You’ve got to give our Secretary of State credit – she knows how to make an entrance. Show up at the door with 100 billion and people can’t look away. Of course, she didn’t promise 100 billion from the US, but to raise it collectively with some unspecified other folk by 2020, but still, it is an impressive number, and it isn’t wasn’t a bad way to get attention. That doesn’t change the fact that the rich world is still trying to blame the poor, or that the climate talks are still failing.
Meanwhile, a new UN report released confirms what we already knew – that everything presently on the table is totally insufficient:
Later in the day, reporters obtained a confidential UN analysis stating that current emissions-cut pledges now being proposed at Copenhagen would lead to a temperature rise this century of 3 degrees C (5.4 F), surpassing the 2 degree C (3.6 F) target that negotiators set as an acceptable limit to global warming. The report by the UN Climate Change Secretariat said the current emissions reductions offered by the U.S., the European Union, China, Japan, Australia, and other nations would mean pouring up to 4 billion tons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2020 than the level needed to hold temperature increases to 2 C. That increased amount of CO2, coupled with significant levels of carbon dioxide emitted in later decades, would mean that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 could rise from the current 387 parts per million to roughly 550 parts per million in a century or so. Those concentrations would likely lead to a 3 C rise, the UN report said.
Look, any reduction in C02 levels is good. Abd 100 billion dollars to developing countries to preserve rainforest and replace obsolete technologies is a good idea – assuming, of course, we actually pay it (we’ve reneged before) and that such a coalition could be formed (not at all clear). But the central issue is very much not on the table – dealing with climate change as it actually exists. And it probably won’t ever be – because the kind of cuts that are required are simply inconsistent with growing economies and the fantasy of eternal wealth.
Of course, so is global warming. But enough people care more about the short term than the long – what none of the countries can do is deal with the painful reality – that our economic system is on the table. Clinton can make quite an entrance – but it is the exits that will matter in the end, and those aren’t looking so good.