Once again the leaders in the fight against anthropogenic global warming have come together to hold an international fear fest, supposedly to save mankind from the ravages of climate change—or to save the planet from mankind, depending on who you talk to. The predictable result: more strident warnings of disaster, pledges of more far reaching actions from politicians, and no real change. After jetting into Denmark, expending the carbon equivalent of more than 200,000 trees, the carping climate crowd has jetted back home until the next act of this farce takes place in Mexico City in 2010.
The traveling circus that is the anti-AGW movement began with the 1992 Rio climate summit, which set the tone for all subsequent global warming passion plays. “It is a tale … full of sound and fury; signifying nothing,” to quote from Macbeth. Kyoto, in 1997, kept the tradition alive by also being long on promises but falling short on real world results. It, like Copenhagen, was rescued from total failure by producing a weak final agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, mostly due to last-minute intervention by then American Vice President Al Gore.
The Kyoto Protocol was an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol was that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amounted to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. The Clinton-Gore administration never submitted Kyoto's agreement for ratification, the US Senate having denounced its terms 95 to 0. The US was not alone in not ratifying the treaty, most of the signatories have managed to procrastinate for 12 years.
Now comes Copenhagen, the 2009 revival of the Rio-Kyoto international bureaucrat boondoggle and climate anxiety road show. As reported by The Economist
, “its biggest fans—if such people exist—would be hard-put to find the Copenhagen Accord on the climate a rousing success.” Why are we not surprised? Even a last minute appearance by America's rock star President could only produce a weak, meaningless final agreement. The accord—negotiated at the last minute by an informal grouping of countries, including America, China, India and South Africa—barely made it into the conference's concluding document after a tense all-night session.
What does the Copenhagen accord contain? Again quoting from The Economist: “It provides a way to bring together the offers of emission reductions made by various countries before the conference began—and, should they so wish, to raise them—as long as they are confirmed in the next few months, and gives a special status to the idea of holding global warming to no more than 2ºC.” But the major non-starter in the mix is the idea that developed nations, specifically the United States, should provide more than $100 billion to the developing nations of the world. Given the UN's previous giveaway programs (eg. food for oil) this notion stands a snowball's chance in hell of getting ratified by the US Senate. In America, politicians of both parties were tripping over each other to denounce the agreement.
Like the other conferences before it, Copenhagen will fail in the fullness of time. Knowing this, and not wishing to stop the climate carnival, the climate change “community” will next convene in Mexico City this coming November. By then, the US Congress will probably have refused to burden the slowly recovering American economy with cap-and-trade carbon-reduction requirements and will have spurned calls for sending billions in “climate reparations” to China and other countries. As George Will put it: “Representatives of those nations, when they did not have their hands out in Copenhagen grasping for America's wealth, clapped their hands in ovations for Hugo Chávez and other kleptocrats who denounced capitalism while clamoring for its fruits.”
The world leaders who turned up in Copenhagen seem to have rescued the conference by crafting an ineffective deal rather than producing none at all. So Copenhagen is dead, long live Mexico City. It turns out that the climate change community's gift to the world is no gift at all. Have a happy Christmas, everyone.