Primate Diaries has an excellent writeup on the very important news that came out overnight regarding the “Danish Text” draft climate agreement, leaked to the UK’s Guardian. This climate agreement, if implemented, would significantly change the way climate management happens on this planet over the next several years, putting the bulk of the power in the hands of the World Bank and abrogating Kyoto. Check out this description and analysis of the problem.


  1. #1 EMJ
    December 9, 2009

    Thanks Greg. I loved what Oxfam recently said about the leaked draft in an interview with CNN:

    Like ants in a room full of elephants poor countries are at risk of being squeezed out of the climate talks in Copenhagen.

    Though wouldn’t “trampled” be a better metaphor?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    December 9, 2009

    “Like toothpaste on the floor in a room full of elephants….”

  3. #3 Equisetum
    December 9, 2009

    Could someone please explain to me why I am not at all surprised by this?

    Sigh . . .

  4. #4 MadScientist
    December 9, 2009

    Well, first of all, the Kyoto Protocol has been 100% useless and the tree planting and carbon credit trading it promotes is worse than worthless. Remember the talks are meant to be about real reductions in CO2 emissions, not simply “per capita reductions” as in the Kyoto agreement or, worse still, fuzzy feel-good gab. Now representatives from some poor nations don’t like the Kyoto agreement being completely scrapped because some oligarchs make money off the rest of the world for doing nothing. The developed nations are doing the dumping, so they need to do the cleaning up. Once they’ve got their act together then they can think of what might be done to help less developed nations clean up. I can’t comment on the “leaked text” itself since I have never seen it and people are prone to write the most ridiculous things, but the Kyoto agreement was not a good thing; it allowed everyone to increase emissions while doing jack shit, so all that hype about being “the only binding agreement” is bullshit – there’s nothing binding that’s of any value. A new agreement is essential, but the Kyoto agreement should be buried and forgotten.

  5. #5 Jeremy
    December 9, 2009

    Here is a much better analysis of the “leaked” (not actually leaked), “Danish” (not officially endorsed by anybody with authority in Denmark document.

    The analysis Greg’s posted is pretty terrible. For example this part, which I think might be from the Guardian article;

    “It would further force developing nations to curb their emissions at 2.67 tons of carbon emissions per capita, while poorer countries would be limited to 1.44 tons.”

    These figures cannot be found in the “leaked” document anywhere, nor can anything be found that would allow people to calculate these figures.

    This incident is just a media beat up and dishonest reporting.

  6. #6 EMJ
    December 10, 2009

    I addressed Jeremy at The Primate Diaries, but will do so here as well.

    Those particular numbers come from the analysis done by developing countries that were shown to the Guardian. They have been supported by David Hone, Climate Change Advisor to Shell who wrote on his blog:

    Assuming that emissions from deforestation are in developing countries and that international marine and aviation fuel use starts off largely allocated to developed countries but shifts increasingly to developing countries over 60 years, then my quick analysis shows a similar outcome – by 2050 developed country energy emissions are still nearly double per capita compared to developing countries, even though the developed countries have reduced emissions by 80%. The end result is that developing countries get a 16% increase in energy emissions by 2050 compared to 1990, but must reduce by about 45% compared to 2007 levels – and this can only happen if big reductions are made in areas such as deforestation. Hence the problem of “fairness”!

  7. #7 Jeremy
    December 10, 2009

    So EMJ, based on that analysis I take it you accept that the “leaked” text doesn’t actually “force” those specific emission limits per person at all and the specific numbers cited are actually just estimates based on a number of assumptions.

    The reporting is clearly worded to make it appear as if the text specifically creates an unfair disparity between developed and developing countries and that this is some kind of conspiracy by developed countries to screw over developing countries. This is obvious sensationalising of what is actually basically a non-news story and just some hyperbole and posturing for position that occurs at every international climate change conference.

    Lets at least wait to express our outrage until an actual proposal is put forward.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    December 10, 2009

    I think you two guys should bet ten dollars on this.

    … no wait, that is probably a bad idea.

  9. #9 MadScientist
    December 10, 2009

    I agree with Jeremy; lots of posturing, and I’d add a lot mock outrage at the evil developed nations. I really don’t give a damn what they whine about – the only important thing is will they agree on something useful. We don’t need another Kyoto and another 20 years doing nothing. If the developing nations simply stall hoping for undeserved handouts, the developed nations will have to take more or less unilateral action. China and India as developing nations need to do something, so negotiating with them is essential. Pretty much all the other developing nations put together can be ignored and left to let their emissions grow for the next 10-20 years, with positive incentives being worked out later as appropriate.

    I’m betting nothing useful comes out of the Copenhagen meetings though – just like last year. It seems to me that real progress is being made by individual states within larger federations and this is happening quite independently of the global whinefest. So, for example (purely hypothetical), if California, Washington, Colorado, and Arizona were to start enforcing CO2 reduction at the state level, other states and perhaps the federal government will eventually do the same. Any pro-CO2 reduction groups should work more at the state level rather than the federal level (where special interests buy the desired outcome). At the global level, as we can see from what’s happening (or not happening) at Copenhagen is simply a mess.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    December 10, 2009

    I personally have a hard time with the “developing” vs “developed” characterization. It places all but a handful of nations in one category which includes more variation than there has ever been in the history of nation states in very important variables; it assumes, in the midsts of a discussion about the future interrelationship between technology and society, that “developed” nation is the end product form of an inevitable process. If that’s true, then don’t bother with the climate change talks because it won’t help. And, it assumes a dynamic (the “ing” in “developing”) in a great many nations that is not happening, and in fact, quite the opposite is happening.

  11. #11 YTA
    December 10, 2009

    Ultimately, this may be a strategy to get a treaty in place given the likelihood that developed countries are more likely to torpedo a real effort. I would like to know more about the source.

  12. #12 MadScientist
    December 10, 2009

    I have objections to the “developing” vs “developed” as well, as if the “developed” no longer change and as if the “developing” are changing in any meaningful way. Looking at south-east Asia, society is not progressing very well despite the technological imports; they’ve got other problems. Looking at nations like PNG I can’t help but wonder how the industrialized world would suit them. How do you support, say, a hospital when the people are scattered over such rough terrain? There are industries – such as the palm and coconut oil industries – but they seem to be there to take advantage of cheap labor and the absence of laws protecting the workers. The population may simply be too small and scattered to support modern industry, which would leave them as net importers with not much of value to export. So the question is, what can be done so that the folks of PNG can live happily – trade is always good if we can trade anything with them, but I can’t imagine PNG becoming a heavily industrialized modernized nation – not that it’s impossible, just not possible without propping up from the outside. Not to mention, why should we force any ‘development’ on them?

  13. #13 Jeremy
    December 10, 2009

    Good point Greg re: “developed vs developing.” I’m unsure what terms are better to use though. “Industrialised” and something perhaps?

    Re: Mad Scientist, I am a little more optimistic at the moment. Gordon Brown’s comment that Europe should aim for 30% reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 regardless of what the rest of the world does was very positive and I’m hoping that it suggests we’ll see a strong target from Europe, even if it’s less than that. That will put a lot of pressure on the US to raise their reductions from the current proposal of returning to 1990 levels. I’ve also heard a lot of talk that the “developed” nations are prepared to dramatically increase the proposed $10 billion fund. Even if it doesn’t get to $400 billion, if it’s something along the lines of $100 billion I think the “developing” nations block, especially the “faction” that doesn’t include China, India etc. will support it.