Earlier this year, everyone in the environmental punditocracy had an opinion on what domestic policy moves the leading economies and emerging nations might make to position themselves in advance of December’s climate change conference in Copenhagen.
The US? President Obama would arrive wearing a badge of victory: the world’s first-ever all-auction cap-and-trade system. China and India? The world’s fastest growing economies would put domestic Potemkin policies in place to demonstrate good faith. Western Europe? With a carbon cap in place and a bona fide legacy of environmental leadership, the Old West would continue to carry the mantle by pushing for significant advancement beyond Kyoto standards.
The global economic meltdown has rendered impossible any determination of how accurate those predictions might have been. Although things are looking up economically, there is no telling what history will be written in Denmark this winter. The signs are not promising.