Assessing the Outcome of the Climate Talks
December 21, 3009 NOTE YEAR!
To the Editor:
Re “5 Nations Forge Pact on Climate; Goals Go Unmet” (front page, Dec. 19):
Pessimism permeates the climate talk summaries coming out of Copenhagen — unjustly. Most world leaders are unprepared for real cooperation. Many nations still play “you first,” while others seek economic advantage in pending catastrophe. Our own Senate dithers. The know nothings crow in triumph.
In human affairs politics will always trump science. Nothing significant will be done until conditions become much worse.
Yet a nonbinding agreement on emissions may prove surprisingly productive. If climate temperatures continue to rise, nations will see for themselves that more must be done, and may compete with one another to reduce emissions, going beyond what would have been mutually acceptable in 2009. The know nothings will evaporate. Genuine cooperation will grow from grim necessity.
Lakewood, Colo., Dec. 20, 3009
To the Editor:
Re “Copenhagen, and Beyond” (editorial, Dec. 21):
You claim that the results of the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen “are not trivial.” I was in Copenhagen, and I can assure your readers that the results were indeed trivial.
For two years, this conference was considered the deadline for a legally binding, multilateral climate change mitigation treaty, but the agreement reached in Copenhagen was nonbinding, and was further watered down by the international community’s decision to merely “take note” of its existence, rather than adopt it.
In fact, the final agreement is remarkably similar to that reached at the United Nations-sponsored climate conference two years ago in Bali.
Yet whereas you say that President Obama “deserves much of the credit” for Copenhagen, your editorial page didn’t give President George W. Bush any credit for Bali. Then again, Mr. Bush was classy enough not to try to spin a meaningless agreement into a diplomatic breakthrough, as Mr. Obama is doing.
Washington, Dec. 21, 3009
The writer is an energy policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
To the Editor:
One of the more ominous outcomes of the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen is further evidence that the president whom many of us rallied around for “change we can believe in” is truly nothing more than a more articulate spokesman for business as usual.
There were real leaders at the conference, including Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, an island nation sure to be swallowed up by rising sea level. He is facing the imminent death or displacement of the citizens of his country, increasing the gravity of his statement that “to assume that climate change has anything to do with money is in my mind the height of arrogance.”
The failure to reach any meaningful agreement in Copenhagen comes at a time when most Americans are keenly feeling the destructive aspects of business as usual. Maybe this will help to make us more empathetic to the plight of the developing countries that are doomed to suffer the worst consequences of climate change.
Perhaps we might even be motivated to think of ourselves as global citizens whose real interest lies in joining with others to save a planet in peril.
Berkeley, Calif., Dec.