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In the wake of the shambles at Copenhagen, we could do worse than contemplate Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The two characters converse endlessly and anxiously, while they wait for the mysterious Godot to arrive and secure their enlightenment. But Godot never shows up, even though he keeps sending word that he will.
Right – it’s an “agreement”… to punt down the field for some transient face-saving. Obama said he had to fly back to Washington early because of the weather (riiiight ….). These guys have signally failed us. The Americans failed on emissions reductions. The Chinese failed on transparency. Plenty of credit to go around, as it turns out. But the problem doesn’t go away, and efforts to find solutions outside of the failed negotiating framework now become more crucial and urgent than ever.
China recently announced it will reduce the emissions-intensity of its economy (ratio of emissions to GDP) by at least 40-45 percent by 2020. But in Copenhagen it is resisting making that promise an internationally binding commitment. That’s a big problem for the U.S. negotiators, since the Congress is adamant: the U.S. will not commit until and unless the Chinese do too.
The climate negotiations in Copenhagen have galvanized the climate evangelists and skeptics alike; the talks, some say, are merely a front to assuage the general public, and will only divert attention from the scientific imperative to curb global carbon emissions. But one benefit of the talks has already been realized: They have catalyzed a flurry of activity, especially in the domain of monitoring and evaluation. Last week in Copenhagen, Google.org announced that it will provide free access to raw satellite imagery to facilitate global monitoring of deforestation, which may account for 15% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, Google.org has partnered with two leading forest scientists to host their image-parsing algorithms online, so that experts in developing countries can produce more accurate maps of forest cover loss from satellite images.
Yesterday I sent this letter to CGD contacts who have expressed an interest in our work on development and climate change. But it really should be of interest to all in the development community. If you share my view that climate and development are inextricably intertwined, please read on, take the survey, and tell your friends to take it, too!
Development advocates hoping for an equitable as well as efficient global agreement on climate change ought to be deeply depressed about the results of a recent FT/Harris poll. What is depressing is the way the question was framed (and that does matter): “Do you agree that, since China is the biggest carbon emitter, it should cut its emissions the most?” In most G-7 countries including the U.S., more than 60 percent of respondents agreed.
As part of an ongoing effort to persuade the leaders of the G-20 countries to better address the needs of poor countries in their Summit, CGD president Nancy Birdsall visited Pittsburgh yesterday with a small band of CGDers in tow, myself included.
You could be forgiven for thinking that national action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is going nowhere. This article in yesterday’s Washington Post describes the persistent hand-wringing inside the Beltway about the putative cost of cap-and-trade regulation. The argument continues although, as I and many others have argued, the U.S.
Well, the World Bank’s senior management has really done it this time: As my colleague Joel Meister reported today, Congress has reacted to its intransigence on carbon accounting and coal-fired power by deleting budgetary support for the Bank’s Clean Technology Fund. After c