As the latest round of international climate change negotiations gets underway this week in Cancun, Mexico, you can expect to hear a lot from the mainstream media about China and the United States blaming each other for failure to agree on a climate change treaty. The media (at least the US media) loves to repeat a narrative in which these two economies face off against each
Global investments in alternative energy projects will rise nearly 50 percent in 2010, climbing from $130 billion this year to $200 billion next year.
In a survey of the green energy market, Bloomberg News reports that despite the dim prospects of forging a climate treaty in Copenhagen this month, companies and governments are moving rapidly ahead to build wind power farms, large solar arrays, and other green energy projects.
Thanks in large part to state-funded economic stimulus programs, government spending on green energy will more than double in 2010 to about $60 billion, according to the report.
Analysts said that with China, the European Union (EU), and individual U.S. states aggressively adopting regulations and incentives promoting green energy, the field will continue to rapidly develop even if a global climate treaty is not signed.
Twelve years ago in Kyoto, the world was poised to act on a climate treaty but looked for a clear signal from the United States. Now, with the Copenhagen talks set to begin, the outcome once again hinges on what the U.S. is prepared to do.
President Obama took much of the drama out of the Copenhagen talks earlier this month when he and other world leaders announced that there’d be no treaty at the end — in essence, they said, we’ll wait for the U.S. Senate. Still, you can’t call off the party entirely, and so the planet’s climate scientists, bureaucrats, activists, skeptics and journalists will still descend on the Danish capital in a few days for a fortnight of meeting, marching, propounding, denying, and most of all spinning.
With just a month remaining before the Copenhagen climate summit, delegates from 192 countries are meeting this week in Barcelona to attempt to lay the groundwork for a climate treaty, with some influential figures saying the United States must be prepared to make firm greenhouse gas reduction commitments if Copenhagen is to be a success.
Connie Hedegaard, the Danish minister for climate and energy, who is hosting the Copenhagen meeting, expressed the hopes and frustrations of European Union members when she told delegates, “We have gotten used to the fact in World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the fight against terror, that the world could count on the U.S. to deliver on huge challenges,” she said. “I believe they have to deliver on this challenge. And if we don’t reach agreement in Copenhagen, who will lose the most? One of the most defined losers is American business.”
The Indian government says the country’s carbon dioxide emissions will grow three to five times by 2031 as its economy expands and its population continues to soar from 1 billion to 1.5 billion people.
Government projections say CO2 emissions will increase from 1.4 billion tons last year to between 4 billion and 7.3 billion tons annually by 2031. India now produces about 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Indian officials have rejected assertions by developed countries that India needs to rein its CO2 emissions, saying the country has the right to improve its standard of living and that per-capita emissions — expected to double by 2031 — will still remain comparatively low.
Author and scholar Michael Levi says in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that the odds of signing a climate treaty in Copenhagen this December are extremely small and argues that policymakers and environmental advocates should rethink their expectations for the summit.
Levi, a senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, contends that the conventional treaty model – which focuses on high-level agreements on emissions caps and carbon trading schemes – is fundamentally flawed because emissions caps are largely unverifiable and unenforceable. Short of bullying with punitive sanctions, nothing can be done if caps are exceeded.
The best way to ensure that industrialized and developing nations fairly share the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to set national targets based on the number of wealthy people in each country, a new study suggests.
Reporting in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Princeton University recommended that the roughly 1 billion people whose affluent lifestyles make them high carbon emitters should determine how much CO2 each country is permitted to emit under any new climate treaty. Most of those 1 billion people live in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and other developed countries, but an increasing number of well-to-do people with a large carbon footprint will live in China, India, Russia, Brazil, and other developing nations. A climate treaty that focuses on levels of affluence in each country will help bridge a major negotiating divide between rich and poor countries, the study said.