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after Copenhagen: the fallout « Previous | |Next »
December 29, 2009

As we know very little progress was made in Copenhagen despite all the effort of all the nations, leaders and all the political capital invested. So what happened? Well, the post-conference blame game is well underway.

It was China who wrecked Copenhagen says Mark Lynas. China was able to block any proposal that threatened its capacity to expand as a superpower and its negotiators shot down all attempts to make emissions cuts legally binding or to set long-term goals for reducing greenhouse gases.


The last days negotiations were probably more complex than this because India was also determined to block any proposal that might constrain its future economic growth.

The Guardian's Jonathan Watts offers a more complex account:

There was a gulf in the expectations of the different parties. It soon became apparent that the BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) were playing for a 0-0 draw. They did not want to sign up to anything that would constrain their future economic growth. Europe wanted ambitious, legal targets for 2020 and 2050. The US was most concerned about ensuring China made its emissions data more transparent and avoiding criticism for its dismal record in recent years. Europe was the furthest from achieving its goals, which is depressing as I think its targets werethe best way to keep the rise in temperature below two degrees celsius.

The consequences is that China and the US, the world's two biggest emitters, can now continue emitting without legal constraints for a longer period of time, perhaps indefinitely.

Underlying the blame game and the finger pointing China is the shift in geopolitical power, the decline of American power and the beginning of the end of the western ascendancy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:09 PM | | Comments (2)


The beginning of the end? Is this some sort of zero sum game? I would have thought a multi-polar world would be a desirable outcome. I personally find Niall Ferguson's views irritating, obtuse, wrongheaded drivel.

Anyway, in regard to the excellent Jonathan Watts, the fact is that, for countries such as China and India, the political imperative to economically develop is overwhelming. There is simply no other option.

The only logical position is that it is for the developed world to accommodate to this and not try to constrain growth in these countries. I am talking about serious levels of subsidies and greater cuts in emissions by the already developed world. Without this I don't see any chance of effective climate change action.

I concur about Niall Ferguson's views---I reacted against him over his account of the global financial crisis. I also agree about the emergence of a multipolar world.

It is Xmas so I just linked and let the critique go. You are doing a good job in filling on the absent critique side of things.