Copenhagen Roundup Dec. 16, 2009

GreenTracker| The major news out of Copenhagen concerns what isn’t happening, with the exception of a promising accord around deforestation.

This morning’s London Times warns that President Obama will not be raising America’s missions target when he arrives in Copenhagen.

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, endorsed the deal yesterday and suggested that it was the best outcome that could be expected given the difficulties that Mr Obama faced in persuading Congress to accept climate change legislation.

Mr Miliband said: “Countries have to do what they are able to. I think we have to judge what everyone has to offer in the round. For developed countries, both the [carbon reduction] and the finance they provide is crucial.”

Countries can yell and scream, but it’s best that America not promise what it cannot deliver, as we did in Kyoto. Any climate activist who believes that the Republicans aren’t 110% committed to defeating climate change legislation — with a couple exceptions like Lindsay Graham — are totally NOT realistic.

US/China Showdown

As reported for several days, China and America are at loggerheads, with China refusing verification of emissions declines and also disagreement on China’s benchmark year for accounting purposes, and America’s refusal to delineate the terms of “green” aid to developing nations.

AP reports correctly that any US offers must be approved by a Congress, but the US did make a firm proposal yesterday. Presumably the amount is not enough. Developing nations argue that America is responsible for climate change and must pay for the consequences.

The US position, as articulated by chief negotiator Todd Stern, is that America does take responsibility for its emissions (unlike our position under the Bush Administration) but we’re not operating on a “guilt trip” in solving the problem. America also wants the World Bank to oversee its contributions, not the UN.

The AP report raising an interesting negotiation chip, which we will research.

The U.S. also has a weapon it has not yet used: the threat to tax Chinese-made goods deemed to be cheaper because they are made with higher carbon emissions than similar U.S. goods.

Yu said the tactic amounted to trade protectionism using climate change as an excuse, and was unacceptable. On protectionist issues, he said, “no one will benefit. We will all lose.”

The financial balances between China and America are fragile, with China holding the largest chare of America’s debt. Conversely, China still needs America’s buying power. Playing a trade chip would win Obama acclaim at home right now, in a labor movement crying that we’ve given all our jobs to China.

The Republicans who say “no” to everything, and I mean everything right now — including a prison in Illinois, which convinces me that there is NOTHING that they will work on with Democrats — would be backpedalling against Obama playing an agressive trade card right now.

Interesting, I must say. Presumably, China has some counterstrike lined up.  Anne

Read Climate talks deadlocked, 100 protesters arrested Associated Press