actions that receive international financing, technology or capacity building support, which is actually a good thing.  International monies and projects should be fully transparent and accountable.  The U.S. disagreement stems from the fact that China has already implemented climate change actions since 2005 that are internally funded.  If text currently being debated is put in place, those projects wouldn’t be subject to international scrutiny, which I agree would be a bad thing.  National sovereignty is one aspect of this struggle, but so is international dependencies.  Some nations will literally be swallowed by the seas soon.  Those nations rightfully want to ensure that every other nation is doing what they say they’re doing (and legally bound to do by treaty).

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2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit News 12/16/09 – G77 Wants 350ppm & Other Developments

As of Monday, poorer nations (the G77) continued to stall talks at Copenhagen.  Despite pressure from rich, developed, polluting nations, the group of developing countries have stood firm in their resolve to get 350ppm (concentration CO2) as a stated goal of the Copenhagen Summit.  350ppm has been identified by climatologists as the likely value that can exist without sending the climate system into either a more chaotic state or a stable state which consists of a much warmer and acidified world.  Current concentrations have reached 387ppm.  Good for the poorer nations.  I sincerely hope they maintain their stance and force real action.

China and the U.S. continue to differ in what they’re willing to accept moving forward.  It all comes down to transparency and accountability, really:

China, which last month for the first time publicly announced a target for reducing the rate of growth of its greenhouse gas emissions, is refusing to accept any kind of international monitoring of its emissions levels, according to negotiators and observers here. The United States is insisting that without stringent verification of China’s actions, it cannot support any deal.

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2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit News 12/14/09 – AP:Science Not Faked & More Background

The Associated Press assigned a team to look through more than 1000 e-mails that were illegally hacked from a U.K. University server (something that the corporate media keeps overlooking: the hack was illegal, not the contents of the e-mails).  What did the AP find?  That the actual science surrounding climate change is very much real.  Nothing was faked, nothing was doctored, no Grand Conspiracy exists.  Which, in the fevered minds of denialists, means that the AP must be part of the Grand Conspiracy.
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2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit News 12/11/09: 1st Draft Issued & Wingnuts on Parade

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.

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