Thursday, December 17, 2009
Hillary and Me
Hillary Clinton seemed to make a very generous offer in Copenhagen. She promised the poor nations of the world that if they agreed to a compromised climate change program the US would be willing to contribute to $100 billion program to help them by 2020. Maybe I have this wrong, but I could do one better in the same sort of flim-flam. I would be willing to contribute to a $200 billion program that would help these countries if they would agree to accept a compromised program. I even would be to contribute to $1 trillion program -- of course, neither I nor Hillary have made any commitment as to whether we would put up a nickel or serious money.
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It's remarkably difficult to determine exactly what did happen at Copenhagen. I'm reduced to Wikipedia, here:
The "Outcome" section of that article states:
"Early on Saturday 19 December, delegates approved a motion to "take note of the Copenhagen Accord of December 18, 2009". However it was reported that it was not yet clear whether the motion was unanimous, or what its legal implications are...."
As I understand it, if approval wasn't unanimous then technically nothing happened at Copenhagen which could be called a UN Conference outcome. Representatives of some Govts. who happened to be together in the capital of Denmark agreed to a thing called the "Copenhagen Accord" but, unless approval was unanimous, that has nothing to do with COP15 or the UN or the UNFCCC. Even if approval was unanimous, all that has happened was that COP15 has agreed to take note of that Accord.
The Accord itself is the subject of another Wikipedia article which gives the text:
The Accord sets no targets for greenhouse gas reductions by developed countries. All it says is: "Annex I Parties [developed countries] commit to implement individually or jointly the quantified economywide emissions targets for 2020, to be submitted in the format given in Appendix I by Annex I Parties to the secretariat by 31 January 2010 for compilation in an INF document".
I recall that the Kyoto Protocol does/did have an overall reduction target of 5.2% from 1990 levels by 2012. Riddled with loopholes as Kyoto is/was, there were targets.
I also recall that Kyoto has an enforcement mechanism, described here:
No specific enforcement mechanisms are included in the Copenhagen Accord. Instead, the Accord says: "Delivery of reductions and financing by developed countries will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and will ensure that accounting of such targets and finance is rigorous, robust and transparent".
I find this ambiguous; does it amount to an acceptance of existing Kyoto enforcement arrangements, or is it intended to replace them? In either case, can it have any effect on Kyoto if the Accord was only "noted" at the COP15 Conference?
Finally, what is the implication of the "Accord" for Kyoto? Kyoto doesn't automatically expire in 2012; it was anticipated that a new agreement might replace it, but if that doesn't happen Kyoto, as far as I know, will simply go on (needing new targets, of course).
I don't see that an Accord which has only at best been "noted" can claim to replace Kyoto. If it is intended to replace Kyoto, then the originators of the Accord might be expected to withdraw from Kyoto using the withdrawal mechanism in that Protocol (12 months notice, from memory, though of course the US never signed).
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