Obama bids to avert Copenhagen collapse

Why are very important subjects like personal finance and climate change so mindnumbingly boring? For two reasons I suggest. We’re frightened of them and the waywardness of human nature robs us of easy answers. I defy you to tell me what the real story is coming out of Copenhagen, leaving aside the demos and the shuffling over the size of the conference table. I think it may be a political poker game between China straddling the First and Third Worlds, and the US, unable to strike a clear note because of the clash of its own myriad vested interests in Congress. Added to which is the temptation to put it all on the back burner so to speak. The climate for the next 30 years is more or less set; what we’re talking about now is the 30 years after that. Let’s look at the gaps the negotiators need to close. Take the ideal US position climate change warrior George Monbiot puts into the mouth of Barack Obama. You can immediately see why collapse is possible.

I hereby commit the United States to cutting greenhouse gases by 50% against our 1990 levels by 2020.

Next, note the quiite radical position of China.

Wants rich countries to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 level by 2020

And compare it with the minimalist US pledge.

Will cut emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 pending congressional approval – this is close to 4% below 1990 levels

A key deadlock is over who jumps first. China has third world backing for aggressive cuts – provided the US, still currently the world’s biggest polluter, leads the way. But the US insists that China and its friends commit to cuts simultaneously. This may be a ploy to call their bluff – if they’re bluffing, that is. Moreover the US which distrusts the China lobby wants a tough inspection system to verify emissions cuts. Result – deadlock and a pessimism that the presence of Obama and 100 other world leaders isn’t yet dispelling.
Meanwhile we’re all secretly hoping technology will rescue us – or our grandchildren rather , as Channel 4 News reported after asking hundreds of scientists to plug their favourite technology Carbon capture and storage (CCS) comes top but is still experimental. Solar power, with superconductors distributing power to cloudy Britain is a runner but wlidly expensive. Biofuels with manufactured rather than natural algae which can prodcue the unintended consequence and increase CO2. And then there’s geo-engineering the climate, firing vast quantities of salt into the atmosphere to help form cloud cover. Or my own favourite, using domestic airlines to stream sulphur into the atmosphere to block the suns’ rays. This surely is O’Leary’s dream solution. It would mean he’d make even bigger profits without having to carry any passengers at all.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Personal finance boring?

    That might always depend on how much personal finance you have to be bored about!

    Climate change boring?

    Not when you see scientists fighting over the supposed truth, who is correct? Time will tell on this occasion if we all live for another 5 or 10 years when one side or the other will have an excuse as to why they were wrong.

  • aquifer

    ‘rich countries to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 level by 2020’

    This demand of China is eminently reasonable and need not cost the rich countries very much due to fuel savings.

    The US could be left behind in all this and go on losing ground relative to other countries.

    Fossil energy is like sugar, great for a quick boost, but you go woozy after a while and then start to loose your teeth.

  • Forgive my cynicism, but does anyone seriously believe whatever comes out of this jamboree will not have been decided by the Lords of the Universe’ weeks if not months ago.

    This crap about negotiations always going to the final bell runs a tad thin, it wreaks of some third rate TV programme like XFactor, rather that a serious way to deal with climate change, whether it is man made, or part of a natural progression of the earths history.

    More here


  • Brian MacAodh


    China has surpassed the US in emissions. Australia is number one in per person emissions.

  • Brian MacAodh

    These maniacs in Copenhagen are voting on your future:

    “President Chavez brought the house down.

    When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really an imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.

    Later Chavez rouses the rabble with more anti-Americanism, too:

    “I don’t think Obama is here yet. He got the Nobel Peace Prize almost the same day as he sent 30,000 soldiers to kill innocent people in Afghanistan.”

    You have to love Chavez talkin about democracy.

    And let’s not forget mass murderor (who recently organized mass rape against the campaign workers of his opponent as a tactic to terrorize opponents)Mugabe: “When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it’s we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp and sink and eventually die.”

  • aquifer

    I liked this one from Chavez:

    ‘If the world was a bank you would have rescued it by now’

  • Brian MacAodh

    Hahahaha that was a good one I’ll give him that.

  • Brian MacAodh

    ‘The lead negotiator for the small island nation of Tuvalu, the bow-tie wearing Ian Fry, broke down as he begged delegates to take tough action.

    “I woke up this morning crying,” and that’s not easy for a grown man to admit,” Mr Fry said on Saturday, as his eyes welled with tears.

    ”The fate of my country rests in your hands,” he concluded, as the audience exploded with wild applause.

    So moving. But let’s now learn more from Samantha Maiden about this former Greenpeace official from “Tuvalu”:

    But the part-time PhD scholar at the Australian National University actually resides in Queanbeyan, NSW, where he’s not likely to be troubled by rising sea levels because the closest beach at Batemans Bay is a two-hour, 144km drive away. Asked whether he had ever lived in Tuvalu, his wife told The Australian last night she would “rather not comment”….

    Still, it’s a long way from the endangered atolls of Tuvalu, with his neighbour Michelle Ormay confirming he’s lived in Queanbeyan for more than a decade, while he has worked his way up to being “very high up in climate change”.’

  • pinni

    As fate would have it, 4 inches of snow last night and Copenhagen looks like it’s in for its first white Christmas in 14 years.

    Global warming? Ha! Pull the other one.

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Obama couldn’t land because of cold weather?