Global environmental challenges
from The Great Debate UK:
- Julian Hunt is visiting professor at Delft University and formerly director general of the UK meteorological office. Charles Kennel is distinguished professor of atmospheric science, emeritus and senior advisor to the sustainability solutions institute, UCSD. The opinions expressed are their own. -
The non-legally binding "deal" agreed at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen among the U.S., China, Brazil, South Africa and India, has brought to a conclusion what has proved an extraordinarily complex set of negotiations.
The outcome has been criticised on numerous grounds and, in U.S. President Barack Obama’s own words, “We have much further to go”.
In effect, the agreement may ultimately amount to no more than a long-term climate change dialogue between Washington and Beijing. While global action to tackle emissions of carbon dioxide must remain a priority, the fact remains that we may be heading towards a future in which no long-term, comprehensive successor to the Kyoto regime is politically possible.
from The Great Debate:
By John W. Edwards, Jr.
President Barack Obama certainly is walking the walk when it comes to weatherizing America’s homes.
Five billion dollars was included in the economic stimulus legislation for the Weatherization Assistance Program, the federal program started in 1976 to help low-income families.
Sitting at the base of the memorial cross at Azimuth Hill two nights ago watching the baby chicks that had hatched over a 24-hour period we noticed a black dot on the horizon.
In less than an hour the dot grew larger and larger, as it steaming towards us, until finally a large dark ship, with razor sharp spikes impaled around its exterior, dropped anchor in Commonwealth Bay.
The only laughs in Copenhagen on Friday were for a news conference that never happened.
Rumours spread fast among thousands of journalists, particularly if they have spent a day watching climate talks slowly implode in Copenhagen, waiting hours for anyone to hand out snippets of information about what was going on.
An enormous white globe dangled in Copenhagen’s Bella Centre, the location of the world’s largest ever leaders’ summit on climate change, could be an unintended yet chilling sign of things to come.
An observant attendee made it clear by scribbling on the giant model of the earth that its designers forgot to paint on small, low-lying Pacific island nations like Tuvalu and the Cook Islands.
(Updates with comments from Karen Alderman Harbert)
A key component of a prospective climate deal coming into Copenhagen has been the targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Targets would help put a “price” on carbon emissions that could then be bought and sold under a cap and trade scheme. (Click here for a related article.)
The talks were supposed to be over, “family photo” taken, and slaps on the back given all round.
So all the 193 countries and many RINGOS, BINGOS, YOUNGOS, banks and others who had set up temporary Copenhagen offices had been told to have them packed up by Friday evening.
from Global News Journal:
While UN climate talks involving world leaders descended into chaos and farce in the rooms and corridors of this immediately forgettable Copenhagen exhibition centre, a parallel world flourished in its main conference hall.
Meetings of world leaders and environment ministers through Thursday night and Friday yielded a series of draft climate texts, each more toothless and lacking in ambition than the last. NGOs despaired. The assembled media veered between disbelief and boredom. And outside in the snow the vegans, climate activists and other protest groups kept up a steady drumbeat of protest in the snow.
from Mario Di Simine:
You go for walks, maybe stretch out on an open couch, perhaps stand in long lines for a luke-warm bite to eat. You make numerous trips to the vending machines, munch on biscuits, chat with colleagues. Life in the fast lane of the COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen has slowed down to a crawl, and the waiting is most certainly the hardest part.
On the final day of the conference, the media -- and everyone else -- is looking forward to an outcome, any outcome of a two-week marathon that was supposed to lead to cuts in greenhouse gas emisions and a 2010 deadline for a legally binding treaty.
from The Great Debate:
-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --
How much are U.S. households prepared to pay to avert the threat of climate change? According to the latest polling data published by the Washington Post, the answer is not very much, probably not much more than $25 per month or $300 per year.
Most respondents (65 percent) believe the federal government should regulate greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories, including those who believe this strongly (50 percent) or somewhat (15 percent). Only a minority think the government should not regulate them (29 percent).