Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bali Summit Leaves Lots of Unanswered Questions in Its Wake

It appears that US did not succeed in completely wrecking the UN Summit in Bali on global warming that just ended. According to a report in The Guardian, after opposition to the refusal of the US to cooperate grew so intense it finally conceded a point and agreed to stop opposing technological and financial assistance to the poorer counties. But the US did succeed in removing from the final document all references to specific reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which probably was its main objective. So while the process moves forward, perhaps concluding with a final agreement by the end of 2009, it remains unclear where the process is headed. The science says that at a minimum greenhouse gas emissions must be stabilized by 2015 and reductions of about 80% from 1990 levels must occur by 2050. There is nothing in the final Bali document to acknowledge these goals which are aimed at preventing catastrophic climate change.

Politically, it appears that to have any hope of avoiding this impending catastrophe three things have to happen in the US elections next November: the Democrats retain control of the House, the Democrats win the Senate by several seats, and a Democrat or John McCain is elected president. Unless those three things fall into place there doesn’t seem to be any reason to continue to hold out hope. Even if those three things happen there still is no reason for any optimism. At the moment, the problem of limiting climate change seems overwhelming.

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